Neil Smith, Iain MacDonald, John Forster Charlton

Neil SmithNeil Smith of Newcastle, England, was a well-known Northumbrian smallpiper and protege of John Forster Charlton (see below) who ensured that this strong connection continued unbroken. A devotee of Czech folk and classical music, Smith was a regular visitor to Czech folk festivals, where he was an audience favorite and like his predecessor a much-loved figure in Strakonice. Neil passed away in 2015. 

Iain MacDonaldIain MacDonald is the leader of Scotland’s Neilston District Pipe and Drum Band and a famed bagpipe educator, as well as a highler regarded musician himself on all varietes of West European bagpipes, including the world-famous Highland marching pipes. He is also a festival veteran, having attended the Strakonice festival regularly since 1978.

John Forster CharltonJohn Forster Charlton, also from Newcastle, was perhaps the most important and influential of the visitors drawn to Strakonice. A bagpipe virtuoso and authority on the Northumbrian small pipes, Professor Charlton was the first festival guest from Western Europe to forge a connection to the town of Strakonice. This led to his being adopted by the people of Strakonice as a beloved foreign mascot who attended every festival until his death in 1989. Charlton can be seen with fellow Northumbrian piper Colin Ross and a team of rapper sword dancers from Northumbria.