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Nearly 220 contestants readying for 2014 North American Championships

Published: July 28, 2014

The 2014 North America Championships at the Glengarry Highland Games won’t quite reach the record entry of bands and soloists of 2011, but this year’s events on August 1-2 in Maxville, Ontario, will see 47 bands and more than 170 solo pipers and drummers hit the event, Maxville_logo_2014the world’s largest in terms of separate contestants.

According to the event’s Director of Bands, Gilbert Young, almost a third of the bands entered are travelling from outside of the home province of Ontario, including eight from the USA. The Peel Regional Police will defend their North American Champions title, while in Grade 2 the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band will do the same.

The Grade 2 event has shrunk to five bands, down from the double-digit entries of the early-2000s, and Grade 1 will feature four bands, with only the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) coming in to compete against the three Ontario-based bands of Peel, the 78th Fraser Highlanders and the Toronto Police. But the four-band Grade 1 contest will be one more than in 2013.

For the first time, the entry to the traditional Friday Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada), Competition is being limited to 23 competitors, accepted on a first-come, first-entered basis. The games are bringing in one-time Maxville resident Colin MacLellan, who now lives in his native Edinburgh, to adjudicate the Gold Medal and former winners Bar to the Medal events.

Similarly on Saturday RSPBA judge Ciarán Mordaunt of Dublin will judge the solo snare drumming and bands.

Weather forecast for Friday and Saturday is mainly sunny, with a chance of thundershowers and a high of 26 degrees.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for results from the 2014 North American Championships as they become available and HD video from the pipe band events.

Duncan narrowly misses St. Andrew’s course record

Published: July 27, 2014

Ben Duncan

St. Andrew’s, Scotland – July 27, 2014 – Ben Duncan had the most success, with two first and a third, at the annual St. Andrew’s Highland Games. Weather was changeable in the early afternoon with intermittent heavy showers, but cleared up and ended with a warm, sunny evening. Roderick Barron judged everything.

Senior (eight competed)
March
1st Ben Duncan
2nd Andrew Bova
3rd Ross Millar
4th Nils Michael

Strathspey & Reel
1st Ben Duncan
2nd Jonathan Simpson
3rd Ross Millar
4th Andrew Bova

Jigs
1st Andrew Bova
2nd Jonathan Simpson
3rd Ben Duncan
4th Ross Millar

Junior (six competed)
March
1st Ciaren Ross
2nd Connor Jardine
3rd John Dew
4th Harris MacLennan

Strathspey & Reel
1st John Dew
2nd Ciaren Ross
3rd Connor Jardine
4th Ewan Cameron

Triumph Street stops 20 years of SFU North American domination

Published:

Triumph_Street_logo09Enumclaw, Washington – July 26-27, 2014 – Simon Fraser University Pipe Band’s run of 20 straight years of victories in North America came to an end with Dowco Triumph Street’s wins in each of the MSR and Medley on separate days. The two-day event called for an MSR and a Medley competition on both days. Each band finished first on one of the days in each event. The last time that SFU lost a circle in North America was in 1995 when the 78th Fraser Highlanders beat them at Vail, Colorado.

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

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

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

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

Judges for all four competitions were John Toohey, Colin Mackenzie (piping); Scott Robertson (drumming); Rene Cusson (ensemble)

Do you have results from a piping, drumming and/or pipe band competition? pipes|drums welcomes all results. Please send them in an e-mail in the format above, along with information on judges and, preferably, a good photo: editor@pipesdrums.com

Field Marshal Montgomery wins 2014 Scottish Championships

Published: July 26, 2014

FMM-logoDumbarton, Scotland – July 26, 2014 – In very warm conditions that held until later in the afternoon when heavy rain fell, cancelling the march-past, the 2014 Scottish Pipe Band Championships went on. The Scottish was the penultimate RSPBA major of the year, with only the World Championships remaining. Field Marshal Montgomery won the event, virtually locking up the 2014 Champion of Champions overall title, with three firsts out of the five major contests. Inveraray & District, which won the European Championships in late June, dropped down to a fourth prize. Ballycoan entered in Grade 1 but did not compete.

ScottishChamps_IndoorMarquee

The scene from the tent, where due to the rain the prizes were announced at the Scottish Championships.

The RSPBA started random audits of bands to ensure their rosters were accurate, a crackdown on contestants potentially fiddling the system that requires all competing members to be released/registered within two weeks of the event. About two bands were randomly checked at the final tuning areas in each grade, with no apparent concerns.

Grade 1 (MSR, 12 competed)
1st Field Marshal Montgomery (2,1,5,1)
2nd ScottishPower (4,3,3,3)
3rd Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia (3,2,1,7)
4th Inveraray & District (1,4,6,4)
5th St. Laurence O’Toole (6,6,4,2)
6th Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (7,5,2,6)
Drumming: Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate
Judges: John Wilson, Jim Campbell (piping); Sandy Steele (drumming); Alan Ronaldson (ensemble)

Grade 2 (medley, 15 competed)
1st Bleary & District (1,1,2,2)
2nd Lomond & Clyde (5,2,3,3)
3rd Torphichen & Bathgate (2,4,5,4)
4th Buchan Petersen (7,7,1,1)
5th Police Service of Northern Ireland (4,3,8,6)
6th Manorcunningham (6,5,6,5)
Drumming: Buchan Petersen
Judges: Ken Eller, Malcolm Mackenzie (piping); Gordon Parkes (drumming); Jim Baxter (ensemble)

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MacColl, Dunn, Liddell lock up Inveraray

Published: July 25, 2014

Connor Sinclair competing in the B-Grade March event at Inveraray Games. [Photo: Inveraray Games]

Inveraray, Scotland – July 22, 2014 – The Inveraray Games are probably the most major of all non-indoor solo piping events in Scotland, and the 2014 edition drew the usual large entry, playing in dry and sunny conditions. Argyllshire pipers seemed to like the local contest. Angus MacColl of Benderloch, Scotland, Stuart Liddell of Inveraray and Margaret Dunn of Glasgow took home the top prizes in the top categories.

Premier & A-Grade Piobaireachd
1st Angus MacColl, “The End of the Great Bridge”
2nd Faye Henderson, “Donald Gruamach’s March”
3rd Callum Beaumont, “Lament for the Union”
4th Margaret Dunn, “Lady Margaret MacDonald Salute”
5th John Angus Smith, “Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay”
6th Derek Midgley, “The Vaunting”
Judges: Stuart Shedden, Jack Taylor

A-Grade
March
1st Margaret Dunn
2nd Stuart Liddell
3rd Gordon Walker
4th Alasdair Henderson
5th Alan Russell
6th Callum Beaumont
Judges: Andrew Frater, Iain MacLellan,

Strathspey & Reel
1st Stuart Liddell
2nd Alasdair Henderson
3 Gavin Ferguson
4th Margaret Dunn
5th Finlay Johnston
6th Peter Hunt
Judges: Walter Cowan, Ronnie McShannon

B-Grade
Piobaireachd
1st Ben Duncan, “The Desperate Battle”
2nd Gavin Ferguson, “Duntrune’s Salute”
3rd Connor Sinclair, “Lament for Captain MacDougall”
4th Sandy Cameron, “Battle of Auldearn”
5th Ashley McMichael, “MacKay’s Banner”
6th George Stewart, “Too Long in this Condition”
Judges: Chris Armstrong, Alan Forbes, Colin MacLellan

March
1st Ben Duncan
2nd Callum Moffat
3rd David Shedden
4th Connor Sinclair
5th Chris Gray
6th Bradley Parker
Judges: Walter Cowan, Ronnie McShannon

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“Abercairney’s Salute” – the latest in Dr. William Donaldson’s 2014 Set Tune Series

Published: July 24, 2014

Exclusive to readers of pipes|drums Magazine, we bring you the latest installment in Dr. William Donaldson’s 2014 Set Tunes Series, an analysis of the piobaireachds set for this year’s major solo piing competitions.

Simply click on the first page below to go to the full tune and MP3 audio file, and the complete archive of the more than 140 piobaireachds in the series.

Click on the image to go to the full Set Tunes Series.

Another p|d first: HD video from within the competition circle

Published: July 22, 2014

With only two Grade 2 bands on the Ontario circuit, the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band was the only entrant in the grade at the 2014 Cambridge Highland Games at Cambridge, Ontario, on July 19th. While this is normally a disappointment for the listeners, pipes|drums recognized a potential opportunity.

What if we captured video not only around the band, but inside the actual circle while the band performed in the event?

We couldn’t recall this perspective occurring before in a video of a band competing, since under normal competition circumstances it could be a distraction to the players. Even the BBC relies on state-of-the-art booms to minimize the chance of distraction to the competitors at the World Championships.

With the Ottawa Police playing well – even at a proven Grade 1 standard – and the event calling for a medley, the single-entry contest might be salvaged by making a bit of history.

We ran the idea past Pipe-Major Andrew Hayes, and he was quick not just to say yes, but to video “whatever you want,” placing complete trust in us. He made an announcement to his band, and they, too, welcomed it. Next, we ran it by the PPBSO steward on duty, and he confirmed that, as long as the band was okay with it, he saw no problem. We also asked the judges if would be okay, and they confirmed: no problem.

So, what you see here is another first by pipes|drums: a top-flight band captured in top form from inside the actual circle during a contest performance.

We start with excerpts from the band’s final tuning, progress to their march to the contest area, and finish with their full performance in the Grade 2 event.

Note the instant change in the quality of sound when we go inside the circle. If there were ever good evidence for why a pipe band should face the judges and the audience, this must be it. The projection from all instruments is dramatically better. It’s a completely different experience and sound from the relatively muffled effect of pipers and drummers huddled together with their backs to the audience.

Inside the circle of a well-tuned top-grade band is a vortex of tone, and we hope that you enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Our thanks to the PPBSO, the adjudicators, Pipe-Major Andrew Hayes and all of the members of the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band for allowing us to bring you something new, and make just a little history along the way.

  

American pipers scrambling for CITES permits before heading to Glasgow

Published: July 21, 2014
Drones_small

A classic set of Highland pipes with real ivory mounts are increasingly at risk of being confiscated by US Customs authorities.

With rare exceptions, newly harvested elephant or “marine” ivory has not adorned new sets of Highland pipes since the early-1980s, but instruments made before that time frequently used the now-banned material for projecting mounts, ferules, soles and rings.

And American pipers travelling with older drones with ivory ornamentation are concerned that a recent crackdown by their government will result in the permanent confiscation of their precious instruments. With dozens of American pipers planning to travel to both the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, Canada, and the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow concerns are spreading as fast as wildfire.

Ron Bowen of St. Catharines, Ontario, who operates a website called The Bagpipe Place is trying to make things easier for pipers, with information on the matter, and even a program to assess and certify pipes with older ivory manufactured before the US government’s June 2014 strict enforcement of what they consider to be an illegal use of ivory.

Penalties if caught can not only result in the confiscation of an instrument, but fines and even imprisonment, although there is no known case of the latter two punishments.

The last page of Ron Bowen’s assessment of Scott MacDonald’s MacPhee drones.

Essentially, pipers with ivory adorned instruments need a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit that proves either that the instrument was imported before 1990 in accordance with CITES regulations, or imported prior to 1976, before relevant CITES regulations were enacted, and that the pipes were acquired before February 25, 2014.

Bowen warns that if pipes are seized by US Customs officials, there is little chance of their return.

“They are often donated to museums or used in public displays to educate travelers about the risks of travelling with endangered species products without the required permits,” Bowen said. “You may see displays like this at many large airports. In some cases, seized items are destroyed.”

In preparation for his trip to Scotland with the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, Scott MacDonald is taking every precaution, starting with an assessment of his circa-1880 Donald MacPhee silver and ivory-mounted drones by Bowen, and now with the recent delivery of his CITES permit.

MacDonald recently learned that each time he travels out of and back to the United States with his pipes he will need to arrange an interview and a . . .

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Video demonstration: Chris Armstrong goes to the X-TREME with new hydrophobic drone reeds

Published:

Chris Armstrong’s X-TREME Premium drone reeds are made from a moisture-resistant material.

Since Mark Wygent introduced the first all-synthetic drone reeds back in the early-1990s, the market has become busy with varieties in all manner of shapes, sizes and prices. But, if Gold Medallist and ScottishPower Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong is right, his new X-TREME reeds will take things to a whole different level.

Armstrong launched the reeds exclusively with pipes|drums on July 21, 2014, after more than a year of research and development, culminating with him successfully using the Premium version of the reeds in his own instrument in several solo and band competitions in covert tests.

The reeds, which Armstrong said feature a “zing” from the tenors and a reliable and rich bass, are offered in two varieties, with the £85 X-TREME Premium model constructed of moisture resistant – or hydrophobic – material, and a £65 X-TREME Standard version for those less concerned with wetness issues.

The branding of the reeds continues from Armstrong’s all-digital X-TREME music collection.

Armstrong is making the reeds available at the outset exclusively from his online store at chrisarmstrong.co, but plans to add at least one major retailer in each piping-rich country “in the near future.” He will also introduce them at a recital at the Street Café at Piping Live! on August 13th at 11 am, where he and a ScottishPower quartet will play a several sets, with the reeds on sale to those sold by the tone.

“There are details about the design such a finer-pitched thread on the tuning screw that makes them more airtight and a finer level of precision in achieving the same height on the tuning pins than other brands on the market,” Armstrong said. “I wanted to create something that used a proper hydrophobic/moisture resistant material, and the reeds had to sound as good as or better than the reeds that I had been playing previously. In a nutshell, I had to be happy that what I have created would stand the test of me potentially playing on the stage at the Glenfiddich – and I am.”

He stressed that both versions of the reeds “give the same rich sound and are manufactured to the same levels of precision the only difference being the moisture resistance created by the hydrophobic material in the Premium sets. The material itself is more expensive and this is reflected in the price.”

Armstrong said that a few prominent solo pipers are using the reeds, but would not divulge their names. He added that several pipers with ScottishPower have the reeds in their pipes, but that he has no plans to require the entire band to use them.

pipes|drums connected with Chris Armstrong for a brief interview on the research and development of the reeds, and a video demonstration of the X-TREME Premium model in his own pipes:

 

Inverness Gathering goes to McCalister

Published: July 20, 2014

Peter McCalister

Inverness, Scotland – July 19, 2014 – Peter McAlister was the overall winner at the Inverness Piping Society’s solo piping events at the Inverness Highland Gathering in warm temperatures but mixed with very heavy showers in the afternoon. Twelve competed in the Senior MSR and 11 in the piobaireachd.

Piobaireachd
1st Peter McCalister
2nd Decker Forrest
3rd Jenny Hazzard
4th Stephen Spencer
5th Neil Clark
Judges: James Jackson, Iain MacFadyen

MSR
1st Colin Campbell
2nd Euan MacCrimmon
3rd James MacPhee
4th Duncan Beattie
5th Decker Forrest
Judges: Rona Lightfoot, Andy Venters

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Euan MacCrimmon
2nd James MacPhee
3rd Decker Forrest
4th Neil Clark
5th Jenny Hazzard
Judges: Rona Lightfoot, Andy Venters

Junior
Piobaireachd
1st Cameron MacDougall
2nd Brighde Campbell
3rd Angus MacPhee

MSR
1st Brighde Campbell
2nd Cameron MacDougall
3rd Angus MacPhee
4th Ruben Green
5th Thomas MacLean

HD videos: 78th Frasers first at rainy Cambridge

Published: July 19, 2014

Crowds crammed into the beer tent at the rain-soaked Cambridge Highland Games following the Grade 1 band competition.

Cambridge, Ontario – July 19, 2014 – The 78th Fraser Highlanders continued their perfect season in Ontario with another win in Grade 1, this time at the annual Cambridge Highland Games. Despite two firsts in piping, the Toronto Police finished third in the four-band event. Weather was overcast all day, and rain held off for the most part until about 3:30 pm when the skies opened up, hitting the Grade 1 band contest hard. Ian K. MacDonald once again came away with the Professional Piper of the Day aggregate prize. Elizabeth Shaw was Professional Snare Drummer of the Day.

Bands
Grade 1 (MSR, four competed)
1st 78th Fraser Highlanders (2,2,1,2)
2nd Peel Regional Police (3,3,2,1)
3rd Toronto Police (1,1,4,4)
4th Ottawa Police (Gr2) (4,4,3,3)
Judges: John Elliott, Ed Gorman (piping); Mike Hunter (drumming); Ken Eller (ensemble)

Grade 2 (medley, one entered)
1st Ottawa Police
Judges: Ed Gorman, John Elliott (piping); Mike Hunter (drumming); Ken Eller (ensemble)

Grade 3 (medley, eight competed)
1st Paris Port Dover (1,1,2,1)
2nd Toronto Police (Gr3) (2,2,3,4)
3rd Hamilton Police (5,4,1,2)
4th Niagara Police (3,5,4,3)
5th Windsor Police (4,6,5,7)
6th Glengarry (6,3,8,8)
7th Durham Regional Police (7,7,7,5)
8th Chicago Celtic (8,8,6,6)
Judges: Ed Gorman, John Elliott (piping); Mike Hunter (drumming); Ken Eller (ensemble)

Grade 4 (medley, seven competed)
1st Rob (1,3,1,1)
2nd Grand Celtic (2,1,4,4)
3rd Guelph (3,2,6,2)
4th Chatham Kent Police Services (4,6,3,5)
5th Lindsay (7,4,5,3)
6th York Regional Police (6,5,2,6)
7th Forest City Celtic (5,7,7,7)
Judges: Gail Brown, Lynda Mackay (piping); Brian McCue (drumming); Peter Sinclair (ensemble)

Grade 5 (march medley, 11 competed)
1st Hamilton Police (Gr5) (4,2,1,3)
2nd Paris Port Dover (Gr5) (6,1,4,1)
3rd Lindsay (Gr5) (5,4,2,4)
4th Cambridge (3,6,6,2)
5th Barrie (1,3,9,5)
6th Grand Celtic (2,5,5,6)
7th Durham Regional Police (Gr5) (8,8,3,9)
8th Ryan Russell Memorial (9,9,8,7)
9th Scarborough (7,11,7,8)
10th Windsor Police (Gr5) (10,7,10,10)
11th Dundas (11,10,11,11)
Judges: Gail Brown, Lynda Mackay (piping); Brian McCue (drumming); Peter Sinclair (ensemble)

Professional Solo Piping
Piobaireachd
A-Grade (10 competed)
1st Ian K. MacDonald, “His Father’s Lament for Donald MacKenzie”
2nd Andrew Berthoff, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim”
3rd Andrew Hayes, “Lament for the Laird of Annapool”
4th Ed Bush
5th Andrea Boyd
6th Doug MacRae
Judge: Peter Aumonier

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Editorial stance: For the good of piping: vote Yes

Published: July 17, 2014

Wallace_Monument_01On September 18, 2014, two months from today, residents of Scotland will be allowed to vote on whether Scotland should be an independent country. The precise question to vote Yes or No on will be “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Strictly for the art and prominence of Highland piping, this independent publication says Yes.

The Highland bagpipe is inextricably connected with Scotland. The instrument and its music are emblematic of strong national character and the indomitable will of Scotland and its people. When the pipes are heard, it is not the Royal Family or Westminster or the rolling English fields that come to mind.

The pipes and its music are Scotland. They are as independent of a country’s national identity as any musical instrument on earth. The pipes are a national instrument of pride and joy. Anyone who plays the pipes celebrates the independent identity of Scotland.

An independent Scotland will make the profile of its national instrument even sharper. The music of the pipes will more than ever be aligned with a national identity and pride. From the MacCrimmon Cairn at Boreraig, to the Army School of Piping at The Castle, to the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, the every band hall and contest pitch, to every practice room and classroom, the pipes will be heard even more loudly and proudly in an independent Scotland.

Under an independent Scotland – a nation, once again – the Highland bagpipe will go further from Braveheart fantasy to Holyrood reality. Every piobaireachd variation, every Scotch-snapped strathspey, every pipe band medley will be part of the defining soundtrack of an indomitable Scottishry.

We accept that there is far more to the referendum question than the Highland pipes. There are financial matters. There are issues of governance and currency. There are questions of ownership and investments, property and assets. There are complex issues at stake.

But there is pride. And the pipes and drums are the embodiment of an independent Scots pride.

We accept that residents of Scotland will weigh myriad concerns apart from piping and cast their vote accordingly. We accept that we do not have a vote in the matter; that residents of Scotland will live in Great Britain or an independent Scotland; that it’s easy to say this when there’s only piping at stake. We are singularly focused in this editorial stance on what is good for Highland piping.

As this independent publication is committed whole-heartedly to the furtherance of the art and reputation of the Highland bagpipe, a sovereign Scotland will do more for that cause than anything we can imagine.

A Yes vote is a vote for piping.

Donald Graham, 1959-2014

Published: July 15, 2014

Donald Graham

The South African piping and drumming scene was saddened by the death of Donald Graham on July 13, 2014, at the age of 55.

Graham was a past President of the Pipe Band Association of South Africa and a long-time bass drummer and tenor drummer with several prominent bands, including the Southern Johannesburg Caledonian Society, Transvaal Scottish, Richmond Avenue and African Skye at various points in his career.

Born on June 8, 1959, Donald Graham had an intense passion for pipe bands in general and bass sections in particular. His innovation in terms of tones, multiple drums and technique were way ahead of their time and he inspired an entire fraternity. He learned drumming in the cadet band at Parktown Boys High School, and went on to the Southern Johannesburg Caledonian Society Pipe Band as a snare- and tenor-drummer, and then the Transvaal Scottish as a tenor drummer.

With the South African Irish in the 1980s Donald Graham experimented with playing multiple tenor drums with different tones, well before the current trend. He then served as the Leading-Drummer of the short-lived De La Salle Old Boys Pipe Band, and then played bas with Richmond Avenue for more than 20 years. He was a tenor drummer with African Skye before starting Sandton Scottish where he also played tenor.

In addition to a term as President, Donald Graham was a frequent member of the PBASA Executive Committee, and was a bass section adjudicator for the PBASA.

We extend our sympathies to Donald Graham’s family and many friends at this sad time.

 

Viscount Park takes both days at Fort Edmonton

Published:

ViscountPark_logo_smallEdmonton, Alberta – July 12-13, 2014 – The newly resurrected Viscount Park Pipe Band of Edmonton won both the Grade 2 events and put on a concert with James P. Troy at the Capitol Theater in conjunction with the Fort Edmonton Games. The City of Regina Pipe Band provided entertainment on Saturday night in the Hangar inside Fort Edmonton Park. All events were judged by James P. Troy, James W. Troy, Dan Diessner, and Tim Boan.

Saturday
Grade 2
MSR
1st Viscount Park
2nd City of Regina

Grade 3
Medley
1st Rocky Mountain
2nd Ben Nevis

Grade 4
March Medley
1st Ogden Legion
2nd Edmonton Youth
3rd Edmonton & District

Sunday
Grade 2
Medley
1st Viscount Park
2nd City of Regina

Grade 3
MSR
1st Rocky Mountain
2nd Ben Nevis

Grade 4
Medley
1st Ogden Legion
2nd Edmonton Youth
3rd Edmonton & District

Professional Piping
Piobaireachd
1st Jonathan Grady
2nd Zephan Knichel
3rd Alex Rasmussen

MSR
1st Rob MacRae
2nd Zephan Knichel
3rd Jonathan Grady

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Rob MacRae
2nd Zephan Knichel
3rd Alex Rasmussen

Seven on the trot for African Skye

Published: July 14, 2014

AfricanSkye_logoPretoria, South Africa – July 12, 2014 – The St. Benedict’s College Highland Gathering was sunny but cold with the wind chill factor a challenge for most bands. Overall, African Skye made it seven out of seven, winning the medley and coming in second to Benoni MacTalla in the MSR, who won on an ensemble preference. The South African season closes later in the month with the South African Championships and Champion of Champion titles awarded at the Benoni Gathering on July 26th.

Grade 2
Medley
1st African Skye (1,2,3,1)
2nd Benoni MacTalla (2,1,2,3)
3rd Transvaal Scottish (3,3,1,2)
Judges: Geoff Irvine, Bob Worrall (piping); Dennis Tewson (drumming); Thomas Fuller (ensemble)

MSR
1st Benoni MacTalla (1,2,3,1) (ens pref)
2nd African Skye (2,1,2,2)
3rd Transvaal Scottish (3,3,1,3)
Judges: Roger Davies, Bob Worrall (piping); Dave Jeffrey (drumming); Ewen Gilchrist (ensemble)

Members of the African Skye Pipe Band hang out with guest judge, Bob Worrall, after the contest.

 

Grade 3
1st Sandton Scottish (2014 Regional Champions)
2nd Glen Allen

Grade 4
1st African Skye (Gr4) (2014 Regional Champions)
2nd Transvaal Scottish (Gr4)
3rd Lyttelton Manor
4th Pretoria Highlanders
5th De La Salle Combined

Juvenile Overall
1st Pretoria Boys Juvenile (2014 Regional Champions)
2nd St Benedict’s Juvenile
3rd Benoni Juvenile

Novice Juvenile
1st Jeppe CBC Boksburg (2014 Regional Champions)
2nd Cornwall Hill College
3rd Benoni Novice Juvenile

“The Big Spree” – the first installment in the 2014 Set Tunes Series

Published: July 11, 2014

MacCrimmon_piper_thumbWe begin the 2014 Set Tunes Series by William Donaldson with “The Big Spree,” one of the greatest and most-played tunes in the piobaireachd repertory.

Simply click on the first page below to go to the full tune and MP3 audio file, and the complete archive of the more than 140 piobaireachds in the series.

Click to open the full tune and the complete Set Tunes Series.

The Grade 1 and Grade 2 World’s draws: some sitting pretty, others look for upside

Published: July 9, 2014

WorldChampionshipsThe random draw for the eight competition grades at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships has happened, and bands around the world are closely examining their placement, which, in larger grades and pools of contestants, can have a substantial impact on their chances of doing well or leaving the park dejected.

A total of 23 bands are entered in Grade 1, and 22 in Grade 2, each grade broken into qualifying heats.

Reigning champions Field Marshal Montgomery will be pleased with their position, playing eighth in Grade 1 Heat 1, sandwiched between Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany and New Zealand’s Canterbury Caledonian. The resurging 2010 World Champions, St. Laurence O’Toole of Ireland, perhaps have the best placement of all strong contenders for the title, second-last in the same heat as Field Marshal.

2014 European Champions Inveraray & District will be happy, on eighth in their 12-band heat, right after perennial contenders Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia.

But those bands are almost certain to qualify for the final round the following day no matter where they are drawn, and it is not clear whether the final event will have its own draw after the results of the qualifier are known, or if original draw from the qualifier will be applied.

A band’s placement in the order-of-play can also dramatically change its collective attitude over the month leading up to the August 15-16 World’s, with a draw often either casting a pall on a band’s hopes and dreams or putting a solid spring in their step as they approach the big day at Glasgow Green.

Perhaps not so fortunate of the Grade 1 bands vying for qualification are the likes of Canada’s 78th Fraser Highlanders and Dowco Triumph Street, drawn second and third, respectively, in their heats, each with a perceived contender for the title in ScottishPower and Simon Fraser University immediately after them. But that juxtaposition can also be considered a big benefit, adjudicators able to compare them quickly with perceived strong-seeds.

“My initial impression was disappointment when I saw that we were drawn to play second – we’ve not had much luck with draws this year,” said Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe-Major Ryan Canning. “However when I realised it was in the second heat, meaning that if we qualify we’d play seventh or eighth out of 12, I was happy with that. Of course we still have to play well enough to qualify first of all!

“While the draw overall is quite good for us (should we qualify for the final) I think the most balanced option would be to do a new draw once the qualifying bands are known. It would be very disappointing to have to play first on in both the qualifier and the final especially given that it’s over four performances now and not just two.”

“There are many ways to guess the potential psyche of the adjudicators’ relative to your position of play on the day,” commented 78th Frasers’ Pipe-Major Doug MacRae. “Insofar as that goes, we have no reason to over-analyze our draw. From the band’s point of view, though, we are happy to be playing between Fife and Power. As The 78th Fraser Highlanders continue to improve, it makes for an excellent opportunity to perform our music surrounded by two exceptional bands.”

Adjudicators are always a factor, too, and this year the judges for the Grade 1 qualifying heats for the most part are likely to be considered free of . . .

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Bands on edge awaiting critical World’s draw

Published: July 7, 2014

For many bands, tens of thousands of dollars hang in the balance as they await word of the random draw for order-of-play at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships.

Playing early in a larger competition is almost always a disadvantage, and playing before 10 am in the notoriously unpredictable Glasgow weather can mean the difference between final glory and a whole lot of money and effort swirling down the toilet.

The all-important draw takes place on Wednesday, July 9th, at the RSPBA’s headquarters at 45 Washington Street in Glasgow.

At the 2013 World Championships, the morning of the first day of competition saw cold, torrential, often humiliating, rain pelt bands that had to play between 9 am and 11 am, while bands in the afternoon performed under clear, sunny and warm conditions. Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Toronto Police and Simon Fraser University were some of the worst-hit, some players having a difficult time simply keeping their balance against the wind, much less finishing the performance.

Simon Fraser University were among the bands that got the worst of the rain, playing at around 9 am on the first day of the 2013 World Championships.

But an early draw isn’t necessarily all doom. If a lesser-established band is surrounded by favourites in the order-of-play, it can be an opportunity to compare favourably and get a bump up with the judges. And if stronger bands are grouped together, playing early becomes relatively moot.

This year’s World Championships are on Friday, August 15th, and Saturday, August 16th. It will be the first time that the event has been held on a weekday. In Grade 1, 2013 World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery, after winning seven consecutive RSPBA major titles, suddenly look vulnerable following recent losses at the hands of Inveraray & District, ScottishPower and St. Laurence O’Toole at the European Championships on June 28th in Forres, Scotland, and St. Laurence O’Toole at the All-Ireland Championships at New Ross, Ireland, on July 5th.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for analysis of and commentary on the order-of-play for the prominent grades in the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships.

SLOT tops FMM at All-Ireland Championships

Published: July 5, 2014

New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland – July 5, 2014 – St. Laurence O’Toole took home the 2014 All-Ireland Pipe Band Championship, beating 2013 World Champions and incumbent All-Ireland Champions Field Marshal Montgomery in both the MSR and Medley events at the annual contest at Town Park. Bleary continued its strong season by taking Grade 2 with straight firsts.

Grade 1 (three competed)
Medley
1st St. Laurence O’Toole (ens.pref.) (2,2,1,1)
2nd Field Marshal Montgomery (1,1,2,2)
3rd Cullybackey (3,3,3,3)
Judges: Bill Garrett, Michael Fitzgerald (piping); David Brown (drumming); Gordon Lawrie (ensemble)

MSR
1st St. Laurence O’Toole (1,2,1,1)
2nd Field Marshal Montgomery (2,1,2,2)
3rd Cullybackey (3,3,3,3)
Judges: Malcolm MacKenzie, Colin Moffett (piping); Ciaran Mordaunt (drumming); Joe Noble (ensemble)

Grade 2 (four competed)
1st Bleary & District (1,1,1,1)
2nd Manorcunningham (2,2,2,2)
3rd Arklow (3,3,4,3)
4th St. Finbarr’s (4,4,3,4)
Judges: Malcolm MacKenzie, Colin Moffett (piping); Ciaran Mordaunt (drumming); Joe Noble (ensemble)

 

HD videos: 78th Frasers continue win-streak at Kincardine

Published:

Kincardine, Ontario – July 5, 2014 – On a typically brilliant, sunny, warm summer day on the shore of Lake Huron at the 15th annual Kincardine Scottish Festival, the 78th Fraser Highlanders continued their unbeaten streak in Ontario with a first in the Grade 1 medley contest, with four firsts from the judges. Grade 2 saw only the new Greater Midwest Pipe Band play, unfortunately travelling from their Michigan home-base without another challenger in the grade. Ian K. MacDonald picked up another Piper of the Day award. Zack Miller was the Professional Drummer of the Day.

Bands
Grade 1 (medley, three competed)
1st 78th Fraser Highlanders (1,1,1,1)
2nd Peel Regional Police (ens.pref.) (3,3,2,2)
3rd Toronto Police (2,2,3,3)
Drumming: 78th Fraser Highlanders
Judges: Ken Eller, Glenna Mackay-Johnstone (piping); Greg Dinsdale (drumming); Jim McGillivray (ensemble)

Grade 2 (MSR, one played)
1st Greater Midwest
Judges: Ken Eller, Glenna Mackay-Johnstone (piping); Greg Dinsdale (drumming); Jim McGillivray (ensemble)

See next page for more results and top-three Grade 3 band videos from Kincardine.

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Canning, Watson, Dew win at Thornton

Published:

Greig Canning

Thornton, Scotland – July 5, 2014 – Results at the Thornton Highland Games were fairly scattered with a light entry. Euan Anderson and Andrew Frater judged all of the events.

Open
Piobaireachd
1st Greig Canning
2nd Craig Martin
3rd Greig Wilson
4th Ross Miller

MSR
1st Callum Watson
2nd Greig Wilson
3rd Craig Martin
4th Greig Canning

Under-18
Piobaireachd
1st John Dew

MSR
1st John Dew
2nd Chris Happs
3rd Ewan Cameron
4th Mathew Clark

pipes|drums announces 14th Set Tunes Series by William Donaldson

Published: July 3, 2014

Dr. William Donaldson

Since 2000, Dr. William Donaldson has worked with pipes|drums to create an annual analysis of the piobaireachds picked by the Piobaireachd Society for the major competitions, and continues the landmark Set Tunes Series – free to all readers of the magazine – again in 2014.

With close to 150 tunes, each meticulously presented in the various settings that preceded the Piobaireachd Society’s ongoing attempt to standardize the compositions, the 2014 Set Tunes Series numbers six tunes, as most of those set for the Senior, Gold Medal and Silver Medal competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban, Scotland, and the Northern Meeting at Inverness, Scotland, have already been presented.

The totality of the Set Tunes Series with multiple settings of each tune represents the largest single compendium of piobaireachd anywhere.

The tunes in this year’s series:

  • “Abercairney’s Salute”
  • “The Battle of Waterloo”
  • “The Big Spree”
  • “Lament for the Departure of King James”
  • “MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute”
  • “The Red Hand in the MacDonalds’ Arms”

A native of Aberdeen, Scotland, William Donaldson was a pupil for nine years with the legendary Robert Nicol. As a leading academic expert on Scots musical composition and song, Donaldson has published several works on Highland piping, including the seminal work, The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, a critical study of the evolution of piobaireachd and the influence of a few aristocratic power-brokers to control the music for competition.

We launch the 2014 Set Tunes Series with a brief interview with William Donaldson.

pipes|drums: The Set Tunes Series is now in its fourteenth year. It’s one of the bigger collections with more than 150 tunes.

William Donaldson: Yes. It is a good start, but providing reliable, authentic scores only takes us so far. They have to be interpreted and played, realized with all the musical talent we know our current cohort of professional players possesses (obvious from the brilliant way they handle the light music). But there are obstacles to this, as we all know, mainly the . . .

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MacLeod to step down as Glasgow Skye P-M after World’s

Published: July 2, 2014

Kenny MacLeod

With nearly a total of a quarter-century of service with the Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band, Pipe-Major Kenny MacLeod will step down from the post after the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships. He latest stretch with the band was four years, when he returned to help rebuild the then-struggling Glasgow-based Grade 2 band.

Before the fall of 2010, MacLeod previously was a member and pipe-major of the band for some 20 years, playing in the band with other members of his family.

Under MacLeod’s most recent direction the band has returned to the height of Grade 2 on a world level, last year consistently placing in the top three at major championships, including a fourth at the 2013 World Championships. In the 1990s he brought the band for a brief period to the Grade 1 level.

“I’ve played in the Skye for a total of 24 years over two stints, and enjoyed every minute of it,” MacLeod said, “but it was always the plan that I was coming in this time to steady the band on a short-term basis, and the long-term future of the band was always the most important thing for me. When I joined we were very low in pipers and we’ve built that back up to healthy numbers again. We’ve replaced the drums, jackets and waistcoats and kilts and generally improved the uniform. Perhaps most importantly the band is financially secure.”

The band has already started a search for MacLeod’s successor, encouraging those interested to contact the band’s treasurer, Dougie Orr, or secretary, Lesley Jamieson.

“It really is a great prospect for a new pipe-major to come in and look at things as a long-term project. I decided that it was better to announce now that I would be stepping down at the end of this season, so any candidates could contact the band for more details, and then have time to think about their future, well before the end of their season. I will play absolutely no part in the selection process and it will be the band members who will pick the next pipe-major.”

So far in 2014 Glasgow Skye has not fared quite so well at majors, with a fifth-prize at each of the British and European championships.

“The season isn’t over, though, and I hope we can improve our placings after some mixed results so far,” MacLeod continued.

The band recently travelled to California to compete at the Costa Mesa Highland Games.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY:
November 26, 1963A. John Wilson wins all four amateur events, SPA contest, Glasgow.
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TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: Never move the tape on your chanter, carve a hole, or move the reed until you have warmed your pipe up sufficiently that it is stable.
Lionel Tupman, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario