Celtic Connections to stage tribute to Vale legend

Ian Duncan at Pitlochry Highland Games in 2017.
Ian in 2017 at Pitlochry Highland Games.

The pipe band concert lined up for this year’s Celtic Connections festival will pay tribute to Vale legend, Ian Duncan.

The concert takes place on February 4 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and is titled Names and Places 2023. Ian will play at the show.

The concert will revisit the Vale’s album of the same name which was recorded and released – on the Iona Records label – in 1990 and sold out soon after. Folk group, Eclipse First featured on the groundbreaking recording as did Ian, Adrian Melvin, Gary West, Malcolm Robertson (who was Pipe Sergeant at the time), Ian Kirkpatrick, Norman MacLeod, Paul turner, Maggie MacInnes (on harp) and Martin Hughes.

The album is split into four musical sections: Breizh, Scotia, Gaeltacht and Common Ground. It was the first collaboration between a pipe band and a folk group and it remains something of an unheralded album. It is extremely difficult to obtain a copy of the recording these days but it can be found on Apple Music.

The Celtic Connections concert will include Ian, Adrian, Gary and Malcolm in the ranks alongside the piping ensemble, Tryst. Ex-Vale pipers, Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton will feature in the ensemble and another ex-Vale piper, Stuart Cassells, will act as fear an tighe.

Ian Elrick, Vale chairman, said: “This is set to be a fitting tribute to one of the largely under-appreciated figures in the piping and pipe band world. Ian Duncan has been an integral part of the Vale for around 40 years. When he was appointed Pipe Major in the mid-1970s at the age of 22, Ian took the band quickly from Grade 4 to Grade 1 and for nearly 20 years made it the world’s most creative and innovative band.

“The Vale has made four recordings and Names and Places was the first. Scotrail sponsored the band at the time, hence the title.

“Ian has given so much to the pipe band world and it is not before before time that his contribution was recognised in such a way. He has spent a lifetime teaching, performing, arranging and being a leader in every sense of the word. His tireless dedication to teaching piping saw him awarded the Music Tutor of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2009. We encourage as many as possible to attend what will be a memorable concert.”

A few words from Gary West:

… and a few more from Dougie Pincock:

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