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Is competition true promotion?

Published: February 28, 2001

[Originally published as an Editorial]

The primary objective that’s spelled out in most piping and pipe band associations around the world is fairly simple: To improve and promote piping and drumming.

Unfortunately, with every association we know of (except the Competing Pipers Association, whose charter is strictly competition), this simply means “putting on competitions.”

But do competitions alone really promote our music? Does piping and drumming competition reach out to untapped audiences? Are associations in fact nurturing the art by forcing it to be judged weekend in and weekend out?

When the idea of putting on an event is raised at an association meeting, the first thing people think is, “Let’s have a competition.” Solo piping, pipe bands, solo drumming, composing, dress and deportment – we’re accustomed to having each somehow judged, graded, and prized. It seems difficult for associations to think beyond the parameters of what’s always been done before.

Since 1987 when the 78th Fraser Highlanders turned the pipe band world on its ear with their truly revolutionary concert and recording in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, our little world has become so much more than competition. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, concerts and public performances have been left primarily to bands, soloists and private groups to organize themselves.

We venture to say that the world’s associations are missing the point when it comes to truly promoting piping and drumming, bringing the music to a new level of understanding, and improving overall respect for what we do.

The first Highland games were athletic and hence competitive, with perhaps a single piping competition. The emphasis on competition seems to have begun there. Even today, the athletic events have bigger audiences, higher prize money, and are more understandable to the uninstructed.

The piping historian Hugh Cheape in his May 2000 PD Interview described the whole thing as an “incestuous circus,” and he’s right. We put on these contests not for the inquisitive and unenlightened public, but for us, our families and those who have finagled their way into our little club.

Seumas MacNeill, seen by many as something of an evangelical piping missionary, in his day traveled all over the western world teaching anyone with the wherewithal to learn. His accomplishments should be vaunted, as we have done many times in these pages. He should have been knighted for his services to Queen and country, and we hope someday he receives his official, posthumous recognition.

What MacNeill also did was to perpetuate the closed club mentality of piping. He promoted the notion that the Highland bagpipe is an instrument for Highland pipers and few others. It is truly ironic that, for all his indefatigable teaching of the music, he was equally tireless when it came to passing on the tradition of competition over performance, of the Highland pipe as a solo instrument, of us against the rest of the musical world.

When run well and conducted in a constructive and magnanimous spirit, competition is a good thing. But it’s not the only thing. We suggest that the real promotion and nurturing of piping and drumming is yet to come, and it will take the associations of the world to change their tune.

By simply acting as competition machines, piping and pipe band associations do not fulfill their primary mandate. Today’s piping and drumming should continue to be winched from the competition rut dug over the last 100 years.

We call on the world’s piping and pipe band associations, from the RSPBA on down, to improve and promote piping and drumming not simply by running more and bigger competitions, but by helping to put bands and soloists on platforms where the only reward is the applause they receive for playing good, entertaining, and creative music that reaches out to those outside our little family.

Shotts Announces Two Major Concerts

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The Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, the reigning World Champions, has announced two major “Live In Concert” dates for 2001 following the band’s successful show last week at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Scotland.

On Saturday, April 28, Shotts will perform in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, in a concert sponsored and hosted by the Tullylagan Pipe Band, and on Wednesday, August 8, they will play at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow at the annual Glasgow-Skye Association Pipe Band concert.

“2000 was an outstanding year for Shotts, winning the World Pipe Band Championship for the thirteenth time and participating in the Millennium Concert in Glasgow,” said Pipe Major Robert Mathieson. “The hard work of last year has been continued through the closed season, and part of our winter program includes co-writing concert pieces and compositions with leading members of Bagad Brieg, who will be an integral part of our pre-World’s concert in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in August.”

The band promises that the Glasgow event will be “an eye opener and will feature some very special music.”

The band has reportedly had an influx of new pipers and drummers in the last few months. Mathieson also commented that “the forthcoming Northern Ireland Concert is an important part of our diary for this year and it will help our new players to integrate into the band unit; as the Celtic Connections concert in January did for us.”

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P/M Ross Stewart, 1924-2001

Published: January 31, 2001

Pipe Major Ross Stewart of the 48th Highlanders of Canada died of cancer at the age of 76 in Toronto in early January.

A decorated World War II veteran, Stewart served with the 48th Highlanders from 1943 until 1975, and was Pipe Major of the regiment’s band for ten years, beginning in 1965.

Stewart started piping at the age of 13 and joined the 48th as a boy piper. He was awarded the Order of Military Merit in 1985, and organized remembrance activities in Holland, where the 48th Highlanders played an important role in that country’s liberation during the war.

P/M Stewart regularly played for Britain’s royal family when they would visit Canada, as well as numerous Toronto Maple Leafs home openers. Over 400 mourners attended his funeral at St. Andrew’s church in downtown Toronto.

Toronto Indoor Games Scheduled for April 21

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The Toronto Indoor Games, one of North America’s oldest indoor piping traditions, is scheduled to return on April 21, 2001, after a two-year hiatus.

The event will be held at Fort York Armoury, home of the Toronto Scottish Regiment, in Toronto’s west end. Over twenty years have passed since the event was held in at an armoury, a traditional venue for the competition.

All solo piping and drumming events will be available, as well as a mini-band competition for all grades. Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario 2001 Champion Supreme points will be applied to the amateur solo competitions.

“Holding the Toronto Indoor Games has been cost-prohibitive for the last two years,” said PPBSO Toronto Branch president Jim McDonald. “This year we’re fortunate to have been able to work out an economical way to hold the games, thanks to the suppport of our good friends at Fort York Armoury.”

Further information on the event may be obtained from PPBSO Toronto Branch vice president Ross Murdoch.

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Pipers Go Through in Toronto Amateur Knockout Qualifier

Published:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – January 27, 2001 – A strong turnout of pipers competed at the qualifying rounds of the Toronto Amateur Knockout competitions at Fort York Armoury on the west side of the city.

Four pipers from the Grade 1 & 2 and six from the Grade 3 & 4 sections were selected to play in the final round on February 24.

Going through in the Grade 1 & 2 MSR section were: Kirsten Campbell, Steven Jenkins, Matthew Mitchell and Lionel Tupman. Also competing were Trevor Smith, Kevin Symington and Ashley Weeden.

In the Grade 3 & 4 slow air and 6/8 march qualifier were Robert Cairns, Dan Chisholm, Brian Grant, Erin Grant, Greg Howard and Joshua Kelly. Also competing: Stuart Aumonier, Scott Kirkland, Cameron MacKenzie, Ashley Penney, Jamie Robb, and Emma Watson.

Both events were judged by Andrew Berthoff, who commented that the standard in each contest was particularly good, and that choosing the finalists was very difficult.

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RSPBA Millennium Group Meeting a Good Start

Published:

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s (RSPBA) Millennium Implementation Group meeting of January 21, 2001, in Glasgow, Scotland, went well.

In what was the group’s first meeting, it was agreed that the Millennium Group Report of January 2000, which was approved in principal at the RSPBA’s 2000 annual general meeting, will be implemented in an agreed sequence, and that the principals contained in the report cannot be renegotiated by the Implementation Group.

Additionally, Alistair Aitken, who was chairman of the Millennium Group, will chair the Implementation Group. The membership of the group includes five from the original Review Group and six from representing branches.

Members of the Implementation Group have also agreed not to stand for office with the RSPBA for three years after the
group’s work ends, and will not seek employment with the RSPBA for same period.

“This is great news for the pipe band world,” said one Scottish Grade 1 bandsman. “Things really seem to be coming together finally for the RSPBA, and I hope it continues.”

On the subject of conflict of interest, perhaps the most contentious element of the original proposal, members of the group will not be allowed to participate in project sub-groups in which either they or their colleagues recognize a possible conflict.

The group also has agreed that a new spirit of openness with RSPBA members and other interested organizations around the world ensue.

The Implementation Group’s next meeting is scheduled for February 25, 2001, in Glasgow.

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Saskatchewan Concert Kicks Off New Band Season

Published:

The pipe band year gets underway in Saskatchewan, Canada, with the Grade 2 City of Regina Pipe Band‘s 10th Annual Mid-Winter Celtic Festival on February 1-3, 2001.

Highlighting the weekend is the Mid-Winter Ceilidh, which for the first time ever runs on two separate nights due to demand for tickets in past years. The City of Regina Pipe Band is featured in 60-minute concert that includes a variety of music, and includes guest musicians and dancers.

Celtic bands “Seanachie” and “Scatter the Mud” round out the entertainment at the Ceilidh.

The City of Regina Pipe Band will be performing with a number of new members, and a completely re-designed drum corps. For the first time ever, the band has a full section of snare, tenor and bass, and the corps has had significant input from Duncan Millar, who led the LA Scots to a Grade 2 World Drums Corps Championship, and who now plays in the SFU corps.

Other events at the band’s three-day festival include a Scotch tasting event; Celtic storytelling; and a Celtic Fair on Saturday, February 3. The fair features live music and dance performances, dance workshops for beginners, crafts and sales tables, information on local Celtic organizations, Celtic storytelling sessions and activities for children.

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Boghall & Bathgate Plans Belfast Concert

Published:

The Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band of Bathgate, Scotland, has announced that it will perform on stage in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 5, 2001, at the Spires Centre.

The concert will also be recorded for the band’s first album since 1989’s Rubik’s Cube album. The Monkstown Mossley Pipe Band of Belfast is promoting the concert, which, according to the band, will also feature guest performers.

“The guys and I are really looking forward to the concert,” said Ross Walker, Boghall & Bathgate Pipe Major. “It will give us the opportunity to demonstrate the forward strides the band has taken in the last couple of years – getting close to the Boghall of old.”

Boghall finished the 2000 season on a very strong note by winning the Cowal Pipe Band Championship at Dunoon, Scotland, in August. Many had thought that the band deserved a higher placing at the 2000 World Pipe Band Championships, in which it finished sixth.

Early expert predictions indicate that 2001 could be an even bigger year for Boghall.

“We’re looking forward to the new competition season, building on the success of last year The concert will also help us to hit the ground running when the new season arrives,” Walker continued.

Further information on the May 5 Boghall & Bathgate Belfast concert can be obtained from the band’s Web site.

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Stick-to-it-iveness

Published:

Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor, Volume 1
Distributed by Cameron’s Drumming Studio

Reviewed by Tim Gladden

With a quick initial skimming, Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor, Volume 1 struck me as being a good potential buy not just for a beginning drummer, but for any teacher of beginning drummers.

It provides a solid foundation of material, and does so for drummers even at the very early stages of their development. This is a big plus, because I have always found that I need to produce material for my students who are just starting out. I tend to keep a library of that stuff laying around someplace, but I run out of copies, make notes on my originals, give the originals out with the intention of getting them back—which never happens.

There never seemed to be a book available that would lay out that information in a succinct way that I wanted to present to my students. Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor is great for any teacher.

The book itself is broken into five sections, preceded by examples of written notation with descriptions on how to read them as well as how to use all of the tools that come in and with the book. The first three sections deal with the basics. Each section begins with a well-written explanation on how to proceed from there, followed by several pages of examples.

The examples are annotated with the corresponding CD audio track. Again, this is very thorough. Most drummers would find the target level of the exercises to be very, very basic. The last two sections get into drum scores. The presentation in general is progressive, and armed with the book and companion CD, I would think that one could gain some ground.

Joe-Bob says, “Check it out.”

The book comes with a CD-ROM. This is great, especially since it contains video files (avi format—8 bit mono), as well as CD audio tracks. Unfortunately, the video data is on track one, which breaks auto-play for some hardware configurations on the computer for the CD audio, and the first track has to be skipped in CD players because some CD players translate the data into noise.

There is a clear warning printed on the CD, so make sure to follow the instructions when using it. I tested this CD on five different computers in the Adobe Systems test labs (mostly because I thought my machine was broken and couldn’t play any audio tracks), and the CD audio worked on three machines, but the avi tracks were fine on all—good picture and clear sound.

In short, use a CD player to hear the audio tracks, and use your computer to view the video files. This is not a big disappointment because this type of configuration is very tricky to implement, and most folks would probably choose the CD player for the audio tracks anyway. Anything in the way of audio or visual aid is a huge bonus, and a companion CD was a great idea.

I particularly like the first section. As someone who sometimes teaches beginners, I think this section is invaluable, and as complete as it could possibly be in just four pages. My thanks go to Doug for saving me from ever having to write out anything like it ever again (and of course, subsequently losing it). If you are just starting out, or if you teach those who are just starting, then this book is a good bet.

Tim Gladden has played with several top bands in his drumming career, including Simon Fraser University, Triumph Street, and Alameda County Sheriff’s. Professionally, he is a software engineer with Adobe Systems and lives in Livermore, California.

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Joe Noble

Published:

Joe Noble is a prime and rare example of great talent, intense intelligence, and genuine kindness combining in one person. As a highly regarded member of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s judges panel, Noble is directly in touch with the activities of that organization. As a former top player, he is in tune also with the thoughts of pipers and drummers around the world. He has strong opinions about the current state of pipe band competitions and the way the RSPBA governs them, and is concerned that the organization currently risks drifting away from the desires and wishes of the players as a result of it becoming overly bureaucratic.

Joe Noble was born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, in 1942. Neither of his parents were connected with piping or drumming but, about five years after the Noble family moved to Glasgow in 1949, Joe started drumming lessons with the local Boys’ Brigade band.

His talent for drumming was immediate, and he progressed rapidly with the 214 Boys’ Brigade Pipe Band until he was good enough to play with the Grade One Renfrew Pipe Band. He stayed with Renfrew for an impressive 23 years, most of them as Leading Drummer. While with the band, Noble was surrounded by great piping and drumming talent, including Iain MacLellan, Alex Connell, Andrew Hosie, George Hunter, Robert Turner, and Tom Anderson, who, as Pipe Major of Renfrew, had a distinct impact on Noble’s career.

His competitive drumming career was impressive, especially when considering he played at a time when the great Alex Duthart was his contemporary. In 1972, Joe Noble won the Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Challenge Trophy for drummers—the equivalent at that time of a world solo championship. When the association did in fact create the World Solo Drumming Championship in 1975, Joe Noble was its first winner.

With Renfrew, Joe Noble guided his drum corps to a World Drumming Championship title in 1974, and also won the drumming at the Cowal Championship four times—1968, ’71, ’73, and ’75.

In 1982, he was coaxed out of retirement after only a few months when he agreed to lead the drum corps of the Grade Two Toyota Pipe Band, which dominated that grade for several years until it was promoted to Grade One.

When the Toyota band folded in 1986, Joe Noble retired from competitive drumming and started The Band Room, a business dedicated to supplying bands and orchestras of all types with equipment. With Iain MacLellan, his partner in The Band Room, Joe Noble’s shop on West Regent Street in Glasgow is a social centre for pipers and drummers year round, and becomes especially busy the week before each World Championship.

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Toronto Police Pipe Band Announces Concert

Published:

The Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band has announced that it will perform on stage on March 31, 2001, at the Cardinal Carter Academy Theatre in the band’s home town. The concert, “One Fine Day – a New Dimension in Celtic Music,” will also feature the Scottish Dance Company of Canada.

The band, which was one of the 13 qualifiers for the final at the 2000 World Pipe Band Championships, and which has featured in numerous Grade 1 prize lists for the last 10 years, has enjoyed an influx of top piping and drumming talent.

In the pipe section, top players such as James MacHattie, formerly of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, and James Troy Jr., formerly of the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, have been welcomed into the ranks. The drum section has also benefited, with the addition of four former members of the Peel Regional Police, including that band’s former lead drummer, Jeremy Keddy.

Keddy was replaced as lead drummer of Peel by Drew Duthart in September 2000.

Further information on the concert can be obtained by contacting 905-459-1125.

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Ontario Outdoor Contests Circuit Confirmed

Published:

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) has nearly finalized its schedule of sanctioned outdoor events for the 2001 season. The list comprises 12 contests, with another possibly being added very soon.

June
9th – Georgetown, Ontario
16th – Fort Erie, Ontario (Canadian Championships, Champion Supreme)

July
1st – Embro, Ontario
7th – Kincardine, Ontario
14th – Chatham, Ontario (Champion Supreme)
21st – Cambridge, Ontario (tentative)
28th – Barrie, Ontario (Champion Supreme)

August
4th – Maxville, Ontario (North American Championships, Champion Supreme)
5th – Montreal, Quebec
11th – Fergus, Ontario (Champion Supreme)
18th – Sarnia, Ontario (Champion Supreme)
25th – Almonte, Ontario

The Fort Erie games have also indicated that prize money for bands and soloists will be raised substantially this year. It is alleged that they will commit and additional $1000 to pipe band events in each grade.

Possibly also on the schedule is the Uxbridge, Ontario, Highland Games on July 29th. It is undetermined whether the PPBSO will be involved with the piping and drumming events at the event.

The event held in Hamilton, Ontario, last year is not scheduled for 2001.

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Major UK Championships Still Not Determined

Published:

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association is yet to finalize venues for two of their five major championships, leaving planning unusually late for member bands.

While the European Championships (Ayr, June 23), the World Championships (Glasgow, August 11), and the Cowal Championships (Dunoon, August 25) have all been scheduled, the Scottish and British championships have neither a date nor a home for 2001. Dates and venues for major championships are normally known before December.

According to sources, it is “95-percent likely” that the British will be in Northern Ireland on May 19, and there are unconfirmed reports that the Scottish will be in early September, possibly at Rouken Glen.

“The longer it takes to finalize this, the more difficult it is for bands to plan and budget for the year,” said one Scottish Grade 1 band member. “It’s even harder for any overseas bands that want to play at the first major to qualify for the final at the World’s.”

Said another insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity, “It is symptomatic of the shambles the RSPBA is in that these items, which are basically what they do, are still not resolved.”

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RSPBA Schedules Millennium Report Meeting

Published:

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) has called a meeting for January 21, 2001, to discuss implementation of the association’s Millennium Report, submitted in January 2000.

The Report, which recommends a wholesale restructuring of the organization, and addresses such contentious issues as manufacturers judging competitions, was accepted in principal in March 2000 at the RSPBA’s Annual General Meeting.

Members of the original Millennium Group, which included such luminaries as Gordon Parkes of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band and adjudicator Alistair Aitken, who chaired the group, will join six individuals nominated by the branches of the association. The last point is also unresolved, as only four representatives were approved at the AGM.

The meeting will be chaired by new RSPBA National Council Chairman George Ussher.

It is so far not clear whether the original Millennium Group will actually be part of the implementation committee.

Said one insider, “I am disappointed that the (RSPBA) over the past 10 months has relegated the vital implementation stage to the back burner. There is still a very vocal element within the association that will do everything possible to stop the major change aimed at the rooting out of commercial interests.”

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Joint Committee Meeting An Unprecedented Success

Published:

Scotland’s Joint Committee on solo piping met on January 6, 2001, to resume discussions after its meeting of October 29 was adjourned.

There are nine seats on the committee: three for the Competing Pipers Association, three for the Piobaireachd Society, and three for promoters of the major competitions (Oban, Inverness, London, Skye, and the National Mod).

The primary function of the meeting was to resume discussion of the CPA’s poll of its members for opinions on judges on the Piobaireachd Society, Association of Piping Adjudicators (APA) and other rosters.

While Piper & Drummer Online has not been able to confirm details, preliminary information indicates that resolution has been obtained on a new list of judges. It is also thought that as many as ten judges from the APA’s list will be invited to return to benches they have previously refused to sit on.

“The main part of the success of the meeting from CPA’s point of view is that the discussions fully included the opinions of CPA members,” said Colin MacLellan, President of the CPA. “We were very pleased with the discussions and are delighted at the outcomes of the meeting. We feel that new directions and attitudes have been taken that will serve piping well in the future.”

It is also thought that a new code of conduct for adjudicators will be drafted, which will include items such as conflict of interest when judging pupils, currently one of the most contentious issues in solo piping.

While results from the CPA’s poll have not been disclosed to its membership at large, Piper & Drummer Online has learned from various sources that several established judges received votes of no confidence. It is thought that almost all of these adjudicators will no longer be permitted to judge the major competitions.

Said one top solo piper: “If this is true, then it is a true breakthrough for solo piping. This may well be the first time that the views of the competitors themselves are being taken into serious consideration. Let’s hope that the blatantly biased judges out there are dealt with so that these events will be unquestionably the best possible.”

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Renwick Named Pipe Major of Vale

Published:

Perth, Scotland – January 7, 2001 – Andrew Renwick has been officially elected the new Pipe Major of the MacNaughton’s Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, succeeding long-time leader Ian Duncan who resigned in November of last year.

It had been speculated that Renwick would be named to the post, after being interim Pipe Major after Duncan’s departure. Perhaps most well known outside of Scotland for the Gordon Duncan tune, “Andy Renwick’s Ferret,” Renwick has played with the Vale for over 15 years.

Renwick was elected in an extraordinary general meeting held today in Perth, where the band practices. He will hold the post for a term of three years.

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Rich material

Published:

Ann Gray’s Collection – Music for the Great Highland Bagpipe
Compiled by Ann Gray
82 tunes, 76 pages

Reviewed by Anne Spalding

Ann Gray’s Collection appears first as a nicely laid out book with a comprehensive range of tunes. The book comprises an abundant eighty-one tunes, new compositions with a peppering of new arrangements of traditional melodies.

The march section contains a hefty twenty-two tunes and includes all the familiar time signatures. The two 12/8 marches, “Miss Patricia Robertson,” by David Laws, and “The Renfrew Rose” by Colin Magee are instantly attractive tunes. The seven 2/4 marches are all fairly solid tunes, written in the traditional idiom. 6/8 marches follow, seven in all, with Stuart MacNeil making the rhythms just a little different in his tune Allan John MacNeil.

The strathspey section of the book contains only seven tunes, lending weight to the notion that it is difficult for composers to find new inspiration for this category. Indeed, two of the strathspeys are arrangements of traditional tunes. “The Rose Among the Heather” has had a part added by Jeff Brewer to meet the minimum four part requirement for competition standards

Sir Jimmy Shand, 1908-2000

Published: December 31, 2000

The great Scottish accordionist Sir Jimmy Shand died at the age of 92 on December 23, 2000, and was laid to rest in Auchtermuchty, Fife, on December 29.

Many of Shand’s compositions are staples of the Highland bagpipe repertory, including the marches “Dundee Military Tattoo” and “Kirkwall Bay.”

Shand sold millions of records in his lifetime, and in 1953 his “Bluebell Polka” was a bestseller in the United Kingdom. Born in the Fife mining village of East Wemyss, Shand’s first instrument was the harmonica. He later switched to the button-key accordion, of which he soon became world-renowned.

In the 1950s and ’60s, many of Shand’s concerts drew huge crowds in the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America. A performance in Aberdeen attracted 20,000. Even at the age of 86 he performed in Fife with his son, also a celebrated box player, and the resulting video, “Dancing With the Shands,” went to number nine on the UK video charts.

The Queen in her New Year’s honours knighted Jimmy Shand in 1998.

Awards for 2000

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Our editorial staff has selected what it considers to be the most important products and artists of the year. The awards committee based its decisions on reviews, reader feedback, and overall market trends and competition results.

ArtistsSolo Piper of the Year:Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland. 2000 was a spellbinding year for McCallum, and one of the best competitive seasons of modern times. Among his victories were the Donald MacLeod Invitational, the Dan Reid Memorial, the Campbeltown Invitational, the Dunvegan Medal, the Former Winners MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering, the Glenfiddich Championship, the Lochaber Gold Axe, and the Former Winners MSR at London.

Pipe Band of the Year:Lothian & Borders Police, Edinburgh, Scotland. Despite being relegated to Grade 2 in fall 1999, Lothian & Borders dominated the grade throughout the 2000 season, securing its promotion to Grade 1 in October of this year. Competition success aside, L&B was the most talked-about band in the world in 2000, and, under the guidance of Pipe Major Colin MacLellan and lead drummer Arthur Cooke, the band is poised to return to its musical renown of the 1970s.

Drummer of the Year:Jim Kilpatrick, Whitburn, Scotland. By winning a phenomenal twelfth World Solo Drumming Championship, Kilpatrick again extended his legendary status as a player. Additionally, he travels the world teaching and bringing his knowledge to students and is a committed ambassador of pipe band drumming.

ProductsSolo Piping Recording of the Year:Willie McCallum, World’s Greatest Pipers, Volume 14. Lismor Recordings of Glasgow was fortunate to catch McCallum at the absolute height of his career, resulting in a CD that is, as Jack Lee cited in his Piper & Drummer review, flawless.

Pipe Band Recording of the Year:Dedication: the St. Thomas Episcopal School Pipe Band. This CD from Mike Cusack’s Grade 3 St. Thomas School band is an astonishing tour de force in the annals of pipe band recordings. Some of the most well-produced and arranged selections in history can be found on this project, proving that even “small” bands can produce standard-setting recordings without even the support of a record company.

“Fusion” Piping Recording of the Year:Tryst: Iain MacInnes. On this CD from Greentrax, MacInnes has made one of the finest folk piping recordings ever. His deft musicality and featherlight hands, combined with some of the UK’s best Celtic folk musicians makes this one of the year’s product highlights. We find ourselves playing Tryst again and again, the mark of a truly great recording.

Music Book of the Year:Bagpipe Music, Book 2, Bill Livingstone. Livingstone’s long-awaited follow-up to his first collection in 1988 is full of quality compositions, many of which have been heard over the years from his 78th Fraser Highlanders.

Special Product Awards:Pipes Ready! Jim McGillivray This instructional video on bagpipe maintenance is one of the most professional products of its kind to hit the piping world. A perfect complement to McGillivray’s tremendously successful Rhythmic Fingerwork, Pipes Ready! is the first of a series of instructional piping videos.

The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, 1750-1950 by William Donaldson is a historical masterpiece in perfect keeping with the new millennium. Donaldson’s exhaustive and persuasive research has quite rightly brought into question the validity of piobaireachd as it is played today, and seriously queried the work of the Piobaireachd Society.

“Rocket” Drone Reeds from Mark Lee. Not produced on a wide scale, Oklahoman Mark Lee’s carbon-fibre drone reeds were one of the most sought-out products for pipers. In two models, the reeds were played by pipers such as Alasdair Gillies and Jack Lee with great effect. Rather than attempting to patent the reeds, Lee has made his designs available to all via the Internet.

News Story of the YearThe RSPBA’s Millennium Group Report. 2000 started with a bang with the subsmission of the much-anticipated report from the RSPBA’s “Millennium Group.” A hard-hitting and frank document that pulled no punches, the report was a breath of fresh air. While the pipe band world eagerly awaits successful implementation of the approved suggestions, the report eventually could be seen as a watershed for improving what is seen by many as a desperate situation.

The year 2000 was one of great products and performances, and proved to be a terrific way to start a new century. While many players, bands and products contributed to the year’s success, these are the ones we’ve settled upon. We looks forward to an even better 2001.

p|dWhat do you think? We always want to hear from our readers, so please use our comment system to provide your thoughts!

Do you have news? Be sure to send your information to pipes|drums. We can’t report what we don’t know about! Please remember to support the businesses that advertise and make the not-for-profit p|d possible.

Piper & Drummer Online’s Awards for 2000

Published:

Our editorial staff has selected what it considers to be the most important products and artists of the year. The awards committee based its decisions on reviews, reader feedback, and overall market trends and competition results.

Artists

Solo Piper of the Year:Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland. 2000 was a spellbinding year for McCallum, and one of the best competitive seasons of modern times. Among his victories were the Donald MacLeod Invitational, the Dan Reid Memorial, the Campbeltown Invitational, the Dunvegan Medal, the Former Winners MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering, the Glenfiddich Championship, the Lochaber Gold Axe, and the Former Winners MSR at London.

Pipe Band of the Year:Lothian & Borders Police, Edinburgh, Scotland. Despite being relegated to Grade 2 in fall 1999, Lothian & Borders dominated the grade throughout the 2000 season, securing its promotion to Grade 1 in October of this year. Competition success aside, L&B was the most talked-about band in the world in 2000, and, under the guidance of Pipe Major Colin MacLellan and lead drummer Arthur Cooke, the band is poised to return to its musical renown of the 1970s.

Drummer of the Year:Jim Kilpatrick, Whitburn, Scotland. By winning a phenomenal twelfth World Solo Drumming Championship, Kilpatrick again extended his legendary status as a player. Additionally, he travels the world teaching and bringing his knowledge to students and is a committed ambassador of pipe band drumming.

Products

Solo Piping Recording of the Year:Willie McCallum, World’s Greatest Pipers, Volume 14. Lismor Recordings of Glasgow was fortunate to catch McCallum at the absolute height of his career, resulting in a CD that is, as Jack Lee cited in his Piper & Drummer review, flawless.

Pipe Band Recording of the Year:Dedication: the St. Thomas Episcopal School Pipe Band. This CD from Mike Cusack’s Grade 3 St. Thomas School band is an astonishing tour de force in the annals of pipe band recordings. Some of the most well-produced and arranged selections in history can be found on this project, proving that even “small” bands can produce standard-setting recordings without even the support of a record company.

“Fusion” Piping Recording of the Year:Tryst: Iain MacInnes. On this CD from Greentrax, MacInnes has made one of the finest folk piping recordings ever. His deft musicality and featherlight hands, combined with some of the UK’s best Celtic folk musicians makes this one of the year’s product highlights. We find ourselves playing Tryst again and again, the mark of a truly great recording.

Music Book of the Year:Bagpipe Music, Book 2, Bill Livingstone. Livingstone’s long-awaited follow-up to his first collection in 1988 is full of quality compositions, many of which have been heard over the years from his 78th Fraser Highlanders.

Special Product Awards:Pipes Ready! Jim McGillivray This instructional video on bagpipe maintenance is one of the most professional products of its kind to hit the piping world. A perfect complement to McGillivray’s tremendously successful Rhythmic Fingerwork, Pipes Ready! is the first of a series of instructional piping videos.

The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, 1750-1950 by William Donaldson is a historical masterpiece in perfect keeping with the new millennium. Donaldson’s exhaustive and persuasive research has quite rightly brought into question the validity of piobaireachd as it is played today, and seriously queried the work of the Piobaireachd Society.

“Rocket” Drone Reeds from Mark Lee. Not produced on a wide scale, Oklahoman Mark Lee’s carbon-fibre drone reeds were one of the most sought-out products for pipers. In two models, the reeds were played by pipers such as Alasdair Gillies and Jack Lee with great effect. Rather than attempting to patent the reeds, Lee has made his designs available to all via the Internet.

News Story of the Year

The RSPBA’s Millennium Group Report. 2000 started with a bang with the subsmission of the much-anticipated report from the RSPBA’s “Millennium Group.” A hard-hitting and frank document that pulled no punches, the report was a breath of fresh air. While the pipe band world eagerly awaits successful implementation of the approved suggestions, the report eventually could be seen as a watershed for improving what is seen by many as a desperate situation.

The year 2000 was one of great products and performances, and proved to be a terrific way to start a new century. While many players, bands and products contributed to the year’s success, these are the ones we’ve settled upon. We looks forward to an even better 2001.

p|d

What do you think? We always want to hear from our readers, so please use our comment system to provide your thoughts!

Do you have news? Be sure to send your information to pipes|drums. We can’t report what we don’t know about! Please remember to support the businesses that advertise and make the not-for-profit p|d possible.

P/M James W.A. Watt, CD, 1922-2000

Published:

On Saturday, December 16, 2000, Pipe Major James Watt passed away after suffering a series of heart attacks. He was well known on the west coast of North America, from California to Alaska and all points in between. James was born in North Vancouver in 1922 to William and Roscalina Watt. His father was a sea Captain and an original member of the B.C. Pipers’ Association.

James took up the pipe in 1930 and continued to play until his last days. In the interval, many are the tunes he played and many are those he composed. His principle teacher was the late, great John Gillies, Scots Guards and Seaforth Highlanders. While overseas during World War II, he was fortunate enough to attend Edinburgh Castle under Pipe Major William Ross and to meet that master of piobaireachd, John MacDonald of Inverness. He never forgot John MacDonald’s admonition, “make a song of it, whatever you do.”

Starting in the1930s he followed the sea in the footsteps of his father. He left the coastal ships to work as a pipe fitter’s helper at Brittannia Beach so that he could get in a blow or two with the local Pipe Band under Angus Macaulay. He was called up by the Seaforths in 1939 – he had served previously in the Seaforth Reserve Pipe Band along with Ed Esson, Danny Murray, Billy Armstrong and John Gibson, among others. Following many peregrinations during the war years Jimmy wound up in Europe where, at war’s end he was the Senior Pipe Major in the British Commonwealth.

Winner of many trophies for his piping, he took great pride in winning the MacCrimmon Memorial Cairn and MacCrimmon Memorial Medal in 1941, 1948 and 1950.

He had a varied career after WW II. For a time he had a radio program that featured Gaelic music and song and frequent guest artists who would talk about piping and give a blow on the pipe. Later, he operated a commercial salmon troll vessel. This particular experience was to influence a number of his musical compositions in later years.

James Watt had the soul of a poet, a quality that found expression in both his music and his poetry. His three piobaireachd compositions, “Dunvegan’s Galley,” “Cronan Boreraig” and “Dawning of Day” were tone poems that captured the essence of a particular experience. His 50 or so other compositions were all lyrical in quality – his well known “Brentwood Bay” and “Sailing Before the Wind” exemplify this poetical style.

James Watt took much from piping and gave more back. He was a respected adjudicator and a thoughtful teacher. He was particularly adept in introducing beginners to the music. He said that young players should not choose difficult, elaborate tunes to conquer early in their development. “Learn with simple tunes, like the ’79th’s Farewell to Gibraltar,’ for example. Learn to bring out the delightful music locked in those cold notes printed on a piece of paper. Once able to do that, the door to the world of elaborate and complex music is yours to open.”

He founded the Western Academy of Pipe Music and for 22 years presented a summer school in the Okanagan. A feature of the Academy was the annual award of the Seaforth Trophy to the winner of an Open Amateur competition (march, strathspey and reel of choice). This trophy, dating back to 1912, was presented by the Seaforth Highlanders for perpetual use by the Western Academy. James enjoyed each of those sessions enormously. It was only a month ago that he made a decision to close the Academy.

Until the very end, the music kept going “round and round” as the old song has it. It was a joy to sit with James Watt to talk about piping and listen to him “make a song of it.”

– Ron MacLeod, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

A Personal Muse Mission

Published:

A Collection of Tunes By: Gordon Taylor – Operation Golden Chair
Published by the author, 37 pages, 59 tunes
Available from the author: 38 Sunrise Cove, Winnipeg, MB R2G 4B2
vtaylor@mbnet.mb.ca

The second book of music from Gordon Taylor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a self-published effort, with 59 compositions included within its serlocks bound covers. While Operation Golden Chair is no threat to upstage Donald MacLeod’s Book 4, there are certainly numerous merits to be discovered by the pipe band searching for original new material.

The book runs the gamut of time signatures and tune types – and then some. Taylor is clearly adept at exploring new rhythms and introducing new concepts to Highland bagpipe music. For example, for the first time ever (as far as we know, anyway), a rumba graces the pages of a pipe tune collection. While “King’s Head Rhumba” [sic] (and its accompanying harmony and counterpoint) is interesting, it, like most of the music in the collection lacks a strong and simple melodic line, essential for a tune to withstand the test of time.

The strongest section is the reels, and Taylor has an affinity for two-parters that flow off the fingers. “We’re Nae Sailors” and “Vanessa’s Rejection” are particularly good tunes that would fit well into many medleys. His translation of jigs to reels, in this case “The Kesh Jig” and “Am Breamatin Tobhain Dubh,” are well put together, and could be knitted nicely with their originals. (Incidentally, the translation of the latter tune’s Gaelic title is literally, “The Farting of the Black Ass” – a practical joke by Toronto’s John Wilson, who needed a title for the traditional, nameless jig and got one from his friend Neil Angus MacDonald.)

Full credit also to Taylor who courageously tackles strathspey composition. Many of today’s collections don’t even try to attempt the difficult idiom, and “The Psychotic Slag,” complete with C naturals, is melodically strong and clever.

There are a few very good pieces for the band or soloist with a penchant for the stage. “St Mary’s Cinderella” is an excellent waltz, “The Khgerstyning” is a clever 9/8 + 12/8 jig, and the hornpipe “Dewdney Drugs” works well.

There are several bright spots to Operation Golden Chair, and that’s several more than many collections churned out of late. A few of today’s most highly regarded composers first published their works themselves on a small budget. Gordon Taylor could well be the latest young writer on whom we should keep an eye.

p|d

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Do you have a product that you would like to have considered for review? Be sure to contact pipes|drums. We can’t report what we don’t know about! Please remember to support the businesses that advertise and make the not-for-profit p|d possible.

Western Australia Police Pipe Band

Published:

The Western Australia Police Pipe Band was formed on 12th May 1966 and wears the Napier tartan.

In 1996 the band took a new direction, amalgamating the sounds of pipes and drums with other instruments, including acoustic and bass guitar, synthesizer, drum kit and various percussion instruments providing a diverse repertoire that would hopefully appeal to a wider cross section of the community.

Since that initial step the band has expanded and further developed their concert repertoire, resulting in the release of three CDs. First in 1996 releasing Seolauh Ur (meaning Direction New) followed by the very popular Music of the Gael.

On November 25, 2000, the band released a third CD, Off Duty, at their annual concert, which attracted a crowd of 1100 people, believed to be the biggest pipe band concert to date in Australia.

In August 1997 the band performed at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. While in Scotland they also competed in three pipe band competitions, gaining 3rd, 5th and 1st placings.

As a result of the band’s efforts in 1997 they returned to Scotland to contest the Grade 2 competition at the 1998 World Pipe Band Championships. Prior to competing at the World Championships the band entered into competitions at both the North Berwick Highland Games and the Perth Highland Games, at which it was placed first on each occasion.

On August 15, 1998 against a field of 32 bands from around the world, the Western Australia Police Pipe Band contested and were declared the winners of Grade 2 at the 1998 World Pipe Band Championships.

The band consists of 15 full time members, employed by the Western Australia Police Service, comprising both “sworn” police officers and “unsworn” members. Additionally the band has a number of guest players. When not engaged in their prime function as band officers the members assist various sections throughout the police service.

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ANAPBA Reports on ‘Distance Learning’

Published:

The Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations has issued a committee report on “Distance Learning” in which it suggests ways that technology could be used to educate and train pipers across North America.

“It is recognized that week-to-week, one-on-one instruction is the most effective method for advancement of pipers and drummers,” the report states. “This report presents some ideas on using current video conferencing technology to permit access to prominent North American instructors by students across the continent for one-on-one instruction.”

While currently an expensive proposition, using the Internet to teach piping and drumming would appear an ideal solution for those in remote areas without access to qualified instructors.

Said one insider: “It’s pretty clear that the Internet could have an even bigger impact on piping and drumming around the world than the advent of the personal tape recorder in the 1960s.”

The ANAPBA report would appear to be the first of its kind among piping and pipe band associations.

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What do you think? We always want to hear from our readers, so please use our comment system to provide your thoughts!

Do you have news? Be sure to send your information to pipes|drums. We can’t report what we don’t know about! Please remember to support the businesses that advertise and make the not-for-profit p|d possible.

Northern Ontario to Host New Band Contest and Concert

Published:

North Bay, Ontario, will be host to a new pipe band competition on May 18 and 19, 2001, at the city’s first Celtic Arts Celebration. The event will also feature a joint concert by the MacTarnahan’s Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco, California, and the Celtic Flair Pipe Band of Mississauga, Ontario.

“The city of North Bay came to us about having a festival,” said Mark Porter, chairman of the pipe band events. “They have agreed to back us and allow us the city resources in making sure this event is a huge success for years to come.”

The Prince Charles band won the Grade 2 event at the 2000 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, and have been officially upgraded to Grade 1 by the Western United States Pipe Band Association.

The weekend will feature Grade 1-only “Battle of the Bands” event, described as “anything goes,” where bands can demonstrate their creativity and musicality for prize money.

“This has never been done before in Northern Ontario,” Porter continues. “I feel it will better educate the non-piping enthusiasts and will give a chance for pipe band enthusiasts to hear their favourite band in a relaxed atmosphere.”

The unsanctioned event will be judged by a panel comprising half piping and half non-pipe band, “celebrity” judges.

A professional and amateur solo knock-out competition is also scheduled for the event.

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UPCOMING EVENTS August 2, 2015Montreal Highland Games Parc Arthur-Therrien in Montreal’s borough of Verdun (QC).

August 2, 2015Bridge of Allan Highland GamesBridge of Allan

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August 5, 2015Isle Of Skye Highland GamesThe Lump, Skye

August 7, 2015Dornoch Highland GatheringThe Meadows Park, Dornoch

TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: It’s rare when two consectutive melody notes are of equal length in the ground of any piobaireachd.
Andrew Berthoff, pipes|drums

FROM THE ARCHIVES