I am pleased and privileged to make this introduction to the late Geoff Hore (1946 – 2015) as a foreword, if you like, to the wonderful series of articles produced by Geoff, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, for New Zealand Pipeband magazine which are now available by way of this New Zealand Piping Centre website.
(At the outset bear in mind that these articles as they appear now were written some 20 to 25 years back. In the intervening decades, the circumstances of most of the individual subjects will have changed with the passage of time. Readers will need to understand this as no attempt has been made to edit the work to give it contemporary context.) In particular any reference to contact details should be ignored.
Most of the longer-term readers of the New Zealand Pipeband (NZPB) magazine will recall reading the many contributions to the magazine made by the seemingly indefatigable Geoff Hore. (Certainly, those who have been fortunate enough to have befriended him over the past thirty or forty years will attest to indefatigability, as much in themselves for sharing his ever-enthusiastic acquaintanceship, as in Geoff himself for the zeal he applied to his bibliographic and journalistic endeavours!).
Geoff’s work first appeared in the September 1994 edition of the magazine after a bit of arm-twisting by the editorial team. It was a serialised version of his painstakingly compiled bibliography of pipe band music books based on his own extensive and much coveted collection cum library.
In subsequent years, again with some editorial prompting, Geoff, through the Magazine, created an amazing body of work. He got the bit between his teeth as he poured countless hours of research and interviews into compiling these articles which spanned ten years of the Magazine’s life.
His two series of biographical articles on NZ pipe music composers and NZ bagpipe makers & repairers directly uncover the diverse talents of many erstwhile unacknowledged musicians and craftsmen.
The articles are often prefaced by Geoff’s commentary and opinion; sometimes directly relevant – sometimes not! Altogether, the reader will discover and enjoy a fascinating narrative, a blend of social history and piping lore which will enrich New Zealand’s historical fabric for generations to come.
His prodigious histories of the foremost piping music publishers, Logans and Patersons will have wide appeal well beyond New Zealand.
Geoff undoubtedly enhanced the piping reputation of this country, founded on the pioneering work of Sir Ian McKay and others of that generation and the subsequent performance achievements of Murray Henderson, Lewis Turrell, Donald Bain, Greg Wilson, and numerous others.
His talents attracted international recognition. In Scotland during a trip in 2014 Geoff volunteered his bibliographical skills to assist the College of Piping in Glasgow to re-organise its library.
The then principal was that great piper, Robert Wallace. On Geoff’s passing Robert wrote a fulsome obituary for Geoff which he has kindly given us permission to reproduce here.
But Geoff’s main energies were devoted to the establishment of a huge library - estimated to comprise close to 1,000 items of piping manuscripts and books many of which are rare and ‘one-off’ originals of considerable antiquity.
Geoff spent many years and dollars scouring websites, salerooms, and second-hand bookshops to find additions to his collection. He also acquired many volumes gifted by people far and wide who recognised the value of his work.
Before his illness and eventual early death, for the preservation of his collection and with an eye to posterity Geoff established the Aberfeldy Trust to take ownership of the collection so that, as far as possible, it can never be broken up or sold. Indeed, many of the books in the library are simply not disposable because they have been bequeathed or donated on the understanding that they remain as part the collection.
Of Geoff himself, many may have assumed that his encyclopaedic knowledge of piobaireachd and other pipe music was purely academic. But Geoff Hore was a piper with a very credible performance hallmark in winning the Comunn na Piobaireachd Gold Medal at Hastings in 1991. How many realised that? He also played in several bands culminating with a stint in the Grade 1 Wellington Police band as it was in the 1970s (now NZ Police).
He was originally taught in his hometown of Glenavy, South Canterbury, by Laurie MacPherson in 1963. Whilst formal tuition lasted only less than a year his talents developed under numerous pipe band tutors. However, he credits Ken Boyce, Colin Addison, Sir Ian McKay, Donald Bain, and Lewis Turrell as his main influences.
Geoff also has some skills in repairing and restoring instruments with his trade background as an aircraft engineer in the RNZAF and with Air New Zealand up until his retirement.
Throughout his endeavours Geoff had unstinting support and assistance from his partner, Maureen Taylor in whose home the library collection is currently housed.
I commend this collection of work, Geoff’s magnum opus, and I am grateful that it will not be lost to history just yet, thanks to the New Zealand Piping Centre and the Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands' Association for their commitment to this important project.
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