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While he has had a string of impressive competitive successes over many years, Michael Grey will certainly be remembered most for his compositions, arrangements and the all-round creative component he brings to all of his endeavours.
His talent as a piper has always been clear, and his exceptional hands have allowed him to do whatever he wanted with a pipe tune. His influence on the 78th Fraser Highlanders at the peak of their success, and then on the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band during their best years in Grade 1 are testament to his skill at helping to bring out the creative and musical best in a band.
But with five books of bagpipe music and six CDs released to this point, his creative tide appears far from ebbing, and it would be hard to find a composer whose tunes have graced the World Pipe Band Championship program more frequently in the last 20 years than Michael Grey.
He remains one of the world’s most influential and distinctly creative composers and arrangers, without doubt the future holds morer to come from the creative genius of Michael Grey.
The biography below appears on Michael’s Dunbar Music
JM, June 2007
Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Michael Grey received his first lessons at twelve from George Walker of the 48th Highlanders of Canada and was a member of this illustrious band for three years. He studied under John Wilson, one of the twentieth century’s greatest players, and received extensive tuition from Bill Livingstone and John Walsh. He has four times won the North American Championship, the overall title at the Vancouver Indoor Meet twice, the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal and that venue’s March, Strathspey and Reel and Former Winners’ MSR on the same day. In 1989 he won the aggregate championship at the Cowal Highland Gathering. He has seventeen times won the professional Ontario Championship Supreme awards for both piobaireachd and light music. In 1995 he won the Toronto Piper’s Society Knock-Out final; in 2003 he again won this testing event – for the third year in succession.
Since his early piping years Michael has been a prolific and innovative composer. Evidence of this remarkable composing success is apparent in the on-going popularity of his tunes with bands and individuals at the major competitions: at 1990’s World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow, there were more examples of bands performing Grey’s tunes than any other composer, living or dead. In 2001 he was commissioned by Piper & Drummer magazine to compose a new piobaireachd aimed at pushing the musical boundaries of the traditional form.
A founding member of the 1987 World Pipe Band Champion 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band, he left that organization in 1995 and became Pipe Major of Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, one of the world’s top bands. In 1999 Michael left the PRP Pipe Band to focus on solo piping; this same year he won the Scottish Piping Society of London’s (UK) Strachan Cup and again was the aggregate winner of the Vancouver Indoor Meet.
In 2003 Michael consulted with renowned composer John Beckwith on Beckwith’s commission for pipes and orchestra, “A New Pibroch”. Grey performed the piece’s premiere in March 2003; the piece aired in June of that year on CBC Radio 2.
An adjudicator, workshop leader and a serious student of written pipe tunes and their composers, Michael has four published books of music and five solo recordings including the October 2003 release, “Nine Blasted Notes”. His fifth book, “Music for Everybody”, was published in November 2006.
His sixth solo recording, Shimla Hum, was released May 8, 2006.
Festival distributes his music in Canada, CelticmusicUSA in the US and Highlander Music in Europe. He is a partner in his own label, Dunaber Music.
A native of the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Michael Grey resides in Dundas, Ontario.