The Piobaireachd Weekend 2022 – a Review by Rona Dawson

Having booked up for the Society’s piobaireachd weekend fairly late, it came as little surprise to find that accommodation was a bit hard to find – the local hotel seemed to be closed for refurbishment and B&Bs were full. So it was that we ended up in a “panoramic pod”!  Having some experience of the basic wooden structures available on some campsites, we weren’t sure what we were getting. But despite the satnav’s best efforts to take us up hill and down dale we got there, and we were introduced by the owners to a beautiful little house in miniature, complete with full kitchen, comfortable lounge area with log fire, shower room and hot tub all heated and ready to go.  This proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend – a tub with, as promised, a panoramic view was just the ticket after a hard day grafting at the tunes!

Chris and Anne Bacon were, as always, perfect hosts and had ordered a fab selection of Indian dishes from the local takeaway for the first night which disappeared pretty quickly.  A few tunes were struck up – it’s not usual to hear even a piobaireachd ground at a session but we managed a few of the more accessible tunes.

The first day’s teaching was all about the Bells of Perth – even played at a sprightly tempo it was hard to find much to recommend this tune in my opinion – a couple of the variations might be worth reprising but I wasn’t really feeling the love. We also looked at two Nameless tunes in Kilberry (hio tro tro and  Hi horodo hao).  These are not heard played much, probably because they don’t have taorluath or crunluath variations and yet have beautiful melodies that warrant much more public airing.

After a long day concentrating, Anne’s venison pie made a fantastic meal.  More instruments were brought out afterwards and the tunes fairly flowed.

The second day’s highlight, musically, was the Lament for the Laird of Annapool, a tune that focusses on the high G and has elements of keening in it according to our tutor Allan MacDonald.  His kind of piobaireachd is not what you’d hear at a Piobaireachd Society gathering (thankfully) and even those who don’t have the full range of technical dexterity could make a very adequate stab at reproducing the overall effect of the tune by the time we’d finished. 

We reprised the Unjust Incarceration which had been done at a previous weekend and altogether the weekend was a very enjoyable and chilled way of getting back into the swing of playing after an extended (at least for some of us) lay off over the last couple of years.

Hopefully more folk will be interested enough to come along in future and investigate the big music – those who did go have a mission to play the tunes at Society gatherings and sessions where people can get a sense of what they’re missing!

Thanks to Allan, Chris and Anne for making the event such a success.

Rona Dawson