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The Piper's Whim Exhibition and Events

Organised by the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments

1-31 August 2013

The Exhibition

THE PIPER'S WHIM: Exhibition of Historic Bagpipes from Scotland, England and Ireland

St Cecilia's Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh

1-31 August 2013 - opening times Tuesdays-Sundays, 10:00-17:00

A special exhibition showing the full variety of bagpipes played in Britain from the past 250 years. These include Lowland and Border pipes, the familiar Highland bagpipe, Northumberland smallpipes and Irish union or uillean pipes. The exhibition explores the traditions of piping, pipemaking and bagpipe ownership.

The exhibition is the culmination of the project Enriching our Musical Heritage funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Collecting Cultures programme which has supported important acquisitions by the University of Edinburgh.

Admission Free

Detail from <I>Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes</i>, London, circa 1804.

The Colloquium

One-day Colloquium on Bagpipes

St Cecilia's Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh

12 August 2013

The Colloquium will present recent research on topics related to the history, making and performance of bagpipes in Britain (all periods) and related aspects of repertoire and the social milieu of bagpipe playing in Scotland, England and Ireland.

For further details, please see
Detail from Walter Geike (1795-1837), The Reel o'Tullochgoram

The Concerts

Dansing and Pyping thru the Toun - an introduction to Scotland's forgotten bagpipes

Tuesday August 6, 16:00-17:30

St Cecilia's Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh

Pete Stewart, Chris Elms [early bagpipes]; Alison Tollick [readings]; John, Caroline and Malcolm Bushby [Lowland pipes/smallpipes, harp, percussion]

Everyone is familiar with the highland piper, a proud representative of Scottish culture around the world. Far fewer will be aware of the even longer history of the bagpipes and pipers of the Lowland and Border regions of Scotland. Here we trace their story from the 15th century to the present, with images of pipers from the past and performances of the music they are known to have played on reproductions of their instruments, culminating in a celebration of the current revival of the pipes and their music. Concert organised in conjunction with the Lowland and Border Pipers' Society.

Ticket prices: Adults 10 pounds; Concessions 8 pounds; Children at school or younger Free (up to four children per adult or concession; school parties by arrangement)

Carving of a piper, originally on a gate pillar at Ballinton, now built into a wall at Abercairney

Ceòl na Pìoba is Ceòl na Gàidhealtachd - an evening of traditional Highland music

Monday August 12, 19:30-21:30

St Cecilia's Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh

Pipers Simon McKerrell and Finlay MacDonald, fiddler Chris Stout and clarsach player Karen Marshalsey demonstrate the rich musical tradition of the Highlands of Scotland.

A programme of music from the Scottish Highlands featuring the great highland bagpipe, fiddle, clarsach (ancient wire-strung harp,) and traditional singing. The range of repertoire from marches and dance music, light music and competition songs to elaborate variations and soulful laments will be presented, exploring the connections between vocal and instrumental music. Music from the 18th century to today, including port a beul, pibroch, and piobaireachd, will explore the vibrant traditions of the region. Organised in association with the National Piping Centre, Glasgow and Piping Live! 2013

Ticket prices: Adults 15 pounds; Concessions 10 pounds; Children at school or younger Free (up to four children per adult or concession; school parties by arrangement)

Highland bagpiper from Angus Mackay's Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd or Highland Pipe Music, published in 1838

Living the Northumbrian Tradition

Sunday August 25, 16:00-17:30

St Cecilia's Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh

This concert of traditional Northumbrian pipe music by Chris Ormston will illustrate the development of the Northumbrian smallpipe from the early 18th century to the present day. Drawing from the collections of William Dixon (c 1733), John Peacock (1810), Robert Bewick (c 1830) and the Clough family, who were active pipers for most of the lifespan of the instrument, the recital will demonstrate how repertoire expanded in line with the development of the instrument, while preserving the older music as the core of a living tradition.

Ticket prices: Adults 10 pounds; Concessions 8 pounds; Children at school or younger Free (up to four children per adult or concession; school parties by arrangement)

Alexander Duncan Fraser (1849-1920) tuning the smallpipes


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Tickets purchased online will be reserved for collection at the venue ticket desk.

Tickets also available from the Fringe Office.

These events are part of the celebrations of the 250th Anniversary of the opening of St Cecilia's Hall 250th Anniversary of St Cecilia's Hall

Enquiries to
Sarah Deters Richardson or Arnold Myers,
Collection of Historic Musical Instruments,
University of Edinburgh,
St Cecilia's Hall,
Niddry Street, Cowgate,


This page updated: 3.8.13

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