Piping Live! 2015 unveils program; tickets now on sale

Published: June 2, 2015

It’s billed as “the world’s biggest week of piping” (in actuality, it’s the world’s only week of piping), and the full schedule of events for this year’s Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival was made public, with tickets now on sale.

The August 10-16 festival expects to draw more than 50,000 to Glasgow to for the more than 200 events featuring at least 8,000 performers, including many of the pipe bands that will be competing at the World Championships on the Friday and Saturday. Just a few highlights:

The Masters Solo Piping Competition kicks off Piping Live! on Monday, with the world’s elite pipers competing for the prizes and also a spot at the 2015 Glenfiddich Championships in October. The first round of the ever-popular Pipe Idol contest also starts that day, featuring young players from Scotland, Canada, Northern Ireland and Australia.

The festival gets into even fuller swing on Tuesday. Of course the marquee event is Pipes+Drums, organized by pipes|drums Magazine, featuring pipe-majors and leading-drummers performing in an informal recital at the Street Café at the National Piping Centre. The free event at noon will have duets from ScottishPower, Shotts & Dykehead, Simon Fraser University and the Stuart Highlanders. Double 2014 Gold Medallist Douglas Murray will be in recital at 1 pm at the Piping Centre, and the ever-popular International Quartets Competition is that night, featuring foursomes from Grade 1 bands getting a lot of nerve-jangling in before the World’s.

Wednesday is something of a ceol mor day at Piping Live! At noon the Piobaireachd Society launches Book 16 of its century-old Collection, and then at 2:30 the National Piping Centre will unveil a book on how to play that kind of pipe music, with the debut of its . . .


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African Skye makes comeback at De la Salle

Published: June 1, 2015

AfricanSkye_logoJohannesburg – May 30, 2015 – On a very warm winter day in the Highveld, African Skye made a comeback, taking all of the firsts in piping and winning the day overall at the third Regional Championship on the South African schedule, held at De la Salle College. African Skye also took the top spot in drumming, breaking the winning streak of Transvaal Scottish. Benoni MacTalla did not compete on the day. In Grade 3, Glen Allen Pipes and Drums, on home soil, were able to finally get ahead of Sandton Scottish.

Grade 2
1st Transvaal Scottish (2,2,1,1)
2nd African Skye (1,1,2,2)
Judges: David Harris and Geoff Irvine (piping); Dave Jeffrey (drumming); Ewen Gilchrist (ensemble)

1st African Skye Grade 2 (1,1,1,1)
2nd Transvaal Scottish Grade 2 (2,2,2,2)
Judges: Roy Blevins and Craig Herwill (piping); Gareth McLuckie (drumming); Greg Lloyd (ensemble)

Grade 3
1st Glen Allen
2nd Sandton Scottish
3rd Transvaal Scottish (Gr3)

Grade 4
1st Pretoria Highlanders
2nd African Skye (Gr4)
3rd De La Salle Combined
4th Cornwall Hill

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

Got results that you’d like to share? We’re not mind-readers! Send them in by email using the format above, along with a photo or two, and we can share them with the piping and drumming world.

Ryan Russell Memorial teaching band raises $20,000

Published: May 31, 2015

The Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band performs at their annual fundraising golf tournament.

A bit of thunder and heavy rain couldn’t stop the Grade 5 Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band of Toronto from raising more than $20,000 at the second annual Kilted Classic golf tournament that had the support of more than a hundred participants at the Royal Ashburn Golf Club near Whitby, Ontario.

Now its third year, the band started from scratch, with almost all pipers and drummers having their first lesson with the group, which is led by Pipe-Major Brian Urkosky. The band competed for the first time in 2014, and will again return to Grade 5 competition with six games on the schedule.

The band is affiliated with the Toronto Police organization, which has Grade 1 and Grade 3 bands, and is named after the late Sergeant Ryan Russell, who was killed in the line of duty several years ago. Russell was a fan of pipe bands and a keen golfer in his spare time, often playing at the course where the fundraiser is held.

“The band will be able to have a good year due to this one fundraiser,” said organizer Tracy Porter. “Vest, Jackets, ties, a few more kilts are on order – and band supplies like reeds and drum parts.”

pipes|drums Magazine sponsored the third hole at the golf tournament, and members of the Ryan Russell Memorial band show off the signage.

The golfing part of the day was cut short by bad weather, but the festivities came indoors and enjoyed the prize-giving and a performance by the band over a prime rib dinner and drinks.

Dozens of organizations donated prizes, including all five of Toronto’s major league sports teams, and numerous piping and drumming businesses such as McCallum Bagpipes and Walsh Bagpipes. The nonprofit pipes|drums was once again a sponsor of the event.

Field Marshal Montgomery: 2015 British Champions

Published: May 30, 2015

FMM-logoBathgate, Scotland – May 30, 2015 – The UK championship season got started in the West Lothian town of Bathgate under mixed weather conditions, often sunny but with a cold northerly wind making for testing conditions. Field Marshal Montgomery won the event with three firsts and a fifth in drumming.

Grade 1 (MSR, 11 competed)
1st Field Marshal Montgomery (1,1,5,1)
2nd Inveraray & District (3,4,4,2)
3rd Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (4,3,3,4)
4th St. Laurence O’Toole (2,5,2,5)
5th Greater Glasgow Police Scotland (6,6,1,7)
6th Peoples Ford-Boghall & Bathgate (5,7,7,3)
Drumming: Greater Glasgow Police Scotland
Judges: Bill Garrett, George Wilson (piping); Sandy Steele (drumming); Jennifer Hutcheon (ensemble)

Grade 2 (medley, 18 competed)
1st Bleary & District (1,1,6,1)
2nd Buchan Peterson (6,3,1,3)
3rd Lomond & Clyde (5,5,2,2)
4th Johnstone (4,6,4,4)
5th MacKenzie Caledonian (2,2,12,5)
6th Manorcunningham (3,4,10,7)
Drumming: Buchan
Judges: Cameron Edgar, Jim Semple (piping); Willie Black (drumming); Joe Noble

pipes|drums calls for official National Bagpipe Day in Canada

Published: May 29, 2015

Canada_Bagpipe_FlagWith enough signatures from Canadian citizens to a formal petition, pipes|drums Magazine is hoping to establish an official National Bagpipe Day in Canada.

pipes|drums readers in Canada simply need to print this form, collect as many signatures as possible from Canadian citizens, and mail back Member of Parliament Kirsty Duncan’s office on Parliament Hill (address at the bottom of the petition page). No postage is required.

It is all in a move to gain official national recognition for the instrument that has become part of Canada’s sound and identity, not just for Scottish-Canadian, but for all residents of the country.

For example, at most citizenship swearing-in ceremonies, a piper will play, alongside a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer in his or her iconic full-dress of riding breeks, campaign hat and red serge tunic.

“Piping has a rich history in Canada, and it needs to be celebrated officially,” said Andrew Berthoff, editor of pipes|drums. “Outside of the United Kingdom, there is probably more excellent piping and pipe bands in Canada per capita than anywhere. Those living in Canada hear the pipes at almost every important ceremony, and the sound of the pipes is beloved by just about everyone I know in Canada. An official national day is deserved.

“In fact, every country where the Highland pipes are played should have an official national day declared to celebrate the instrument, its music and its players – the more positive attention the instrument receives around the world, the better it is for all pipers and drummers. Let’s start with Canada.”

Canadians can click on this image to bring up a pdf to print – and then gather signatures from other Canadian citizens.

Duncan agreed to have her office collect the petitions when approached by pipes|drums. She is a former champion Highland dancer and an avid supporter of the Scottish arts, and she said that having such a national day declared would be possible – provided signatures could be collected.

With less than four weeks left in the current session of Canada’s parliament, readers will need to act quickly.

Canadian pipes|drums readers are encouraged to print the form, take it to band practice and/or work, and ask fellow pipers and drummers, friends and family to sign on to the effort.

The fiddle was recently given a national day in Canada in a similar effort sponsored by another Member of Parliament. There is an informal International Bagpipes Day, but no country is known to have declared an official National Day for the instrument by its federal government on behalf of its citizens.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for developments on the petition drive to declare an official National Bagpipe Day in Canada.

A snapshot of the new Grade 1 season

Published: May 28, 2015

This Saturday marks the start of the UK championship season, with the first major of the year, the British Championships at Bathgate, Scotland. While bands in the southern hemisphere go into hiatus for their summer, bands in the north are full-steam-ahead, culminating with the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow on August 14-15.

So what might we look out for this season with some of the bands in the top grade?

FMM ready to pull the trigger at the 2014 World Championships.

Start with reigning World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery. The band came out strong last weekend at Inniskillen, besting Irish rivals St. Laurence O’Toole (SLOT won the drumming).

“FMM have had a good off-season and all elements of the band are in excellent shape for the challenges of the new season,” Field Marshal Pipe-Major Richard Parkes said. “Our aim is to build on the consistent level of performance we have achieved in recent years.”

And consistency is the name of the game for FMM. While the band sees members come and go (e.g., perennial pipe section anchorman Donald MacPhee has retired), the group has maintained an unrivalled level of steadiness, producing world-standard performances week in and week out. The usual rumours have circulated that this will be Parkes’s last year, but the piping and drumming world has learned to take those with a lump of salt.

But, as with every band, success can’t last forever, so many are wondering if 2015 might be the year when the door is opened a little more for perennial rivals champing at the bit to beat FMM.

Peoples Ford-Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia seems to be the band that everyone loves to root for. The home-grown group from West Lothian has carried the mantle of “best band never to win the World’s” for maybe 30 years now, and every year seems to be the one that might be the one for Boghall.

“We’ve been working hard on our sound over the winter, addressing some deficiencies I feel we had last year,” said Pipe-Major Ross Walker. “The early signs are very encouraging and the first test at Bathgate should show that improvement. Both pipe and drum corps as strong as ever so we approach the season with confidence.”

ScottishPower will be interesting to watch, especially with a new Leading-Drummer in Jake Jørgensen, taking over from long-time lead-tip and . . .


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Jack Lee achieves lifetime goal: PS Books 1-15 recorded

Published: May 27, 2015

Jack Lee

He says he’s “never been much of a ‘bucket list’ person, but the famous piper, Jack Lee, has clearly achieved a lifetime goal by completing recordings on the pipes of all 256 tunes in all 15 of the Piobaireachd Society’s Collection, all now available along with a Bagpipe MusicWriter score, and a pdf of the tune for those who take advantage of his website.

“This is something I have been working on for over 20 years,” Lee said. “I started off making recordings of my own playing to listen back to as part of my practice sessions. It expanded when I started recording piobaireachds for my sons and students. Over the years the [Piobaireachd Society’s] Music Committee would come up with a fresh new annual list for Oban and Inverness, so I would record them.”

Lee said that he recorded a number of piobaireachds with alternative settings, such as some of Angus MacArthur’s, and several modern piobaireachds. While there is currently no written or verbal analysis of the tunes he said that “there are a number of things that I am planning on adding in the future.”

The addition of the piobaireachds bring his site to more than 3,000 separate compositions available to piping students and enthusiasts, perhaps the largest recorded library of playing by any one piper in history.

Lee added, “I have never been much of a ‘bucket list’ person. If I had such a list then the studying, learning and playing of the Piobaireachd Society 15 Books would have certainly been on it. I really enjoy studying piobaireachds, singing them, playing them on the practice chanter, hearing other pipers play them, teaching them, researching the history of them, etc. But for me, there is nothing quite like getting the full bagpipe tuned and playing through an entire piobaireachd. It has been an absolute pleasure to study and play all these piobaireachds.”

In late-2014 Jimmy McIntosh launched a website and accompanying book that presented more than 70 piobaireachds in scores, recordings and analysis for sale online and in paper.

Lee said that all of the piobaireachds are public domain, and he obtained permission to reproduce those that are still under copyright, which is the life of the composer/arranger plus 70 years in the UK.

pipes|drums subscribers can read our exclusive interview with Jack Lee, starting with Part 1 here.

Big top-grades contest at Norfolk planned for April 2016

Published: May 24, 2015

According to organizer Fraser Clark, as many as eight Grade 1 and four Grade 2 bands will have a good portion of their expenses covered to compete at a large competition in sync with the twentieth anniversary of the Virginal International Tattoo in Norfolk, Virginia, in April 2016.

Sanctioned by the EUSPBA, the contest would be under the direction of the Virginia Arts Festival, with “a staff of professionals running a world-class event,” Clark said, who is also hoping that competing bands would also agree to perform in the military tattoo.

Clark is a Captain with the Canadian Forces and a former member of several bands, including the Grade 1 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) and the Grade 2 48th Highlanders, and he also competed for a time in the Professional solo grade, winning, among other prizes, the Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at Maxville in 1998.

Clark confirmed that budget was approved in early-April to support seven North American Grade 1 bands and four Grade 2 bands each with a travel stipend of US$4,000 and US$2,500, respectively, with money guaranteed when they confirm their participation. The event also plans to bring in one Grade 1 band from the UK to compete.

“The event could be somewhat similar to the old Scottish World Festival from the 1970s in Toronto,” Clark said in his correspondence to bands to gauge their interest. “The difference here is that the competition is open to the public (no charge) albeit on a slightly smaller scale by necessity (and if we can create enough momentum by having some Grade 1 and 2 bands appear in 2016, then perhaps this will assist in the creation of a bigger pipe band event the following year or even years down the line).”

The Scottish World Festival was held for several years as part of the Canadian National Exhibition. Virtually every UK Grade 1 and many Grade 2 bands and Scottish Pipe Band Association officials and judges were flown via chartered jet to . . .


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Atholl Gathering overall goes to Ben Duncan


Blair Atholl, Scotland – May 24, 2015 – Ben Duncan was the overall “Champion Piper” at the 2015 Atholl Gathering, winning every event in which he played. Weather was changeable, rapidly going from cold to warm, sunny to rainy. Glenfiddich was a sponsor of the events.

Ben Duncan with some of the spoils of victory at the Atholl Gathering. [Photo: Derek Maxwell]

1st Gordon Bruce
2nd Daroch Urquhart
3rd Peter McAlister
4th Jamie Forester
5th Jonathan Greenlees
6th Michael Fitzhenry
Judges: Tom Speirs, Bill Wotherspoon

1st Ben Duncan
2nd Cameron MacDougall
3rd Edward Gaul
4th Gordon Barclay
5th Andrew Hall
Judges: Murray Henderson, Andrew Wright

1st Andrew Bova
2nd Ben Mulhearn
3rd Calum Wynd
4th John MacDonald
5th Gary Carruthers
Judges: Ronald Clark, Stuart Shedden

Light Music
Open MSR
1st Ben Duncan
2nd Alan Russell
3rd Keith Bowes
4th Calum Watson
5th Greig Wilson
Judges: James Banks, Patricia Henderson, John MacDougall, Duncan McDiarmid

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Ben Duncan
2nd Keith Bowes
3rd Ross Millar
4th Greig Wilson
5th Callum Watson

Do you have competition results that you’d like to share with the entire piping and drumming world? Please send via email using the format above, along with a photo that you have permission to use, important details of the day and judges.

Videos: Ottawa Police lays down the gauntlet at Kingston

Published: May 23, 2015

Kingston, Ontario – May 23, 2015 – The sun shone brightly but temperatures reached only 14 degrees and winds were gusty making it a test of endurance at the annual Kingston Scottish Festival, where the Ottawa Police Services Pipe Band won its first outdoor event as a Grade 1 band against three other more established bands. The Kingston games are only partially sanctioned by the PPBSO, with just the solo events counting towards championship points. But the event used PPBSO certified judges and stewards for the bands.


Ottawa Police coming in to the contest circle at Kingston.

Grade 1 (own-choice medley, four competed)
1st Ottawa Police (2,1,3,1)
2nd Toronto Police (1,3,4,2)
3rd Peel Regional Police (4,2,2,3)
4th Stuart Highlanders (3,4,1,4)
Judges: Andrew Berthoff, Ken Eller (piping); Doug Stronach (drumming); Bob Worrall (ensemble)

Grade 2 (own-choice medley, one played)
1st Paris Port Dover
Judges: Andrew Berthoff, Ken Eller (piping); Doug Stronach (drumming); Bob Worrall (ensemble)

Grade 3 (medley, three competed)
1st Hamilton Police (1,1,2,1)
2ndRob Roy (2,2,1,2)
3rd Glengarry (3,3,3,3)
Judges: Andrew Berthoff, Ken Eller (piping); Doug Stronach (drumming); Bob Worrall (ensemble)

Grade 4 (medley, three competed)
1st Arnprior MacNab (1,1,1,2)
2nd Air Force City (2,2,2,1)
3rd Port Hope & District (3,3,3,4)
4th Sons of Scotland (4,4,4,3)
Judges: Bob Worrall, Andrew Berthoff (piping); Doug Stronach (drumming); Ken Eller (ensemble)

Grade 5 (march medley, four competed)
1st Barrie (1,1,1,1)
2nd Glengarry (3,2,2,2)
3rd Sons of Scotland (Gr5) (2,3,4,3)
4th Smiths Falls Gordon (4,4,3,4)
Judges: Ken Eller, Bob Worrall (piping); Doug Stronach (drumming); Andrew Berthoff (ensemble)

SFU makes cash injection to BC Highland Games

Published: May 20, 2015

Not the Grade 1 pipe band, but the university that sponsors the band, Simon Fraser University is marking the fiftieth anniversary of the school by donating additional prize money to be awarded to the top solo piper and drummer at the 84th BC Highland Games & Scottish Festival in Coquitlam, British Columbia, on June 20th.

A total of $5,000 will be contributed by the university to the BC Highland Games in 2015with an additional $750 going to the aggregate Professional solo piping award, meaning a contestant who wins everything could buy everyone at least $1,200 in beer. SFU is also contributing $500 each to the solo snare and tenor drumming prizes.

The university already supports Highland dancing and heavy athletic events at the games.

SFU President Andrew Petter was named as Chieftain of the Day for the competition and will present some prizes.

“We are proud to support the BC Highland Games as we approach our 50th anniversary and look forward to this opportunity to share SFU’s Scottish heritage and extend our engagement with the local community,” Petter said.

The BC Highland Games are one of the Pacific Northwest’s biggest and longest-running competitions.

Benoni MacTalla takes Jeppe Gathering

Published: May 19, 2015

Kensington, South Africa – May 16, 2015 – The third competition of the South African pipe band season took place at Jeppe High School for Boys as part of the school’s 125th year anniversary celebrations and the 60th year anniversary of the school pipe band. The winter weather was classic Highveld, and Benoni MacTalla continued its winning streak by taking both the MSR and the Medley events in the Grade 2 band contest. Transvaal Scottish’s drum corps remained at the top and is unbeaten so far. The Pipe Bands Association of Southern Africa welcomed the St. Johns College Pipe Band from Zimbabwe to the competition.

Benoni MacTalla at the 2015 Jeppe Gathering

Grade 2
1st Benoni MacTalla (1,1,3,1)
2nd Transvaal Scottish (3,2,1,2)
3rd African Skye (2,3,2,3)
Judges: Craig Herwil, Greg Lloyd (piping); Dewar van Dyk (drumming); Thomas Fuller (ensemble)

1st Benoni MacTalla (2,1,3,1) (ens. pref.)
2nd Transvaal Scottish (1,2,1,3)
3rd African Skye (3,3,2,2)
4th MacChamberlain Richmond Avenue (4,4,4,4)
Judges: Roger Davies, Geoff Irvine (piping); Dave Jeffrey (drumming); Adrian Haddow (ensemble)

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

Grade 4
1st African Skye (Gr4)
2nd Pretoria Highlanders
3rd Lyttelton Manor
4th De La Salle Combined

1st Pretoria Boys Juvenile
2nd Jeppe CBC Boksburg
3rd St Benedict’s Juvenile
4th St John’s (Zimbabwe) Juvenile

Novice Juvenile
1st Benoni Novice Juvenile
2nd St Benedict’s Novice Juvenile
3rd St John’s (Zimbabwe) Novice Juvenile
4th Cornwall Hill

Got results? Send them our way by email, using the above format, along with information on judges and a photo or two!

Year of weather in eight hours at Regina

Published: May 18, 2015

RMPB LogoRegina, Saskatchewan – May 17, 2015 – Day 2 of the Saskatchewan Highland Gathering & Celtic Festival promised zero degrees with the possibility of ice-rain, snow pellets and snow, but in the end it was a cool but dry day, with pleasant sunshine in the afternoon. Morning solos proved difficult for many competitors, with frigid conditions making for a lots of squeaks and skirls. The new Parade Band event drew an enthusiastic crowd of spectators as bands and adjudicators had some fun had some fun with the event in cool temperatures.

Grade 2
1st Rocky Mountain (1,1,1,1)
2nd City of Regina (2,2,2,2)
Best Grade 2 Mid-section: Rocky Mountain
Judges: Angus MacPherson, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Fisher (drumming); James
Beaumont (ensemble)

Rocky Mountain competing in the Grade 2 Medley event.

Grade 3
1st Winnipeg Police (1,1,1,1)
2nd Glenaura (2,2,2,2)
Best Grade 3 Mid-section: Winnipeg Police
Judges: Angus MacPherson, Andrea Boyd (piping): John Fisher (drumming); James
Beaumont (ensemble)

Grade 4
1st Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial (1,1,1,1)
2nd Regina Police Service (2,3,2,2)
3rd 96th Highlanders, Saskatoon (4,2,4,4)
4th Transcona & District (3,5,5,3)
5th Conservatory Pipe Band, Regina (5,4,3,5)
Best Grade 4 Mid-section: Conservatory Pipe Band
Judges: Alex MacIntyre, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Fisher (drumming); James
Beaumont (ensemble)

Parade Bands
1st Conservatory Pipe Band, Regina
2nd City of Regina
3rd (equal) Transcona & District, Winnipeg Police, Lord Selkirk RFM, Regina Police Service
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd, Angus MacPherson, John Fisher, Alex

Professional Piping
1st Alex Rasmussen

Fife takes Dunbar in Grade 1 kickoff

Published: May 17, 2015

Dunbar, Scotland – May 16, 2015 – The Scottish outdoor pipe band competition season got going last week in Kinross and Gourock, but it was Dunbar that had the first Grade 1 contest, albeit with only two bands entered. The day was the usual windy but sunny test for contestants for the once-thriving seasonal kickoff, and Grade 2 also saw only two entries, the rest comprising Grade 3 and Juvenile bands playing up. Smaller competitions in the UK continue to see weakened entries in the top grades, with bands choosing to focus on the five major championships.

Grade 1
1st Police Scotland Fife (1,1,1,1)
2nd Denny & Dunipace Gleneagles (2,2,2,2)
Judges: Tom Brown, Jim Campbell (piping); W. Black (drumming); Jim MacInnes (ensemble)

Grade 2 (11 competed)
1st City of Edinburgh (1,1,2,1)
2nd 101 Northumbrian Regiment R.A (2,2,1,3)
3rd George Watson’s College (Juvenile) (4,3,3,4)
4th Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia (Juvenile) (3,8,7,2)
5th Preston Lodge High School (Juvenile) (6,6,5,6)
6th George Heriot’s School (Juvenile) (7,5,9,5)
Judges: Donald MacPhee, John Nevans (piping); Alex Dudgeon (drumming); Peter Snaddon (ensemble)

Grade 2 split at Saskatchewan games


Regina, Saskatchewan – May 16, 2015 – The Saskatchewan Highland Gathering & Celtic Festival looked as though it might be blown away in rain and wind, but it turned out to be a mostly great day of weather for Highland games, with overcast skies and some warmth. City of Regina and Rocky Mountain traded places in the Grade 2 events. The new downtown Regina venue proved to be a bit hit, and the event more than tripled gate receipts from previous years. During the massed band and awards ceremony, Saskatchewan Pipe Band Association President Kathleen Fehilly-Douglas presented a “Volunteer Recognition Award” to Iain MacDonald on behalf of the association. The award recognized MacDonald’s contributions in the categories of Musician and Teacher.

Grade 2
1st Rocky Mountain (2,1,1,1)
2nd City of Regina (1,2,2,2)
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Fisher (drumming); Angus MacPherson (ensemble)

1st City of Regina (1,1,1,2)
2nd Rocky Mountain (2,2,2,1)
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Fisher (drumming); Alex MacIntyre (ensemble)

Best Mid-section: City of Regina

Conservatory of Performing Arts pipe band performing in the Grade 4 contest.

Grade 3
1st Winnipeg Police (1,1,1,1)
2nd Glenaura Pipes and Drums (2,2,2,2)
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Fisher (drumming); Angus MacPherson (ensemble)

1st Winnipeg Police (1,1,1,1)
2nd Glenaura Pipes and Drums (2,2,2,2)
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Fisher (drumming); Alex MacIntyre (ensemble)

Best Mid-section: Winnipeg Police

Grade 4
1st Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial (1,1,1,1)
2nd Regina Police Service (3,3,2,2)
3rd 96th Highlanders, Saskatoon (2,2,3,4)
4th Conservatory Pipe Band, Regina (4,4,4,5)
5th Transcona & District (5,5,5,3)
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd (piping) John Fisher (drumming), Angus MacPherson (ensemble)

March Selection
1st Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial (1,1,2,1)
2nd Regina Police Service (2,2,1,2)
3rd 96th Highlanders, Saskatoon (3,3,6,4)
4th Conservatory Pipe Band, Regina (5,4,3,5)
5th Transcona & District (6,6,4,3)
6th North Saskatchewan Regiment (4,5,5,6)
Judges: James Beaumont, Andrea Boyd (piping) John Fisher (drumming), Alex MacIntyre (ensemble)

Best Mid-section: 96th Highlanders

Professional Solo Piping
1st Eilidh MacDonald
2nd Raphael Mercier
3rd Alex Rasmussen

1st Stewart Smith
2nd Raphael Mercier
3rd Alex Rasmussen

Jig & Hornpipe
1st Stewart Smith
2nd Raphael Mercier
3rd Alex Rasmussen

Do you have results? Please send in the above format, along with details of adjudicators and a photo or two to us by email.

Manson comes up golden in Brown Medal

Published: May 16, 2015

Adelaide, Australia – May 2-3, 2015 – Fiona Manson won the Gold Medal at the annual R.U. Brown Piobaireachd Society Solo Piping Competitions, this year held at Blackfriar’s Priory School Prospect. A New Zealand native, Manson is currently living in the Melbourne area. Greg Wilson, also of New Zealand, won the Clasp for former winners of the Gold Medal. The event is in honour of Robert Urquhart Brown, who travelled to Australia frequently in the 1950s and ’60s to teach piobaireachd.

Fiona Manson, winner of the 2015 R.U. Brown Gold Medal, with (L-R) adjudicators Brett Tidswell, Richard Hawke and Greg Wilson.

R.U. Brown Gold Medal
1st Fiona Manson, “The Big Spree”
2nd James Murray, Perth
3rd Simon Gibson
4th Yasu Hamilton
5th Adam Britten
Judges: Richard Hawke, Brett Tidswell, Greg Wilson

Clasp (for former winners of the Gold Medal)
1st Greg Wilson, “Donald Duaghal MacKay”
2nd Brett Tidswell
3rd Jason Craig

R.U. Brown Silver Medal (Intermediate)
1st Shannon Ritchie
2nd Meg Drinan
3rd Gabrielle Doecke

R.U. Brown Bronze Medal (Elementary)
1st Gabrielle Doecke
2nd Ian Thorn
3rd Christopher Chong
4th Geoff Smith
5th Abby Dalziel

Light Music
1st James Murray
2nd Greg Wilson
3rd Craig Sked
4th Jason Craig
5th Marion Horsburgh

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Greg Wilson
2nd James Murray
3rd Craig Sked
4th Jamie Hawke
5th Adam Britten

1st Simon Gibson
2nd Craig McInnes
3rd Robert Wilkinson

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Shannon Ritchie
2nd Joshua Chandler
3rd Anna Doecke

1st Christopher Chong
2nd Mel Inglis
3rd Jeffery Mears

1st Jeffrey Mears
2nd Stuart Beven
3rd Geoff Smith

1st Roger Sinclair
2nd Geoff Smith
3rd Ian Thorn

Got results that you’d like to share with the whole piping and drumming world? Please send them, along with details of judges and other vital information, along with a few photos that you have permission to use.

Smith, Smith and Boyd in the prizes at PPI


Regina, Saskatchewan – May 15, 2015 – The Prairie Piping Invitational was third-time’s-a-charm for Calgary’s Stewart Smith, who came out the winner at the competition, held as part of the three-day Saskatchewan Highland Gathering & Celtic Festival. Second prize went to his brother, Andrew Smith, also of Calgary, and third to Andrea Boyd of Ottawa. Also performing and not in the prizes were Eilidh MacDonald, Alex Rasmussen and Sean Somers.

The event was judged by James Beaumont, and organized and sponsored by the City of Regina Pipe Band and A packed room of spectators also got to express their preference, each ticket also being a ballot for “Audience Choice,” and Stewart Smith also won that vote, receiving a bottle of whisky for his success.

Competitors at the annual Prairie Piping Invitational. L-R: Eilidh MacDonald, Andrea Boyd, Sean Somers, Stewart Smith, Andrew Smith and Alex Rasmussen.

Do you have competition results that you’d like to share with the entire piping and drumming world? Just send us a message with all the deets (prizes, judges, vital info) and a good photo or two that you have permission to use, and we will do what we do.

Jake Watson returns to full-time leadership

Published: May 11, 2015

Penetangore_logo_2012Ontario pipe band stalwart and former Grade 1 pipe-major Jake Watson has returned to a full-time leadership role, taking over the top spot with the Grade 3 Penetangore Pipe Band of Kincardine, Ontario. The band also revealed that another pipe band veteran, Dave Constant, will be leading-drummer.

Jake Watson in 2012 with the Peel Regional Police.

Watson has been a familiar presence with Penetangore over the years as an instructor, guiding the band to Grade 2 status in 2013 until personnel shortages forced the group to drop down a grade. He has served as pipe-major with several bands, including the Grade 1 Toronto Police and the long-defunct Niagara & District, which reached the premier grade before its demise.

Watson led Toronto Police to a North American Championship title in 1996, and was most recently with the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police, serving as pipe-sergeant until departing after the 2014 season.

Constant has been a leading-drummer with several bands dating back to the 1970s, including the Highland Fusiliers and Glen Mor, each no longer in existence.

“Jake and Dave were both at our AGM last fall and agreed to rehearse with the band throughout the winter and see how things went,” said Bill Millman, Penetangore president. “I’m thrilled to say things are going very well and we’re pleased to have the two of them at the helm for the 2015 contest season.”

Manawatu cancels World’s plans; Potter new L-D

Published: May 8, 2015

The Grade 1 Manawatu Scottish has decided that a trip to the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow isn’t in the cards due to budget constraints and, coinciding with the decision, announced that Leading-Drummer Graeme Parker has stepped down, giving way to South African Gary Potter.

Parker had let the “Tu” corps for five years, even though he lived in Northern Ireland, working long-distance and in-person to get the section in shape. He cited family reasons for the decision.

Gary Potter

Gary Potter takes over from Parker, according to Pipe-Major Stewart McKenzie. Potter had been a member of the Grade 1 Western Australia Police Pipe Band of Perth, Australia, since 2013, and before that a member of the Grade 2 Benoni Mactalla of South Africa. He also played with the Grade 1 ScottishPower in Glasgow in 2006-07, where he also taught drumming at the National Piping Centre, and also previously played for the Grade 1 Auckland & Districts in New Zealand.

“Graeme has been fantastic to work with and leaves a lasting musical legacy to the band,” McKenzie said. “Although the distance between New Zealand and Northern Ireland has been a logistical challenge at times, this hasn’t prevented it from being an enjoyable and successful musical collaboration. He’s brought a fresh style to the band and I feel we’ve produced some good music during his time as lead. I’m sad to see Graeme go but fully understand that his . . .


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Shotts and Bucksburn light up fifth annual Aberdeen concert

Published: May 5, 2015

The Grade 1 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and the Grade 2 and Novice Juvenile Bucksburn & District bands combined for the fifth annual North of Scotland Concert at the Music Hall in Aberdeen, Scotland, on May 2nd, with many attending saying that it was the best yet of the concert series.

Shotts and both Bucksburn bands on stage.

Shotts called its portion of the show “Reinvented,” debuting a new competition medley comprising “The Octagon” (HP), “Strath Brora” (jig), “The Bride’s Jig,” “The Mo Ghaol Air Aird A’ Chuain” (air), “The Doune of Invernochty” (strathspey), “Miss Lily” (strathspey), “The Fox Hunter” (reel), “The Ale is Dear” (reel), and “The Los Romanes Highlanders” (reel).

The band delivered a full slate of selections, including all contest material; a series of solo piping performances from Sarah Muir, Andrew Bova, Andrew Clark, Iain Crawford; a set of hornpipes and reels (“Carradale Bay,” “Arnish Light,” “Clueless,” “Philip Greer’s Big Week,” and “Bessie McIntyre”); and a finishing march and jigs set (“The Siege of Dubrovnik,” “Carnage Drive,” “Coppermill Studio,” “The Riddler,” “The Boys of Ballymote,” and “Monymusk”).

A popular point in the show was a fanfare from the Shotts drum section . . .


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U.S. plans to lighten up on ivory-mounted pipes

Published: May 4, 2015

The much ballyhooed but probably little enforced restriction on contraband ivory will be eased for musical instruments, according to statements from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, responsible for inspections when pipers cross over the border of the United States.

The situation first came to light in the news media when pipes|drums reported on the confiscation of American pipers Eryk Bean and Campbell Webster’s antique ivory-mounted pipes when they attempted to return to the U.S. after competing at the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, last August.

The ban on ivory remains in effect, but exemptions will be made for items like bagpipes.

Among other uses of ivory is a small piece in the bows of violins, violas and cellos, and some orchestral musicians have seen their bows – some valued at more than $20,000 – confiscated.

The exemption will not be in place until it winds its way through the American bureaucracy, and then will be subject to a 60-day public comment period. Pipers with instruments featuring antique ivory will still require a CITES certification to show that their pipes were made before 1976.

Since the reported “crack down” on ivory-mounted pre-1976 pipes, re-sales of antique instruments have virtually dried up, according to sources, with prices dropping for vintage drones. The easing of restrictions is expected now to reinvigorate the market.

Ben McClamrock of Baltimore competed at The Livingstone invitational solo piping competition in Hamilton, Ontario, on May 2nd with a secondary set of non-ivory-mounted drones, leaving his vintage pipes made by R.G. Lawrie behind for fear of confiscation at the US-Canadian border.

In January Andrew Carlisle was delayed returning to the United States from Belfast due to complications with his CITES permit and a shortage of available U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service inspectors.

Amanzimtoti: Benoni


Amanzimtoti, South Africa – May 2, 2015 – The first major championship of the South African pipe band season took place at Hutchinson Park in Amanzimtoti along the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The weather was “bagpipe perfect.” One judge who would like to remain anonymous remarked how “the standard across all the grades was markedly improved from last year which is both encouraging and exciting.” In Grade 2, Benoni MacTalla took top honours by winning both the MSR and the Medley. The Transvaal Scottish drum corps remained strong and held top spot.

Grade 2
1st Benoni MacTalla (1,1,3,1)
2nd Transvaal Scottish (2,2,1,2)
3rd African Skye (5,4,4,3)
4th 1 Medical Battalion (3,5,2,5)
5th MacChamberlain Richmond Avenue (4,3,5,4)
Judges: Roger Davies, David Harris (piping); Kevi Levin (drumming); Ewen Gilchrist (Ensemble)

1st Benoni MacTalla (1,1,3,1)
2nd Transvaal Scottish (2,3,1,2)
3rd African Skye (5,2,2,3)
4th 1 Medical Battalion (3,5,4,4)
5th MacChamberlain Richmond Avenue (4,4,5,5)
Judges: Roy Blevins, Craig Herwill (piping); Gareth McLuckie (drumming); Roger Davies (Ensemble)

Members of Benoni MacTalla at the Amanzimtoti championships.

Grade 3
1st Sandton Scottish
2nd Glen Allen
3rd Knysna and Districts

Grade 4
1st Lyttleton Manor
2nd African Skye

1st Pretoria Boys High School
2nd St Benedict’s College
3rd Jeppe/CBC High School

Novice Juvenile
1st Benoni High School
2nd St Benedict’s College


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UPCOMING EVENTS July 31, 2015Glengarry Highland Games (North American Pipe Band Championships)Maxville, ON

August 1, 2015Spokane Highland GamesSpokane County Fair & Expo Center, Spokane, WA

August 2, 2015Bridge of Allan Highland GamesBridge of Allan


August 8, 2015Fergus Scottish Festival550 Belsyde Ave. East, Fergus, ON

Remember, it’s a musical instrument.
Simon McKerrell, Edinburgh