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Hear the pipes on Hadrian’s Wall on Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May 2016!

A small group of Newcastle University students and staff will be performing songs composed by the emperor Hadrian's court composer, Mesomedes (2nd c AD) at Housesteads Roman Fort on the May Bank Holiday (2 May).  The performance will start around 12.30 and last for 20 minutes or so.  Two of the four pieces will be accompanied by NPS member Gina on the Northumbrian smallpipes (a fitting way to combine our region's Greco-Roman heritage with its more recent musical tradition).

We will be hoping for better weather for you (ie less snow and more warmth) than we have had in recent days! 


And a huge treat for those of you who were interested in the Newcastle University concert we mentioned last year but couldn’t get to it - and also for those who did - the video!





The Alwinton Summer Concert Series

held the second annual competition for  composers of original pieces inspired by traditional music.


Three finalists have been selected from scores submitted and will be played through in a public workshop at 2.00pm on 7th May 2016.


The winning piece will be performed by

Kathryn Tickell and the Side in their concert at St Michael’s Church, Alwinton NE65 7BE on 7th May 2016 at 7.30 pm






Other concerts in the Alwinton series include:  Apollo Saxophone Quartet - Saturday 28 May, 7.30pm, Fretwork with Simon Callow - Saturday 11 June, 7.30pm in a fascinating project focusing on Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe in 1577-80. Subject to availability, the narrator will be Simon Callow. Royal Northern Sinfonia Ensemble - Saturday 25 June 7.30pm players perform a rarely heard arrangement of Sibelius' En Saga, a beguiling work by Sibelius' fellow countryman Einojuhani Rautavaara, and Schubert's wonderful Octet.



Do you know any young pipers or folk musicians (aged 14 to 18 on 1 September 2016)?  


Applications are now open for the National Youth Folk Ensemble!


They are looking for talented young instrumentalists who are dedicated to developing as folk musicians and excited about collaborating with others who share their passion!


Ensemble members will:


  • participate in 4 weeks of intensive residential courses in different parts of England
  • receive high quality tuition and guidance from leading folk artists
  • develop skills in performance, arrangement, leadership and facilitation
  • give public performances


Membership is an annual commitment and the first cohort will take part from October 2016 - August 2017. The residential courses will take place in the school holidays: 23 - 28 October 2016 and February, April and August 2017.  Please encourage all the young pipers and players you know to find out about the Youth Folk Ensemble at


Gill, John, Di, Kim, Lyndon, Tom and George playing his father Archie Dagg's tune 'Swindon' for Charlie Dagg who visited the pipers during the Glendale Children's Day held on Thursday 4th June 2015.  This is an annual event held on Glendale Show Ground to introduce children to the countryside, and in particular food production - and the pipes went down well with the hundreds of young visitors to our tent, some of whom tried the plastic school pipes.  School parties came from all over Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle.




NPS Saturday meeting 21st December 2013

The NPS Christmas Saturday meet was very well attended this year and as usual, its focus was on younger pipers.

Richard Johnstone brought along some members of his his youth pipes and harps group and they did a spot which included slow and more challenging tunes, Lads of Alnwick included. All were played beautifully, showing off how pipes and harp strings blend so well together.

Later, young Open competition winner Tristan Selden played us two solos and a duet of Rothbury Hills with his friend Ben.




There was also a Best Christmas Pipes Bag Cover competition, judged by Fiona Johnstone and won by Dorothy Craggs. All attendees had a thoroughly enjoyable and sociable time, with the Bagpiper's Carol not forgotten and shared festive snacks and refreshments in the interval. 


Article and photos thanks to M Davison





NPS Saturday meeting 16th November 2013

Our NPS Cleveland Branch kindly came up to Morpeth to lead this session, Margaret Moyes the Cleveland Chairperson leading the playing. Colin Ross and Julia Say offered a tune in memory of Jim Richmond who passed away recently, a respected former Secretary of the Society.  


Brian Fisher offered a demonstration of some of his pipes he has developed over the years. Brian uses CNC machining, and has invested in modern tooling to develop his sets. He has evaluated a number of materials, for example synthetic wood vs Blackwood, and PVC.  His own early David Burleigh set is a test bed for his development - now only the drone stock is original !


Some key features he has developed include stitching-free belows using internal PVC formers and  milled receiving slots to connect the leather to the paddles - surely this must appeal to many a sore-fingered pipemaker ?











Pistonless drone ends - no internal parts just external brass sleeves on modern sealing foam (not cork). Anyone who has picked up a drone end off the floor will see the benefit of that.   







Parts, where possible, screw together avoiding the thread and wax parting issue, his keys are one piece CNC machined with concentric circular springs avoiding the leaf spring and rivet design. 







Brian then demonstrated his PVC pipes and gave us a duet with Tim. He has kindly donated some of the keyless sets to the Cleveland branch for starters.



We thank our Cleveland branch for comming to lead and play in the session and to Brian for demonstrating his pipes to us.   



NPS Annual Competitions  19th October


Some results and pictures can be seen here



NPS Annual Concert 2013 at St Mary's Church 

Gateshead Council Heritage Centre.


An enjoyable varied evening was had by all with all seats filled ! This was set in the interesting surroundings of St Mary's church, a great venue. St Mary's is beautiful historical church building on the Gateshead side of the Tyne Bridge, right next to the Sage Gateshead .see here for more details 


(Event photos by kind permission of "Gracie Grey" from her piping Facebook group).


Ednie, our host and fellow committee member, who together with NPS Chairman Andrew acted as Masters of Ceremony for the evening.   




The evening started with a number of tunes played by the younger generation of the Lawrenson Family, all of them skilled pipers, this ended with some tunes from north of the border - they are Scots after all -very fitting. 



Matt Dean and Fiana Ni Chonaill world class flute and harp players added a bit of non-pipe music to the evening (we never knew the harp was so complex to play and tune). 


Chris Ormston then played a small number of tunes on his Border pipes, before entertaining with his own smallpipe compositions and other tunes including his  'Fathers and Sons' in memory of the Hartley Pit disaster.



We were then treated to 'around the world in a hand full of tunes' to quote Andrew, by the expert pipes and fiddle skills of the Andy and Margaret Watchhorn. Then followed a Swedish set using Swedish bagpipes as shown (switchable drones while playing and a single-sided chanter reed) with Margaret playing the complex Nyckelharpa - certainly something you don't see every day in the UK.



Chris Ormston joined them for a final few tunes, finishing the evening nicely.     





NPS would like to thank all the hosts, organisers and the performers, all of whom made this a very successful well attended event, thanks to their hard work and effort.





Northumbrian Pipers at the Alwinton Show where they supported the Fell Search and Rescue Services.



Windy Gyle Band goes down a storm in Whitby


WGB Whitby

Northumbrian Pipe Group Windy Gyle performed to packed Audiences at the Whitby Folk Festival 2013

Alice Burn giving impressive solos to the crowd. Report from Anthony can be found here.





Piping Legacy to Newcastle University Officer Training Corps

As part of a legacy from the late Viscount Ridley, a set of Northumbrian pipes was commissioned and delivered from Philip Gruar - pipemaker, to the Newcastle University Officers Training Corps for use in formal events. More information can be found here


Pipers' Day and AGM 2013

Friday 2nd August NPS AGM 2013

The Society held its 2013 AGM in the Chantry Morpeth presided over by Rt Hon Baroness Joyce Quin of Gateshead. The NPS Committee elections, accounts as a charity, and all agenda items discussed and approved. Thanks were given to all retiring members for their assistance over many years of service. This was of course followed by a traditional Chantry play around and tea.



Saturday 3rd August

Pipers Day Newbiggin on Sea

Tuition and help was provided at the Sailing Club venue with positive comments received for a very full day - thanks to those who organised it.


Sunday 4th August 2013

Annual Northumbrian Pipers' Gathering at Wallington Hall 

Over 50 Pipers attended the Pipers' Gathering at Wallington Hall, which this year took place in the Courtyard, some pipers travelling from some distance. The weather was kind to us so the cover of the house was not needed this year. Visitors seemed impressed by the sound and tunes of the pipes in truly Northumbrian setting, and applauded at every pause. What better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon?



July 2013

Society Financial Accounts and Statements for year ending 2013 released

Please see here