Transvaal Scottish wins SA season opener

Published: April 20, 2015

Pretoria, South Africa – April 18, 2015 – The South African pipe band season began with the Lyttleton Manor Highland Gathering. In Grade 2, the Transvaal Scottish won both the MSR and the Medley events, as well as taking best drum corps and bass section. The band is planning to compete in Grade 2 at the World Pipe Band Championships this year.

Transvaal Scottish marching in Pretoria.

Grade 2
1st Transvaal Scottish (MSR 2,1,1,1; Medley 1,1,1,2)
2nd African Skye (3,2,2,2 and 2,3,2,1)
3rd MacChamberlain Richmond Avenue (1,3,3,3 and 3,2,3,3)

Grade 3
1st Sandton Scottish
2nd Glen Allen
3rd Transvaal Scottish (Gr3)
4th SA Irish

Grade 4
1st Lyttelton Manor
2nd African Skye (Gr4)
3rd Pretoria Highlanders

1st Jeppe CBC Boksburg
2nd St Benedict’s Juvenile
3rd Pretoria Boys Juvenile

Novice Juvenile
1st Benoni Novice Juvenile
2nd St Benedict’s Novice Juvenile
3rd Cornwall Hill

Judges meet for annual spring PPBSO seminar

Published: April 19, 2015

PPBSOlogoTwenty-four adjudicators accredited with the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario met in Milton, Ontario, on April 18th for the organization’s annual spring seminar, including three judges who were added to the roster in the fall.

Organized by the PPBSO’s Music Committee, the seminar comprised a full day of interactive sessions, beginning at 9 am and finishing around 3 pm at the Best Western Hotel. Several judges travelled further than 500 kilometres to make the seminar.

The day was managed by Music Committee members Trish Kirkwood and Glenna Mackay-Johnstone, who each put their professional skills as school teachers to work, using techniques to encourage collaboration and discussion.

Judges discuss a point at the 2015 PPBSO Adjudicators Seminar.

PPBSO President Duncan MacRae provided an introductory update, mainly on the January meeting in Kansas City of the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations. MacRae said that ANAPBA members would likely work with the RSPBA to create a new . . .


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Chris Armstrong on top at Scottish Pipers

Published: April 18, 2015

Chris Armstrong

Glasgow – April 18, 2015 – Chris Armstrong was the easy overall winner of the annual Scottish Pipers Association Solo Competitions, one of the longest-running events on Scotland’s calendar. Armstrong won both of the events he competed in.

1st Chris Armstrong, Airth, Scotland
2nd Peter McAlister, Dunblane, Scotland
3rd Gordon Bruce, Glasgow
Judges: Tom Johnstone, Ronald McShannon

Former Winners MSR
1st Chris Armstrong
2nd Keith Bowes, Inchinnan, Glasgow
3rd Darach Urqhuart, Glasgow

1st Ben Duncan, Edinburgh
2nd Michael Fitzhenry, Glasgow
3rd Lachie Dick, Edinburgh

Strathspey & Reel
1st Graham Drummond, Aberdeen
2nd Andrew Wilson, Belfast
3rd Stuart McCallum, Glasgow

6/8 March
1st Steven Gray, Ayrshire

Judges for all light music: Andrew Frater, Iain MacLellan

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

Journey almost complete for Pipes & Sticks project

Published: April 16, 2015

The original somewhat bizarre trek down the USA’s apocryphal Route 66 rock n roll highway took only a few weeks when drummers Mike Cole and Jim Kilpatrick and pipers Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl and Willie McCallum drove and played across the country in 2012.

Three years later the ambitious Pipes & Sticks on Route 66 movie project will finally become available following lengthy appeals for Kickstarter funding and sponsors to make the product a reality.

Filmmaker John McDonald of Pasadena, California, who tagged along with the five musicians capturing performances at all kinds of unusual places and all sorts of intriguing characters, said he got extra incentive to get the product out when the five stars of the show confirmed that they would be at the “Master Class Seminars” workshop later in the month.

Mike Cole, Jim Kilpatrick, Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl and Willie McCallum (L-R) cool their barking dogs in the Pacific Ocean at the end of their 2012 Route 66 journey.


“We are finally releasing Pipes & Sticks on Route 66 to the world, almost three years to the day from when the tour ended on the shores of Pacific,” McDonald said. “What gave us the incentive to complete the project was learning that the five guys would all be in Peterborough at the end of the month. We did not want to miss this unique opportunity to have a launch party on April 25.”

The five pipers and drummers fulfilled a nostalgia-laced dream to travel down the now mostly dilapidated US Highway 66, once the major thoroughfare across the Midwestern and Western US, starting in Chicago and finishing in California.

In addition to a packaged DVD, Pipes & Sticks on Route 66 will be available to stream or download on the net. Pricing is not yet known.

Cole, Liddell, Kilpatrick, MacColl and McCallum each contributed to a diary of the trip in a multi-part series on pipes|drums in sync with the journey in 2012. Readers can search the pipes|drums Archive for all of the installments. Just key in “Route 66″ in the Title field.

McDonald also created On The Day, a movie from the 2008 Spirit of Scotland Grade 1 band of superstar pipers and drummers, which assembled for one week, competed in the World Pipe Band Championships, qualified for the Final, and finished eleventh overall.

Ontario back down to one Grade 2 band

Published: April 14, 2015

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is back to having only one active member Grade 2 band after the 400 Squadron has chosen to sit out the season as it works to regroup following the loss of Leading-Drummer Mike Tuzyk, leaving the newly upgraded Paris Port Dover to go it alone at most contests in the penultimate grade.

According to Pipe-Major Matt MacIsaac, who took on that role later last year, Tuzyk was in a serious auto crash, and is still on a long path to recovery so has decided to opt out of the L-D role.

The band is on an active search for a new leading-drummer with the ideal candidate having “experience leading a drum corps at a Grade 2 level or higher and preferably live in the Southern Ontario area to facilitate regular practice schedules.” The 400 Squadron offers salaries for those in the part-time military reserve, and also accepts non-military or civilian members. Applications from interested drummers are open until September 4, 2015, taking advantage of inevitable post-season changes-of-plan for members of other bands, and should be sent directly to MacIsaac, who is a sergeant in the reserves.

400 Squadron competing at the 2013 Cobourg Highland Games.

“Our former lead drummer Mike Tuzyk was in a serious motor vehicle accident in late 2014,” MacIsaac commented. “Thankfully he is on the mend, but recovery must take priority and he has decided not to continue in the role. We wish him all the best in the future. I was not able to suitably replace him in time for the upcoming competitive season, so we will be concentrating on practicing, performing, and building our new repertoire while supporting 400 Squadron at some major transitional events this summer. We will see our friends and supporters in the circle next year. Moving forward we’ve got a growing pipe section and some great music coming up, and we look forward to hearing from interested parties.”

MacIsaac took over the band after the retirement of Terry Cleland, who ran the band for nearly 40 years. 400 Squadron often struggled to field a competition band in recent years, occasionally competing with minimum numbers. In 2014 in Ontario Grade 2 usually featured only the Ottawa Police Services Pipe Band. Ottawa Police was elevated to Grade 1 after the 2014 season.

While the Grade 2 category continues to struggle for viability in Ontario, it has resurged elsewhere, particularly in the western United States and Alberta, Canada. Six Grade 2 bands are expected to compete at the Fort Edmonton Highland Games in Edmonton in July.

Commentary on the Grade 2 situation worldwide, at least as it existed in 2013, can be found here.

According to sources, after nearly five years of discussion the PPBSO is hoping to launch a teaching program to help sustain numbers.

Armstrong, McLean the big winners at Kingdom Thistle solos

Published: April 12, 2015

Junior prize-winners at the 2015 Kingdom Thistle competition.

Professional winners Aaron McLean, Chris Armstrong and Andrew Bova.

Lochgelly, Scotland – April 11, 2015 – Chris Armstrong of Airth, Scotland, and Aaron McLean of Glasgow were the aggregate winners of the Open Solo Piping and Drumming, respectively, at the 2015 Kingdom Thistle Piping and Drumming Solos held at Lochgelly High School. The contest continues to expand, this year seeing 104 drumming and 115 piping performances.

Solo Piping
1st Andrew Bova
2nd Ross Millar
3rd Jonathon Simpson
4th Kevin Rogers
Judge: Donald MacPhee

1st Chris Armstrong
2nd Andrew Bova
3rd Emma Buchan
4th Craig Munro
Judges: Tom Brown, Donald MacPhee

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Chris Armstrong
2nd Jason McAlister
3rd Craig Munro
4th Emma Buchan
Judges: Tom Brown, Donald MacPhee

18 & Under
1st Jason McAlister

16 & Under
1st Robbie MacIsaac

13 & Under
1st Finlay Cameron

Solo Drumming

1st Craig Lawrie
2nd Daniel Luby
3rd Aaron McLean
4th Glen Creighton
Judges: Jim Baxter

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Grant Cassidy
2nd Russell Esler
3rd Aaron McLean
4th Glen Creighton
Judges: Jake Joergensen

18 & Under
1st Glen Creighton
2nd Daniel Luby
3rd = Craig Baxter, Eoin Rogers

Tenor Drumming
1st Shannon Brown
2nd Alen Townsend
3rd Rachel Cook
4th Craig Reilly
Judge: Peter Carter

18 & Under
1st Lauren Thomson
2nd Alison Geal
3rd Rhiannon McAlease
Judge: Peter Carter

16 & Under
1st Reed Cameron

13 & Under
1st Chloe Taylor

Tenor Drumming
1st Shannon Brown

18 & Under
1st Lauren Thomson

16 & Under
1st Alison Gael

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

Boyd snaps up another Glengarry Cup


Ottawa – April 11, 2015 – Andrea Boyd of Ottawa was the winner of the 2015 Glengarry Cup, a contest organized by the Ottawa Branch of the Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario. The own-choice MSR contest was held at the HMCS Bytown Naval Officers’ Mess in downtown Ottawa. The trophy is donated by the Glengarry Pipe Band and the contest features both professional and top local amateur competitors. The event was judged by Colin MacLellan, who held a piobaireachd workshop earlier in the day. It was the second time that Boyd has won the competition.

Andrea Boyd with fellow prize winners Ed Bush, Jacob Dicker, and adjudicator Colin MacLellan [Photo: Cindy Ritchie]

1st Andrea Boyd, “John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist,” “Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch,” “Fiona MacLeod”
2nd Ed Bush, Cardinal, Ontario, “Donald McLellan of Rothesay,” “Susan MacLeod,” “The Grey Bob”
3rd Jacob Dicker, Kingston, Ontario, “The Centenary Jewel,” “Maggie Cameron,” “Bessie McIntyre”
4th Scott McIntosh, Ottawa, “Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal,” The Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “The Sheepwife”
5th Tom Brown, “Hugh Kennedy BSc.,” “Dora MacLeod,” “Ca’ the Ewes”
6th Rachelle MacDonald, “Invergordon’s Welcome to HM Queen Elizabeth II,” “Highland Harry,” “Alick C. MacGregor”

Donald MacLeod Memorial Champ: Willie McCallum

Published: April 10, 2015

Willie McCallum

Stornoway, Scotland – April 10, 2015 – The twenty-second annual Donald MacLeod Memorial Invitational Piping Competition was won by Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland. McCallum enjoyed the best overall success by taking firsts in the Piobaireachd and MSR events, the two events that count towards the aggregate prize. Gordon McCready of Renfrew, Scotland, won the Jig event. The event pays tribute to the late, great MacLeod, and his compositions are featured throughout the events.

The event introduced a new trophy for second prize in the Piobaireachd contest donated in memory of the late Scott MacAulay, one of the most accomplished Canadian pipers of all time. MacAulay’s family came from the Isle of Lewis.

1st Willie McCallum
2nd Iain Speirs, Edinburgh
3rd Finlay Johnston, Glasgow
4th Glenn Brown, Glasgow

1st Willie McCallum
2nd Iain Speirs
3rd Gordon McCready
4th Callum Beaumont, Bo’ness, Scotland

Iain Speirs, aggregate runner-up at the 2015 Donald MacLeod Memorial, accepts the Scott MacAulay trophy with from family and friends of the late MacAulay.

1st Gordon McCready
2nd Glenn Brown
3rd Callum Beaumont
4th Iain Speirs

Judges for all events were Iain MacFadyen, Willie Morrison and John Wilson.

Douglas Murray and Gordon Walker withdrew from the event the day before. The contestants each gladly played an air and a 6/8 march as an unjudged performance to make up for the spare time.

Liddell lends instrument to McCallum

Published: April 9, 2015

An advance flyer for the new Duncan MacRae pipes modelled after Stuart Liddell’s vintage instrument.

After an abbreviated relationship launching a model of pipes with Wallace Bagpipes and G1 Reeds in 2013, world-famous solo piper and Grade 1 pipe-major Stuart Liddell has struck a new deal with McCallum Bagpipes of Kilmarnock, Scotland, on a line of instruments modelled after Liddell’s own vintage MacRae drones from the 1890s.

The project has been in the works for several months, and Liddell and the company hope to officially launch the “Duncan MacRae Bagpipes by Stuart Liddell” line in August at Piping Live!

Stuart McCallum of McCallum Bagpipes has been working closely with Liddell to createan exact replica of Liddell’s MacRae pipes, “right down to the closest details of the internal bores and bells, exterior profile shape, shape of mounts and silver engraving” according to McCallum co-owner Kenny MacLeod.

The pipes are duplicated so exactly that they reproduce the slightly different sizes of the top sections of the tenor drones, since they are a feature of Liddell’s instrument.

Stuart Liddell

Liddell test-drove the new pipes at a McCallum roadshow recital in Zurich earlier in April.

Stuart Liddell is recognized by many as the world’s greatest Highland piper, and one of the most successful in competition. He is also Pipe-Major and founding member of the Inveraray & District Pipe Band.

It is not known yet if Liddell will play one of the new instruments in solo competition, and pricing of the new line is to be determined.

MacRae operated from the late-1880s until ceasing operations in 1952. Long-defunct Grainger & Campbell Bagpipes took over MacRae’s premises, but didn’t adopt any of the designs in any significant way.

The MacRae reproduction pipes are the latest in a continuing trend of developing new instruments based on long-dormant vintage drones. Atherton Bagpipes was among the first, using a MacDougall pattern and a bespoke approach to manufacturing. More recently McGillivray Piping of Ontario developed vintage recreations based on Glen and MacDougall instruments and made by several bagpipe makers.

Easton eats up Easter at NZ Champs

Published: April 7, 2015

Stuart Easton

Hastings, New Zealand – April 3-5 – Stuart Easton was the overall winner of the 65th Hawke’s Bay Easter Highland Games New Zealand Solo Piping Championship. Jamie Hawke took home the Gold Medal Piobaireachd, while Brendon Eade nailed down the Open Piobaireachd, winning the Lewis A. Turrell MBE Memorial Trophy.

Gold Clasp
1st Jamie Hawke
2nd Brendon Eade
3rd Stuart Easton
4th Iain Robertson
Judges: Murray Henderson, Greg Wilson

Gold Medal
1st William Rowe
2nd Rowan Manson
3rd Liam Kernaghan
4th Yasuchiyo Hamilton
Judges: Murray Henderson, Greg Wilson

Silver Medal
1st Donella May
2nd Hamish Dick
3rd Lewis MacDonald
4th Scott Marshall
Judges: Murray Henderson, Greg Wilson

Bronze Medal
1st Hamish Reade
2nd Gemma Pearce
3rd Ruairidh MacLean
4th Juliet Johnson
Judges: Murray Henderson, Greg Wilson

1st Brendon Eade
2nd Stuart Easton
3rd William Rowe
4th Richard Hawke
Judges: Murray Henderson, Greg Wilson

A-Grade Light Music
1st Liam Kernaghan
2nd Emmett Conway
3rd Stuart Easton
4th Brendon Eade
Judges: Iain Hines, Bain McGregor

2/4 March
1st Liam Kernaghan
2nd Stuart Easton
3rd William Rowe
4th Brendon Eade
Judges: Iain Hines, Bain MacGregor

Strathpsey & Reel
1st Stuart Easton
2nd Brendon Eade
3rd Liam Kernaghan
4th Stewart McKenzie
Judges: Iain Hines, Bain MacGregor

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Stuart Easton
2nd Robert Gibb
3rd William Rowe
4th Brendon Eade
Judges: Iain Hines, Bain MacGregor

2 x 2/4 Marches
1st Brendon Eade
2nd Liam Kernaghan
3rd Stuart Easton
4th Jason Craig
Judges: Iain Hines, Bain MacGregor

6/8 March
1st Stewart McKenzie
2nd Iain Robertson
3rd Liam Kernaghan
4th William Rowe
Judges: Iain Hines, Bain MacGregor

Want to share your results with the entire piping and drumming world? Please forward with a few photos to pipes|drums:


SFU and Triumph Street split at BC Indoor

Published: April 5, 2015

Dowco Triumph Street competing in the Grade 1 MSR at the BCPA Annual Gathering.

Surrey, British Columbia – April 3-4, 2015 – The British Columbia Pipers Society’s Annual Gathering at the Clayton Heights Secondary School, and Dowco Triumph Street and Simon Fraser University each took a first in the Grade 1 band competitions. Jamie Troy won the MacCrimmon Cairn Piobaireachd event in the Professional grade, and Alastair Lee won the MSR and the Jig events, and took the aggregate prize. There was some controversy following the prize-giving when the Grade 1 band MSR result was not announced.

1st Simon Fraser University (1,1,1,1)
2nd Dowco Triumph Street (2,2,2,2)

1st Dowco Triumph Street (1,2,2,1) (EnsPref)
2nd Simon Fraser University (2,1,1,2)

Grade 2 (one played)
1st Robert Malcolm Memorial 2

Grade 3 (three competed)
1st Greighlan Crossing
2nd Columbia Regional
3rd Robert Malcolm Memorial 3

Grade 4 (three competed)
1st Keith Highlanders
2nd Northwest Junior
3rd White Spot

Grade 5 (two competed)
1st Robert Malcolm Memorial 5
2nd Fraser Valley Pipe Band

Judges for all band events: Colin MacLellan, Ian K. MacDonald (piping); Blair Brown (drumming); Rene Cusson (ensemble)

Video: Toronto Police sweeps Toronto Indoor

Published: April 4, 2015

The scene at the 2015 Toronto Indoor Games, Moss Park Armoury, Toronto

Toronto – April 4, 2015 – The Toronto Police Grade 1 band enjoyed three first prizes in their events at the Toronto Indoor Games, winning the Grade 1&2 band contest and both of the Grade 1&2 Quartet events. The games marked the first time that the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band competed as a Grade 1 band, and the debut of Paris Port Dover as a Grade 2 band. Matt MacIsaac returned to solo competition to enjoy a good day in the Professional grade, but it was Andrew Carlisle who was overall best, with two firsts and a second.

Grade 1&2
(four competed)
1st Toronto Police (1,1,2,1)
2nd Peel Regional Police (3,2,1,3)
3rd Ottawa Police Service (2,3,3,2)
4th Paris Port Dover (Gr2) (4,4,4,4)
Judges: Andrew Berthoff, Bob Worrall (piping); Dan Bist (drumming); John Elliott (ensemble)

Grade 3 (three competed)
1st Rob Roy (1,2,3,1) (EP)
2nd Toronto Police (1,1,2,2)
3rd Hamilton Police (3,3,1,3)
Judges: Gail Brown, Lynda Mackay (piping); Dan Bist (drumming); John Elliott (ensemble)

Grade 4 (five competed)
1st Guelph (1,1,4,3)
2nd Paris Port Dover (3,3,3,1)
3rd Chatham-Kent Police Services (4,4,1,2)
4th Arnprior MacNab (2,2,5,5)
5th Air Force City (5,5,2,4)
Judges: Brian Williamson, Peter Sinclair (piping); Dan Bist (drumming); Ken Eller (ensemble)

Grade 5 (three competed)
1st Barrie (1,1,1,2)
2nd Ryan Russell Memorial (2,2,3,1)
3rd Scarborough (3,3,2,3)
Judges: Gail Brown, Peter Sinclair (piping); Dan Bist (drumming); Ken Eller (ensemble)

Young James Kirkwood in the Grade 2 solo drumming.

Grade 1&2
(seven competed)
1st Toronto Police (Gr1)
2nd Ottawa Police – Dicker (Gr1)
3rd Ottawa Police – Anderson (Gr1)
4th Ottawa Police – Ridley (Gr1)
5th Peel Polce – A.Cairns (Gr1)
6th Peel Police – Alegretti (Gr1)
Judges: Ken Eller, John Elliott

MSR (nine competed)
1st Toronto Police (Gr1)
2nd Ottawa Police Services – Boyd (Gr1)
3rd Ottawa Police Services – Dicker (Gr1)
4th Paris Port Dover – (Gr2)
5th Ottawa Police Services – Bush (Gr1)
6th Peel Regional Police – Allegretti (Gr1)
Judges: Andrew Berthoff; Bob Worrall

Dylan Whittemore plays for a drummer at the 2015 Toronto Indoor.

Grade 3&4
Air & 6/8 March

1st Toronto Police – Urkovsky (Gr3)
2nd Guelph – Bridge (Gr4)
3rd Ryan Russell Memorial (Gr4)
4th Guelph – Dennis (Gr4)
5th Barrie – Kielgelmann (Gr4)
6th Scarborough – MacDougall (Gr4)
Judges: Ken Eller, Lynda Mackay

Solo Piping
(12 competed)
1st Andrew Carlisle
2nd Sean McKeown
3rd Ed Bush
4th Nick Hudson
5th Jacob Dicker
6th Elizabeth SheridanJudge: Bill Livingstone

MSR (12 competed)
1st Matt MacIsaac
2nd Andrew Carlisle
3rd Andrea Boyd
4th Sean McKeown
5th Alan Clark
6th Tyler Harris
Judge: Gail Brown

Freestyle (12 competed)
1st Andrew Carlisle
2nd Matt MacIsaac
3rd Sean McKeown
4th Josh MacFarlane
5th Tyler Harris
6th Jacob Dicker
Judge: John Elliott

Solo Drumming

MSR (four competed)
1st Iain Bell
2nd Chris Bell
3rd Joe Kiah
4th Neil Birkett
Judge: Dan Bist

Hornpipe & Jig (three competed)
1st Chris Bell
2nd Iain Bell
3rd Neil Birkett
Judge: Dan Bist

RSPBA loses Northern Ireland executive to Spring Gatherin’

Published: March 31, 2015

David Scott

David Scott, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Northern Ireland Branch Executive Secretary since 2005, resigned from the association on the evening of March 31st, according to sources “due to mounting pressure from the branch executive” over the controversial Spring Gatherin’ event and the RSPBA’s reported concerns about the event holding pipe band competitions not sanctioned by the association.

Scott has joined the organizational team of The Spring Gatherin’, and said in a statement, “Though it saddens me to resign my post with the RSPBANI, I felt it was time for me to make a move to new and exciting ventures in piping and drumming. I very much look forward to The Spring Gatherin’ this April, as well as developing our plans for it in the years to come.”

He was already on the board of directors of Dalriada Events, the company behind The Spring Gatherin’ and sister company of the successful Belfast Tattoo.

An insider who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “David has been 100% forthright about his involvement in The Spring Gatherin’ with the [RSPBANI] Executive, but mumblings of ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘you should consider where your loyalties lie’ have forced him to make this move.”

The Spring Gatherin’ earlier decided to cancel its competitions in favour of unjudged performances, claiming that participating bands had been threatened with suspension by RSPBA officials if they took part.

David Scott is a drummer with the non-competing Drumlough Pipe Band of Rathfriland, Northern Ireland, and is well regarded and liked among Ulster pipers and drummers.

Colin Wasson, director of The Spring Gatherin’, said, “We are delighted that David has made the move to devote even more of his time and energies to The Spring Gatherin’. David has a wealth of knowledge and experience in promoting pipe band events and initiatives and he has played a key role in getting The Spring Gatherin’ off the ground.”

A combination of performances and workshops, the Spring Gatherin’ is scheduled for April 24-26 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast. The event is in part modelled on the successful Winter Storm event held annually in January in Kansas City, Missouri.

Elite solo pipers already getting set for 2016


Boreraig_Cairn_smallThe Piobaireachd Society has prescribed its list of tunes for the major competitions in 2016 for the world’s best solo pipers, and they return to a familiar submit four, play one approach, which will follow a mainly “own choice” 2015.

Most of the tunes are familiar fare for accomplished pipers, with notable exception of two “modern” tunes set for the Senior competitions. “The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairack” by John A. MacLellan and “A Son’s Salute to His Parents” by Donald MacLeod are for the first time set among ancient compositions.

In the Silver Medal, several tunes will be required to have their crunluath a mach variation played.

Senior (submit four, play one)
“The Bells of Perth” – Piobaireachd Society Book (PS) 2, Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor (K)
“The Earl of Ross’s March” – PS 10
“Lament for Hugh” – PS 13
“The MacDonalds’ Salute” – (corrected version) PS 11
“MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament” – PS 15, K
“The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairack” – PS 20th Century Book
“A Son’s Salute to His Parents” – Donald MacLeod Book
“Scarce of Fishing” – PS 3, K

Gold Medal (submit four, play one)
“The Battle of Waternish” – PS 2, K
“The Gathering of Clan Chattan” – PS 2, K
“I got a Kiss of the King’s Hand” – PS 7, K
“Isabel Mackay” – PS 6, K
“Lament for MacSwan of Roaig” – PS 1, K
“Mary’s Praise” – PS 5, K
“My King Has Landed in Moidart” – PS 5, K
“The Stewarts’ White Banner” – PS 7

Silver Medal (submit four, play one)
“Lament for the Castle of Dunyveg” – PS 1
“Castle Menzies” – PS 8
“A Flame of Wrath for Patrick Caogach” – PS 5, K
“Hector MacLean’s Warning” (crunluath a mach required) PS 2
“I Am Proud to Play a Pipe” – PS 6, K
“The MacDonalds Are Simple” – (crunluath a mach required) PS 9
“The Piper’s Warning to His Master” – PS 12, K
“The Rout of the MacPhees” (crunluath a mach required) PS 4

The organization gave the usual cautions to comompetitors who want to deviate from the usual settings. Pipers wishing to delve in to alternative settings from almost every source known should check out William Donaldson’s Set Tunes Series, in which most of the tunes above are closely analyzed.

“There is always much deliberation goes into the selection of the set tune lists,” Piobaireachd Society President Jack Taylor told pipes|drums. “The process started some 18 months ago. Small groups of Music Committee members come up with draft lists, these are discussed by the full committee, then refined as necessary.

“I think the 2016 lists are a good mix, and a good test at the Senior, Gold and Silver levels. Of particular significance is the inclusion of ‘The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairack’ by John MacLellan and ‘A Son’s Salute to His Parents’ by Donald MacLeod. These are now coming into the standard repertoire, and the music committee felt that they stand very favourably against the other classic older tunes in the list such as ‘Scarce of Fishing’ and ‘The Earl of Ross’s March.’ Colin MacLellan has kindly provided a definitive score of ‘The Phantom Piper’ and a recording of his father playing it, and these are posted on the Piobaireachd Society’s website.

“The gold medal players will surely enjoy getting familiar with the tunes on their list such as ‘Waternish,’ ‘MacSwan,’ ‘Mary’s Praise,’ ‘My King Has Landed’ and the like. They should make for an excellent competition.

“The standard in the Silver Medal is ever higher, and the shorter, attractive, but less usual tunes there should be a suitable challenge. We don’t hear the likes of ‘Dunyveg,’ ‘I’m Proud to Play a Pipe’ and ‘The Piper’s Warning’ often, so they will be a treat for the audience, the judges, and hopefully the players.”

MacDonald bows out as Toronto Police P-M; McKeown in


Ian K. MacDonald has voluntarily given way to Sean McKeown as Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band after returning to the band recently following a mild-heart attack last fall.

MacDonald said that he arrived at the decision after being impressed with where his band had been taken by McKeown, so he suggested the move to McKeown, partly so that he could get his own playing into shape.

Ian K. MacDonald

“The band is going very well with Sean at the helm, and being this late in the winter and after canvassing Sean about taking over for the season he took some time and let me know that he is up to the challenge and looking forward to leading the band this season,” MacDonald said. “The band nucleus has been the same group for years for the pipe corps.”

He said that he will stay with the band as a piper in the ranks.

It’s the most recent big change for the Toronto Police, also following the appointment of Craig Stewart as Leading-Drummer in September following the departure of Mark Passmore, who led the band’s corps for a season.

Sean McKeown

“Craig Stewart’s ensemble touch makes this change a refreshing push in the right direction which I know the band and myself will definitely enjoy,” MacDonald continued. “Sean brings a lot of experience and energy and was always someone I had hoped would take over the band someday when we were ready and I am elated that he wants to give this a go.”

It is the first pipe-majorship for McKeown, who has a lengthy experience in Grade 1 with Toronto Police and the 78th Fraser Highlanders. Like MacDonald, McKeown is an accomplished solo competition piper.

“I’ve known and played under Ian for years . . . and I helped run practices more recently when he couldn’t attend,” McKeown said. “Ian and i spoke and do speak frequently about what we believe is best for the band. I think all of this has made the transition a bit more natural for me and for the band.

“Craig Stewart is also very good to work with. He’s put a lot of work in with his crew to get them up to the standard since taking over late last fall. He previously led the Toronto Police drum corps in 2004 at a time when I thought the band had some of its best ensemble. He’s a class-act and has the band’s best interests in mind.

“As for this upcoming season, we’ve made a few tweaks to our sound and style of playing, and we have a brand new medley that Craig has written some really good stuff for. Everyone has really been working hard in the off season to put forth some solid performances this year.

“The band will be travelling to the World’s,  and the plan is that Ian will return in the fall to take back the band.”

Ian MacDonald had led the band since 2007, and before then was in charge between 1998 and 2004.

MacDonald said that since his medical condition arose he has been on a fitness regimen that he said has him in “better shape than I have been in years.”

Rudolph pockets 100 Guineas

Published: March 30, 2015

Johannesburg, South Africa – March 29, 2015 – The 100 Guineas Solo Piping Competition was held at the View in Parktown, the 57th annual event, which is considered the premier solo piping contest of the Scottish Piping Society of the Witwatersrand. The competition is in memory of Lachlan Milloy Miller, with the main prize then of 100 Guineas. Past winners have included George Ackroyd, James Young and Norman Dodds.

Gareth Rudolph was the overall winner of the Senior section, while Malcolm Chadwick picked up the same award in the Junior section.

Gareth Rudolph (right) accepts the 100 Guineas Senior trophy from the president of the Scottish Piping Society of the Witwatersrand, Grant Laidlaw.

Indoor Winnipeg Festival draws from far and wide


RMPB LogoWinnipeg – March 28, 2015 – The Winnipeg Scottish Festival saw changes to the date, venue and format, with more than 100 soloists competing in the morning, and 11 bands performing in the afternoon. Pipers and drummers traveled from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Minnesota and Nebraska to compete the event. Bands performed on stage in concert format to a full house at the CanadInns Banquet and Conference Centre. Grade 2 band events were split between Rocky Mountain of Calgary and City of Regina, with the newly logoed Rocky Mountain taking overall drumming. The Winnipeg Police won both Grade 3 events.

Grade 2
1st Rocky Mountain
2nd City of Regina

1st City of Regina
2nd Rocky Mountain
Overall drumming: Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain competing in the Winnipeg Scottish Festival Grade 2 contest.

Grade 3
1st Winnipeg Police
2nd St. Andrew’s of Winnipeg
3rd Macalester College

1st Winnipeg Police
2nd St. Andrew’s of Winnipeg
3rd Macalester College
Overall drumming: Winnipeg Police

Grade 4
Quick March Medley
1st Lord Selkirk RFM
2nd Conservatory of Performing Arts
3rd Regina Police

1st Lord Selkirk RFM
2nd Regina Police
3rd Prairie Thistle
Overall drumming: Regina Police

Grade 5
Quick March Medley
1st Macalester College
2nd Prairie Thistle
Drumming: Macalster College
Judges for all band events: Ken Eller, Adrian Melvin (piping); Jim Sim (Drumming); Bob Worrall (Ensemble)

Cancer research gains nearly $35k from SFU band event

Published: March 29, 2015

Almost $35,000 were raised for the BC Cancer Foundation at the Pipe Up for Cancer and Balding For Boney event put on by the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band where a whole lot of art was played and a whole lot of hair was lost, all in honour of band-member Andrew Bonar.

SFU Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee and former Pipe-Major Terry Lee take it all off for the BC Cancer Foundation. [Photo: Skye Richendrfer]

After a 90-minute concert at the SFU Theatre in Burnaby, British Columbia, virtually the entire band went under the electric clippers to have their heads shorn by bandmates while additional contributions came in from around the world from viewers of the livestream broadcast of the event.

Andrew Bonar with emcee Skye Richendrfr. [Photo: Skye Richendrfer]

Bonar received a ceremonial big cheque for $32,500 made out to the BC Cancer Foundation, and was surprised when presented with a portrait of him painted by former band-member Robert Mathieson. At the concert, Bonar’s daughter, Kate, performed along with the Heather Jolley Highland Dancers, to Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee’s accompaniment. Bonar made an emotional speech, thanking all, paying particular thanks to his wife, Jeanette.

Former SFU piper Skye Richendrfer emceed the concert and hair-razing post-concert event. A sold-out ticketed ceilidh followed the entire affair and went into the night. Richendrfer played with Bonar in Abbotsford Legion, his first band in the late-1970s.

“It was so wonderful to see friends and supporters of SFU and Andrew Bonar specifically, coming together to celebrate this way,” Richendrfer said. “What a meaningful and thoughtful response and such genuine outpouring of support for Andrew and his family. One for the ages!”

Andrew Bonar has been a member of SFU since the early-1980s, and is one of the world’s most accomplished solo pipers, with his many awards including the Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting in 2010. He was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last year and has been undergoing treatment since shortly after the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships, at which he competed with SFU.

Bonar wrote a moving account of his ordeal for pipes|drums in November of last year.

The band previewed some material that it plans to perform at its Pre-World’s Concert in August in Glasgow.

Nonprofit pipes|drums Magazine made a contribution of $250 to the cause.


Video: “War or Peace” – Jack Lee’s rendition of obscure tune

Published: March 28, 2015

We caught up with Jack Lee of Surrey, British Columbia, back in cold January in downtown Toronto in recital after the More Ceol Mor workshop. The virtuoso solo piper delivered a rendition of the obscure and rarely-heard piobaireachd, “War or Peace.”

For more about the tune, be sure to check the pipes|drums Set Tunes Series by William Donaldson, where you can follow the scores and see the various settings and history of the composition.

The tune makes use of embellishments that are today unconventional, including what is known as a crunluath movement with a “redundant low-A.” This has been the subject of some controversy with piobaireachd aficionados over the years.

Johnston and Lynas move to front of Centre

Published: March 26, 2015

Clare Lynas

The National Piping Centre has made a few important appointments to their full-time teaching staff, with Finlay Johnston and Clare Lynas taking roles vacated by Chris Armstrong and Glenn Brown, who each resigned early in 2015 after several years with the Glasgow-based organization.

Johnston joins the Centre’s staff on April 28th, and is well known as a solo piper, his biggest prizes to date the A-Grade Strathspey & Reel and the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 2011 and 2012, respectively. His Grade 1 band experience includes stints with Inveraray & District, ScottishPower and Spirit of Scotland. He brings with him past teaching experience at the College of Piping in Glasgow and reedmaking expertise, working with Pipedreams, the makers of Ezeedrone reeds.

Finlay Johnston

Clare Lynas has worked as an Administrative Assistant at the National Piping Centre, and has a BA in Scottish Music-Piping from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and a first class honours degree in music from Napier University. She’s been a member of Grade 1 ScottishPower and Grade 2 Drambuie-Kirkliston, and also plays clarinet, whistles and smallpipes, and a background in piobaireachd as a student of Tom Speirs.

“We are disappointed to lose staff of the calibre of Chris and Glenn, but people move on and inevitably look to develop their own opportunities in life,” National Piping Centre Director Roddy MacLeod said. “We obviously wish them every success and thank them for the significant contribution they have made to the growing success of the centre.”

Armstrong and Brown, both Gold Medallists, left to pursue other opportunities, primarily in piping. Armstrong’s X-Treme line of products has been well received, and both pipers are in high demand as teachers, recitalists and competitors at invitational events worldwide.

MacLeod added that the Piping Centre has also added several part-time staff, including Gold Medallist Wilson Brown, who recently retired from the Strathclyde Police force. Rising stars on the Scottish solo piping scene Andrew Bova, Jonathan Graham, Hayley MacInnes, Callum Moffat, Edward Seaman and David Shedden have also worked as part-time instructors.

He also said the National Piping Centre has worked with Lothian Kilt Rentals in Dunedin, Florida, at the new “Dunedin Tide” workshop and competitions, with Brown, Bruce Gandy, Finlay MacDonald, Colin MacLellan, Robert Mathieson and MacLeod handling the teaching with more than 80 students enrolled.

SFU concerts sells out; pushing $25k in donations

Published: March 23, 2015

The Simon Fraser University Theatre is sold out for the March 28th SFU “Pipe Up for Cancer” concert in aid of the BC Cancer Foundation, and the band is so far close to raising $25,000 for the cause in support of band member Andrew Bonar.

What’s more, 20 people – including former Pipe-Major Terry Lee, Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee and Leading-Drummer Reid Maxwell – will shave their heads in a special “Balding for Boney” spectacle immediately following the show.

“The support that people have shown for Andrew Bonar through our Pipe Up for Cancer event has really been amazing,” said Jack Lee, who is also the band’s president. “Andrew Bonar is a much loved and admired throughout the piping word. He is a great friend, piper and person and a long-time member of the SFU Pipe Band. Thanks to everyone who has participated and shown their support we have been able to raise over $20,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation, the cancer organization selected by Andrew.”

Andrew Bonar, 2007.

Bonar and his family will be at the concert on Saturday night, and his daughter, Kate, an accomplished Highland dancer will perform at the show with the Heather Jolley Highland Dancers. The band revealed that Skye Richendrfer, a former piper with the band in its early days, will emcee the event. Richendrfer heads up the successful Celtic Arts Foundation in Washington state, and also played with Bonar in the Abbotsford Legion Pipe Band in the late-1970s.

The concert and balding will be live-streamed on the Internet starting at 6 pm PST on March 28th at The livestream is free, but unless you are complete penny-pinching putz you will make a donation to the BC Cancer Foundation while you enjoy one of the world’s greatest pipe bands entertain you for the better part of two hours.

Andrew Bonar has been a member of SFU since the early-1980s, and is one of the world’s most accomplished solo pipers, with his many awards including the Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting in 2010. He was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last year and has been undergoing treatment since shortly after the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships, at which he competed with SFU.

Bonar wrote a moving account of his ordeal for pipes|drums in November of last year.

pipes|drums Magazine has donated $250 to the BC Cancer Foundation in Andrew Bonar’s name.

Reid Maxwell honoured with BC Achievement Award

Published: March 21, 2015

Reid Maxwell

He could be the greatest single contributor to pipe band drumming in North American history, and now Reid Maxwell will be formally recognized for his contributions to the art on April 24th when he receives a British Columbia Community Achievement Award.

The announcement was made by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Keith Mitchell, chair of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation. The award “recognizes and celebrates the spirit, imagination, dedication, and outstanding contributions of British Columbians to their communities.”

Reid Maxwell was cited for his “contributions as a teacher, adjudicator and mentor and for making BC and SFU a centre of excellence in pipe band drumming.”

“I am very humbled and flattered to receive this award,” Maxwell said. “So many people in the piping, drumming and pipe band community volunteer countless hours to teach and promote our music, but are not often publicly recognized. I am honoured that I have been. Teaching and mentoring drumming students is what I love to do, so to be recognized by the province for it is a huge honour.”

Maxwell settled in British Columbia in 1992 and since that time has been Leading-Drummer of the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winning six World Pipe Band Championships and four World Pipe Band Drum Corps titles. He also won two World Championships as a member of Dysart & Dundonald, and one with the 78th Fraser Highlanders, including a World Pipe Band Drumming title as leading-drummer. Maxwell has taught scores of drummers along the way, helping to build the BC drumming scene to produce consistently excellent snare drummers.

The award will be presented by Clark at Government House in Victoria, British Columbia’s capital.

Honours are nothing new to members of SFU. In 1999, former SFU Pipe-Major Terry Lee and Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee were presented with Canadian Governor General Meritorious Service Awards for their contributions to piping and pipe bands, and in 2013 Terry and Jack lee received honourary doctorates from Simon Fraser University.

Spring Gatherin’ nixes contests under alleged RSPBA pressure

Published: March 19, 2015

Spring_Gatherin_logoThe Spring Gatherin’ in Belfast on April 24-26 has cancelled its creative pipe band competitions, in which the audience would be part of the judging, reportedly after the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Society threatened participating bands with suspension should they take part in an unsanctioned competition.

Rather than risk bands cancelling from The Spring Gatherin’ altogether, worried that they would not be allowed to compete in sanctioned RSPBA events over the rest of the year, the organizers have decided to go with a non-competition, “showcase” event where bands entered will perform for the audience.

Organizer of The Spring Gatherin’, Colin Wasson, said in a statement to pipes|drums:

“I originally had a phone call alerting me to rumblings being made by RSPBANI [the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA], who were concerned that a competition was taking place that was unlicensed by them and could lead to the bands taking part in Spring Gatherin being suspended from RSPBANI and indeed RSPBA competitions for a period of time.

“This suspension would also apply to individuals who are part of Spring Gatherin set up on a personal basis, as well as being part of RSPBANI.

“I was asked during that call if I would be prepared to meet George Ussher, President of RSPBA, to discuss concerns they had about Spring Gatherin’.

“I was only too happy to agree to meet George as we have nothing to hide or fear from bringing a new and in our opinion, exciting product to the market.

“It should also be noted that I had been asked previously to meet Ray Hall, chairman of the RSPBANI, on three occasions, about these concerns, each time I agreed to meet him but no meeting took place for whatever reason.

“I met George Ussher in the Premier Inn, Lisburn, in the 9th March along with David Scott, who organized the meeting.

“George expressed his concern about this unlicensed competition as RSPBA are the official license providers for all piping competition in the UK.

“I pointed out to him that we would take a different view on whether we needed a license from them, but in order to protect the bands from any sanctions . . .

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  • For namesakes
    Sat, 16 May 2015
    Having a tune named after you is a wonderful gesture. I can’t think of a more thoughtful and kind gift than a piece of music inspired by life and friendship. I’ve been thinking about this custom for a few weeks … Continue reading …
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UPCOMING EVENTS May 30, 2015British ChampionshipsMeadow Park, Bathgate

June 6, 2015Bellingham Highland GamesHovander Homestead Park, Ferndale, WA

June 6, 2015MILWAUKEE HIGHLAND GAMES7300 Chestnut Street Wauwatosa, WI

June 6, 2015Cookstown Highland GamesTBA

June 6, 2015Stockbridge Pipe Band 20th Anniversary ConcertEdinburgh

Pipers: Practice rudiments slowly, rhythmically, and big and open, ensuring every gracenote is audible.
George Campbell, Oshawa, Ontario