The biennial conference was held this year in Palma Mallorca between the 9th-11th of March. Christopher Bacon sent us this report

It was an extremely successful event. Commencing with a sell-out concert in the Teatre Xesc Forteza on the Friday night. This very modern theatre in the old city and close to the sea, was the venue for a programme which typified the whole conference with its exciting range of performers and bagpipes. Starting with the Mallorcan bagpipe the xeremies, it was played in the traditional form, one player on xeremies the other on pipe and drum. The xeremies is unusual in having the drones hanging from the front of the bag where one would normally expect to see the chanter. With performances from three groups they finished as an ensemble for the final performance. The next group from Italy played the zampogna, the Zampogneria FiumeRapido Trio performed several sets, which were all polyphonic with unusual but powerfully moving harmonies.
The second part of the evening started with Cem Yazici playing the Turkish tulum, this is a loud single reeded double chanter bagpipe, played in a continuous mode without a break between tunes. One of the chanters providing both a drone and a strong staccato effect as the piper requires, it was a very different listening experience. The concert finished with a powerful and vibrant performance of Galician music from Dani Bellón on gaita, Diego Maceiras on accordion and subtly nuanced by guitartist Cabi Garcia.

The conference commenced on the Saturday, with introductions from IBO organisers: the president Dr. Cassandre Balosso-Bardin from Lincoln University, the secretary Roger Landes from Texas Tech University and our own David Faulkner (who is a member of both the LBPS and The Bagpipe Society). With little exception, the thrust of the conference programme was to present the wide range of bagpipes from around the world and give opportunity to present the findings from the many individuals and groups attempting to reconstruct not just long lost instruments but the music and supporting culture. Only one presenter was unable to make the conference and was sorely missed as he was to present a paper on the current state of piping in post-Soviet States.
Gvidas Kovera gave a moving presentation “Rennaisance of bagpipe in Lithuania”, his enthusiasm for their rediscovered bagpipe and his own self-deprecating explanation of his playing belied not just a musical talent but the high level of research and reconstruction that he and fellow enthusiasts have committed to this venture.
Whilst several presentations were essentially experimental archaeology, the paper from Patrick Burbaud, about the re-invented Boha from South West France, was a brilliant lesson in how to manage this type of research and a strong plea for proper methodology, recording and publication so that findings can be shared and reviewed. The boha is becoming popular in the UK with several members of The Bagpipe Society playing them.
The well balanced programme had presentations from Eastern Romania: Prof. Ulrich Morgenstern and Razvan Rosu, Lithuania: Gvidas Kovera, Macedonia: Fabio Resta, Turkey: Ersen Varli, Cem Yazici, Occitan: Melanie Laupies, Sophie Jaques, Gascony Landes: Patrick Burbaud,
Northern Italy: Daniele Bicego, Pontevedra, Galicia: Oscar Ibàñez, Scottish piping in Hong Kong: Andrew Yu. Providing an interesting counterpoint was Piping gets Political by Hannah Harris from USA, Mindfulness bagpipe: walking meditation by Carles Amengual from Mallorca and a detailed scientific analysis of the piper’s control of the bag pressure to achieve full musical expression by Dr. Cassandre Balosso-Bardin.

In the evening we had a playing session in the nearby bar Ca’n Salat. This tiny venue somehow managed to allow nearly all the conference presenters and attendees like myself the opportunity to play from 8pm till late. I left after 11pm having played G border pipes with David Faulkner and Jonathan Bynoe and others from Europe, later A small pipes with Andrew Yu. The highlight of the evening was Cassandre and Cristobal Prieto playing gaita with sets on their own and then with everyone who had an instrument in C, the UK contingent brought out our whistles.

Sunday was a visit to Sóller on the old train from Palma, this was accompanied with the Xeremiers de Sóller and then in Sóller at the town hall with the Xeremiers del Puig de Sa Font from the North-Eastern part of the island. We were welcomed to Sóller by the mayor and then taken to see how olive oil is produced both in a modern mill run by the co-operative and then to a mill in a large family house who still have the traditional cone mill and presses.
The whole weekend had taken a huge amount of preparation by the IBO organisers and tremendous support from many people in Mallorca to whom many thanks. It was in all, a totally memorable weekend. Worth mentioning that the event was supported by the LBPS, The Bagpipe Society, Celtic Piping Club and many individuals including Julian Goodacre, Graham Wells and Andy May as well as the Mallorcan Government, the town of Palma, the town of Sóller and the Mallorcan councils for tourism and culture.
Announced at the conference are two piping events to watch out for: IBC 2020 in North America and later in Kaunas, Lithuania when it becomes European Capital of Culture when they will be bringing pipers from all over Europe.

Christopher Bacon.


Soller group (1)

Attendees at the International Bagpipe Conference (photo from Christopher Bacon)