Thursday, February 19, 2015

February Gathering Report

On February 18, the Bloomington Pipers’ Society held its second monthly gathering. At the time of the gathering’s start, the temperature was a frigid 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was 6 inches of snow on the ground from several days’ worth of winter storms. Never to be deterred, six lovers of the bagpipes came out to have dinner, play their pipes, and discuss the instrument which inspired them to brave the weather. Three pipers were in attendance, two of which played. There was of course dinner by the Noodles & Company, our hosts. This month’s gathering was a small but passionate crowd.

The evening’s piping was kicked off by Chris Eller on his set of John Walsh retropipes. Chris performed a set of marches on the smallpipes which he will compete with in Lexington, Kentucky at the Midwest Pipe Band Association’s regional solos qualifier there on February 21. He will be competing in Senior Novice, and will play two, 2-part 2/4 Marches; The Brown Haired Maiden and Mairi’s Wedding. This weekend in Kentucky will be Chris’ first competition on the full pipes, having competed last year on the practice chanter and on the bass drum - the latter of which he won a Champion Supreme title for.

Following Chris was Angus Martin, starting out straight to the Great Highland Bagpipe with a strathspey/reel set which he will be competing with in Lexington, Kentucky at the Grade II level. This will be Angus’ first Grade II contest, having been moved up after his very successful season in Grade III last year. In 2014, he won the Champion Supreme title for Grade III Light Music, placing in the top three in nearly every one of the 30 contests he played in.

For his strathspey/reel set he played the strathspey Dorrator Bridge, and the reel The Sound of Sleat. He followed this set with two hornpipes and two jigs; As Good As It Gets, Mr. Jack, The Kitchenmaid, and Geese in the Bog. He had a few complications in the third part of Mr. Jack, but was able to get back on track and complete the set. Once completing his HHJJ, Angus yielded the floor.

Chris playing his 2/4 march set
Chris took over briefly after that, playing his competition 2/4 marches set on the full pipes. He quickly yielded back to Angus, who played a short set of jigs - The Gaelic Conspiracy, The Foxhunter, and Cutting Bracken - while Chris saw his family off. After that the evening fell into discussion, until Chris picked the pipes back up, and played two marches, I See Mull, and Will Ye No Come Back Again.

Another piper arrived without his pipes, so he could listen and talk. Angus played again with a set of 2/4 Marches - Muir of Ord, Willie Ross’ Farewell to the 2nd Battalion Scots Guard, Haughs of Cromdale, and Campbell’s Farewell to Red Castle. Some discussion followed this, until about a quarter til 8, when Chris played his competition set one last time. The evening was rounded out by Angus playing his own competition 2/4 March for this weekend, The Crags of Sterling.


All in all, a successful evening! Thanks to all those who braved the cold, snow, and ice, and we hope to see them and more at our next gathering! The next Bloomington Pipers’ Society Gathering will be held at the same location, on March 18 - the day after St. Patrick’s Day. If you play, bring your pipes! Next month we will begin with our monthly piobaireachd, so if you know one (or several!) come swing by. 

Angus Martin 
Bloomington Pipers' Society Co-Founder


Angus plays The Crags of Sterling