Past Events

Goldfields Piping Weekend in Castlemaine, August 2019
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Goldfields Piping Weekend in Castlemaine, August 2018
"I didn't really know what to expect when I booked in for my first Celtic Piping Club weekend. I'd only recently made contact with the group after buying a set of smallpipes from Geoff. My plan to ease myself back into the world of piping.
I had played in pipe bands for years with many debaucherous trips away, but they always had a focus on competing and the strange notion of judging music.
I anticipated that this weekend would be more akin to an ethnic minority network, or perhaps a support group for sufferers of some psychological trauma or strange physical condition. I guess all three of these could be a way of describing anyone who has found themselves with a set of pipes under their arm more than twice.
I had the luxury of arriving late on the first night, and so avoiding the potential awkwardness at the start of any gathering of people who don't know each other that well. There was a session playing along merrily, and while there was some reluctance by anyone wanting to dominate the group, I feel it was more out of politeness and respect for each others backgrounds than any sort of pecking order. I had wondered how the varying pipes might play together, but it turns out there are many tunes that quite happily crossover. If people didn't know the tunes or they didn't suit their key, they were quite happy to sit back and just enjoy the playing. It looked like a friendly inviting group from the start.
The workshops were interesting, I learnt some things I had wondered for years, and other things it had never occurred to me to wonder about. That great dynamic of different minds and different levels of playing made sure that it was quite broad and we didn't get bogged down into any one area of nitty gritty.
My home group leader was Andy on the harp. He turns out to be quite a knowledgeable teacher with a surprising understanding of the pipes. He did pull out a Frankensteinesque blasphemy of old junk that had somehow been pieced together to give the general impression of a set of pipes. One of the other pipers at the Soiree was in the other room, and said he had come through to see what sort of pipes they were as he thought they sounded quite pleasing.
Andy has a little of the rogue about him and made us all laugh along with the teaching of music theory, a potentially dry subject. It was interesting to see his take on layering the instruments to create variety in our ensemble.
I didn't change groups, so only had brief meetings with the other tutors.
Angus has a great upbeat energy which made tunes led by him in the session kick along with a lively feel.
Jenny had the cards of warmth and openness along with her knowledge of music theory. It was interesting to hear her take on the psychology of playing music, and lovely to hear her sing a few songs.
I would have to say, everyone I spoke with over the weekend turned out to be a lovely person in one way or another, and I think I learnt something from everyone there, regardless of their ability or their involvement in the club. It was also great to have some experienced hands look at my pipes and give me some tips on getting them to sound better.
The highlight of the weekend would have to be the musical soiree at the local establishment. It was a charming bar with a warm quiet vibe and rustic seating perfectly suited to the smorgasbord of small acts. Being more or less forced to perform as part of a small group gave a bit of focus for the workshops. It was great to see what the other combinations of people and instruments came up with.
Well, I'm off now, having been emboldened to steal some cane from what I'm telling myself is public land. Hopefully my next letter will be written from the liberty of my own lounge room and not some cold gaol cell reserved for cane thieves and pipers.
Regardless, I'm sure I'll be back for the 8th annual Goldfields piping weekend." - Brett Guyer

Goldfields Piping Weekend in Castlemaine, August 2017
"Kerryn and I rolled into Castlemaine on Friday the 11th of August at around 8.00 pm in search of the Cumberland Hotel not knowing quite what to expect of the weekend. We'd left Adelaide after a morning's teaching having packed our two sets of Scottish Smallpipes, Kerryn's 'Dudi', my Half Longs, two sets of Northumbrian Smallpipes and the Leicestershire bagpipes, with a degree of trepidation. I had put my NSPs down 20 odd years ago and only picked them up again last year, and both Kerryn and I were newcomers to the Scottish Smallpipes. That was our reasoning behind packing a few of Kerryn's flutes, my guitar and my baritone concertina so that we could have our 'workhorse' tools with us to perhaps redeem ourselves should our piping skills be seen as lacking. As it turned out, we needn't have worried at all.
As soon as we saw table 13 in the Cumberland Hotel we were home. There were the pipers at dinner. Pipers with their husbands, pipers with their wives, pipers with their partners and pipers with their looks of delight and anticipation all grinning at us and saying, “hello” as they recognised two more crazy musicians gathering with them for a common purpose. To share the love and respect for the music and the instruments and each other. As diverse and complicated and intriguing a group of people as their instruments, and yet joined by their fascination with this ancient "thing” that we are all obsessed with.
After dinner we moved on to our accommodation and workshop headquarters, the National Trust listed property of Campbell St Lodge where Kerryn and I discovered that our beautifully appointed room was at the top of the stairs! This is obviously some kind of initiation for the newbies as I lugged several loads of our gear up the lovely staircase as Kerryn stood on the balcony chanting, “Raymeo, Raymeo, wherefore art me pipes Raymeo?” My response is not actually printable so we'll move on.
The evening consisted of meeting new friends, learning new tunes, talking about the music in such a relaxed and inclusive way that my SSP splutterings and my NSP failings were met with delight and support and not an ounce of disapproval, and I was able to meet Matt Manchester (the visiting presenter) for the first time.
Kerryn flitted, as is her wont, twixt the light side (Scottish Smallpipes) and the dark side (Uilllean Pipes) with an enormous grin on her face, which spoke volumes about the situation that we were lucky enough to find ourselves in. This was a “session” apparently, but like no other session I've ever found myself in. There was none of the elitist or purist stuff that can happen in a pub or in a festival beer tent, this was respectful and interested players enthusiastically embracing anything that anyone offered.
I even managed a smile as I lugged my pipes back up the bloody stairs.
Saturday was work time. Breakfast was early and the day was full. Matt ran workshops that challenged everything I thought I knew about music teaching, music performance, music theory and music in general! He turned us all into 16th century music students! It was fascinating and challenging at the same time. He's also a piper, like us, and a lovely bloke to talk to.
Sunday was all too brief. A workshop from Matt and then a lunch we sadly couldn't attend. The 7 hour drive back had to be faced and we both had to be ready to teach our various instruments in the morning.
The drive home required no CDs or radio programmes. We talked and talked as we re-lived the weekend and the wonderful people we had met for the first time that were now friends for life. The sessions, the workshops, the tunes, the stories, the jokes and the very joy of it all.
We both became members of the Celtic Pipers' Club before we left Castlemaine because we felt accepted from the first moment we saw those wonderful people at table 13 and we refuse to miss out on such enriching and life affirming events in the future.
Thanks so much and more power to your elbows!" - Ray Smith & Kerryn Schofield

Goldfields Piping Weekend in Castlemaine, August 2016
"The 2016 annual gathering of the Celtic Piping Club was held Friday 19th to Sunday 21st August.  Some fifteen pipers and enthusiasts from Canberra, the Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Adelaide, and places in between, came to the town of Maryborough, central Victoria, for this year's event. As usual, it was another fantastic weekend.
Our guest this year was uilleann piper Matt Horsley. Matt very capably conducted workshops on aspects of the music of the bellows blown pipes of Ireland, Scotland, and England. First off (at 9.00 am Saturday!) was a lesson on learning by ear. He taught slip jigs Cummilum (name derives from is cuma liom, meaning 'it's all the same to me') and the curiously titled Throw the Beetle at Her. After morning tea, Matt continued with a presentation on the use and tuning of the regulators. Regulator-tuning can be difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Matt made it look easy and straight forward with his systematic approach. He then demonstrated some basics of chordal and rhythmic accompaniment. He certainly opened a few ears by playing a G chord through the first part of The Dublin Reel (which is strongly in D) and showing how a chord comprised of G-A-B is not so dissonant, when the intonation is right. Those with small pipes hived off to Geoff Jones' workshop on tips and techniques for tuning and playing.
Sunday morning saw the Celtic Piping Club vote for incorporation and the formation of a committee. With official business completed, Pat Lyons gave a demonstration on making drone reeds from cane and elder. Then a magnificent barbecue lunch before we packed and said our farewells. With our heads full of tunes, happy and tired, we each hit the road, looking forward to next year." - Victor Sacharov

More details can be found in Newsletter #39

Goldfields Piping Weekend in Talbot, August 2015
"The third Talbot weekend was the greatest success yet and has become the signature event of our young club." Colin MacDougall. Special guest Bill Hart travelled with his wife from northern Sydney to demonstrate and display his crafts. Bill demonstrated 18 different sets of bellows and mouth-blown pipes from across the world (many of which he made himself) and delivered an insightful overview to all facets of pipe-making. The weekend attracted 22 people from Vic, SA, NSW & ACT for displays, theory workshops, sessions, a performance soiree and great after-dark tunes in the cellar."

The Rolling Wave by Matt Horsely, 
February 2015
Having recently returned from three months of intensive lessons with master piper Mikie Smyth in Limerick, Ireland, Matt presented a solo concert as a finale to his JUMP Mentoring programme grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. Matt performed a programme of old and new music for uilleann pipes including world premiere Barbaric Yawp by Jeanette Little, Australian premiere Five Etudes for Uilleann Pipes no. 3 - Polymeric Chorale by Dave Flynn and his own composition titled wheelspin.

Goldfields Piping Weekend in Talbot, August 2014
For the second year running, sixteen players of Uilleann Pipes and Scottish Smallpipes travelled from as far as Gippsland, Yackandandah and Adelaide to immerse themselves in a weekend of piping. Highlights of the weekend included a drone reed making workshop with Pat Lyons, demonstrations to two school groups, a Saturday evening 'soiree' for the locals at Bryce's Bistrot and plenty playing and discussion about pipes.

Concert, session and lecture at the National Celtic Festival in Portarlington, Vic, June 2014
The Celtic Piping Club popped up in various places at the National Celtic Festival 2014. Some highlights included the playing of the border pipes by special guest Ali Levak from Feis Ros at the Saturday afternoon concert and a resounding rendition of the Fox Hunter's Chase in uilleann pipes by Nick Martin at the Saturday night session.

Goldfields Piping Weekend and Concert in Talbot, August 2013

Sixteen pipers and partners came together for a fun and friendly weekend of piping in the historic gold rush village, Talbot, just south of Maryborough Victoria. The focus of the weekend was a workshop by James Rigby on the connection between songs and pipe-tunes and also the presentation of a concert to a local audience at the Talbot Town Hall, co-presented with the Taliska Trio. Although the weather outside was cold and raining, the hall was filled with the warmth of the pipe music and dancing in the aisles.


Talbot to host Celtic Concert - article in The Maryborough District Advertiser 26 July 2013.


Launch of the Celtic Piping Club, Portarlington, June 2013

The official launch of the Celtic Piping Club was held at 

the National Celtic Festival on Saturday 8 June 2013 

at St John's Church, Portarlington. A selection of pipers presented a varied programme, showcasing a wide variety of pipes and playing styles.



Scottish Smallpipes Workshops in Warrnambool, April 2013
Part of the South West Coast Piper Drummer Workshops, this weekend included workshops, performance, brunch and a session.

Piping in Central Victoria, January 2013

A full week of Uilleann pipe workshops with Pat Lyons at the Celtic Southern Cross Summer School followed by a small pipers gathering at the Newstead Live! Folk Festival.

Smallpipes session at Maldon Folk Festival, November 2012
Seven Scottish smallpipers gathered at the crossroads for 2.5 hours of tunes at the 2012 Maldon Folk Festival.

Castlemaine Pipers' Weekend, October 2012

This was a pilot project for the forming of the Celtic Piping Club. This weekend brought pipers 'out of the woodwork' for a friendly and inspiring weekend of sharing tunes, knowledge and laughs. Click here for the event website. Click here to download the report of the weekend.
Merran & Sarah at the Castlemaine weekend.
Merran & Sarah at the Castlemaine Weekend