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SFU, Bonar ring true at Bellingham

Published: June 8, 2014
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Andrew Bonar

Bellingham, Washington – June 7, 2014 – Simon Fraser University won both Grade 1 events and Andrew Bonar swept the Professional Solo Piping at the annual Bellingham Games.

Bands
Grade 1
Medley
1st Simon Fraser University
2nd Triumph Street

MSR
1st Simon Fraser University
2nd Triumph Street

Grade 2
1st Robert Malcolm Memorial
2nd Portland Metro

Grade 3
1st Greighlan Crossing

Grade 4
1st White Spot (ens. pref.)
2nd Robert Malcolm Memorial
3rd Northwest Junior

Grade 5
1st White Spot (ens. pref.)
2nd Robert Malcolm Memorial

Solo Piping
Professional
Piobaireachd (10 competed)
1st Andrew Bonar, “The Battle of the Pass of Crieff”
2nd Andrew Lee, “The Big Spree”
3rd Alastair Lee, “His Father’s Lament for Donald MacKenzie”
4th Myles Stewart, “Corrienessan’s Salute”
5th Brittney Otto
6th Joseph Stewart
Judge: Rene Cusson

MSR (11 competed)
1st Andrew Bonar
2nd Andrew Lee
3rd Alastair Lee
4th Myles Stewart
5th Richard Gillies
6th Brittney Otto
Judge: Alan Bevan

Roddy MacLeod wins 2014 MacDonald Quaich

Published: June 7, 2014

Roddy MacLeod with the 2014 Donald MacDonald Quaich [photo: Derek Maxwell]

Skye, Scotland – June 6, 2014 – Roddy MacLeod of Glasgow won the annual Donald MacDonald Quaich, an invitational competition that features the music of the great piper. MacLeod played “The Piper’s Warning to His Master.” The competition received even more support from the Clan Donald Trust, with increased prize money and compensation for judges.

Also competing were Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland, “The Old Lament for the Sword”; Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland, “Lady MacDonald’s Lament”; Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “The White Flag”; and Iain Speirs, Edinburgh, “The Groat.”

The event was judged by Colin MacLellan. Margaret Stewart provided additional music for the audience.

Donald MacDonald Invitational 2014 competitors, L-R: Stuart Liddell, Iain Speirs, Angus MacColl, Willie McCallum, Roddy MacLeod. [Photo: Derek Maxwell]

Allan MacDonald releases new mobile apps for basic piping tuition

Published:
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Screenshot from the Bagpipe Basics app.

Allan MacDonald is known for his stellar compositions, prize-winning success, and love of the Gaelic tradition, and now he’s added a new dimension to his repertoire with the release of the first in a series of mobile applications, developed with Thomas Zöller of Germany.

“Bagpipe Basics” has just been launched on Apple’s iTunes App Store for $3.99, and is intended to teach the basics of Highland piping to rank beginners. Described as “leaning how to play the bagpipes in the simplest way imaginable,” the app takes users through the fundamentals of the Highland pipe, including fingering, basic notation and how to play the scale in an animated and interactive way.

Allan MacDonald

Allan MacDonald

MacDonald and Zöller have created several games designed to train the learner’s ear and take quizzes on fingering and notation.

The developers plan to release three more apps in 2014: “The Canntaireachd Tutor” promises to teach the basics of the “ancient codified pipers’ language” for communicating tunes; “Bagpipe Flashcards” will bring will work on light music repertoire and the concept of “beat position” and even the fingering accidentals such as C-natural and F-natural; and the “The Bagpipe-App” will be a resource to “interrelate the terminology, rhythmic subtleties, finger technique, canntaireachd and the notation through an ‘atomistic approach,’ presenting learners with the vocabulary that makes the poem, as it were.”

The apps are and will be available in English and German.

Allan MacDonald is a winner of the Clasp at the Northern Meeting in 1989 and 1990, and has worked to uncover and resurrect a style of Highland piping that reflects Gaelic culture of 1550-1750. His study in the correlation between piobaireachd and Gaelic song was seen as pioneering work in the 1990s in his self-described attempt to “reverse the effects of post-industrial sanitization and cultural colonialism.”

The apps promise to draw upon the connection between the Gaelic language and modern piping: “In our apps we provide audio recordings of its pronunciation that offer direct access even for those that have not been exposed to this Celtic language so far.”

Thomas Zöller is a Highland piping innovator and a member of the folk group As a’ Phìob (Out of the Pipes). He has a bachelor’s degree in Scottish music from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

UNB embraces ceol mor with 78th pipers

Published: June 4, 2014
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Roderick MacLean

The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton is taking an unusual interest in the classical music of the Highland pipe, with a Piobaireachd Festival on June 7th featuring four members of the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Band, which will be equal parts entertainment and education.

Pipe-Major Alex Gandy, Bruce Gandy, Andy Rogers and former pipe-major Roderick MacLean will wow the crowd at the university’s Memorial Hall, each playing a piece of ceol mor at the event, which is sponsored by two pubs and a beer company.

Gandy_Alex_Aug_2013_small

Alex Gandy

The four will participate in a workshop the following day, and the recital will be prefaced with a lecture on piobaireachd. MacLean will play “The Battle of Aldearn” and Rogers “The Blue Ribbon.” Both Gandys haven’t said what they will perform, keeping everyone in suspense.

The event is part of the university’s college of extended learning, and organized by Associate Professor Dr. Mike Farnworth of the economics department. Tickets range from $20 to $10.

 

African Skye marches on at De la Salle

Published: June 2, 2014

AfricanSkye_logoDe la Salle, South Africa – May 31, 2014 – A sunny and warm winter’s day marked the midway point of the South African pipe band contest season, with African Skye making it four wins in four contests, taking the De la Salle Highland Gathering. The Transvaal Scottish drum section, however, remains unbeaten.

Grade 2
Medley
1st African Skye (Gr2) (1,1,3,1)
2nd Benoni MacTalla (3,2,1,3)
3rd Transvaal Scottish (Gr2) (2,3,2,2)
Judges: Laurence Davies,Geoff Irvine (piping); Ewen Gilchrist (ensemble); Dave Jeffrey (drumming)

MSR
1st African Skye (Gr2) (1,1,2,2)
2nd Transvaal Scottish (Gr2) (3,2,1,1)
3rd Benoni MacTalla (2,3,3,3)
Judges: Roy Blevins,David Harris (piping); Roger Davies (ensemble); Duncan Tee (drumming)

The Grade 2 African Skye looking confident at De la Salle [Photo: C. Holz]

Grade 3
1st Glen Allen
2nd Sandton Scottish
3rd SA Irish

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

Juvenile
1st Pretoria Boys Juvenile
2nd St Benedict’s Juvenile
3rd Benoni Juvenile

Novice Juvenile
1st Jeppe CBC Boksburg
2nd Benoni Novice Juvenile

Good at it, Geddes, at Markinch

Published: June 1, 2014

Markinch, Scotland – June 1, 2014 – William Geddes won both events in the open senior solo piping at the annual Markinch Highland Games against a relatively small turnout of contestants.

Piobaireachd
1st William Geddes
2nd Greig Canning
3rd Craig Muirhead
4th George Stewart
Judges: Andrew Frater, Andrew Wright

MSR
1st William Geddes
2nd George Stewart
3rd Greig Wilson
4th Greig Canning
Judges: Roderick Barron, Ian Duncan

2014 British Pipe Band Champions: Field Marshal Montgomery

Published: May 31, 2014

FMM-logoBathgate, Scotland – May 31, 2014 – Field Marshal Montgomery won the British Pipe Band Championship, the first of the five RSPBA majors in 2014. The band finished on top in the 12-band medley contest, in sunny and warm weather. It was the sixth consecutive RSPBA major win for the band. The 2014 British included a few other significant firsts in that it was the championship debut for Alen Tully as pipe-major of the St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band of Dublin, after taking the place of his father, Terry, following several decades in charge of the 2010 World Champions.

Results in Grade 1 were scattered, with Inveraray & District receiving a 10th and a 2nd in piping being one of the widest separations. ScottishPower was first overall in piping, but down in drumming, which St. Laurence O’Toole won. Hometown favourites Boghall & Bathgate were second, and Torphichen & Bathgate won Grade 2, overcoming Northern Ireland’s Bleary & District’s two firsts in piping. Bleary was buried by a ninth in ensemble.

The contest was also the first for the “Tiny Torphies,” the Grade 2 Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band’s new Novice Juvenile band, after a training program was started in 2011. The young band is led by Andrew Gray, whose younger sister, Rachel, is pipe-major of the James Gillespies High School Pipe Band of Edinburgh, and at age 18 is one of the youngest pipe-majors ever.

Grade 1 (medley, 12 entered)
1st Field Marshal Montgomery (1,3,3,3)
2nd Boghall & Bathgate (5,4,2,1)
3rd St. Laurence O’Toole (3,7,1,2)
4th ScottishPower (2,1,7,5)
5th Inveraray & District (10,2,4,4)
6th Greater Glasgow Police (4,5,5,7)
Drumming: St. Laurence O’Toole
Judges: James Wark, Ronnie McShannon (piping); David Brown (drumming); Jim Baxter (ensemble)

Field Marshal Montgomery marching off with the 2014 British Championship trophy.

Grade 2 (MSR, 15 entered)
1st Torphichen & Bathgate (3,2,4,1)
2nd Buchan (4,5,1,2)
3rd Bleary & District (1,1,3,9)
4th Lomond & Clyde (6,4,2,6)
5th Glasgow Skye (7,3,5,4)
6th Mackenzie Caledonia (2,8,8,5)
Drumming: Buchan
Judges: James Campbell, William Garrett (piping); Sandy Steele (drumming); Trevor Dear (ensemble)

Barry Wilson confirms 2014 will be final season with ScottishPower

Published: May 30, 2014

Barry Wilson in a 2010 photo.

Following the 2014 UK pipe band season, the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band will be without Leading-Drummer Barry Wilson, who confirmed to pipes|drums that he will retire after 12 years with the band.

Although Wilson has shared his intentions, ScottishPower Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong said that the 2014 competition campaign is fully on, with full focus on the events ahead.

“We are very much concentrating on the job at hand, and the rest is a secondary concern,” Armstrong said about the situation.

Wilson said that his decision was for “personal reasons.”

Several high-profile candidates are said to be possible replacements to Wilson, but none have confirmed their intentions.

The 42-year-old Wilson is a four-time winner of the World Solo Drumming Championship, and has been Leading-Drummer of ScottishPower since 2002, working first with Pipe-Major Roddy MacLeod and then with Armstrong. He started in 1982 with the Mauchline & District Pipe Band, a few years later joined the Killoch Colliery Pipe Band, and after only five years playing became a member Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, where he stayed for 15 years playing under Kilpatrick.

The news comes on the brink of the first RSPBA major, the British Championships in Bathgate, Scotland, on Saturday, May 31st,, at which ScottishPower is drawn first on in the 12-band medley contest.

Considered one of the greatest pipe band drummers of all time, Barry Wilson was a featured performer with Chris Armstrong at the 2012 Pipes+Drums Recital at Piping Live! sponsored by pipes|drums Magazine.

ScottishPower began its season at Dunfermline last week, debuting a new medley that was widely applauded for its musical ingenuity.

pipes|drums published a “10 Questions With . . .” interview with Wilson in 2008. He won the World Solo Drumming four straight times, from 2007 to 2010.

Carlisle rises to McIntosh Challenge

Published: May 28, 2014

Andrew Carlisle [photo: pipes|drums]

Greenville, South Carolina – May 23, 2014 – Andrew Carlisle of Pittsburgh was the winner of the second annual Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Challenge, part of the Greenville Scottish Games. Jackez Pincet of Brittany judged the event.

Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Challenge
1st Andrew Carlisle, “Lament for the Children”
2nd E.J. Jones, Asheville, North Carolina, “Beloved Scotland”
3rd Bobby Minnear, Atlanta, “The King’s Taxes”
4th Bill Caudill, Laurinburg, North Carolina, “Lament for Captain MacDougall”
5th Michael Rogers, Silver Spring, Maryland, “The MacDougalls’ Gathering”
6th Alastair Murray, Moon, Pennsylvania, “The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute”

Also playing but not in the chips were Dan Lyden, Derek Midgley and Katy Rashid.

Glasgow Police working to sparkle in and out of the rain in August

Published:

The keyboardist who co-wrote and played on “Alive and Kicking” and many other hits with the 1980s Scottish pop group Simple Minds will put words into action with the Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band at their “Ceolry” concert just before the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships.

The band has announced that former Simple Minds member Mick MacNeil will join them on the final segment of the first half of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall concert on August 13th when together they plan to perform renditions of “Belfast Child” (adapted from the traditional air, “She Moves Through the Fair”) and the reels “The Lads of Mull” and “Ridhle Mo Nighean Donn” from the band’s “Dolina MacKay” medley. MacNeil has strong family ties with the Isle of Barra in Scotland’s outer Hebrides.

“Hopefully, this will add something a little different to the concert to go along with the MSR, medley, drum fanfare, etc.,” said Pipe-Major Duncan Nicholson, who  added that “preparation for the concert is going well and we hope to have something for everyone coming along.”

Earlier in the year the Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band announced the addition of award winning Gaelic singer Rachel Walker to the bill.

Mick MacNeil earned a few of his stripes with Simple Minds.

With Walker and MacNeil on board, and Nicholson with Hebridean roots, the concert continues to round out a strong Highland flavour to the event. MacNeil co-wrote several song that reached number-one status in the UK and around the world, and individually has recorded more than 15 albums, mostly with in a Scottish traditional vein, but with a heavy digital influence.

In addition to MacNeil’s predilection for number-one hits, he also has a penchant for number-one pipe band tunics.

Australia gets a jolt at the top with resurrection of City of Whitehorse

Published: May 27, 2014

Former Clan Gregor Pipe Band Pipe-Major George Shepherd is leading a new band in the Melbourne area built on the four-years-dormant Grade 1 Nunawading Pipe Band / Australia Highlanders, reforming as the City of Whitehorse, with an eye on the top grade, with some 21 pipers on the books to start. The band plans to come out strong with the start of the Australia season in December of this year.

City of Whitehorse has Olav Goud as leading-drummer, bringing a resume of experience in Grade 1 with the likes of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, Polkemmet and Lothian & Borders Police under his belt in Scotland. The Pipe-Sergeant is R.J. Houston, formerly with the Australia Highlanders and originally from the Vancouver area, playing in the Simon Fraser University organization with Robert Malcolm Memorial. Kirsty McLellan is lead-tenor with experience in Shotts & Dykehead in the late-1990s and early-2000s.

The band is already planning to compete at the New Zealand Championships in 2015 and hit Scotland and the World Championships in 2016.

George Shepherd

“The initial response and uptake has been very promising,” Shepherd said. “Currently I have 21 pipers on roster, which is somewhat of a rarity in the Southern Hemisphere. Low numbers are always a concern for bands on the Australian circuit. Olav and Kirsty also have healthy numbers throughout the drum core so it looks well for the future.”

Shepherd is best known for his leadership of the now-defunct Clan Gregor of Scotland when the band in its first year in Grade 1 made the prize-list of an RSPBA major, taking fifth at the European Championship in 2004. The band won Grade 2 at the World’s the previous year with Shepherd as pipe-sergeant. He immigrated to Australia in 2006.

The assets of the Australia Highlanders were looked after following the band’s hiatus in 2010 after Pipe-Major Danny Boyle and Leading-Drummer Alastair Boyle resigned, after the band cancelled plans to compete at the World’s that year, citing costs. Following the 2014 Australian Championships the band was officially reformed, under the City of Whitehorse name.

Located near Melbourne, the suburbs of Box Hill and Nunawading amalgamated in 1994 to become the City of Whitehorse.

The pipe section will use sheepskin bags and cane drone reeds with Shepherd chanters, while the drum section will use Andante instruments. Grade 1 Boghall & Bathgate Caledonian bass-section leader Stevie McQuillan’s Pro-Line company will outfit the bass and tenors, and the Go Drumming company will also contribute to the City of Whitehorse corps.

As for the grade of the new band, Shepherd said, “We will be at the mercy of the local grading committee – and hopefully we’re good on the day. We’ll fit in where they see fit. The goal of the team is to establish and maintain a band capable of competing on an international stage in the premier grade.”

The Australia pipe band scene has grown thinner in the top grades in the last five years, with only a handful of bands competing in Grade 1 in the expansive country. The Western Australia Police won the 2014 Australian Pipe Band Championship with a group rounded out with guest players, topping the Queensland Highlanders and Moorabin City, the only other Grade 1 bands in the country.

“I’m looking forward to the season ahead with great excitement and optimism,” Shepherd continued. “We have a fantastic blend of youth and experience within the group. The initial response and commitment has blown us away. The leadership team we have in place all read from the same page sharing a burning desire to build a band capable of competing on an international level.”

78th Halifax in command at Kingston

Published: May 26, 2014

Kingston, Ontario – May 24, 2014 – The 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) were the winners of both events in a two-band Grade 1 contest at the Kingston Scottish Festival. The strong turnout of competitors and spectators at the event experienced mixed weather throughout the day. The competition is not a sanctioned PPBSO event, but the solo results are counted towards the organization’s Champion Supreme annual aggregate points.

The 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) marching on to the park at the 2014 Kingston Scottish Festival. [Photo: Katherine Ann Howe]

Grade 1 (two competed)
Medley
1st 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citade) (1,1,1,2)
2nd Peel Regional Police (2,2,2,1)
Judges: Bob Worrall, Ed Neigh (piping); Ken Eller (ensemble); Greg Dinsdale (drumming)

MSR
1st 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) (1,1,1,2)
2nd Peel Regional Police (2,2,2,1)
Judges: Ken Eller, Ed Neigh (piping); Bob Worrall (ensemble); Greg Dinsdale (drumming)

Grade 3 (six competed)
1st Paris-Port Dover 1,1,1,3)
2nd Toronto Police (4,4,3,2)
3rd Hamilton Police (6,5,2,1)
Bob Worrall, Brian Williamson (piping); Ken Eller (ensemble); Greg Dinsdale (drumming)

Grade 4 (seven competed)
1st Rob Roy (1,1,1,2)
2nd Arnprior McNab (2,2,2,3)
3rd Black Watch (3,3,3,5)
Ken Eller, Ed Neigh (piping); Bob Worrall (ensemble); Greg Dinsdale (drumming)

Grade 5 (Seven competed)
1st Hamilton Police (1,2,1,1)
2nd Barrie (2,1,2,3)
3rd Rob Roy (3,3,3,2)
Ken Eller, Bob Worrall (piping); Ed Neigh (ensemble); Greg Dinsdale (drumming)

McCallister, McCready, Muirhead gather prizes at Atholl

Published: May 25, 2014

Gordon McCready with the Glenfiddich sponsored prize for overall champion at the 2014 Atholl Gathering. [Photo: Derek Maxwell]

Blair Atholl, Scotland – May 25, 2014 – About 30 pipers turned out for the annual Atholl Gathering, where cool and showery weather was not as bad as was forecast. Numbers were down slightly from previous years, but still a healthy turnout for one of the Scottish solo piping circuit’s more popular events. There were two heats for each light music event, with two judges taking each heat. All for light music judges assessed the final round. Gordon McCready was the overall winner on the day.

Piobaireachd
A-Grade
1st Peter McCallister, Dunblane, Scotland, “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
2nd Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh, “Glengarry’s March”
3rd Allan Russell, Kelty, Scotland, “Lament for the Only Son”
4th Gordon McCready, Renfrew, Scotland, “The Battle of Waternish”
5th Michael Elder, Auchtermuchty, Scotland, “The Groat”
6th William Geddes, Dumfries, Scotland, “Earl of Seaforth’s Salute”
Judges: Murray Henderson, Bill Wotherspoon

B-Grade
1st Gordon Barclay, Skye, Scotland, “Black Donald’s March”
2nd George Stewart, Perth, Scotland, “Too Long in This Condition”
3rd Keith Bowes, Inchinnan, Scotland, “Lament for MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart” No. 1
4th Sandy Cameron, Roybridge, Scotland, “The Blind Piper’s Obstinacy”
5th Neil Clark, Drumnadrochit, , Scotland, “Corrienessan’s Salute”
Judges: Colin MacLellan, Andrew Wright

C-Grade
1st Scott Barrie
2nd John Cameron
3rd Peter Skae
4th Ben Mulhearn
5th Brian Mulhearn
Judges: Stuart Shedden, Ronnie Clark

Open Light Music
MSR
1st Gordon McCready
2nd Scott Barrie, Ayrshire
3rd William Geddes
4th Angus J MacColl, Benderloch
5th Peter Hunt, Irvine
6th Craig Muirhead, Stirling

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Craig Muirhead
2nd Jenny Hazzard
3rd Gordon McCready
4th Steven Leask, Ayrshire
5th William Geddes
6th Allan Russell

Light music judges: James Banks, Patricia Henderson, John MacDougall, Robert Wallace

Shotts throws down the gauntlet at Dunfermline

Published: May 24, 2014

PrintDunfermline, Scotland – May 24, 2014 – Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia made a statement by winning at Dunfermline against ScottishPower, which finished second. Shotts has been in a rebuilding phase for the last two years, following the appointment of Ryan Canning as Pipe-Major. ScottishPower has established itself as an elite Grade 1 band, so the Shotts victory adds a new twist to the 2014 RSPBA Grade 1 season. Police Scotland Fife withdrew from the event.

Grade 1
1st Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (2,2,1,1)
2nd ScottishPower (1,1,2,2)
Drumming: Shotts & Dykehead
Judges: Jim Campbell, Malcolm MacKenzie (piping); Peter Snaddon (ensemble); John McInnes (drumming)

Shotts & Dykehead at Dunfermline Games, May 24, 2014.

ScottishPower at Dunfermline Games, May 24, 2014

Ballycoan first top-grade band to go with Cleland carbon fibre drums

Published: May 21, 2014

The Grade 1 Ballycoan Pipe Band of Belfast has become the first band in the top grade to “take delivery” of a complete set of carbon fibre drums designed and produced by Cleland Instruments. The premium-priced snare drums have been on the market since 2009, with bass and tenors added in 2010.

Ballycoan is also the first band from Ireland to play Cleland drums, which feature carbon hoops – the first of their kind in the worldwide drum market. The bass and tenors use the same carbon hoop tensioning system as the snare, promising a more even drum head tension, according to the makers.

“These drums have really enhanced the ensemble of our band; the snare sound is so dynamic and rich, but the bass drum and tenors really do add a new dimension,” gushed Ballycoan Leading-Drummer Brendan Megoran in a news release. “These instruments are so rich in sound. The bass drum can be best described as sounding like a big vibrant bass guitar, really a joy to be playing in the band, the pipers love it! The tonal qualities and colours produced by the tenors also add brilliantly to the key changes and note variations on the chanter.”

Cleland carbon fibre snare drum.

The carbon fibre snare drums come at a steep price, with suggested list of $2,850 per drum. A 28″x16″ bass drums has a suggested price of $1,795. It is not known what Ballycoan paid for the instruments. By comparison, a Premier HTS 800 snare drum generally sells for about $675.

Cleland confirmed that the drums were provided to Ballycoan as part of a sponsorship/endorsement agreement. Most Grade 1 bands have similar agreements with drum manufacturers.

“We are delighted to have our drums played by this first-rate pipe band under the leadership of  [Ballycoan] Drum-Sergeant Brendan Megoran and Pipe-Major Richard McGrath,” commented Terry Cleland, developer of the instruments. Cleland is the Pipe-Major of the Grade 2 400 Squadron Pipe Band of Ontario, and is an expert in composite materials, including those used for high-performance racing cars.

The band previously played drums made by Andante of Northern Ireland.

Ballycoan is not entered for the British Championships at Bathgate, Scotland, on May 31st, but plans to compete in the new United Kingdom Championships June 14th in in Belfast with the new drums. The UK Championships took the place of the Cowal Championships in the RSPBA Rota of major competitions.

It will be the first RSPBA major championship for Ballycoan since 2010, before the band went on hiatus in a rebuilding phase. Despite the three-year gap, the RSPBA reinstated the band to Grade 1.

Outside the Box, with Jim McGillivray

Published: May 19, 2014

We can learn from smallpipers – not those vertically challenged, but the ones who play that other bagpipe, and our man, Jim, is in fine fettle with a few solutions to an age-old tuning problem . . .

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Larger crowds for Saskatchewan Highland Gathering events

Published:

Moose Jaw & Regina, Saskatchewan – May 18, 2014 – The Saskatchewan Highland Gathering & Celtic Festival drew a small number of bands and soloists from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to events in Moose Jaw on Saturday and Regina on Sunday. An expanded festival setting for both days provided nice crowds of spectators for the band and other events, and the sometimes-challenging May long weekend weather was good for both days.

Conservatory of Performing Arts, Regina after a successful weekend.

Moose Jaw
Grade 2
MSR & Medley
City of Regina

Grade 3
MSR & Medley
Winnipeg Police
Best Bass: Winnipeg Police

Grade 4
March Medley
1st Conservatory of Performing Arts, Regina (2,1,3,3)
2nd 96th Highlanders, Saskatoon (3,2,4,1)
3rd Regina Police Service (1,4,1,4)

Medley
1st Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial, Winnipeg (1,1,2,1)
2nd Conservatory of Performing Arts, Regina (2,3,1,2)
3rd Regina Police Service (3,2,3,3)

Regina
Grade 2
MSR & Medley
City of Regina
Tim Dixon Memorial Award (Best Drum Corps): City of Regina

Grade 3
MSR & Medley
Winnipeg Police

Grade 4
March Medley
1st Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial (1,2,3,2)
2nd Conservatory of Performing Arts, Regina (3,4,2,1)
3rd Regina Police Service (4,1,1,4)

Grade 4
Medley
1st Conservatory of Performing Arts, Regina (3,1,2,1)
2nd Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial (1,2,3,2)
3rd Regina Police Service (2,3,1,3)

Best Junior Bass: Conservatory of Performing Arts

Judges for all events: Bob Worrall, Colin Clansey, John Fisher, David Hilder

African Skye continues unbeaten at Broederstroom

Published:

AfricanSkye_logoBroederstroom, South Africa – May 17, 2014 – Another fine sunny day for the Celtic Fest in a somewhat challenging environment with high temperatures, swirling dust and tuning facilities very close to the main arena. African Skye remained unbeaten in Grade 2, with wins in the MSR and Medley, winning overall for the third consecutive contest. The Transvaal Scottish drum corps remained on top with their third win of the season.

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

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

Prairie Invitational won by McFarlane

Published: May 18, 2014

Josh MacFarlane (right) takes the 2014 Prairie Piping Invitational trophy from organizer Iain MacDonald.

Regina, Saskatchewan – May 17, 2014 – The annual Prairie Piping Invitational was held as part of the Saskatchewan Highland Gathering & Celtic Festival. Five professional players competed in a medley event that was to include the ground of a piobaireachd and a tune composed by a Canadian. Judged by Bob Worrall and Colin Clansey, the event was won by Josh McFarlane of Winnipeg, pipe-major of the Royal Canadian Air Force Pipe Band. Past winners of the event include Alan Bevan, Clansey, Michael Grey, James MacHattie and Sean Somers.

Prairie Piping Invitational Medley
1st Josh McFarlane
2nd Stewart Smith, Calgary
3rd Raphael Mercier, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Also competing but not in the prizes were Alex Rasmussen, Lunsden, Saskatchewan, and Eilidh MacDonald, Regina.

So, what now? Ottawa Police win both events at Fair Hill; Stuarts finish third overall

Published: May 17, 2014

Fair Hill, Maryland – May 17, 2014 – After the RSPBA surprisingly upgraded the EUSPBA-member Stuart Highlanders to Grade 1 last week, the spotlight turned to the Colonial Highland Games at Fair Hill where the band would compete against two other Grade 2 bands. The RSPBA might now might be in a quandary after Joe Noble, one of their own judges, gave the Stuart Highlanders a second (Medley drumming) and a third (MSR ensemble) in a three-band contest. The Stuart Highlanders were third aggregate, while the Ottawa Police Services Pipe Band emerged first overall, taking both events, and New York Metro finished second.

Grade 2
Overall

1st Ottawa Police Services
2nd New York Metro
3rd Stuart Highlanders

Medley
1st Ottawa Police (2,1,1,3)
2nd Stuart Highlanders (1,2,3,2)
3rd New York Metro (3,3,2,1)
Judges: Michael Rogers, Adrian Melvin (piping); Jon Quigg (ensemble); Joe Noble (drumming)

MSR
1st Ottawa Police (1,1,2,1)
2nd New York Metro (2,3,1,3)
3rd Stuart Highlanders (3,2,3,2)
Judges: Judges: David Bailiff, Adrian Melvin (piping); Joe Noble (ensemble); Jon Quigg (drumming)

Ottawa Police Services competing at the 2013 North American Championships.

Drummond appointed new Sr. Piping Instructor at Fettes College

Published:

Cameron Drummond [photo: Derek Maxwell]

Cameron Drummond has been made the new Senior Piping Instructor at Fettes College in Edinburgh, one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious private high schools that has graduated notables from Prime Minister Tony Blair to Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton.

Drummond leaves his post at Strathallan School in Perthshire, and takes over from Joe Rafferty, who will continue in a part-time role with Fettes.

At Strathallan Drummond developed the piping, drumming and pipe band program to the point where the school’s band is nipping at the heels of full-time competing Scottish “public” school bands at George Heriots and Dollar Academy, consistent winners in Juvenile and Grade 3.

Drummond commented: “I am very excited about the move back home to Edinburgh. Perthshire is beautiful, but nothing beats city living. I face a new challenge at Fettes and relish the opportunity to be a part of such a prestigious organization. The potential for the pipe band at Fettes is huge, and, with high numbers of piping and drumming pupils and a dedicated team of instructors, the future looks very bright.”

Cameron Drummond has increasingly established himself as a solo piper, culminating so far with an invitation to the 2013 Glenfiddich Championships based on his success over the previous season.

Strathallan School is searching for a replacement for Drummond, a piping instructor to complement drumming instructor David Ross, who is a member of the Grade 1 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. Strathallan has said that “priority will be to develop the school pipe band and individual pipers. There will also be the opportunity for a suitable candidate to play a part in the wider life of the school and an involvement certainly with the boarding aspects would be an advantage. Technical knowledge, capability with administrative duties, and vitally the ability to enthuse pupils for piping will be required.”

“I am sad to be leaving behind a great bunch of young people who have come together over my last four years to enjoy their piping and drumming and to push themselves to a level that was previously deemed unattainable,” Drummond continued. “This is now a great opportunity for someone to take over and push even further with this enthusiastic group of musicians.”

Strathallan is accepting applications until June 9, 2014.

Fettes College has been said to be the model for J.K. Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the author’s Harry Potter books. In 2001 Rowling purchased the Chilliechassie estate of “The Smith” fame. Drummond said he is not planning to teach with a wand.

Glasgow Skye will bolster Grade 2 at Costa Mesa

Published: May 15, 2014

The recent news about bands in Grade 2 continues, with the Costa Mesa Highland Games in California flying in Scotland’s Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band, the first time that a guest Grade 2 band has come to the competition, this year on May 23-24.

Costa Mesa typically would have a guest Grade 1 band, with the likes of Simon Fraser University, Dowco Triumph Street and LA Scots competing and performing in the past at the event, just south of Los Angeles.

Glasgow Skye enjoyed a successful year in Grade 2 on the RSPBA circuit in 2013, finishing third in the Champion of Champions table, playing with one of the largest pipe sections in the grade.

“We consider it a great honour to be invited out to Costa Mesa,” said Glasgow Skye Pipe-Major Kenny MacLeod. “The band is very excited about it, and it will be a great experience. I haven’t played at that games for a few years, and it’s nice to know we won’t need our capes for our first run out of the year.”

MacLeod said his band leaves Glasgow May 20th, and returns to Scotland May 28th, staying in Redondo Beach, California, during its stay.

The previously struggling Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco has rebounded and will compete against Glasgow Skye in the grade.

Grade 2 standard to be put to test Saturday at Fair Hill

Published: May 14, 2014

New York Metro competing in the Grade 2 Final at the 2013 World Pipe Band Championships.

The RSPBA’s proactive upgrading of the Stuart Highlanders to Grade 1, while the band’s home association, the EUSPBA, will keep the band in Grade 2, will be put to an interesting test on Saturday, May 17th, at the Colonial Highland Gathering in Fair Hill, Maryland, when the band competes against the Grade 2 New York Metro, a band that finished third in the category at the 2013 World Championships, and Ottawa Police Services.

Making the event even more interesting is RSPBA senior adjudicator Joe Noble being flown in by the EUSPBA to judge at Fair Hill. Noble is scheduled to adjudicate the Grade 2 MSR and Medley events.

The RSPBA upgraded the Stuart Highlanders based on the band’s merger with the Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band, which suffered a membership decline in 2013, and the association reportedly had not heard the group recently. Ottawa Police also benefitted from a merger, when it combined with the Grade 2 Glengarry Pipe Band in 2011.

“As I said before, the Stuart Highlanders are still graded 2 in the EUSPBA,” president Eric MacNeill said, “and I know the two bands plan to compete again each other locally at several games throughout the year as both bands gear up to travel to Scotland in August. There is a history of EUSPBA grade 1 and 2 bands regularly playing against each other at local games in recent years to give everyone some competition.”

When asked if his band would indeed compete against a band designated Grade 1 by the RSPBA, New York Metro Pipe-Major Mike Mahoney said, “We will definitely . . .

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RSPBA moves Stuart Highlanders to Grade 1; still in Grade 2 with EUSPBA

Published: May 13, 2014

The RSPBA has, unsolicited, upgraded the Stuart Highlanders of Massachusetts to Grade 1, the band recently learned after entering for the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships in Grade 2.

“I can confirm that the RSPBA has upgraded us this season,” said Stuart Highlanders Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway, “and while we did not request the upgrade, the band is humbled and honoured to be a part of the association’s top tier of bands.”

The band merged with the now defunct Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band of New York, and it is thought that the combination of the two bands brought about the Scottish association’s decision to place the band in Grade 1.

The Stuart Highlanders’ home association, the EUSPBA, was unaware of the upgrade, and was not consulted by the RSPBA. The band will remain in Grade 2 in the EUSPBA.

“Stuart Highlanders are Grade 2 in the EUSPBA, and as our season has not yet started yet, we have no plans to change that grading for 2014,” said EUSPBA President Eric MacNeill. “Adam Holdaway is a member of our Music Board and grading committee and we intend to work with him on this matter. At the moment, I foresee an excellent competitive push between New York Metro and Stuart Highlanders locally, and I think that will be to the benefit of both bands as they prepare to travel to Scotland in August.

“The EUSPBA was not consulted about the RSPBA grading.  However, we are not under any obligation to also re-grade any band. Whenever a band travels to Scotland, they must be prepared to be graded by the RSPBA.  It’s their event, so it’s their rules.  I think bands that plan to attend understand that.”

According to a source close to the band, who requested anonymity, the Stuart Highlanders have appealed the decision of the . . .

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TIP OF THE DAY
Mid-section plares: Always carry two pairs of mallets, keeping the spare set bone-dry. Regardless of the amount of practice or preparation you make before a competition, weather willáreact with your cords and mallets and subsequently adversely effect your ability to flourish efficiently. Bad weather can’t be avoided, poor preparation for the conditions can.
Scott Currie, SC Drumming, Uddingston, Scotland

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