Piobaireachd Club Meeting Nov 30 2007
Santa Claus came early this year. The annual Christmas evening of piobaireachd was held on Friday, November 30th at the home of Jack and Christine Lee. As ever, Christine put a delicious spread of goodies on the table for all to enjoy, and enjoy it we did. Some will say that a few of us might have over-indulged in the awesome array of fine foods put before us, but that is the way of it.
First up to play was Alastair Lee with Melbank’s Salute. This tune was composed by John MacKay, Raasay, as a tribute to Kenneth MacKenzie son of Sir Alexander MacKenzie of Gairloch. In his time, Kenneth was well-known as a generous sponsor of piobaireachd. Alastair played this tune to win the Nicole-Brown Invitational Competition in Albany, New York in October.
Brad Haddon made his public debut playing Iain Dall MacKay’s composition Munro’s Salute and made fine work of it. If he follows through with his training we will have another exponent of cèol mor, the ‘great music’ in the field.
John Lee stepped out with the Desperate Battle of the Birds, a tune that carries at least three myths on its back. The one described herein goes back to the Battle of the North Insh of Perth, circa 1396. This was a battle arranged by King Robert III as a means of settling a long standing feud between two Highland Clans. Each Clan would put 30 men forward to fight to a finish. It is clear that one of the Clans was MacKintosh but the other is uncertain. Some suggest MacKay, but there is a strong case made by those who claim it was Cameron, given a MacKintosh/Cameron feud that spanned several centuries. The King had an arena set up with galleries for the guests; he sat on the field to act as judge. The King halted the battle when only 4 badly wounded Clan Chattan and one Clan MacKay (Cameron?) were still standing. The battle did not end the feud which carried on intermittently for over two more centuries. The piobaireachd is said to reflect the birds sweeping down on the corpses to get their fill. If this scene is indeed the inspiration for the piobaireachd, the tune would have been much simpler than what is played today, or, it may have been in the form of a Bardic song that inspired a later composer. An interesting side note is that because one clansman failed to appear, the battle was about to be called off. However, a member of the audience volunteered to stand in for the missing clansman, was accepted, and the battle proceeded to its harsh conclusion.
Erin Warkman played MacLeod of MacLeod’s Salute, Failte Ruari Mor as the Reverend Doctor Norman MacLeod heard it called when visiting the Dunvegan home of MacLeod in 1799. The tune is one of a trilogy composed by Donald Mor MacCrimmon to celebrate the end of 200 years of MacLeod/MacDonald feuding.
Colin Lee closed the evening with Corrienessan’s Salute, composed by Ruaridh MacKay in the mid to late 1600’s.
Notice of the next meeting will be revealed in the fullness of time.