Just For Gordon - Celebrating a National Treasure

A photo from the Just for Gordon concert
A photo of the performers and organisers from the “Just for Gordon” tribute concert

As part of Celtic Connections 2016 programme the tribute concert “Just for Gordon – Celebrating a National Treasure” was held on Saturday 24 January 2016 in the Main Auditorium of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Although his instrument was the bagpipes, together with the whistle, and it was in this area, from pipe bands to solo competitions, that his revolutionary impact was first felt. Gordon’s peerless, prolific compositions and arrangements have shared his gifts far more widely. Both these dimensions are his unique legacy and more, are abundantly exemplified in this commemorative celebratory line up anchored by his elder brother, Ian, and his son Gordon Jr.

Tasked with putting together a tribute for their friend and mentor were Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton, the musical directors. As Ali described it “if any of you know myself and Ross, the thought of us organising such an event might have you in a state of shock – it certainly shocked us! So fast forward through rehearsals, fear, pipes not going, rehearsals, fear, trying to remember tunes, more fear, we ended up with a beautiful concert. We couldn’t have expected it to have gone any better. We had an amazing bunch of some of the best musicians and folk on the planet!”

The ‘band’ consisted of the  finest musicians, Duncan Lyall on bass, Aaron Jones on Cittern, Innes Watson on guitar and fiddle, Angus Lyon on keyboard  and Fraser Stone giving the drums and percussion laldy!

The main performers were The Tannahill Weavers, who count Gordon himself among past members, with Ross Kennedy.  Galician Susana Seivance reflected Gordon’s pioneering embrace of wider Celtic tradition, then Susana and Duncan Chisholm who together played the most heartfelt rendition of  Gordon’s ‘Sleeping Tune’, first with Duncan on fiddle and then with Susana, on the gaita – just beautiful. The lovely Gaelic goddess Julie Fowlis sang and played then Gordy Duncan Jr with Calum Ingram played and sang. The legend that is Davy Spillane with Donal O’Connor, and then Jarlath Henderson on uilleann pipes with Ross Ainslie on border pipes, the finest pipers known to man. And then, of course Ross Ainslie, Ali Hutton, Ian Duncan, Angus McColl, Allan MacDonald, Stuart Liddell, Lorne MacDougall, Alex Duncan, Gary West and the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland celebrated on the Great Highland Bagpipe.

Everyone involved was intent on following the spirit of a man who let his music speak for him, and resulted in a handsome tribute with the star of the show absent but still very much present. ‘Just for Gordon’ really was a special event.