Hamish Moore – Aspettare e Sperare !
Barganews is and has been such a life force, an integral and intimate part of Barga, that since hearing the news of it’s imminent changes I have had to remind myself that Barga will still actually continue to be there after the metamorphosis, whatever form this will take. Through Barganews, the visionary behind it, Keane, has done more for this wee, dignified and ancient city than most people can understand or appreciate.
Aspettare e Sperare !
The last year for me has been one of the busiest of my life and certainly the busiest since the enforced retirement from my professional playing career in 1995 through contracting focal motor dystonia in one of the fingers of my left hand.
My son Fin and I are still busy in the workshop making these beautiful instruments and what a pleasure this brings. Nothing is more inspiring than chawin’ awa’ with Fin; at concepts – tuning, cane and its multitude of properties, relative merits of throat and staple diameters, problems with a certain grace note on a certain note, stuff of reamers and woods and harmonics and a thousand other things which go to making up our day which is so, so unimaginably unusual and sometimes even bizarre. The balance has probably shifted so that we are doing a higher percentage of repairs than we used to but this is no less satisfying, working at the bench to achieve sound perfection from this bag of harmonics. We often come across pieces of work by my father or surmise who, out of our trusted family of co-workers may have done whatever, and amazingly finding chanter reeds still in chanters and working that I made in the late 1980’s.
And – hey – we have a two year waiting list.
A flying and whirlwind trip to Barga in February was extraordinary. From the minute we crossed the threshold of The Old Town and our feet touched Via di Mezzo we were on a frenzied foray with old friends, great food, chat and wine to ease the hours away in what seemed like five days with not a minute to spare.
A painting trip back to Barga in May with the Prestonpans Art Group was for me, personally very frustrating but lovely to know that others were marvelling at and capturing on canvass the sights of the extraordinary place. Especially a treat for me was to witness under the gentle inspiration of our patient teacher, Tom Ewing, my great old pal Pete MacKenzie nurturing his art during this precious time for him away from horse colics and anal gland resections.
June and the Barga Summer School. What can I say? What work and what rewards. Thanks to all who helped in whatever way however small but special thanks to Martine Robertson who was a trooper, such an inspiration and willing helper on so may levels and in so many ways. Thanks also to Sonia Ercolini, without who’s input from the Barga end, this very special event would not have happened. Sonia’s creative presence was everywhere during the school and her help with all the daily problems invaluable. It would have been nice to have been able to announce The 2011 School but so far no decision has been made as to whether the Conservatorio can be available.
Getting to Barga in June was achieved at break neck speed and in record time but the trip home was leisurely, taking in the luscious array of French Camp Sites and Cuisine and stocking up on the best of wine to squirrel away for the long winter evenings in Scotland. More importantly, I bought cane from Cogolin near St.Tropez. Our now good friend and cane supplier, Mr. Rigotti did us proud once again supplying this most vital of all ingredients amongst the multitude of raw materials needed for our instrument making. The secret of the sound lies just a few kilometres from the coast of the French Riviera.
This July saw the 24th anniversary of my Vermont Summer School and also the last in its very special site on the banks of The Huntingdon River near the beautiful village of Richmond. I am moving the school next year to a new site on The Shores of Lake Champlaign near the small City of Burlington. The School as always was a wonderful experience but poignant and tinged with a bit of sadness that it is to move and therefore will inherently change.
Home to Edinburgh, one day’s rest, on to The Piping Live festival in Glasgow and then to The Lorient Inter Celtic Festival in Brittany to be part of and hear “Seudan”. A culmination of 15 years work, my concept for “Seudan” (Gaelic for Jewels or Treasures) is a band playing copies made by us of a museum set of pipes originally built in 1785. The pipes are unique in that they play in concert “A” and the music, rather than the style employed by the military or that of competitions reunites its rhythmic and linguistic roots with the old dances and songs of Gaelic Scotland. What joy.
By the end of August I was off again and this time had been invited by Iain MacDonald to go as a guest of his Neilston Pipe Band to the biggest piping festival in the world in Strachonize in The Czech Republic. Every European Country (East and West) was represented with their own unique species of bagpipe. Bagpipes are revered and almost worshipped in Strachonize and one of the many and excellent breweries in the town, and this one dating back to 1649 names one of its fine beers, “Dudak”, Czech for bagpipe!!!
September witnessed a trip to Croatia and Montenegro to be part of, and play at, a good friend’s seventieth birthday party celebrations. Branislav is an amazing character and works as a criminal lawyer in Scotland, speaks several languages fluently and collects and races ancient Bugatti Racing Cars.
Just three days back home and then off this time to Nova Scotia, again with “Seudan” to play at The Celtic Colours Music Festival in Cape Breton. Oh how I love this island, its extraordinary talented, kind and humble people and their old Gaelic Culture that they treasure and hold on to tenaciously.
At the end of The Festival I spent a weekend teaching with Barga Summer School’s flute instructor, Chris Norman. The teaching weekend was hosted by Chris in his beautiful hometown of Lunnenburg on the Nova Scotian mainland.
Before flying home, I managed to squeeze in a delightful two day visit with Bill and Cynthia who live just outside Halifax and who’s house, Casa Rosa, they so generously let me use when I lived in Barga in 2008.
All of this, the busiest of years peppered and interspersed with making pipes, clearing my Father’s house, lectures, gigs, conferences, gatherings, sessions, farewells and of all things a Barga School Reunion in Edinburgh. Franco Zampogna, a piping student in Barga came over to Edinburgh to collect his newly finished set of small pipes and co-ordinated his visit to coincide with The Lowland and Border Piper’s Society Annual Conference. His pal, Denis O’Flynn came too, from Cork, to reunite with his newly found friend from Barga. Of course he did and what a weekend. We gathered as many of the Barga veterans as we could for a few great tunes, memories and laughs all together in The Capital.
I’m now in Barbados with no reference points, no pointers that it has just been Christmas or may be New Year soon but am enjoying two or three hours in the Caribbean Sea every day and slowly slowly making moves to building my home in the tropics very close to the island where I was born and grew up.
Piano, piano though. I’m here till March and then another era ends. I’m giving up daily work in the workshop. The carefully constructed and nurtured business is being handed over to my son Fin who I know will look after it and treasure it.
No one could have earned it more or deserves it more than Fin and I wish him all the best of everything (and especially good cane) in his work.
Of course, I won’t ever stop making pipes, and of course I will step in to help out when necessary. I do intend however to make only one or two sets a year and to make every part of them myself. They will form a limited edition, limited by the life (and death) of the next stage; the next and maybe, final era.
Grazie mille Barga e grazie mille Keane.