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Vintage Gems: Angus MacAulay & Steve MacKinnon

Two more recordings have been digitized from the original shellac 78 RPM recordings held in the archives of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.

The first to note is the playing of Pipe Major Angus MacAulay. Like the recently released digitized solo drumming recordings from 1950, the Angus MacAulay record was released on the Danceland label. The estimated date of this recording is also 1950.

Angus MacAulay (Aonghas Sheorais) was born in 1902 at Penilodden on the island of Benbecula. His father was his first teacher. He was to later get instruction from Willie Lawrie (as a very young boy) and John MacDonald (Inverness). His prizes include both Inverness and Oban gold medals, the Bratach Gorm and the Gilies Cup (London). At the age of 50 he immigrated to New Zealand where he was became instructor and Pipe Major of the Whangarei Pipe Band. He was awarded the MBE in 1993 and died in 1995 at Whangarei, New Zealand.

The second recording is that of Steve MacKinnon of Montreal. He was born in 1885 in Kilbarchan, Scotland. Like MacAulay, MacKinnon began his piping at the age of ten. He played in the 102 Boys Brigade Pipe Band and the 5th Highland Light Infantry Pipe Band under the legendary John McDougall Gililes. MacKinnon played with the 5th HLI when they won the World Pipe Band Championship at Cowal games in 1908 and 1910. Steve MacKinnon immigrated to Canada in 1911.

He was a well-known figure in the piping world, a frequent contributor to piping media of the day and Pipe Major of the A grade Canadian National Railways Pipe Band in Montreal. It was MacKinnon who encouraged Archie MacNeill’s son, Alex, to immigrate to Montreal (and play in his pipe band). MacKinnon was a very active teacher of piping. In the 1950s he would take the train from Montreal to Alexandria, Glengarry County, Ontario and teach on Saturdays. His pupils include Connie (Kippen) Blaney and Peter MacInnes.

Note the approach to tempo in both recordings. The settings of these well-known tunes are notably different from what is generally heard today.



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