THE NORTHUMBRIAN PIPER’S SOCIETY ANNUAL CONCERT
I had already checked out the concert venue for the evening which was a lovely old converted church just a short distance from where we had parked and turning up that evening found a rehearsal in progress.
Apparently Bagpipes have been around for many, many centuries but an innovation sometime around the 17th century was the use of bellows to supply air. Sometimes called Cauld Wind Pipes, as the air is neither heated nor moistened by the players breath, more refined and delicate reeds can be used.
One of the interesting things about this evening was not only were we treated to some beautiful and haunting music, but for that evening only they had brought together many sets of historic pipes constructed in the early part of the nineteenth century by the Reids of North Shields, a father and later his son who made wonderful sets of pipes, some with as many as seventeen keys, and it was a spontaneous rehearsal of this group of pipers who were playing in the darkened hall on my arrival.
Having been enchanted by their playing there was still quite a while to wait until the eight o’clock start, though in fact it did not actually start until nine owing to the earlier mentioned snarl up of traffic after the football match delaying one of the performers who’s fifteen minute journey took over two hours. In the waiting time I decided to have a pre-concert drink, and what could be more fitting than a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. I am not sure if I had ever tried this before, and in the event I didn’t try it that night either as I was told it ‘was not popular’ Maybe it was because I was in Gateshead!
We were treated to some wonderful piping and it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. This was Andy May a talented young piper playing one of the Reid's Northumbrian pipes.
There is a good recording which details more of the history of the Reids and a performance on the assembled sets that night at The Northumbrian Pipers' Society website if you would like to find out more about it all.
Walking out of the converted church was the Bridge over the Tyne lit up for the evening