Click for Rory's bio

Rory's Music

As a kilted piper, CSAC President Rory Sinclair is a familiar figure at Sinclair Clan Gatherings and Highland Games, and at many Toronto area events.

Rory "Gus" Sinclair plays the Great Highland Bagpipes competitively in Grade II. He also plays guitar and bagpipes – including small pipes and the Deger pipe – in several folk groups in Toronto.

The address of this page is . For more information, go to Rory's bio and contact information, and the Rory Sinclair photo album.

[Page last updated: 11-Oct-2007.]

Asked what pipe tunes we might recognize, Rory recorded The Chestnut Set (4:10), a medley of five Scottish tunes commonly played on the bagpipes.

Click to hear The Chestnut Set (4:10)

Chances are, most of our members could recognize all five but name only two or three, and put words to just one. Here, Rory plays the medley on his Deger pipe, which is an electronic chanter:

  • Skye Boat Song
  • Road to the Isles
  • Mairi's Wedding
  • A Scottish Soldier, which is known to pipers as The Green Hills of Tyrol
  • Scotland the Brave

Note: A Scottish Soldier was most memorably sung by the Rev Dr Malcolm Sinclair on their Sinclair 2000 album, the Rosslyn Chapel Suite CD, which can still be purchased from our Shop.


Rory Sinclair's current project is to collect bagpipe music about Sinclairs and places associated with Sinclairs. Visit for details.


Recorded at Toronto's Metropolitan United Church — where the Rev Dr Malcolm Sinclair is Minister — Highland Cathedral (2:29) features CSAC's own Rory Sinclair on bagpipes with Dr Patricia Wright on organ, playing an arrangement by James D. Wetherald.

Visit the Metropolitan United Church website

This track is featured on the church's 2006 album, Look at the World: Music of Canada and Beyond. To order your copy of the CD, for $20 plus $5 shipping, please call the church at (416) 363-0331 ext. 26, or email <>.

The music for Highland Cathedral was written in 1982 by Ulrich Roever and Michael Korb reportedly as a pipe tune for a Highland games in Germany. The tune has since become so popular that it is considered traditional, and has been proposed (with several versions of lyrics) as Scotland's national anthem. Its inspiration is the story that all of Scotland's clan chiefs gathered in a secret place known as the Highland Cathedral, where they promised James King of Scots that they would stop feuding and live in peace. It is said the truce lasted all the king's life.

The first well-known set of lyrics to Highland Cathedral was by Ben Kelly. Two more recent versions are by singer songwriters Terry Mechan and Moira Kerr (click the links to listen).


Go to Rory's photo album

As well as being President of Clan Sinclair Association Canada and a welcome presence at all Sinclair Gatherings, Rory is also Piper to the Earl of Caithness, who is Chief of Clan Sinclair.

The portrait at right, painted in 2005 by Laurie McGaw of Toronto, shows Rory formally dressed in Sinclair Red, holding his pipes with the Chief's banner in his right hand, while his left hand rests on three books of significance in his life. Click here or on the portrait to read more.

The 100th anniversary of the birthday of the present Chief's father was 29-Sep-2006. In honour of Brig. James Roderick Sinclair, 19th Earl of Caithness, CVO, CBE, DSO, Rory on that occasion recorded three pipe tunes: Flowers of the Forest, The Black Bear and The Earl of Caithness. [Click to listen.]


While visiting Turkey in August 2006 — taking his pipes, of course — Rory had the opportunity to visit the Gallipoli memorial. In August 1915, a pitched battle took place at Gallipoli over an area no larger than two tennis courts, ending with 7,000 dead and 14,000 wounded.

At Gallipoli, Rory had the opportunity to play Flowers of the Forest at the cemetery of the Lone Pine, for all the soldiers of that war. Although it was originally a lament for the fallen of Flodden, 9 September 1513, Flowers of the Forest is now a mark of remembrance.


Rory's guide at Gallipoli, Ali, had lost a grandfather, and had a great uncle wounded there. Rory in turn had lost a great uncle in the same war, at Vimy in France, and had a grandfather wounded there. After playing for the fallen of both sides, Rory was honoured that Ali gave him a special memento, a spent .303 bullet chained to a Turkish crest — in friendship.


Rory showing the chanter

In 2006, Rory gave three lectures to the Piobaireachd Society in Scotland on the Iain Dall Mackay chanter owned by the family of Clan Sinclair Canada's first piper, the late Lt. Col. John Sinclair of Nova Scotia.

For an earlier article on the Iain Dall MacKay chanter, from the Winter 1998 issue (Vol 3 No 10) of Roslin O Roslin, click here.

[Text of lecture to come.]


Read the liner notes in a new window

For the 2005 International Clan Sinclair Gathering, the Rev Malcolm Sinclair of Toronto ON once more teamed with Rory – and his bandmates – to produce a CD of music and song. In Honour of Our Roots features a completely new song about Malcolm's great-uncle, a Pipe Major in the Gordons who died after the 1st Battle of Yprès, as well as several pipe tunes that Rory has composed.

This CD would not have been possible without Dean Cavill, "Producer, Sound Engineer, Recording Engineer, Sound Aesthetician and Man of Magic". To read the liner notes for In Honour of Our Roots, click here.


Rev Dr Malcolm Sinclair in song - click to visit the Rosslyn Chapel Suite CD webpage and listen to tracks from the CD

Together with the Rev Dr Malcolm Sinclair, Rory prepared a CD of Scottish songs and pipe tunes for the Inter­national Sinclair Clan Gathering in Scotland in 2000. Listen to tracks from the CD online at the Rosslyn Chapel Suite CD webpage, and purchase the CD through the clan shop. Their Sinclair 2000 CD includes Malcolm's unforgettable Amazing Grace: Spirit Song of Return, and some pipe tunes of Rory's own composition.

The third movement of Rory's Rosslyn Chapel Suite, Prince Henry Sinclair in the New World, was also recorded with musician David Leask in Toronto and you can listen to the 56Kbps MP3 file here.


Click to visit Wayne Neon's GALR page

With a group called Gordon's Acoustic Living Room (after their rehearsal site), Rory has a regular gig at Toronto's longest running folk club, Free Times Café, generally on the third Sunday of the month — check the websites to confirm dates and details.

The top photo at right is GALR's publicity shot — a collection of their musical instruments in Gordon's living room.

Rory playing guitar with GALR - click to visit Wayne Neon's GALR page

The second photo is Rory playing guitar, with GALR at a birthday party in 2004.

Clicking on either photo will connect you to Wayne Neon's GALR webpage, with more photos. (Wayne's website hosts pages for a number of musical groups, as well as for his own neon art.)

The GALR musicians also play together in other groups, and at special events.


Click to visit Terry Campbell's Left Standing page

Rory Sinclair and Terry Campbell are "available to help make any occasion more festive" as the mad Celtic duo One Pipe, One Drum: Left Standing.

Click on the photo to visit Terry's website for a stirring MP3 of them in action.


Rory speaking to The Immortal Memory - click to visit the Burns 2004 album

Inspired by the joke of a few years ago, the musicians who performed for Robbie Burns Day, January 25th, called themselves The Burns Unit. Click here to see more photos from Burns Night 2004.

Their track Glasgow City Police Pipers (4:43) was recorded at Warthog Studios, Toronto, Canada. Click here to listen to an MP3 of Mix #9, burned at 1:03 am, November 28, 2002 — arranged, produced and engineered by Dean Cavill. Original pipe tune: P/M Donald MacLeod; arrangement: Rory Sinclair. Foreign language consultant: Dave Murphy.

The Burns Unit at the Free Times Café - click to visit the Burns 2004 album

Burns Unit personnel heard on this track:

  • Rory "Gus" Sinclair — Great Highland Bagpipe, Deger pipe;
  • Dean Cavill — guitars, mandolin, bass, synths;
  • Terry Campbell — loud snare;
  • Dave Murphy — Gaelic war cry.

The Pub: A popular watering hole frequented by University of Toronto folk and their ilk (Floor 2/4)

  • Mr. Sinclair as Alec,
  • Mr. Murphy as Hamish,
  • Mr. Cavill as the Incredibly Blittered Driver (IBD).

[Note: No patrons were harmed in the recording of this production.]


Click to visit Wayne Neon's VampIrish webpage

VampIrish is the band that only comes out at night — on St Patrick's Day!


Click to visit Wayne Neon's Mr Froggie and the Worm Gear webpage

For photos of "the band bigger than Lighthouse", visit Wayne Neon's Mr Froggie & the Worm Gear webpage.

In the summertime photo at right, Rory has his Deger pipe and Dean is sitting behind him with the guitar.


Click to visit Wayne Neon's SNTO webpage

SNTO (The Single Non-Transferable Orchestra) is the group that plays in support of Fair Vote Canada.

[Their photos are proof that Rory doesn't always wear a kilt!]


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