Whether he is playing marches, airs, jigs, strathspeys, or holding forth on some epic part of the pibroch repertoire, John Burgess is most certainly one of the great Scottish highland bagpipers. He was born in Aberdeen, but was brought up in Edinburgh. His interest in the instrument began at the age of four, after his father made him his own scaled-down mini-chanter. He spent the next dozen years playing increasingly larger instruments, practicing and studying under both his father and Pipe Major Ross. He began his professional career at the age of 16, literally going right to the top as if someone had dropped him on the crest of a craggy Scottish munro. Following his very first appearance, he won gold medals for the rarefied art of piobaireachd while playing at both the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban and the Northern Meeting in Inverness. Not bad for a sweet 16. Burgess served with the Cameron Highlanders and worked in the Edinburgh City Police before becoming an instructor in piping at the Territorial Army base in Inverness.
This artist has created several enduring recordings of his playing over the years, particularly for the British Topic label. When the two volumes he had created for that label were reissued together in digital format, audiophiles excitedly snapped at the chance to hear this man's highly ornamental fingering style presented in a new audio format that could furthermore enhance its high state of polish. From even more specialized bagpiping sources such as the Cuillian label, there are superb recordings such as the live Piping Center Concert sets. Besides performing and recording, he has continued to teach and focus on the bagpipes and traditional Scottish music by presenting speeches at conferences and serving as a judge at bagpiping events.