January has come and gone and hopefully the cold weather with it. Several of us attended the MHAF competitions and workshops early in the month. Always a treat to meet up with old friends and make new ones. We have started our meetings for the ASF 08. It looks to be our best year ever.
St. Thomas Episcopal High School was the venue for the EUSPBA Graduate test on January 18-20. Thanks to them for the beautiful location. Mike Cusack and Donald Lindsay helped with the seminar and testing. 4 people took the test.
Last weekend we performed a Kirkin at Second Presbyterian in Little Rock. It went extremely well. I got to say hello to General Wesley Clark again and his lovely wife. Several of our board members attend that church and it was a pleasure to once again see them and some of our ASF Patrons as well as Presidents Council members.
I'd like to add a couple of things. For those who didn't catch the MHAF reference in Jimmy's note, it the Midwest Highland Arts Festival in Kansas City (AKA Winter Storm). It's an amazing gathering of pipers and drummer from across the US, Canada, and Scotland. They hold major competitions that attract top-level players, hold workshops where attendees are able to get some tips from the world's best, and then there is an instructor's concert on Saturday showcasing some of the most outstanding talent in piping and drumming. Nancy, Jimmy, and I went and represented Lyon College. Jimmy competed in the professional events, and placed fourth in the Silver Medal Piobaireachd in a field of outstanding players. Nancy and I attended a Piobaireachd Master Class with Colin MacLellan that was interesting and informative, as he not only performed and discussed a silver Medal tune, but also introduced us to a Piobaireachd that he had written, and he gave a great deal of background about the process of writing it, as well as demonstrating it on practice chanter and pipes. I got to attend a March class with Jack Lee from Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, and Nancy attended several workshops that she found quite helpful. The MHAF organizers, (Mark, Jeff, Henry, and many others) put on an excellent weekend. Our friend Audrey Stumpf won the Intermediate Bass competition as well, and we hope she is SERIOUSLY considering Lyon as an option for college in a couple of years. Hear that Audrey? Hear THAT?
While Jimmy was administering the Graduate test in Houston, I went over to Oklahoma City and presided over a workshop with Oklahoma Scottish Pipes and Drums, and their feeder band Oklahoma Celtic. It was a very fruitful day of work on practice chanter, pipes, pads, and drums. I thought both bands put forth a lot of effort and attention. Roy Barbee and Dave Gill came up from Texas to work with the drummers, and the bands should have a good competition season based on what I heard over there.
The Second Pres kirkin that Jimmy mentioned was a good outing for us. A lovely facility they have there, and they were most hospitable and grateful to have the band down to perform at their services. I played the communion for the contemporary service and did the Urlar from Donald MacLeod's lovely tune The Field of Gold, and Dawning of the Day on my small pipe. The whole band played for the early service in the main sanctuary, and Jimmy played the offertory on the smallpipe. Then I did likewise for the 11:00 service where about 400 people attended. Dr. Roettger gave an excellent sermon, and overall I'd say it was a smashing success.
We stopped off at the IHOP on the way back to Batesville for a well-deserved bit of grub.
A special tip of the cap to our buddy Alfred Barrow who drove up from Shreveport and attended an all-day practice with us Saturday, and then stopped off on his way home to perform at the kirkin.
Next up, Burns Night in Magnolia in February.
For the band,