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 . . .


Continue reading

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 . . .


Continue reading

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


Alberta season gets going at Ogden

Published: May 3, 2015

Calgary – May 2, 2015 – The Alberta pipe band season kicked off this weekend with the annual Ogden Indoor competition attracting bands from across the province. There was an excellent turnout of soloists in the morning, but a small attendance by bands in the afternoon. The Grade 2 “Battle of Alberta” got off to a slow start with the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band being the only band in the grade. Rivals Viscount Park and the newly-formed North Stratton Pipe Band from Edmonton did not make it out.

Grade 2
MSR and Medley

1st Rocky Mountain

The Grade 2 Rocky Mountain Pipe Band at the 2015 Ogden Indoor.

Grade 3

1st Ogden Legion

Grade 4
Quick March Medley

1st Edmonton Youth

Grade 5
Quick March Medley

1st 78th Fraser Highlanders
2nd Odgen Legion
3rd Alberta Firefighters

Judges for all band events: Ann Gray, Dave Hicks (piping); Bill Saul (ensemble); Jacquie Troy Carter (drumming)

Solo Piping

1st Ann Gray
2nd Jonathan Grady
3rd Ross Barker
Judge: Sean Somers


1st Stewart Smith
2nd Ann Gray
3rd Jonathan Grady
4th Morgan Miller
Judge: Gordon Conn

Hornpipe & Jig

1st Stewart Smith
2nd Ann Gray
3rd Morgan Miller
4th Jonathan Grady
Judge: Dave Hicks

Solo Drumming

1st Andrew Miller
2nd Michael Hansen
Judge: Jacquie Troy Carter

Hornpipe & Jig

1st Andrew Miller
2nd Michael Hansen
Judge: Bill Saul

Tenor Drumming

1st Kelsey Drummond
Judge: Bill Saul

Hornpipe & Jig

1st Kelsey Drummond
Judge: Jacquie Troy Carter

Do you have competition results? We’re always pleased to receive them. Just forward by email in the format above, with judges and a photo or two that you have permission to use. Remember: we never copy content from other online sources.

Sixth Livingstone title for Gandy (HD videos)


Hamilton, Ontario – May 2, 2015 – Bruce Gandy of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, gained the overall championship title at The Livingstone, with a first in the light music and a second in the Piobaireachd, marking the sixth time that he has won the aggregate prize at the event. Making his return to solo competition since recovering from a heart attack last fall, Ian K. MacDonald won the Piobaireachd and might have placed highly in the light music had he not omitted a part of a tune. Organized by the Niagara-Hamilton Branch of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, the event was well attended, and Glenna Mackay-Johnstone was emcee throughout the day. It was the thirty-fifth time the event was held since 1978, missing only 2014. Judges for both events were Pete Aumomier, Bill Livingstone and Reay Mackay.

Bruce Gandy with some of his winnings at The Livingstone 2015.

Piobaireachd (submit four, play one)
1st Ian K. MacDonald, Whitby, Ontario, “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
2nd Bruce Gandy, “My King Has Landed In Moidart”
3rd Ed Bush, Cardinal, Ontario, “The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute”

March, Strathspey, Reel, Hornpipe & Jig (own choice)
1st Bruce Gandy, “William MacDonald,” “Arniston Castle,” “The Cockerel in the Creel,” “Wee Alec, Fort William,” “Ainsley’s Jig”
2nd Sean McKeown, Toronto, “Abercairney Highlanders,” “Piper’s Bonnet,” “The Little Cascade,” “Moving Cloud,” “The Thief of Lochaber”
3rd Alex Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “Morag Ramsay,” “Caledonian Society of London,” “Neil Angus MacDonald,” “Joe McGann’s Fiddle,” “Drew James McIntosh”

Also competing, but not in the prizes: Andrea Boyd, Ottawa; Jacob Dicker, Kingston, Ontario; and Ben McClamrock, Washington, DC.

Competitors L-R: Bruce Gandy, Alex Gandy, Ben McClamrock, Ian K. MacDonald, Ed Bush, Jacob Dicker, Andrea Boyd and Sean McKeown.


Pipes+Drums returns to Piping Live!

Published: April 30, 2015

pipesdrums-logo-smallThe Pipes+Drums recital sponsored by pipes|drums Magazine will return to this year’s Piping Live! Festival in August an all-start line-up for what is one of the festival’s most popular events and one of the biggest performances of the pipe band year.

Free to all who wish to attend, compliments of pipes|drums, the two-hour event showcases pipe-majors and leading-drummers from the world’s best bands in a rare opportunity to hear these virtuoso players show their chops in an informal setting.

On Tuesday, August 11, from noon until 2 pm, at the Street Café in front of the National Piping Centre, listeners will get to hear:

  • ScottishPower – Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong and Leading-Drummer Jake Joergensen
  • Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia – Pipe-Major Ryan Canning and Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick
  • Simon Fraser University – Pipe-Major Alan Bevan and Leading-Drummer Reid Maxwell
  • Stuart Highlanders – Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway and Leading-Drummer Scott Fletcher

“We are pleased once again to bring what is the greatest recital of Grade 1 leaders in the world,” said Andrew Berthoff, editor of the non-profit pipes|drums. “With advertising and subscription proceeds we’re able to compensate these great musicians appropriately and make the Pipes+Drums recital free to all who wish to attend. This is sure to be another great recital, and one of the few Piping Live! events that puts pipe band drumming front-and-centre.”

Steven McWhirter and Stuart Liddell of Inverarary & District perform at the 2013 edition of Pipes+Drums.

The 2015 Pipes+Drums features Shotts & Dykehead, SFU and Stuart Highlanders for the first time, while Armstrong and Joergensen return to the event. Joergensen previously performed as Leading-Drummer of the now-defunct Lothian & Borders Police.

Kilpatrick and Maxwell are legends in pipe band drumming history, having led their corps to scores of World Pipe Band Drumming titles over the last 30 years. The Stuart Highlanders emerged in 2014 as rising stars in Grade 1, and are one of only two US-based bands in the top grade.

Each duet will play for about 25 minutes, including at least one competition MSR.

pipes|drums readers can enjoy video from the previous Pipes+Drums events on the pipes|drums Magazine YouTube Channel.

The recital had to be skipped in 2014 due to scheduling conflicts with performers and the magazine, and was replaced with several other events.

pipes|drums is also confirmed as an official media partner with Piping Live! 2015, a designation the magazine has had since 2005.

Be sure to check out many videos of many of the world’s greatest pipe-majors and leading-drummers from previous Pipes+Drums events at the pipes|drums YouTube Channel, and be sure to subscribe to the channel for alerts whenever new videos are published.

SFU makes another change of bass

Published: April 29, 2015

After 15 months in the role, bass drummer Steve Foley has left the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, making way for Mackenzie Webster, who moves over to the big drum after playing tenor in the band’s bass-section.

Foley took over as bass drummer in January 2014 following the departure of long-time incumbent Kathryn Tawse. Foley had been bass drummer with the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots for many years, and Foley was replaced at LA Scots by Amber Bartholomuesz, who remains with that band.

Mackenzie Webster

Foley had been making as many practices in Vancouver as possible, taking regular flights from Los Angeles, but missing enough of them to warrant Webster stepping in in his absence as the band works to perfect more than two hours of largely new material for its August 12th Pre-World’s Concert in Glasgow.

“Having Steve in the band these two years has been great,” SFU band President and Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee said. “He is a terrific person and musician.  He is also very professional and a lot of fun to be around. The challenge has been that Steve lives in Los Angeles, which is a 2.5 hour flight from Vancouver.  Steve flew in pretty often but could not be at every practice and performance.  Whenever Steve was not at a band practice Mackenzie filled in on bass and was incredible.”

Steve Foley

For his part, Foley commented, “I did want to stay with SFU, but the mounting pressure of the concert and the time commitment required was going to be too much for me and my family. I was already traveling up to BC twice a month for the past year-and-a-half and anything in addition to that would have been problematic. I am gutted to have resigned from the band and at the same time so thankful to have been recognized and invited to play in the first place. There’s nothing like playing at the top. However, it is a difficult situation when the bass drummer is out of town. I have no hard feelings other than the hurt of leaving. I wish the band greatness in the coming season and seasons to come.”

Foley added that he does not anticipate playing for another band this year. “It’s a bit late to even think about a change in any other organization, whether one was presented or not . . . but after 34 years of continuous playing, it’s a bit strange.”

Lee added that 2015 is a particularly big year for SFU with, not only the Glasgow concert, but a number of new players coming into the fold to make the band “as big as ever.” In 2014 for the first time in more than 20 years SFU finished out of the top-six in Grade 1 at the World Pipe Band Championships.

The band has also been hit hard by the news of long-time member Andrew Bonar’s brain cancer diagnosis, but has rallied to support him and the charitable cause in worldwide efforts, including a concert and pledge-drive in March.

Morenn goes vinyl with double-LP version of CD

Published: April 28, 2015

Maybe for the first time in about 25 years, a piping album is out on vinyl, capitalizing on the gathering trend towards the remarkable analog format that was the standard for copying recordings for almost a century.

Morenn, the well-reviewed CD by Xavier Boderiou, with Sylvain Boderiou and Jacques Pellen released in May 2014, is available in glorious vinyl for those who prefer the imperfect “warmth” of the format as they listen to the creative interpretations of piobaireachd delivered by the three Breton musicians.

The mastermind behind the project is Boderiou, one of the world’s top Highland pipers who has enjoyed success on the Scottish solo circuit and played with Grade 1 bands such as Simon Fraser University and, currently, Bagad Cap Caval. He also launched a series of pipe chanters of his own design in 2013.

About Morenn, Boderiou said, “Try to imagine King Crimson or Brian Eno traveling to the Highlands and you will get a small idea.”

Piping and pipe band recordings on vinyl have become collector’s items, with few publishers being bothered to release the old records digitally. Illegal copies of the products have emerged online, while those that have been re-released on downloading sites infrequently compensate the artists, composers or their estates.

Thomas-Sanchez top winner at MWPBA amateur championships

Published: April 27, 2015

Chicago – April 25, 2015 – The Midwest Pipe Band Association held the annual Terry McHugh Amateur Solo Piping Championship where pipers who qualified throughout events over the winter competed. The Grade 3 and Grade 2 contests comprised a 2/4 March and a Strathspey & Reel event going towards an aggregate.

Laureano Thomas-Sanchez and Angus Martin, 2015 Grade 1 and Grade 2 Terry McHugh Amateur Championship winners. [Photo: Tak Tang]

Grade 1

1st Laureano Thomas-Sanchez
2nd Tony Karcz
Judge Tom Weithers

Bryan Jirsa competing in the Grade 2 March contest. [Photo: Tak Tang]

Grade 2 Overall
1st Angus Martin (1st 2/4 March, 1st S&R)
2nd Bryan Jirsa (2nd 2/4 March, 3rd S&R)
3rd Erin McCoy-Hall (3rd 2/4 March, 2nd S&R)
Judge Tom Weithers

Grade 3 Overall
1s Joshua Cunningham (2nd 2/4 March, 2nd S&R)
2nd Patrick Higgins (4th 2/4 March, 1st S&R)
3rd Lauren Vanderwal (1st 2/4 March, 5th S&R)
Judge Tom Weithers

Grade 4
2/4 March

1st Ray Morrison
2nd Wayne Hoefler
3rd J Kevin Chapman
Judge Tom Weithers

Senior Novice
2/4 March

1st Alexandria Cunningham
2nd Albert Smith
3rd Thomas Conley
Judge Tom Weithers

Junior Novice
2/4 March

1st Raiden Ehrenfried
2nd Sean Lambe
3rd Rhys O’Higgins
Judge Tom Weithers

MacHattie rises to Summerside Challenge


James MacHattie (left) accepts the professional trophy for the 2015 Atlantic Canada Piobaireachd Challenge from College of Piping Executive Director Karen Hatcher and ACPBA Chief Steward Rick Crawford.

Summerside, Prince Edward Island – April 25, 2015 – After an agonizingly long winter of non-stop snow, a full complement of solo pipers competed at the College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts annual Piobaireachd Challenge, with Roddy MacLeod judging all of the events. The event is co-sponsored with the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association.

1st James MacHattie, “The Unjust Incarceration”
2nd Alex Gandy, “Old Men of the Shells”

Grade 1
1st James Dyson, “The MacLeods’ Controversy”
2nd Sarah Simpson, “Queen Anne’s Lament”
3rd Brandon Gardner, “The Massacre of Glencoe”

Grade 2
1st John McIntyre, “The Men Went to Drink”
2nd Mike Farnworth, “Black Donald’s March”
3rd Heather Stone, “MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute”


Prize-winners, administrators and judge at the 2015 Atlanic Canada Piobaireachd Challenge.

Grade 3
1st Brady Webb, “Lady Anapool’s Lament”
2nd Calum Brydon, “Flame of Wrath for Patrick Caogach”
3rd Chris MacKnight, “I Am Proud to Play a Pipe”

Grade 4
1st Carl Brydon, “Cabar Feidh Gu Brath”
2nd Gillian Blaney, “Catherine’s Lament”
3rd Seamus Meagher, “Field of Gold”

Grade 5
1st Dalton Faulkner, “The Boat Tune”

Do you have results? Please send them in using the above format, including judges, a photo or two and any other details to us at Our policy is never to copy results from other online sources.

Prince Charles ascends to Sacramento throne


PrinceCharles_logoSacramento, California – April 25-26, 2015 – It was a robust Grade 2 band competition for the western United States at the Sacramento Valley Highland Games, with Prince Charles of San Francisco winning both events, and three other bands newly appointed to the grad acquitting themselves well.

Grade 2
1st Prince Charles (1,1,1,1)
2nd Wasatch & District (2,2,3,3)
3rd Queen City (4,4,2,2)
4th Bushmills Irish Pipers of San Francisco (3,3,4,4)
Judges: Colin Armstrong, Seumas Coyne (piping), Ed Best (drumming); Dave McAdam (ensemble)

1st Prince Charles (1,1,1,2)
2nd Queen City (4,4,2,1) (enspref)
3rd Bushmills Irish Pipers of San Francisco (2,2,3,4)
4th Wasatch & District (3,3,4,3)
Judges: Colin Armstrong, Seumas Coyne (piping), Dave McAdam (drumming); Ed Best (ensemble)

Bushmills Irish Pipers of San Francisco at the 2015 Sacramento Valley Games.

Grade 4 timed medley
1st Wasatch & District (Gr4) (1,1,1,1)
2nd Irish Pipers of DSan Francisco (Gr4) (2,2,3,2)
3rd MacIntosh (4,2,2,5)
4th City of Sacramento (3,3,5,3)
5th Monterey Bay (5,5,4,4)

Professional Solo Piping
1st Erik Leiken
2nd Ryan Balchuck
3rd Lance Dorris
Judge: Glen Thompson

1st Jamie Gibson
2nd Jamie Cuthill
3rd Ryan Balchuck
Judge: Colin Armstrong

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Jamie Cuthill
2nd Jamie Gibson
3rd Ryan Balchuck
Judge: Scott MacDonald

Consultative judging could be trialed at RSPBA contests

Published: April 22, 2015

After abandoning the practice in the early-1990s, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association is reportedly considering bringing back consultative pipe band judging, starting with two trial competitions in the summer of 2015.

If the trials go ahead and prove successful the system could be fully restored for the 2016 season, according to several sources.

Consultative judging in its most familiar form involves a brief discussion between adjudicators at the end of an event at which they compare observations and opinions before handing in their final sheets and rankings.

Under the current RSPBA system, each judge must submit his or her score sheet after each competing band performs, requiring judges to assess each band and, with the exception of the final band to compete, out of context with the entire event. RSPBA judges are not permitted to discuss performances with their fellow adjudicators until all score sheets have been submitted.

RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton did not respond to a request to provide his organization’s perspective on the matter.

RSPBA officials conferring before the Grade 2 event at the 2013 World Pipe Band Championships.

According to several sources, Embelton made the disclosure at the January 2015 meeting of the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations in Kansas City, which he attended. Before any trials could occur, the idea would likely first have to go through the usual administrative approvals within the organization.

Consultative judging had been used in RSPBA throughout the late-1980s and early-1990s until the system was repealed following allegations of undue influence by domineering adjudicators who were reported to have worked to sway decisions for bands that they allegedly took a particular interest in supporting.

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario used consultative judging of pipe bands from 2005 to 2013 until the organization’s board of directors upheld a survey of members and eliminated the practice, despite the PPBSO’s Music Committee nearly unanimously endorsing the consultative judging system and encouraging that it continue.

Solo piping competitions in the UK and elsewhere that are assessed by more than one judge almost invariably allow judges to compare notes to agree on a final result.

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 . . .


Continue reading

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!

The new pipes|drums app offers the same publication with a streamlined experience. Get the latest news optimized for your smartphone.
Download on the App Store

Get it on Google Play
August 3, 1966Capt. John MacLellan plays to packed house, Moss Park Armoury, Toronto.
  • New rules
    Sun, 2 Aug 2015
    I’m a moderate fan of Real Time with Bill Maher, and really like his “New Rules” segment. Spending two days judging an assembly line of competitors at Maxville, there’s hardly time enough to think about anything else between perfo …
Read more »

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

August 7, 2015Dornoch Highland GatheringThe Meadows Park, Dornoch

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

August 8, 2015Atholl & Breadalbane Highland GatheringWades Park, Atholl & Breadalbane (Aberfeldy)

Pipers: Need to manipulate your pipe chanter reed? – use a pen knife or Xacto knife instead of sandpaper. You have much more control on the amount of cane you take off with a knife vs. sandpaper. And it is much better for the cane itself; other woodworkers call this technique “feathering.”
Donald MacPhee, reedmaker, Alexandria, Scotland