February 10, 2006
The home of Ron and Eileen Sutherland was the setting for an outstanding evening of cèol mor. Those in attendance were obviously appreciative of the privilege of listening to the great music so well played.
Jori Chisholm was the featured piper. He led off with a splendid rendition of Lament for the Only Son. The tune is a poignant memorial to a beloved son, a memory long lost in the mists of time. But oh! the music. The music has not faded. Indeed, the music will never fade as long as there is a piper with the skill to honour the tune. There are two thoughts about who composed this lament. The most widely held view is that the composer was the great Padruig Mor MacCrimmon. The other view is that it is a MacIntyre tune, composed by either Donald or his son Robert, circa the mid 1700’s, that is, almost 80 years after the close of Padruig Mor’s reign as Scotland’s greatest piper-composer. An attribution of the tune to Padruig Mor refers to it as “Cumha an aona Mhic”. While it would be interesting to know for certain who composed the music, not knowing will never dampen the joy of hearing it well-played.
Andrew Lee played the Battle of Strome, a tune that flowed from a Mackenzie/MacDonald battle, circa 1602.
Jack Lee followed with a magnificent playing of the stately MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute. Angus MacKay, Gairloch, son of Iain Dall, was commissioned by John, XIth Laird of Raasay, to compose a tune to celebrate the birth of a son and heir after six daughters had been borne. Paradoxically, in the 1820’s, Donald MacDonald called the tune a Lament according to Kilberry who also noted that Sandy Cameron of the great Cameron family of pipers played the tune as a Lament. MacDonald and Cameron must have thought the music celebrated Malcolm, father of John, who gave over his patrimony to his son when he went off to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745/46. Malcolm died about the time that the tune was composed.
Jori Chisholm then closed the evening with a splendid presentation of The Old Men of the Shells, otherwise known as The Carles of Sligeachan. As I listened to the music, I could almost see the old men of the MacKenzies of Kintail seated in a circle, sipping the water-of-life from scallop shells, toasting their young men who had been killed in a trap sprung by the MacDonalds and all the while passionately cursing the perfidy of the MacDonalds of Sleat. The tune is another that flowed from the long and bitter feud between the MacKenzies and MacDonalds in the 16th and early 17th centuries.
The next meeting of the Club will be Friday, April 7th. Further details to follow.