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New RSPBA Executive Officer Resigns

Published: June 30, 2000

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has confirmed that Colin Darroch, the Executive Officer of the organization since only March of this year, abruptly resigned the position on June 6.

Darroch officially took over the RSPBA’s most important position at the organization’s AGM, succeeding embattled leader Iain White.

While the RSPBA confirmed the news, it could not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Darroch’s resignation. In the absence of an Executive Officer, the association will be run by the various leaders of the RSPBA’s National Council and Music Committee.

Darroch’s resignation comes at an inopportune time for the RSPBA, as it is in the midst of considering major changes to its structure. In January, the RSPBA’s ad hocMillennium Group submitted its much-anticipated report, which recommends a dramatic overhaul of the association.

In further news, the RSPBA confirmed that it is working on an official Web site for the organization, which it hopes to unveil in the next few months.

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When Competition Rules Run Amok

Published:

We at the pipes|drums are often amazed at the number of rules for piping and drumming competitions that really have nothing to do with making music. Bands must stand at attention. Bands cannot “play off” the field. Competitors must wear a hat. Bands must march off when “the command” is given.

It’s enough to make you want to stay home and play music instead of putting art through a rules-bound competitive wringer.

Case in point: the Grade 4 Hamilton-Wentworth Police Pipe Band competes at the venerable Alma Highland Games in Michigan last week. The band neglects or forgets to march off at the “command” (we love that antiquated terms from the bygone military days), and is thus socked with a 30 point deduction from its overall score. Band plays, by most accounts, very well for the grade, and finishes 9th.

Now, there need to be rules for any trial, otherwise anarchy will ensue and there will be no pretext for what it takes to win. We accept the need for certain rules, even in almost impossible situations like piping and drumming where art is to be judged.

But many of the “rules” of pipe band competitions are holdovers from an era when making music was often secondary to military-style deportment.

When a Grade 4 band forgets to march off like little soldiers, what musical difference could it possibly make? When pipe band associations dogmatically adhere to non-musical rules, does it not communicate a very negative and archaic message that marching and discipline mean more than ensemble and expression? Yes, yes, it’s a rule, but what right-thinking rival band, judge, or association would relish seeing a contestant knocked down for something so insipid?

Even the Royal Scottish Pipe band Association routinely turns a blind eye to bands that inadvertently neglect to do their old-fashioned (but strangely charming) “pipes down / pipes ready / pipes up” choreography rule at the line. It could be pouring rain (and it usually is), but the steward or ensemble judge will generally whisper a bit of friendly advice in the pipe major’s ear about the rule if he sees the band’s forgotten.

We’re all for creating equitable musical rules that attempt to place bands on an equal playing field. But we’re also for eliminating or, depending on the situation, choosing to overlook nonsensical, non-musical rules that are simply holdovers from a long-gone era when military conduct actually had relevance on what we do.

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Gordon Walker Leaves College for Centre

Published: May 31, 2000

We have learned that world renowned piper Gordon Walker has left the College of Piping to become a senior instructor at the cross-town Piping Centre after only a few months with the College.

Despite the two Glasgow organizations resolutely claiming they want to work together, there has been clear rivalry between them since the mid-1990s, after the late Seumas MacNeill left the planning committee for the Centre.

When the College of Piping announced that it had secured Walker’s services in the early spring, there was no small amount of pride from the College at scooping one of piping’s leading soloists.

Walker concluded his military service early this year, after 15 years with the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

Further details on this news will be made available as they become known.

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New Campbeltown Contest Added to Growing List of Invitationals

Published:

The Kintyre Piping Society has announced that it will hold an invitational piping competition in Campbeltown, Argyllshire, Scotland, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Royal Burgh of Campbeltown.

The competition – reserved for winners of the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal – will be held on June 10, 2000, at the Argyll Arms Hotel in Campbeltown. Springbank Distillery of Campbeltown is reportedly putting up the prize money.

The contest will comprise Piobaireachd; March, Strathspey & Reel; and Hornpipe & Jig events. Invited players are: Brian Donaldson, Scots Guards; Angus MacColl, Oban; Roddy MacLeod, Cumbernauld; Willie McCallum, Bearsden; Stuart Shedden, Glasgow; Gordon Walker, Glasgow; Robert Wallace, Glasgow; and Greg Wilson, Falkirk. The events will by judged by John Burgess, John MacDougall, and Norman Gillies.

The new event is the latest in the growing list of invitational piping competitions, which have increased in popularity since the launch of the Grant’s Championship was formed in the mid-1970s.

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Jim Brown Wins Duirinish Stone Composing Competition

Published:

Jim Brown of Callendar, Scotland, has been announced the winner of the Isle of Skye’s Duirinish Stone composing competition and the event’s £500 prize.

There were 34 entries for the event, with 14 coming from outside of Scotland. Tunes had to be a 2/4 march with a minimum of four parts.

Brown plays with the Grade 3B Gleneagles-Strathearn Pipe Band, but has in the past played with the famous Muiread & Sons Pipe Band and, latterly, was Pipe Sergeant with the Grade 1 Toyota Pipe Band.

The contest was judged by Allan Beaton, Skye; Malcolm MacRae, Inverness; and Dr. Tony Fisher.

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Boghall Wins on Home Ground

Published:

Bathgate, Scotland – May 27, 2000 – Local favourites Boghall & Bathgate took first prize at the annual Bathgate Highland Games here today. Only two Grade 1 bands took part in the top event, with several from Grade 2 playing up.

Weather was typical of Bathgate in May: unpredictable and changeable, but generally warm. Sort of.

Grade 1: 1st Boghall & Bathgate (92.75 points), 2nd Dysart & Dundonald (87.75), 3rd 1st Battalion Black Watch (86.5), 4th City of Glasgow (85.25). Drumming: Boghall.

Grade 2: 1st 1st Battalion Black Watch (87), 2nd Boghall & Bathgate (86.5), 3rd Denny & Dunnipace (84), 4th Newtongrange (78). Drumming: City of Glasgow.

Grade 3: 1st Lochgelly High School (67.5), 2nd MacLean of Annan (64.5), 3rd Paisley (64.25), 4th Bowhill & Seafield (61.5). Drumming: MacLean of Annan.

Grade 4: 1st Newtongrange (82), 2nd Bo’ness Royal British Legion (77.75), 3rd Tweedvale (76.75), 4th Kirkcudbright & District (75). Drumming: Newtongrange.

Novice Juvenile: 1st Seafield & District (65), 2nd George Watson’s College (61.75), 3rd Bowhill & Seafield (61), 4th Dumbarton & District (57.75). Drumming: Seafield & District.

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Field Marshal Wins European Championship

Published:

Ayr, Scotland, May 20, 2000 – The Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band of Belfast, Northern Ireland, won the European Championships here today in cold, rainy, miserable weather. Ravara, also of Northern Ireland, took the Grade 2 event in a contest that was, in many ways, as closely watched as the premier event.

Only 13 bands played in Grade 1, thought to be the lowest number in that grade since the 1950s.

“The first three bands were exceptionally good, and any one of them could have taken it,” one listener said. “It’s going to be a closely-contested season this year.”

Grade 2 was highly anticipated, with controversy over the winter over the four bands demoted from Grade 1. In particular, Lothian & Borders Police had appealed its demotion, but the RSPBA elected to keep the band in Grade 2, despite an influx of excellent talent. Ravara, a band that was also demoted from Grade 1, won the event. Twenty-six bands took part in Grade 2.

The Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band, favoured by many to win the Grade 1 event, played with new moisture-control pipe bags made by R.T. Shepherd & Son Bagpipe Makers, with no bag covers. Robert Shepherd, who guided the Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band to two World Championships in the 1970s, is a member of the RSPBA judging panel. The new bags made their debut at the European and were heavily advertised in the program.

Grade 1 (MSR)
1st Field Marshal Montgomery (N. Ireland), 2nd ScottishPower, 3rd Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, 4th Strathclyde Police, 5th Boghall & Bathgate, 6th David Urquhart Travel, Drumming: ScottishPower
Judges: G. Summors, A. Wright (piping); J. Hutton (drumming); J. Baxter (ensemble).

Grade 2 (Medley)
1st Ravara, 2nd Bleary & District (N. Ireland), 3rd Lothian & Borders Police, 4th Bucksburn & District, 5th Grampian Police, 6th Dumfries & Galloway Police, Drumming: Lothian & Borders Police.
Judges: J. Campbell, R. Shepherd (piping); A. Aitken (drumming); W. Young (ensemble).

Grade 3A
1st Culter & District, 2nd 1st Batallion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 3rd Banbridge, N. Ireland, 4th Dornoch, 5th North Belfast WMC (N. Ireland), 6th Killadeas (N. Ireland, Drumming: Banbridge.

Grade 3B
1st Howard Memorial, 2nd Pride of Murray, 3rd University of Luton (England), 4th Perth & District, 5th Kircauldy, 6th Ayr, Drumming: Kircauldy.

Grade 4A
1st Syerla (N. Ireland), 2nd Culanfad, 3rd Newtongrange, 4th Magherafelt, 5th Atnaveigh Memorial, 6th Quinn Memorial (N. Ireland), Drumming: Syerla.

Grade 4B
1st Lomond & Clyde, 2nd Penicuik, 3rd Muirkirk & District, 4th Kinglassie & District, 5th Kilsyth Thistle, 6th Tweedale, Drumming: Penicuik.

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Isle of Lewis

Published:

Reviewed by Iain Speirs

Published by ISA Music, Glasgow, Scotland, 70 pages, 75 tunes

Lewis Turrell MBE is famous in the piping world as the first overseas competitor to win a Highland Society of London Gold Medal for piobaireachd. He accomplished this in 1958 at the Northern Meeting in Inverness and, in doing so, paved the way for the many others who have made the pilgrimage to Scotland to further their art. Lewis Turrell’s Collection of Bagpipe Music, his first book of bagpipe music, is a substantial piece of work, and Turrell is quite clearly a prolific composer. Fifty-five of the 75 tunes are his compositions or arrangements and they cover all the usual light music time signatures, and include a piobaireachd.

Of the 25 marches there is a good selection of competition standard 2/4s. Both the first tune in the book, “John Wilson, Strathclyde Police” by Lewis Turrell, and “Ian Bruce of Lawes” by Donald MacKinnon, would not be out of place among the more popular tunes heard around the games today. The 6/8 compositions “Pipe Major Frank MacKinnon” and “Miss Margaret Black” stand out as favourites and “Borve to Uig” is a very musical two-parted march that really deserves another two parts.

The strathspeys and reels range from the straightforward to the technically demanding, and each one of the slow airs is melodic. The hornpipes are all Turrell’s compositions, and the piobaireachd, “Lament for Benjamin Lewis Turrell,” is a fine and tuneful composition and a welcome addition.

There is a large selection of jigs to work through—24 in all. This is where the book has a lot to offer those who construct pipe band medleys, and who are on the lookout for something new. The syncopation in “Joanie Weir” appeals, and if squeals from high A to low A don’t frighten, consider “Cameron in the Drain.”

Stuart Finlayson’s version of “Shepherd’s Crook” in jig time is a straightforward translation of the strathspey and doesn’t really contain any twists or turns. However, his jig—named for Lewis Turrell—is a lively tune and worthy of the reciprocal composition, “Stuart Finlayson’s Fancy.”

The opening notes give a brief insight into the stories behind the tune names, but not all the tunes are covered. In keeping with many modern tunes, some of the titles are unusual. “Swedish Sojourn” caught the eye and I found myself wondering about the story behind it and others, such as “Cameron in the Drain” and “12.10 from Gatwick.”

The book itself is a well-presented, quality production. The tunes are nicely typeset and easy to read. This was all the more obvious to me as my music collection consists of old books handed down from my grandfather, most of which have seen better days.

A final mention should be made of the few photographs, some of which feature Lewis Turrell competing in Scotland. Where appropriate, they state the prizes he won on that day and this is tastefully done, demonstrating that Lewis Turrell is a significant player in the piping world.

A native and resident of Edinburgh, Scotland, Iain Speirs is one of today’s top solo pipers. He spent several years living in Canada in the 1990s, and has taught at the College of Piping in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. He currently plays with the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band.

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McCallum Continues Awesome Season

Published:

May 13, 2000 – San Francisco, California - Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, traveled 5,000 miles to continue his terrific season of piping success in San Francisco at the Dr. Reid Memorial Invitational Piping Competition.

McCallum garnered top honours by winning the MSR and placing second in both the Piobaireachd and Jig & Hornpipe sections. He adds the event to his growing collection of prizes for 2000, which include the piobaireachd events at the Donald MacLeod Memorial, the Scottish Pipers’ Association, and the Highland & Islands Invitational.

Jack Lee of Surrey, British Columbia, finished second in the aggregate awards, while Bill Livingstone of Whitby, Ontario, pulled up third, but took home the competition’s biggest prize by winning the Piobaireachd.

Michael Rogers of Maryland, USA, won both events in the “Cameron-Gillies” competition, in which Jenny Hazzard of Glasgow, Scotland, and Hector macDonald of Toronto, Ontario, also played.

The event was held, as it has been for the last nine years, at the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The contest has set something of a standard for opulence for piping competitions.

Masters’ Piobaireachd
1st Bill Livingstone, “The Daughter’s Lament”
2nd Willie McCallum
3rd Roddy MacLeod

Masters’ MSR
1st Willie McCallum
2nd Jack Lee
3rd Roddy MacLeod

Masters’ Jig & Hornpipe
1st Jack Lee
2nd Willie McCallum
3rd Bill Livingstone

Cameron-Gillies Piobaireachd
1st Michael Rogers
2nd Jenny Hazzard
3rd Hector MacDonald

Cameron-Gillies MSR
1st Michael Rogers
2nd Hector MacDonald
3rd Jenny Hazzard

Judges for all events were Ronald Lawrie, Oban, Scotland; Major AM Cairns, London, Ontario; and Angus J. MacLellan, Glasgow, Scotland.

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Gillies Takes Livingstone

Published:

Hamilton, Ontario – May 13, 2000 - Alasdair Gillies of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, won the annual William Livingstone Sr. Invitation Piping Competition here today by putting together two persuasive performances in each of the contest’s two events. He secured the aggegate award with a first prize in the March, Strathspey, Reel, Hornpipe & Jig and a second in the Piobaireachd section.

Andrew Hayes of Ottawa, Ontario, was a surprise winner of the Piobaireachd event with a rendition of My King Has Landed in Moidart

Vindication at Dunbar for Lothian & Borders Police

Published:

Dunbar, Scotland – May 13, 2000 - The Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band, under pressure to do well in Grade 2 after the RSPBA upheld the band’s demotion from Grade 1 despite an influx of stellar personnel, easily won the Grade 2 event here today. The band also finished a solid third in the Grade 1 contest, placed ahead by a sizable margin over several established Grade 1 bands.

McNaughton’s Vale of Atholl started their season on a strong note by winning Grade 1, while the Grade 2 list included three of the four bands demoted from Grade 1 after the 1999 season, thus foreshadowing a very tightly contested category for 2000.

Dysart & Dundonald, under new Pipe Major Brian Lamond, showed improvement by finishing fourth.

Even with Lothian & Borders Police good showing playing up in the Grade 1 contest, some at the event thought the band deserved a higher placing. Grampian Police, also demoted to Grade 2, played well in the Grade 1 event, tying Glasgow Skye for 5th, but besting them in piping.

Weather was bright, but windy.

Grade 1
1st Vale of Atholl (90.25 points)
2nd Boghall & Bathgate (86.75)
3rd Lothian & Borders Police (84.5)
4th Dysart & Dundonald (82)
Best Drum Corps: Boghall
Judges: G. Lumsden (piping), J. Kennedy (drumming)

Grade 2
1st Lothian & Borders Police (91.5)
2nd Polkemmet (86)
3rd Grampian Police (78)
4th Bucksburn & District (77.5)
5th Newtongrange (75.5)
Best Drum Corps: Lothian & Borders Police
Judges: A. Ronaldson (piping), J. Hutton (drumming)

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McCallum Rolls Along with Another Big Win

Published:

Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, continued his brilliant 2000 competition season by taking the piobaireachd event at the annual Highlands & Islands Invitational at Loch Nell Castle, Argyll, on May 6.

McCallum has already had great success at major indoor events this year, including the Uist & Barra and the Scottish Pipers.

“Willie’s on fire this year,” said one observer. “If he continues at this pace, he could have one of the best years in piping history.”

Result
1st Willie McCallum, “My King Has Landed in Moidart”
2nd Stuart Shedden, Glasgow, “Sobieski’s Salute”
3rd Greg Wilson, Falkirk, “The King’s Taxes”
4th Colin MacLellan, Glasgow, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim”

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RSPBA National Council Votes 5-4 to Keep L&B Police in Grade 2

Published:

At a meeting of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s National Council on May 6 in Glasgow, it was decided by a vote of 5-4 that the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band would in fact remain in Grade 2, where it had been demoted to after the 1999 season.

Piper & Drummer Online has learned that six National Council members abstained from voting.

It had been recommended in April that the band be returned to Grade 1 after a special audition by members of the RSPBA’s Music Board. That recommendation was overruled by the National Council, the organization’s governing body.

Lothian & Borders Police, one of the world’s oldest pipe bands having established itself as the Edinburgh City Police over a hundred years ago, has never competed in any grade but the highest. The band enjoyed a windfall of talent last fall with the addition of Colin MacLellan as Pipe Major, Arthur Cook as leading drummer and assorted experienced Grade 1 personnel throughout the ranks.

“It would appear that the vast majority of pipe band members, in Scotland in any case, were in total agreement that the downgrading of L&B was the correct action to take for a band that had performed so abysmally in the preceding two seasons,” said one person close to the situation. “In fact at the end of the 1999 season they had performed worse than the other three bands that were also downgraded.”

Others are less sanguine. Said one piper supporting L&B’s return to Grade 1, “How can it be that premier musicians appointed by the RSPBA to assess the playing standard of the band can be overruled by a group made up of mostly non-players?”

The National Council allegedly based its decision largely on the Music Board not being able to “guarantee” the band would win every Grade 2 competition in which it played. Comprising mainly non-players, the RSPBA Millennium Group’s New Year report has recommended that the National Council be replaced by an altogether different management structure.

The Lothian & Borders Police will make its historic first appearance in Grade 2 at Dunbar on May 13.

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Williamstown RSL Wins Australian Championships

Published:

The Williamstown RSL Pipe Band took the Australian Championships over the Easter weekend, edging out City of Adelaide for the Grade 1 title.

Formerly known as Footscray Pipe Band, Williamstown RSL had a windfall of talent after the collapse of the Victoria Police Pipe Band after the 1998 season in which it won the World Pipe Band Championship in a high style at Glasgow Green in Glasgow, Scotland. Eight former members of Victoria Police bolster the ranks of Williamstown.

Williamstown is planning to compete at the New Zealand Championships in 2001, and possibly a tour of Canada that year also.

Result

1st Williamstown RSL (546 points), 2nd City of Adelaide (524), 3rd Queensland Police (490.5), 4th City of Blacktown (487.5), 5th St Mary’s District Band Club (480.5). Drumming: Williamtsown RSL.

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Grounds for Dismissal

Published:

[Originally published as an Editorial]

William Donaldson’s astoundingly good and important book, The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750-1850, (see Jim McGillivray’s review in this issue) has made us once again ponder where our music has been and where it is today. One paragraph, discussing the Piobaireachd Society’s annual general meeting of 1913, resonated particularly long:

“J. P. Grant was also anxious to use the Society’s resources to promote piobaireachd as a living art, and to this end, the Music Committee [of the Piobaireachd Society] proposed to the AGM of 1913 that a competition in piobaireachd composition be held. But the Hon. Elspeth Campbell moved that the proper publishing of the older tradition was more important and the moment passed. The Great War intervened and the proposal lay dormant for fifty years.”

This passage in particular struck a chord with us for several reasons. As the Piobaireachd Society moves towards its hundredth anniversary, everyone would agree that piobaireachd is being played – and played well – by more pipers in more places than ever before. The Piobaireachd Society has compiled and published hundreds of compositions along with their various settings, and the organization is heading in an exciting and adventurous direction. In short, the Piobaireachd Society has fulfilled its fundamental mandate to preserve piping’s greatest music.

A central theme of Donaldson’s book centres on the effect that the various societies” have had on the music of the Highland pipe. His book raises the paradox that the very organizations that were meant to preserve the music have in fact stifled it. So

Duncan MacLachlan Dies in Accident

Published: April 30, 2000

Duncan MacLachlan, a stalwart of the Ontario piping scene, was killed in a traffic accident on April 24 when he was apparently crushed by a tractor at his farm in Waterloo, Ontario.

For many years MacLachlan was active as a piper and pipe major in Ontario, leading, among other bands, the Grade 2 Waterloo Police Pipe Band in the mid-1970s. The band attained Grade 1 status for a short period of time before it disbanded due to personnel issues. He was also pipe major of the Highland Fusiliers of Canada (Galt). Both bands were successful Grade 1 bands from 1971 to 1975.

Duncan MacLachlan was also well known for his management of the Cambridge Highland Games, bringing the event to attain “Canadian Pipe band Championship” status, rivalled in size and scope only by the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville.

A native of Scotland, MacLachlan served with the Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band in the 1950s before moving to Canada. He taught many people in Ontario, and, among others, introduced renowned piper Jim McGillivray to the instrument.

A memorial was held in Stratford, Ontario, on April 28 with Gail Brown of Milton, Ontario, and Ewan MacLachlan, son of Duncan, providing piping interludes.

On behalf of the entire piping world, the Piper & Drummer extends condolences to Duncan MacLachlan’s family and friends.

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Cobourg Cancels Games

Published:

The decades-old Cobourg Highland Games has decided to cancel its 2000 event due to “financial restructuring.” Held in the town of Cobourg each July, the competition had established itself as a small but popular event for the eastern Ontario region.

In years past, however, Cobourg Games has been the victim of bad weather, with extremely heavy rain in 1998 and threatening skies in 1999.

The Cobourg Games committee has indicated that it plans to discuss restarting the contest in early 2001.

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Hawke Wins Aggregate at New Zealand’s Easter Games

Published:

Hastings, New Zealand – April 22, 2000 - Donald MacPhee of Alexandria, Scotland, won the Piobaireachd Society of New Zealand’s Gold Medal at the annual Easter Highland Games here today.

MacPhee is the second successive player residing in Scotland to win the event, which is rapidly becoming New Zealands premier event. John Angus Smith, also of Scotland, won the event last year.

The games provide ample proving ground for soloists, with as many as nine 9 events to compete in over two days.

Richard Hawke of New Zealand accumulated the most points overs the nine events, thus taking the aggregate award. MacPhee is originally from the United States and emigrated to Scotland several years ago with his wife.

Other results from the Esater Games:

Gold Medal
1st Donald McPhee, “Beloved Scotland”
2nd Matin Frewen, “His Fathers Lament for Donald MacKenzie”
3rd Murray Mansefield, “Battle of Auldren #2″

Clasp (for former winners of Gold Medal)
1st Fiona Manson, “Desperate Battle”
2nd Marion Horsborough, “Beloved Scotland”
3rd Stewart McKenzie
4th John Hanning, “The Bicker”

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Jack Lee Sweeps BC Pipers Annual Gathering

Published:

Jack Lee of Surrey, British Columbia, won the MacCrimmon Cairn for piobaireachd at the BC Pipers Annual Gathering on the Easter Weekend in Vancouver. The next day, he also won the MSR and Jig events, completing the clean sweep of professional piping events. Ed Neigh, Wellesley, Ontario, was 2nd in the piobaireachd event.

Other prize winners included Ann Gray (3 prizes) and Alan Bevan (2nd in MSR), Jori Chisolm (3rd piob) and Andrew Smith (3rd in MSR).

J. Reid Maxwell continued his winning year by taking top prize in both open drumming events.

Alison Dunsire of the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band was the top amateur piper of the weekend, and won a trip to the Sherriff Amateur Invitational Piping Competition in Hamilton, Ontario, in November.

SFU had two good performances in the Grade 1 bands, and the Maple Ridge Pipe Band won the Grade 2 event. In Grade 3, the Chilliwack Pipe Band beat the reigning World Junvenile Champions Robert Malcolm Memorial, and in Grade 4 the Edmonton Boys Pipe Band bested a large field of bands to take the top prize and Best Drum Corps.

Senior Judges for the weekend were Gordon Walker, John Cairns, and Liza MacAdam, and they put on an excellent recital in the Scottish Auditorium on Friday evening.

One of the nicest moments of the weekend was when BCPA Secretary Mary MacKinnon received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd for her work organizing the Gathering. Mary has been working hard for piping in BC for many years, and the BC Piping community took a moment during the prize giving to make its thanks known.

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Alasdair Gillies Takes Toronto Knockout

Published:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – April 22, 2000 - Alasdair Gillies of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, won the 2000 Toronto Knockout Competition and its $1000 prize in high style today at the Sergeant’s Mess at the Fort York Armory in downtown Toronto against a formidable field of many of the top North American players.

Gillies won against ten other competitors in a grueling three-stage event comprising an MSR qualifier, a Hornpipe & Jig, and a 5-7 minute medley.

Second prize and $400 went to Michael Grey of Toronto, Ontario, and third was awarded to Adrian Melvin of Welland, Ontario.

The final three were boiled down from a group of six that also included Ian MacDonald, Aurora, Ontario; Jason Briscoe, Aurora, Ontario; and John MacKenzie, Newmarket, Ontario; making it to the second round.

The event offered a total of $1800, the biggest total purse ever offered in a single solo piping event in Ontario.

Gillies won in formidable style, with an instrument that was, according to one spectator, “impeccable from beginning to end.”

Also playing in the event were Robert Crabtree, Toronto, Ontario; Craig MacDonald, Toronto, Ontario; Andrew Berthoff, Toronto, Ontario; Hector MacDonald, Toronto, Ontario; and Thomas Munroe, Toronto, Ontario.

The event was judged by Bob Worrall, Burlington, Ontario, and Gail Brown, Milton, Ontario.

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L&B Police To Get Audition for Grade 1?

Published:

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has reportedly agreed to consider returning the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band of Edinburgh, Scotland, to Grade 1 if it passes a surprise assessment by the RSPBA in the next few weeks. The band’s relegation to Grade 2 after its poor 1999 season was one of the most discussed stories of the winter.

Lothian & Borders Police, which has one of the pipe band world’s most renowned histories, was demoted after suffering several years of lacklustre performances, fluctuating personnel, and a virtual revolving door of leadership.

In the fall of 1999, the band attracted a raft of new players and leadership, including new Pipe Major Colin MacLellan and Leading Drummer Arthur Cook, both world leaders on the solo circuit. With the new leadership came new personnel experienced in Grade 1, thus putting the band in a favourable appeal position.

The band’s appeal had apparently gone virtually unanswered by the RSPBA. One rumoured way for the band to return to Grade 1 was for it to win its first contest in Grade 2 – at Dunbar, presumably — and only then would it be regraded. According to the RSPBA rule book, however, a band must play at least twice in its new grade before being allowed to move up or down.

The proposal allegedly on the table now is for a representative from the RSPBA to attend a Lothian & Borders Police band practice and make a judgment call on regrading.

“This whole thing is ridiculous,” said one UK bandsman. “If they’re so good, then they can just go out and win every Grade 2 contest and get upgraded next year. They should just play the game.”

Another insider who asked that his name not be used said, “Look at the new players they have and the new leadership. Of course it’s a first grade band. The only fair thing is to re-grade them again.”

Lost in the shuffle of the controversy is the fact that, while the band is in grading limbo, it must continue to be prepared to submit the musical contest requirements for both grades.

The RSPBA’s National Council — the governing body of the organization — is said to be meet on May 6 to discuss the matter.

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Enlightened Musical Load

Published:

A Concert of Piobaireachd from the 1999 Edinburgh International Festival
Greentrax Recordings, CDTRAX 5009

Leave it to Greentrax Recordings to once again take piping down a well-travelled, but strikingly different, road. While the more established Lismor seems to struggle for survival putting out compilations from old recordings, Greentrax has put together consistently high quality original solo piping, drumming and pipe band projects.

The latest of which is A Concert of Piobaireachd from the 1999 Edinburgh International Festival. This 52 minute CD captures the playing of six piobaireachd players—Roddy MacLeod, Willie McCallum, Allan MacDonald, Robert Wallace, William MacDonald (Benbecula) and Barnaby Brown of Skye—who combined forces in an event at the Reid Hall in Edinburgh in August 1999 as part of the Edinburgh Festival’s spotlight on piping.

It’s all piobaireachd—and pibroch—as Allan MacDonald likes to stress, with interpretations of established hits, like MacLeod’s rendition of Too Long In This Condition” and Wallace’s “Old Woman’s Lullaby

Maxwell Wins Kirkwood Memorial Drumming

Published:

Chicago, Illinois – April 8, 2000 – Simon Fraser University Pipe Band leading drummer J. Reid Maxwell won the John Kirkwood Memorial Drumming Championship here today before judges Gordon Parkes of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band and Tom Brown of Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band.

Maxwell took the event in high style by winning both the March, Strathspey & Reel and Hornpipe & Jig events. Carl Lenny, formerly of the Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band and now leading drummer of the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, placed second in the contest overall. Fourteen competitors played in the professional category.

Maxwell’s win marks another successful solo event for him in the young 2000 season. He was runner-up in the World Solo Drumming Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in March.

1st J. Reid Maxwell, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2nd Carl Lenny, Costa Mesa, California, USA
3rd Duncan Millar, Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA
4th Eli Fugate, Encinitas, California, USA
5th Andre Tessier, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
6th Harvey Dawson, Weston, Ontario, Canada

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McCallum Pulls Off Stunning Success at MacLeod Memorial Contest

Published:

Stornaway, Isle of Lewis – April 7, 2000 – Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, hammered home a remarkable day of playing by taking two of three events at the annual Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition held on MacLeod’s native land, the Isle of Lewis.

McCallum won both the Piobaireachd and the March, Strathspey & Reel sections, and nearly completed a clean sweep by taking finishing second in the Hornpipe & Jig event.

The event has quickly established itself as one of the premier contests in the piping world. Contestants are required to submit tunes from MacLeod’s substantial repertory of compositions, making the event a popular and challenge contest.

Gordon Walker of Glasgow, Scotland, also enjoyed a good day by winning the Hornpipe & Jig event and placing second in the March, Strathspey & Reel.

Judges for all events were Angus J. MacLellan, Glasgow; Donald McPherson, Balbeggie; Finlay MacNeill, Inverness.

Piobaireachd
1st Willie McCallum, Field of Gold”
2nd Angus MacColl

McCallum, Walker Share SPA Honours

Published:

Glasgow, Scotland – April 1, 2000 - Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, and Gordon Walker of Glasgow, Scotland, won the top prizes at the annual Scottish Pipers Association competitions here today by winning the A Piobaireachd and Former Winners MSR, respectively.

The SPA is traditionally one of the most important indoor competitions of the Scottish season, and pretty much acts as a strong foreshadowing for the year to come.

A Grade Piobaireachd
1st Willie McCallum, “My King Has Landed in Moidart,”
2nd Colin MacLellan, Glasgow, “The Battle of the Pass of Crieff”
3rd Iain Speirs, Edinburgh, “Sobieski’s Salute”
4th Gordon Walker, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim”

Former Winners MSR
1st Gordon Walker
2nd Greg Wilson, Falkirk
3rd Iain Speirs

A Grade March
1st Donald MacPhee, Alexandria
2nd Willie Morrison, Inverness
3rd Niall Stewart, Alness

A Grade Strathspey & Reel
1st Jenny Hazzard, Glasgow
2nd James MacPhee, East Kilbride
3rd Chris Armstrong, Bathgate

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY:
March 28, 1960Walter Douglas, MBE dies, Vancouver.
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UPCOMING EVENTS March 29, 2015Brisbane Boys College Highland GatheringBrisbane Boys' College, Brisbane

April 3, 2015BC Pipers’ Annual GatheringSimon Fraser University & TBA

April 3, 2015Maclean Highland GatheringMaclean, New South Wales

April 4, 2015Toronto Indoor GamesMoss Park Armoury, Toronto, ON

April 11, 2015Amateur CompetitionHamilton, Ontario

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