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Agnew-Harrison drumming goes to Glen Neil

Published: March 15, 2015

Glen Neil with the Agnew-Harrison trophy. [Photo: Kyle Heaney]

Hamilton, Ontario – March 14, 2015 – While the rest of Canada’s music industry was gathered down the street for the 2015 JUNO Awards, the piping and drumming community got together for the Agnew-Harrison Memorial Invitational Solo Pipe Band Drumming Competition at James Street Armoury, where Glen Neil took the top prize. The event is organized by the Niagara-Hamilton Branch of the PPBSO.

1st Glen Neil
2nd Zack Miller
3rd Neil Birkett
Judge: Harvey Dawson

Also playing but not in the prizes: Cameron Bolley, Chris Gardner, Joe Kiah and Cameron McKail.

The event is named in honour of Jim Agnew and George Harrison, two pillars of the regional pipe band drumming community.

Gardiner makes short list at Duncan Johnstone, wins

Published: March 14, 2015

Douglas Gardiner competing in shorts at the 2015 Duncan Johnstone Memorial.

Glasgow – March 14, 2015 – Douglas Gardiner of Edinburgh was the overall winner of the annual Duncan Johnstone Memorial Competition for solo pipers graded B and C by the Competing Pipers Association. With two completely different prize lists in the B-Grade events, Gardiner’s win in the Piobaireachd took preference over Connor Sinclair’s first in the MSR. Gardiner forgot to pack his kilt, but was allowed to compete in shorts, which he always wears when travelling to competitions. The event was held at the National Piping Centre.

B-Grade
Piobaireachd
1st Douglas Gardiner, Edinburgh, “The Desperate Battle”
2nd Sarah Muir, Glasgow, “Rory MacLoude’s Lament”
3rd Graham Mulholland, Perthshire, “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
4th Steven Leask, Ayrshire, “The Earl of Ross’s March”
5th Duncan Beattie, Kilmarnock, “Lament for Captain MacDougall”
Judges: Colin MacLellan, Neill Mulvie

MSR
1st Connor Sinclair, Creiff
2nd Matt Wilson, Dollar
3rd Cameron MacDougall
4th Callum Watson, Edinburgh
5th Ross Millar, Edinburgh
Judges: Walter Cowan, Iain MacLellan

C-Grade MSR winner Bruce MacDonald, C-Grade Piobaireachd winner Andrew Wright, and B-Grade MSR winner Connor Sinclair with their trophies from the 2015 Duncan Johnstone Memorial. [Photo: Derek Maxwell]

C-Grade
Piobaireachd
1st Andrew Wright
2nd John MacDonald
3rd Ben Mulhearn, Troon
4th Jonathan Simpson, Edinburgh
5th John MacAlmurray
Judges: Euan Anderson, Ian Duncan

MSR
1st Bruce MacDonald
2nd Ciaran Ross
3rd Fraser Allison
4th John MacDonald
5th Chris Ross
Judges: Alan Forbes, Tom Johnstone

Jig
1st Andy Wilson, Northern Ireland
2nd George Stewart, Perthshire
3rd Ross Cowan, Annan
4th David Shedden, Bishopbriggs
5th Ross Millar

Canterbury sweeps NZ Championships

Published:

Canterbury_logoNelson, New Zealand – March 13-14, 2015 – Canterbury Caledonian Society won both the Grade 1 Medley and MSR events by nine points overall at the annual New Zealand Pipe Band Championships. With a convincing win in the MSR and narrow victory in the Medley. Four competed in the top grade, with Invercargill unable to field a band. The Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands Association event had as guests two adjudicators from Scotland, Gordon Lawrie and Jim Baxter, who will be judging the Grade 1 final competitions at the World Pipe Band Championships in August.

Grade 1 (four competed)
Overall
1st Canterbury Caledonian
2nd Auckland & District
3rd Manawatu Scottish
4th New Zealand Police
Drumming: Canterbury Caledonian

Medley
1st Canterbury Caledonian (4,2,1,1)
2nd Manawatu Scottish (2,3,3,2)
3rd Auckland & District (1,1,4,4)
4th New Zealand Police (3,4,2,3)
Judges: Brendon Eade, R. Fergusson (piping); Jim Baxter (ensemble); S. Mitchell (drumming)

MSR
1st Canterbury Caledonian (1,1,1,2)
2nd New Zealand Police (4,4,2,1)
3rd Auckland & District (2,3,3,4)
4th Manawatu Scottish (3,2,4,3)
Judges: Gordon Lawrie, Barry Brougham (piping); Alistair Hanning (esemble); R. Levy (drumming)

Canterbury Caledonian competing in the Grade 1 Qualifier at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships.

Grade 2
Overall
1st St Andrew’s College
2nd Northland Caledonian
3rd Temuka
4th City of Dunedin Pipe Band
5th Canterbury Caledonian (Gr2)
6th South Canterbury

Medley
1st St Andrew’s College
2nd Northland Caledonian
3rd Canterbury Caledonian (Gr2)
4th City of Dunedin Pipe Band
5th Temuka
6th South Canterbury
Judges: Brendon Eade, R. Fergusson (piping); Jim Baxter (ensemble); S. Mitchell (drumming)

MSR
1st St Andrew’s College
2nd Temuka
3rd Northland Caledonian
4th City of Dunedin Pipe Band
5th Canterbury Caledonian (Gr2)
6th South Canterbury
Judges: Gordon Lawrie, Barry Brougham (piping); Alistair Hanning (esemble); R. Levy (drumming)

Grade 3
Overall
1st Celtic
2nd Wellington Red Hackle
3rd Manawatu Scottish (No.2)
4th City of Hastings
5th City of Nelson
6th Auckland Police
7th City of Invercargill (No.2)
8th City of Wellington
9th City of Sails
10th City of Auckland

Grade 4A
Overall
1st Haileybury
2nd Canterbury Caledonian (Gr4)
3rd Scots College
4th Hamilton Caledonian Society
5th Scottish Society of New Zealand
6th City of Tauranga
7th Gold Coast Tweed
8th Knox Grammar School
9th Hokonui Celtic
10th Christchurch Metropolitan
11th Waimatuku Southern Scenic Highland

Grade 4B
1st Manawatu Scottish (No.3)
2nd St Andrews College
3rd City of Rotorua
4th Papakura
5th City of Invercargill (No.3)
6th South Canterbury Development
7th Kapiti Coast
8th Marton & District
9th Bay of Plenty
10th McAlpines North Canterbury
11th City of Sails Development
12th Waitaki District Schools
13th Celtic Development
14th Mackenzie Highland

Belfast borrows from KC for contest-workshop hotel Gatherin’

Published: March 11, 2015

It’s said that imitation is flattery, so the organizers of the decade-old Winter Storm weekend of piping and drumming competitions and workshops in Kansas City, Missouri, will be blushing from providing inspiration to The Spring Gatherin’, a new event April 24-26 in Belfast.

As with Winter Storm’s hotel venue, The Spring Gatherin’ will take over the Ramada Hotel Shaw’s Bridge for the multi-day event “for piping and drumming exhibition, competition and education” that “will provide a new and fresh platform for UK and Republic of Ireland piping and drumming talent to develop and perform, in a relaxed, classy and comfortable setting.”

The competition aspect will be held without the administration of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, a rare occurrence in the UK where the association has become the de facto organizer of contests, occasionally allegedly putting pressure on organizers and RSPBA member bands to toe the sanctioning line.

The Spring Gatherin’ has created events “to provide maximum entertainment value for the audience,” with the crowd having an opportunity to vote for their favourites, the tally added with those of two piping judges and one drumming judge. Combined piping marks will account for 50%, drumming 30% and the audience vote 20%.

Additionally, bands can perform in a formation of their choice of crescent-moon, V-shape, something called “starburst” – almost anything except the prescribed backs-to-the-crowd circle required in RSPBA events.

“The event concept was derived from the idea of Winter Storm in America and why no such event existed here in the United Kingdom and, more importantly, Northern Ireland, which has such a large number of participants in the piping community,” said Colin Wasson, the visionary behind The Spring Gatherin’. Wasson has in the past organized the highly successful Belfast Tattoo.

“We thought there was a niche in the market for something new and fresh, where players could appear in relative comfort, the audience would also be in relative comfort, not the draughty school halls these types of events generally take place it over here. We also wanted to make the event a more relaxed type of event less rigorous and straight laced than current events. The aim of our event is to give the musicians and bands a platform to show their talents in a positive way and in a way to increase the standard of musicianship of your average player by letting them see at close quarters what is possible with work,” Wasson continued.

The organizers of Winter Storm, which takes place in early-January each year, have no problem with having their concept adapted 4,000 miles away.

“It looks like The Spring Gatherin’ 2015 is going to be a fantastic event with a terrific line-up of talent,” said Beth Wilson, the newly-appointed president of the Midwest Highland Arts Fund, the group that puts together Winter Storm. “We in Kansas City can . . .

 

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Rudolph, Holz in the chips at Sandy Mallen solos

Published: March 9, 2015

Brandon Holz receives the trophy for the top Junior solo piper.

Johannesburg – March 7, 2015 – With three first prizes, Gareth Rudolph was the overall Open Champion, while Brandon Holz and Craig Carlson, were the Junior Champion and overall Amateur Winner, respectively, at the Sandy Mallen Memorial Challenge, held at the Regimental Headquarters of the Transvaal Scottish.

Open (eight competed)
Piobaireachd
1st Gareth Rudolph, “The End of the Great Bridge”
2nd Simon Workman, “Lament for Viscount of Dundee”
3rd Rohan Morgan, “Clan Campbell’s Gathering”

March
1st Gareth Rudolph
2nd Alex Jeanrenaud
3rd Simon Workman

Strathspey & Reel
1st Gareth Rudolph
2nd Simon Workman
3rd Alex Jeanrenaud

Gareth Rudolph accepts the Open trophy from the President of the Scottish Piping Society of the Witwatersrand, Grant Laidlaw.

Junior
Piobaireachd
1st Brandon Holz
2nd Frans Coetzee
3rd M. Mochrie

March
1st Brandon Holz
2nd Frans Coetzee
3rd Garrin Walker

Strathspey & Reel
1st Frans Coetzee
2nd Eric Cleaver
3rd Brandon Holz

Uist & Barra attracts rich roster of solo piping elite

Published: March 7, 2015

Faye Henderson

Glasgow – March 7, 2015 – The annual Uist & Barra Association Solo Piping Competition was held at the College of Piping, and featured 16 top-flight contestants. With four fourths, Chris Armstrong was most consistently successful, but Faye Henderson, Gordon Walker and Alasdair Henderson took home the firsts, and Walker was decided as the overall winner. A few pipers competed in only the piobaireachd or only the light music events.

Piobaireachd
1st Faye Henderson, Kirriemuir, Scotland, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim”
2nd Douglas Murray, Cupar, Scotland, “Lord Lovat’s Lament”
3rd Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland, “The End of the Great Bridge”
4th Chris Armstrong, Airth, Scotland, “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
5th Finlay Johnston, Glasgow, “Farewell to the Laird of Islay”

Also competing in the Piobaireachd, but not in the prizes: Callum Beaumont; Glenn Brown; Bill Geddes; Roddy MacLeod; Peter McCalister; Willie McCallum; Gordon McCready; and Gordon Walker.

MSR
1st Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland
2nd Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland
3rd Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow
4th Chris Armstrong
5th Iain Speirs, Edinburgh

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland
2nd Gordon Walker
4rd Douglas Murray
4th Chris Armstrong
5th Roddy MacLeod

Also competing in the light music, but not in the prizes: Glenn Brown; Bill Geddes; Alasdair Henderson; Angus MacColl; Gordon McCready; Douglas Murray; Iain Speirs; and Craig Sutherland

All events were judged by Iain MacFadyen, Willie Morrison and Stuart Samson.

Do you have competition results? We invite you to send them by email to pipes|drums along with photographs and details of the event. Please use the 1st, 2nd, 3rd format in the article above, include judges and send as a standard text file.

Crieff Highland Games clarifies piping position

Published: March 6, 2015

No more sweeties for pipers at Crieff Highland Games.

The recent decision by the Crieff Highland Games of Crieff, Scotland, to drop its solo piping competitions after more than 130 years of them running, is perhaps of tangible impact to about 40 pipers worldwide who might be eligible and actually consider competing at the event.

That the games directly cited the World Pipe Band Championships as a factor in the decline of piping and interest in Crieff, however, will be of concern to thousands of pipes|drums readers, who might have witnessed similar negative ancillary impact on both solo piping and pipe band competitions in their own regions.

The World’s can be one factor in the demise of events, as pipers and drummers and bands are consumed with preparing for and getting to Glasgow in August. But other factors might also be the relatively arcane and clubby nature of piping and drumming and the overall competition for attention and the public’s money when so many more entertainment options are available. Highland games as we know them are under increased threat and, while pipers and drummers might get in high-dudgeon over declining and cancelled events, they might instead consider what pipers and drummers themselves might do to improve the “product.”

We received the following from Ian Stewart, vice chairman of the Crieff Highland Games, published here in its entirety:

Having read some of the nonsense being spouted online regards the suspension of solo piping at Crieff (not by pipes|drums I might add), we at Crieff Highland Games would appreciate if you could update the article with the following response, in its entirety.

Generally we do not like to get involved in the online ramblings of social media, however some of the recent comments relating to Crieff Highland Gathering’s decision to suspend this year’s solo piping, although not deserving of a reply are worth correcting.

The decision to suspend the solo piping was not taken lightly and not taken by a committee of pen-pushers, but by a board that includes many former pipe band members who understand the importance of not only maintaining traditional Highland games events but also the sound of bagpipes on the day. The fact of the matter is that since the World Pipe Band Championship changed to a two-day event Crieff Highland Games has struggled for numbers, both competitors and spectators.

Crieff Highland Games takes place on the Sunday after the 3rd Saturday in August meaning every few years the two events clash on the same weekend. Prior to the World’s becoming a two-day event this was not a problem and Crieff Highland Games enjoyed decent numbers of solo piping competitors, averaging around 12 youths and mid to high-twenties for adults. The drop in numbers started from 2013 onwards, resulting in the youths’ competition for the last two years being cancelled due to insufficient numbers and the average number of adults for the MSR and the pibroch combined only being around 14.

Crieff Highland Games have tried in the past to solve the date problem and indeed two years ago changed the date of their pipe band competition to the following week. This however was not liked by band members or the general public. This proved a financial disaster and although worth trying once was certainly not worth trying twice.

The “shameful” decision to “abandon” piping at Crieff is also not true, the decision was taken to suspend the solo piping for this year and this will be reviewed next year when the World’s does not clash, a point made to the Competing Pipers Association but not highlighted in online comments. In fact such is the abandonment of piping at Crieff, Crieff Highland Games actually sponsored the Junior Perthshire Highland Games Solo Piping Leagues in 2014, something we are looking to do again this year.

Crieff Highland Games have also recently sponsored two young local pipers to the tune of £400 to assist them with the purchase of their first set of bagpipes. Also, the expenses that are being saved from the suspension of this year’s event are being reinvested in attracting local pipe bands to this year’s games, with one of the pipe bands having an area for taster sessions to encourage young and old to take up the pipes.

Rather than abandoning piping at Crieff, we at Crieff Highland Games feel that we are one of the more proactive highland games when it comes to encouraging piping. We trust this response gives a fairer reflection of the position at Crieff and we look forward to seeing you all on Sunday 16th August.

– Ian Stewart, vice chairman of the Crieff Highland Games.

What do you think? We encourage you to comment using your own name (or anonymously, if you must) using the pipes|drums system or via your Facebook account.

Adelaide looking for an L-D with sticking power

Published: March 5, 2015

Despite the country having a tradition of attracting great immigrant drummers like Alex McCormick, Gordon Jelly and Rab Turner, the Australian scene has often struggled for top-flight drummers to bolster its top-grade pipe bands, and now the Grade 2 City of Adelaide Pipe Band is again on the hunt for a leading-drummer, one who will commit to long-term teaching and development along with playing prowess.

The departure of Scottish immigrant Olav Goud more than a year ago left the corps tide over by interim Leading-Drummer George Ujvary, a long-serving and founding member of the band, who will stay in the role until the band finds his replacement. Ujvary must eventually depart due to holding down a demanding career as a company director.

City of Adelaide drummers.

“We are in search of a talented drummer with long-term vision and an ability to teach and develop drummers, and who possesses excellent people skills and a team-first attitude,” said Pipe-Sergeant Andrew Fuller. “Experience is not a condition of the role. We want the right sort of fit for the role, first and foremost. Each applicant will be considered on their own merits.”

The band made it abundantly clear that “fit,” commitment and willingness and ability to teach are essential attributes, and just as important as proven playing and scoring ability. “The band will assist any serious applicants in identifying possible pathways for transition to a new chapter in life,” Fuller continued.

“The plan is to be a force in the top grade and to contend for major titles in Australia and abroad. We’ve been to the top in this country and we have a plan and strong desire to be there again. We are also a performance band, with a focus on community engagement and the promotion of pipe bands. We have a particular emphasis on teaching piping and drumming to young people. It won’t simply be about having a good set of hands and some Grade 1 experience. It is also a set of personal skills and traits that we’re looking, [who] will also be someone who is in for the long term and focused on outcomes, and who has a ‘team first’ attitude.”

Adelaide_2014

City of Adelaide competing under Pipe-Major Brett Tidswell.

A native of Holland, Goud had joined City of Adelaide in 2010 with some fanfare following a stint with Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and several other bands. He joined the Grade 2 City of Whitehorse Pipe Band in 2014.

City of Adelaide maintains a learner program and a Youth Band, which was built in the last four years, feeding players to the Grade 2 band. Fuller indicated that there is no desire to maintain a “fly-in” approach to either the pipe- or drum-section.

The band’s President, David Robertson, should be contacted by email by those who wish to be considered for the role, and the band has made it clear that it can assist with relocation issues.

There are currently two Grade 1 bands in Australia: the Western Australia Police, located in Perth; Moorabin, from Melbourne; and the Queensland Highlanders, based in Brisbane.

World’s and apathy kill off Crieff solo piping

Published: March 4, 2015

Vale of Atholl performing at the Crieff Highland Games.

The solo piping competitions at the Crieff Highland Games in Crieff, Scotland, have been held since the 1880s, but gradual erosion of attendance due to the traditional date coinciding with the World Pipe Band Championships and waning interest by Scotland’s solo pipers in competing at “small” events have resulted in the organizers pulling the plug on the events.

Crieff Vice-Chairman Ian Stewart said in a statement to the Competing Pipers Association, “The number of both participants and spectators at Crieff Games piping competitions has dwindled over the past few years. We believe that this is down to the World Pipe Band Championships now taking place over two days on the same weekend.”

Stewart said that his event had “little or no support from the RSPBA,” and despite trying to make changes to garner more interest from pipers, they determined the events were “financially sustainable.”

He added that, if the World’s were to change dates in the future, Crieff Games might bring back solo piping.

The Competing Pipers Association told its members, “This serves as a further warning that if we competing pipers do not support the games, the organisers will simply cancel piping events due to lack of interest.”

While the World Pipe Band Championships are enjoyed by thousands of pipers and drummers and have been a financial boon to City of Glasgow, the negative ancillary impact of the World’s has been felt around Scotland and most of the rest of the piping and drumming world. Bands have focused on the World’s and other major championships, often avoiding perceived pitfalls of competing at smaller games in Scotland due to perceived questionable results. In non-UK piping and drumming countries, bands have limited travel budgets to more regional events so that they can compete at the World’s, often resulting in lower attenadance at smaller Highland games.

MacDonald returns; Livingstone line-up announced

Published: March 3, 2015

Livingstone_LogoTen contestants have accepted their invitation for the 2015 rendition of The Livingstone on May 2nd in Hamilton, Ontario, doing their piping thing before judges Peter Aumonier, Bill Livingstone and Reay Mackay, who will assess them in an afternoon submit four, play one Piobaireachd and an own-choice March, Strathspey, Reel, Hornpipe & Jig at night.

Robbie Beaton, New York; Andrea Boyd, Ottawa; Ed Bush, Cardinal, Ontario; Alex Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Andrew Hayes, Ottawa; Ian K. MacDonald, Whitby, Ontario; Ben McClamrock, Baltimore; Sean McKeown, Toronto; and Jamie Troy, Victoria, British Columbia will vie for the prizes.

The event will mark Ian K. MacDonald’s return to competitive piping following a heart attack and medical procedure in October 2014. MacDonald has also returned to leadership of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band.

The Livingstone will be held at the Officers’ Mess of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada’s headquarters at James Street Armoury in The Hammer.

The event is put on by the Niagara-Hamilton Branch of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.

SFU members taking it all off at concert cancer fundraiser

Published: March 2, 2015

SFU_bald_Mar2015

Jack Lee and Terry Lee could get some extra polish on March 28th [artist’s rendering.]

For three middle-aged guys, Terry Lee, Reid Maxwell and Jack Lee each have admirable heads of thick, greying hair.

But all that could change by March 28th when the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band takes the stage for its Pipe Up For Cancer charity concert in aid of the BC Cancer Foundation.

In addition to 10 other members so far, have committed to shaving their heads bald at the event, the three high-profile members of the band will go under the razor when monetary milestones are reached: $7,000 will see Leading-Drummer Reid Maxwell lose it all, while former Pipe-Major Terry Lee and Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee will take it all off at the $10,000 mark.

The band was spurred to hold the special concert at the Burnaby Campus of Simon Fraser University after Andrew Bonar, a member of the band since 1981, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Since the fall Bonar – who is also one of the world’s top solo pipers – has been undergoing treatment for the condition.

The band is calling the hair-razing stunt “Balding for Boney,” using the nickname Bonar has with his piping and drumming friends.

Bonar contributed a moving article about his condition shortly after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a large tumor.

At the concert the band will be joined by the Heather Jolley Highland Dancers, which include Andrew Bonar’s daughter, Kate, who will also perform at a ceilidh following the show.

Tickets are available to the concert are available here, and, to the ceilidh, here.

The band is also hoping to stream the concert live, encouraging all those watching to make a donation to the cause.

The band did not say whether it will auction off the hair for those with cane drone reed issues.

MacCals bring down full house with Tayside concert

Published: March 1, 2015

Members of the Grade 2 MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band performing in concert February 27th in Dundee.

Both the Grade 2 and Novice Juvenile MacKenzie Caledonia pipe bands delivered on their promise to entertain a sold-out crowd of nearly 300 at the Gardyne Theatre in Dundee, Scotland, on February 27th.

The show opened with the Novice Juvenile “Mini-Macs” with 15 pipers, only six of whom are from the band that competed in 2014, playing the 6/8 “Onaping Falls Centennial Pipe Band.” BBC Radio Scotland Pipeline host Gary West was emcee for the night, and, after an opening welcome the Novice Juvenile band played its 2015 competition medley.

The Grade 2 MacKenzie Caledonian band then took the stage playing “Hubble Bubble,” a Mac-Cal signature tune that the group uses to call the band together, followed by both bands playing a set of 4/4 marches before the junior band left the stage.

MacKenzie_Caledonian_Concert_Feb2015_small

MacKenzie Caledonian Novice Juvenile band, led by Pipe-Major Anne Spalding.

The senior band followed with an MSR and a set of hornpipes, before the Tayside Young Fiddlers played for the rest of the first half.

The second part of the concerts started with “The Session,” players on smallpipes, drummers and fiddlers, with the Tayside Fiddlers continuing with a second set of tunes.

The concert continued with a solo set of reels from piper Cameron Weir, and then the Grade 2 band returned back with a set of 6/8s, a competition medley, a set of three hornpipes and finished with Mark Saul’s suite, “Murray’s Fancy.” MacKenzie band President Jim Mills said a few words to thank the audience before making a presentation to Grade 2 band snare drummer and occasional drum-major Islay Spalding, who played a major part in organizing the entire show before being handed her mace to play both bands off with “Bonnie Dundee.”

The night continued until sunrise with an after-party enjoyed by members and friends of the band.

The band also officially launched its studio CD, A Big Step Forward, at the show.

City of Whitehorse takes Grade 2 at Victorian Champs

Published:

Geelong, Australia – March 1, 2015 – Only seven months after its first practice, the Grade 2 City of Whitehorse Pipe Band of Melbourne, Australia, won its third straight contest, the Victorian Championships at the Waurn Ponds Campus at Deakin University. The band competed against the far more established Hawthorn Pipe Band, also of Melbourne, which won the event in 2014. Built from the remains of the dormant Grade 1 Nunawading / Australia Highlanders Pipe Band, Whitehorse plans to compete in Grade 2 at the 2016 World Pipe Band Championships.

Whitehorse_March2015_02_med

The City of Whitehorse Pipe Band at the 2015 Victorian Championships.

Grade 1 (one played)
1st Moorabin

Grade 2 (two competed)
1st City of Whitehorse
2nd Hawthorn

Grade 3 (four competed)
1st Scotch College Melbourne
2nd Victoria Scottish
3rd Melbourne #1
4th Warrnambool & District

Grade 4 (eight competed)
1st Haileybury
2nd Scots School Albury
3rd Golden City Bendigo

Juvenile (four competed)
1st Scotch College Melbourne
2nd Haileybury
3rd Scots School Albury

Jolly Boys . . . and Girls: RSPS votes to admit women

Published:

RSPS-logoThe Royal Scottish Pipers Society, established in Edinburgh in 1885 as a males-only club for amateur pipers, voted on March 1, 2015, to admit females. In a statement, the organization said that “members voted overwhelmingly for this change in the Society’s constitution.”

“The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society is delighted to admit women members after more than 130 years as an all-male society,” Alan W. McGhie, Honorary Secretary, said. “We are glad that our Society will now recognize the excellent contribution made to our art by female pipers.”

In 2008 the organization had come under fire for narrowly voting to uphold its men-only status, leaving the RSPS to remain as an anachronism in the piping world, at least 30 per cent of which comprises women. Since then high-profile no-females clubs like the Augusta National Golf Club and the Royal & Ancient Golfing Society have voted to accept women.

Membership to the RSPS is limited to pipers who have not competed for money and who hold “professional” careers or peerages.

The organization is probably best known to pipers and drummers for the 2/4 singular march by Roderick Campbell, “The Royal Scottish Pipers Society.” Campbell served as the Honourary Pipe-Major and tutor for the Edinburgh-based society in the 1920s, and other Honourary Pipe-Majors include William Ross and John MacDougall-Gillies.

The RSPS has accepted women to judge and play at its annual Archie Kenneth Quaich Competition for amateur adult pipers, including the event on March 7th at which the well-known Edinburgh-based piper Jenny Hazzard will judge.

The RSPS also sponsors piping competitions over the year, including the Silver Star March, Strathspey & Reel events for former winners at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting.

Female pipers in the UK were not allowed to compete at the biggest competition until the Sexual Discrimination Act of 1976 was enforced. That year Patricia Henderson, Rona Lightfoot, Anne Sinclair and Anne Spalding were the first women pipers to compete in the Highland Society of London Gold Medal events at Inverness and Oban.

Members of the Royal Scottish Pipers Society are traditionally nicknamed the Jolly Boys.

Will 100% authentic MacCrimmon tune be accepted?

Published: February 28, 2015

Iain MacCrimmon, in a photo from the 1990s.

Over the years the story of MacCrimmon piping dynasty and piobaireachds attributed to the family have debated as history, folk-tale and even fictional myth, but the music – from wherever it originated – has lasted through its popularity in competition.

The greatest example of showcasing tunes attributed to or strongly connected with the MacCrimmons is the annual piping competitions on the Isle of Skye. In the Dunvegan Medal and Clasp at Portree, contestants are required to choose from a list of “MacCrimmon compositions,” set by the organizers, including not a few tunes that are generally never played in competition unless prescribed – such as “The Pretty Dirk” and “Lament for the Duke of Hamilton” – due to their lack of appeal, particularly when juxtaposed with great MacCrimmon-attributed ceol mor such as “Lament for the Children” and “Patrick Og MacCrimmon’s Lament.”

But in 2015 comes a quandary. Iain MacCrimmon, the certain hereditary piper to the Clan MacLeod and a direct MacCrimmon descendant, has composed a piobaireachd, “Salute to Malcolm Roderick MacCrimmon,” recently performed by his son, Calum MacCrimmon with his Highland-pipes-led Celtic band, Breabach.

The piobaireachd was composed by the elder MacCrimmon, originally from Edmonton, Canada, and for the last 23 years a resident of Scotland, for his father.

By rights, one would assume that the tune, of fine quality, would automatically be added to the list of allowed MacCrimmon compositions at the Skye events, although Iain MacCrimmon steadfastly said that he has never and will never advocate for that decision.

“I have not spoken to or heard from any of the [Skye Gathering] organizers, as I am not really personally familiar with whoever they may be,” Iain MacCrimmon said. “I must admit that I never pushed this item onto anyone, only thinking of it as a piobaireachd that I wanted to dedicate to my father.”

Convener of the piping competitions at Portree, Cailean MacLean, did not respond to several requests to comment on whether or not “Salute to Malcolm Roderick MacCrimmon” would be added to the illustrious list, or, for that matter, whether . . .

 

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Glasgow College working to rebuild reputation with concert

Published: February 27, 2015

With an objective “to create a more user friendly environment here and secure the long-term future,” Fraser MacInnes, general manager of College of Piping in Glasgow, has worked to organize a fundraising concert on March 28th featuring several word-class pipers closely identified with the cross-town National Piping Centre.

Virtuoso pipers Chris Armstrong, Callum Beaumont and Allan MacDonald and by harmonica-player Donald Black will perform at the £8-ticket event, with the omnipresent John Wilson stepping in as Fear an Tighe.

Fraser MacInnes was appointed to the general manager post shortly after Robert Wallace abruptly left in August after more than an at times acrimonious 15-year tenure. MacInnes described Wallace’s departure in quotation marks as a “retirement,” but there were reports that the former director was on thin ice with the College of Piping’s board of directors, even though he allegedly did not have full-time employment status or a contract with the organization.

Since MacInnes joined, he has looked after the organizational and commercial interests of the College, as the search for a new Chief Instructor and/or Director of Piping went on – a post that is yet to be filled.

The fundraising concert will also help to launch a “Kayak Challenge” along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness that Willie Park, shop manager at the College, plans to undertake in May. Park has established himself as an adventurer to raise funds for the College, climbing to Everest Base Camp, raising more than £7,000 in 2009; kayaking around the Isle of Arran in 2011. He plans to paddle the 97-kilometre length of the Caledonian Canal from Corpach to Inverness in aid of the College’s educational activities.

The National Piping Centre itself has seen recent departures, with instructors Armstrong, Beaumont and Glenn Brown each handing in their resignations over the last few months, and the organization currently searching for replacements.

EUSPBA moves to select Senior solo piping judges

Published: February 25, 2015

EUSPBA-logoUsing an online questionnaire, a special review panel formed from members of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association’s Music Committee comprising James McIntosh, Nancy Tunnicliffe and Andrew Carlisle is working to select new Senior-designated judges for its sanctioned solo piping events.

Currently, the EUSPBA has a single level of solo adjudicator, each judge able to assess any level of competition, while other associations, such as the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, have two levels of judges. The PPBSO, as an example, requires A-Certified adjudicators to meet stringent criteria based on proven successful 15-year minimum competing at the professional level.

“This topic has been under discussion in the EUSPBA for a while now and the current music board decided to move forward with defining what a senior panel would look like,” said EUSPBA Music Committee Chair Robert Minnear. “The basic intent is the same as in other associations: to recognize a senior status of adjudicator that is better suited to judge competitions at the highest level, that is, more preeminent events like Friday night professional competitions.”

The EUSPBA’s approach will apparently be mainly subjective, with the questionnaire asking those interested in being considered for Senior status such questions as “Would you be confident judging a large, indoor Professional event, which includes past Gold Medal winners? Why/why not?”, “A Piobaireachd judge with deep experience and knowledge, and not constantly reading the book, can then focus on the music. How close do you feel you are to this stage?” and “When was the last intense Piobaireachd Seminar you attended? Did you perform on your pipes at that time?”

Minnear said that the questionnaire “is not the sole source of information, and requests both subjective information as well as competition . . .

 

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McCallum Metro maestro in Newark

Published: February 22, 2015

Willie McCallum with the overall trophy from the Metro Cup.

February 21, 2015 – Newark, New Jersey – Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, was the overall winner of the annual Metro Cup Solo Piping Competition, held at the Ramada Plaza Newark Liberty International Airport. With a win in the Piobaireachd and a second in the Medley event, McCallum narrowly edged out Alex Gandy, who won the light music and was third in the Piobaireachd. The competition is organized by the Metro New York Branch of the EUSPBA. Prizes in each event were 1st: $1000, 2nd: $600, 3rd: $400, 4th: $200, 5th: $100. The overall winner received a gold medal valued at $1,700.

Piobaireachd
1st Willie McCallum, “MacNeil of Barra’s March”
2nd Callum Beaumont, Bo’ness, Scotland
3rd Alex Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
4th Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland
5th Glenn Brown, Glasgow

Medley
1st Alex Gandy, “Stornoway Bay,” “”Ship in the Bottle,” “Miss Campbell of Shiness,” “The Curlew,” “Victoria Harbour,” “Steve and Diane of Cheltenham,” “The Kaimes Lassies,” a traditional reel, “Rip the Calico,” and a reel by Mark Stewart.
2nd Willie McCallum
3rd Chris Armstrong, Airth, Scotland
4th Gordon Walker
5th Dan Lyden, Maryland

Also competing but not in the prizes were Andrew Carlisle, Andrew Donlon, Alasdair Henderson Derek Midgely and John Patrick.

Mike Cusack, Bill Livingstone and Mike Rogers judged both events.

Amateur
Piobaireachd
1st Bob Low
2nd Sean Regan
3rd Maeghan Bielski
Judge: Callum Beaumont

MSR
1st Tyler Johnson
2nd Bob Low
3rd Harry IsenseeJudge: Glenn Brown

Do you have competition results? Feel free to send them by email to pipes|drums along with photographs and details of the event. Please be sure to use the format above, and send as a standard text file.

SFU steps up with Pipe Up for Cancer charity concert

Published: February 17, 2015

The six-time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band is putting its talent to charitable work at the Simon Fraser University Theatre in Burnaby, British Columbia, with all proceeds going to the BC Cancer Foundation.

The band was moved to action after the diagnosis of one of its greatest members – and one of the world’s best solo pipers – Andrew Bonar was diagnosed with a brain tumour in November 2014, undergoing radical emergency surgery.

A member of SFU since 1981, “Boney” is continuing treatment at the BC Cancer Agency. Following his surgery he contributed an important piece to pipes|drums.

Andrew Bonar competing with SFU at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships.

The band will be joined by the Heather Jolley Highland Dancers, which include Andrew Bonar’sdaughter, Kate, who will also perform at a ceilidh following the show.

Tickets are available to the concert are available here, and, to the ceilidh, here.

The band is also hoping to stream the concert live, encouraging all those watching to make a donation to the cause.

“If you are able, please consider making a donation directly to the BC Cancer Foundation in honour of Andrew and the impact he has on the worldwide piping community,” said SFU Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee. “Together, we can make a difference for brain cancer patients now and in the future.”

The pipe band world in recent years has stepped up for charitable causes, including the drive by Fiona Morris and the Grade 1 Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band of Scotland to raise funds for bone cancer research.

Jack Lee: More Ceol Mor and a quick video chat

Published: February 15, 2015

We caught up with the legendary piper Jack Lee when he visited Toronto for one of his many workshops, this time at the annual More Ceol Mor weekend session where he and Willie McCallum took 30 or so fortunate pupils through some of their piobaireachd knowledge.

The workshop concluded with a brief recital by McCallum and Lee. We published video of McCallum, and now it’s pipes|drums’ readers’ turn to see Lee as he performs a few piobaireachds and discusses what he’s up to these days.

We will return with further video from watch of these virtuosos, and, for now, we hope you enjoy this from one of the greatest pipers in history.

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UPCOMING EVENTS April 25, 2015Atlantic Canada Piobaireachd ChallengeCollege of Piping, Summerside, PEI

April 25, 2015139th Anniversary Sacramento Valley Scottish Games and FestivalYolo County Fairgrounds * Woodland, CA

April 25, 2015Brandon Highland FestivalCrocus Plains High School, Brandon

May 2, 2015Savannah Scottish Games & Highland GatheringBethesda Academy 9520 Ferguson Avenue Savannah GA

May 2, 2015The LivingstoneHamilton, Ontario

TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: Don’t be frightened to have your reed seats checked or opened out. It will not affect the sound and will help with reed selection and set up.
Euan Anderson, Edinburgh

FROM THE ARCHIVES