Trailing Drones: Burning romance, The Fonz, Dixieland jazz and more . . .

Published: December 8, 2014

Harry’s been warming himself at the fire, which is an environmentally sensitive, high-efficiency, wood-burning stove that burns the family’s recycled paper. And does Harry have paper! First off, there is about 15 years’ worth of wee digest editorial, and then there are the years’ of adjudication sheets from the local games, where “experts” don’t always appreciate the full genius of Harry’s musicality. If you’ve got paper stocks of your own to use, Harry recommends this site for a little pre-reading, but be cautious when you do the mixing – the smell is unbearable. Harry saw some pretty toxic material in those old rags.

The fire’s going, a dram in hand, and Harry turns back to the Glenfiddich [See what he did there? The dram? The Glenfiddich?] and just has to say what a brilliant day of music that was. The live stream, which sounded fine despite Henrietta in the background grinding walnuts for the coffee cake, was again just a joy for the punters who couldn’t be there, and it seems to have enlivened the crowd at Blair Atholl, too. The near-ubiquitous Bob Worrall provided excellent insight and commentary, and only slipped once or twice into band-speak. Well done to Glenfiddich and the National Piping Centre too, for using the LiveStream as a fundraiser for the P-M Donald MacLeod Memorial competition.

Harry loves to see events supporting other events. As Yuletide approaches, bands need to know the roster, and now’s the time when there’s a bit of movement among rosters, especially in AU/NZ as the annual guest player frenzy will be heating up for the season there.

Donald MacPhee, heading for RSPBA panel?

Harry sees that Donald MacPhee will be retiring from Field Marshal Montgomery after some pretty great years with the band. Seems as though he might be missing a pretty big concert in 2016, but I suppose time will tell, and Donald’ll be that busy writing sheets for the RSPBA, he won’t have time to worry about it. Seriously, Mr. MacPhee is one of piping’s really good guys, and him coming on the panel anywhere should be a great addition to balanced and fair.

Big Donald’s from the Deep South (via Detroit Rock City), and Harry hears rumblings from Dixie about a few bands hoovering up players from the lower grades to make a few Grade 3 “superbands” (yes, apparently Grade 3 bands are now aping Grade 1 bands with massive rosters soaking up players from Grade 2). A number of Grade 5 and Grade 4 bands are simply folding in the southeastern USofA. I have to ask Why, why, why is this happening? Little fish, meet wee pond, I guess. Look away, look away, look away . . .

The RSPBA has apparently appointed a Music Board caretaker for piping, drumming, ensemble and drum majoring – a “go to” person to deal with discipline and other items. Names mentioned include Peter Snaddon (piping), Gordon Lawrie (ensemble) and Gordon Craig (drumming). The venerable John Wilson is the new RSPBA Music Board Chair, with Joe Noble and Vice-chair and Robert Mathieson as Secretary.

A. John Wilson‘s name has also come up as the possible new Principal of the College of Piping in Glasgow, and while Harry’s a little miffed he didn’t get the nod, he supposes that’ll be a breath of fresh air for all concerned. Like The Fonz used to say, Heeeeyyyyyy!

Speaking of Spongey, we were reminded of him and his Polkemmet band of the mid-1980s breaking “Itchy Fingers” into the top of the charts for the first time with this wee gem.

That was like a Bad Romance.

Get those tunes and scores learned, decide on the new solo tunes for 2015, and get stuck in for the winter months by the new fire. And, remember, send your burning questions, news and coal-scuttlebutt to


Piping Centre and College of Piping getting together

Published: December 6, 2014

The College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts of Canada is making news again, this time announcing a collaboration with the National Piping Centre on a week-long sumer school in July 2015 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

It marks the first time that two major organizations dedicated to teaching piping have combined. The school will run from July 5th through 10th, with piping, drumming and pipe band classes and workshops on offer. According to organizers, pipe band workshops will probably be customized according to the needs of interested bands.

“Ever since I started here at the College I’ve been wondering about a collaboration, and Karen Hatcher and I threw around the idea from time to time,” said James MacHattie, Music Director at the College. “In August we sat down with [National Piping Centre Director] Roddy MacLeod in Glasgow to see if we could make a partnership work. He was very open to the idea, and we’ve struck an agreement to join forces and run a school jointly.”

Several National Piping Centre instructors will come to Summerside to join with College of Piping staff.

“I’m pretty excited for this,” MacHattie continued. “I love the idea of two organizations committed to instruction getting together, supporting each other and presenting a strong combined product.”

The College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts of Canada was started in 1990. Among other early achievements under its first director, the late Scott MacAulay, the college had the foresight to secure the URL at the start of the Internet boom, despite the College of Piping in Glasgow having been around since 1947.

The National Piping Centre has held several summer schools in the United States, but none so far in Canada.

CoW and Manchester getting together for 2015

Published: December 4, 2014

It’s not a merger, but a “collaboration,” according to both the Grade 3 Manchester Pipe Band and the Grade 2 City of Washington pipe bands from the eastern United States, as they combine for the 2015 season.

The partnership will see the City of Washington Pipe-Major Dan Lyden and Pipe-Sergeant Ben McClamrock provide instruction to the Manchester group, and members of CoW competing with Manchester over the summer.

The move comes after the former Grade 1 CoW was on hiatus in 2014 due to a loss of personnel, following a gradual decline from the band’s stint in Grade 1 in the 2000s.

Manchester Pipe Band at Loon Mountain games, 2014.

According to a statement from Manchester, “the collaboration will accelerate the pace of development within MPB, improving access to high-quality instruction for MPB pipers, and redoubling MPB’s efforts to field a pipe band at the forefront of the grade.”

Each band will continue to run on its own, with individual practice schedules, except for combined monthly weekend practices in alternating locations. Manchester is based in Connecticut, several hours from Washington, DC.

The combined competition group will operate under the Manchester Pipe Band name, in Grade 3, and will be led by Pipe-Major Jared Otto and Leading-Drummer Wes Cole. They predict a roster in 2015 of at least 25 pipers, eight snare drummers, two tenors and a bass.

A source within the band said that 10 to 12 pipers will come into Manchester from CoW, and that the band’s drum section has added former members of the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Toronto Police, Oran Mor and the Stuart Highlanders, as well as a few Manchester alumni who have returned.

PEI College of Piping hoping to secure funding with public support

Published: December 2, 2014

The College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts of Canada is looking to their supporters to help them gain funding to repair the organization’s rapidly corroding Mary Ellen Burns Amphitheatre, site of many events throughout the year, including its annual Highland Storm summer production, a primary source of revenue.

The College of Piping’s theatre is under constant repair.

The Summerside, Prince Edward Island-based college is part of a contest for funding, put on by Aviva Insurance, in a public-vote competition called the “Aviva Community Fund.” Organizations across Canada make a push for votes for their idea, and the College’s need is to upgrade its indoor-outdoor theatre.

The final round of voting started on December 1st and runs until December 10th. Supporters are permitted to vote once per day per email address at the contest website.

“[We’re] confident that we can make it through this round with the support of the greater pipe band community,” said James MacHattie, Music Director at the College. “The only investment asked is a few minutes to register and to vote daily.”

The College of Piping Pipe Band performing at the theatre in the summer.

MacHattie added that the 350-person-capacity theatre’s structure is metal, covered by tent panels in the summer, but the that “the panels have been repaired and patched as much as they can be – and yet the ceiling leaks, which is a concern for the light and sound equipment, let alone the performers moving about the stage. Spectators don’t usually like unexpected drips either. The seats are wooden benches with cushions on them. The backs are stiff and bolt upright. The theatre is old, and the amount of volunteer and staff hours put into simply maintaining it each year is finally unsupportable.”

MacDougall, Stewart take top trophies at Shotts Junior Championship

Published: November 30, 2014

Shotts, Scotland – November 29, 2014 – The first annual Shotts & Dykehead Junior Piping & Drumming Championship was held at Calderhead High School in Shotts. pipes|drums made a cash contribution, sponsoring the 18 and Under and 15 and Under overall trophies, which were won by Cameron MacDougall and Donald Stewart, respectively. Each first prize winner also received a one-year subscription to the magazine.

The competition is put on with the assistance of North Lanarkshire Council, and was judged by several  piping Gold Medalists and World Solo Drumming Champions.

“When we set out organizing this event, I think we all concentrated on getting the thing to run smoothly from a competitor’s point of view and making sure that everyone had the best experience on the day,” said Ewan McAllister of Shotts & Dykehead. “What we didn’t fully appreciate until after the event is the actual cost of hosting it. Without the fantastic support of North Lanarkshire Council, pipes|drums, Scott Currie Ltd., Jim Kilpatrick Percussion, TyFry Ltd. and many others, financially, these events would simply not be viable. Hopefully, we have established a strong enough brand and with [continuing] support . . . can make it last for at least a few years.”

Solo Piping
18 and Under
1st Cameron MacDougall
2nd John Drew
3rd Fraser Hogg
Judges: Glenn Brown, Finlay Johnston

1st Cameron MacDougall
2nd John Dew
3rd Gregor Stewart
4th Andrew Hutton
5th Fraser Hogg
Judges: Glenn Brown, Ryan Canning, Finlay Johnston

Slow Air (Two Parts)
1st Calum Ramsay
2nd Harrison Bishop
3rd Robert Mitchell
4th Amy McIntyre
5th Leah Harvey
Judge: Ryan Canning

1st Craig Peters
2nd Calum Ramsay
3rd Cameron Cleland
4th Ailidh McDermid
5th Nicholas Knowles
6th Simon McAlphine-Scott
Judge: Ryan Canning

15 and Under
1st Angus MacPhee
2nd Donald Stewart
3rd Bethany Hanley
4th Lewis Russell
5th Holly Frelander
6th Jordan Ednie
Judges: Chris Armstrong, Callum Beaumont

1st Lewis Russell
2nd Donald Stewart
3rd Jamie Campbell
4th Paul Christie
5th Holly Fredlander
6th James Miller
Judges: Cameron Drummond, Peter Hunt

Ground of Piobaireachd
1st Brodie Watson-Massey
2nd Blair Dickinson
3rd Paul Christie
4th Douglas Mair
5th Jack Smith
6th Cameron MacLeod
Judges: Chris Armstrong, Callum Beaumont

Solo Drumming
18 and Under
1st Chloe Taylor
2nd Lachlan Kyle
3rd Rachel Thom
4th Lee McIver
5th Fingal Hall
6th = Niamh Brophy, Rory Power
Judges: Arthur Cook, Jim Kilpatrick

Sticks & Pad
1st Jack Menneer
2nd Heather Dillon
3rd Abigail Hall
4th Millie Wright
5th Sally Weir
6th Caitlyn Malloy
Judge: Jim Kilpatrick

1st Callum Edwards
2nd Conner Hart
3rd Alistair Joyce
Judges: Jim Baxter, Arthur Cook, Paul Turner

18 and Under MSR
1st Rhiannon McAleese
2nd Alison Geal
3rd Heather Nimmo
5th Kirsty Lennon
6th Nicole Kirk
Judges: Amanda Cook, Sharleen Donaldson

15 and Under March
1st Lexy Letham
2nd Kirsty McCron
3rd Phoebe King
4th Joanna Merrilees
5th Lucy Carroll
6th = Jane Mitchell, Katy Robson
Judges: Amanda Cook, Sharleen Donaldson

Do you have competition results? You are invited to send them by email to pipes|drums along with photographs and details of the event. Please be sure to use the format above, and send as a standard text file.

The Style Guy: tassel hassles, willynilly ghillies and back in black


Been awhile, and it’s getting to be a long, cold lonely winter, at least for those north of the equator, but me, I’m writing this from my Tahitian beach house, where the national dress is a grass skirt. For those who like to don the tartan, I’m here to address your questions of dress and deportment.

Remember, you, too, can approach The Style Guy with your wonderings of wandering ensemble.

So let’s get right at the letters addressed to me, The Style Guy, shall we?

We shall!

Continue reading

Pipers go back to College for Echoes of Oban

Published: November 29, 2014

Dugald MacNeill of the College of Piping at the 2014 Echoes of Oban recital

Glasgow’s College of Piping enjoyed the strongest turnout of performers and enthusiasts perhaps since the 1970s for the annual “Echoes of Oban” recital, and event that showcases and celebrates prizewinners from the most recent Argyllshire Gathering.

Among the performers taking the College of Piping stage were Roddy MacLeod and Willie McCallum, each of whom had not appeared at any event at the venue for many years

Other recitalists were Cameron MacDougall (winner of the MacGregor Memorial); Scott Barrie (second in the MacGregor); Alistair Henderson (prizes in the A-grade light music); and Craig Sutherland, who won both the March and the Strathspey & Reel A-Grade events.

MacDougall played “The Old Men of the Shells,” starting the tune at the door and making his way up to the stage while playing the ground. Scott Barrie followed with “The MacKays’ Banner,” also without tuning in front of the audience.

Dugald MacNeill (left) presents the College of Piping Services Award to Sandy Grant Gordon of William Grant & Sons.

Light music was supplied by Alistair Henderson with an MSR and a set of six big jigs, before Roddy MacLeod concluded the first half of the evening with the ground of “Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay” and an MSR.

Fear an tighe Dugald MacNeill then presented the inaugural College of Piping Award for Services to Piping to Sandy Grant Gordon, the head of William Grant & Sons, who have supported piping events for more than 50 years, mostly with the Glenfiddich brand.

After the intermission, then second half started with part of the film that was made of the Inveraray & District Pipe Band walking the West Highland Way in 2008. The video was played because Stuart Liddell was unable to attend, and he film included jigs played in a pub in Balmaha at the end of the first day’s walking, and “The Massacre of Glencoe” as the background music farther along the route.

Craig Sutherland continued with two airs and a double MSR, and Willie McCallum rounded off the night with 6/8 marches and an MSR.

Echoes of Oban was an annual event in the 1960s and ’70s, faded out in the early-1980s, but was resurrected about five years ago.

In August of this year, Robert Wallace abruptly left the College of Piping after 15 years, and the organization has continued since without any apparent challenges.



Invercargill on the L-D search again after Esler departs

Published: November 27, 2014

The Grade 1 ILT City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band of New Zealand is looking for a leading-drummer once again after Russell Esler decided to return to Scotland, following only a year in the paid positon.

Pipe-Major Alasdair Mackenzie said that if his band finds the right person to fit into the role he hopes never to have to search again for a lead-tip.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for someone to do a bit of travelling, see the world, inspire youth, do what you love to do for a job and get paid for it,” Mackenzie said. “[New Zealand] is one of the most unreal locations in the world. It would give someone one hell of an opportunity.”

The band is only a year removed from settling on Esler, who emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand following a strong experience with the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band. Esler decided in the New Zealand spring to return to Glasgow and will rejoin ScottishPower under new leading-Drummer Jake Jørgensen, who himself joined the band about the same time following Barry Wilson’s retirement.

ILT City of Invercargill Scottish at the 2013 New Zealand Championships.

“My time in New Zealand was quite an experience,” Esler said. “It is an amazing country and I met some great people who I continue to keep in touch with. I was particularly encouraged with the drive and commitment of the young drummers who were either in the existing Grade 4 or 4B Invercargill Pipe Bands or in earlier stages of development in local schools. I very much enjoyed teaching them and could see that with further development, they would eventually reach Grade 1 standard. The Grade 4 Pipe Band did very well at the New Zealand Nationals in January and this was in no small part also due to the efforts of my predecessor Scott Birrell.”

The Invercargill band is operated with sponsorship from the Southland Piping and Drumming Development Trust.

“I became frustrated because my goals for the competitive side of Pipe Band Drumming seemed to be at odds with the goals of the Trust. Also, locally and indeed further afield, recruiting experienced drummers seemed impossible. However, with the right systems and procedures in place and a pool of drummers to draw upon at Grade 1 level, the potential for a great set up is there.”

Esler added that the band “would have benefited from several more drummers, rather than having to rely on ‘fly-ins’ from other countries at competition time. We did however experience some success at the New Zealand Nationals, coming second in drumming – quite an achievement considering it was the first year at Grade 1. The judges were particularly supportive in our efforts and it was inspiring to get positive feedback and encouragement from them.”

Mackenzie said that the band invites interested applicants for the teaching and leadership position.

“Being distant from family and friends is tough,” Mackenzie said. “[Esler] returned home for personal reasons and so the search again begins. It is however a unique and exciting opportunity for somebody as there aren’t too many jobs like this in the world. Queenstown is like no other place on the planet.”

Drummers interested in the SPDDT job and the leading-drummer position should contact SPPDT’s Allister Macgregor.

ILT is an Invercargill-based non-profit foundation that distributes grants to the community from the proceeds of gaming machines.

Following a number of years with ScottishPower, Mackenzie himself emigrated from Glasgow several years ago to take on the pipe-majorship of Invercargill.

Denver Cardwell, 1943-2014


Denver Cardwell

The prolific RSPBA adjudicator Denver Cardwell died unexpectedly on November 26, 2014, at the age of 71.

A native of Northern Ireland and a resident of Portadown, Cardwell was a member of the now defunct Royal Ulster Constabulary Pipe Band in the 19070s and early-’80s. He joined the judges’ circle in the mid-1980s, and quickly became one of the most active on the panel.

He was often called upon to judge ensemble and, with most high-profile adjudicators of top-grade pipe band competitions, was frequently in the middle of controversy.

After leaving as a playing member of the RUC, he stayed close to the band in advisor and management capacities as the band gained success in Grade 2 and Grade 1 before breaking apart following the departure to Australia of Pipe-Major Nat Russell.

The funeral will be on Saturday November 29th, at the Methodist Church in Holywood, Co. Down, at 10:30 am.

We extend our condolences to Denver Cardwell’s family and friends at this sad time.

World’s percussionists enthralled by pipe band drumming at international convention

Published: November 24, 2014

More than 500 percussionists, including some of the world’s greatest, attended a workshop on pipe band drumming rudiments at the 2014 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis on November 20th, and left impressed and wanting more.

The workshop, entitled “Expanding the Vocabulary – The Scottish Rudiment Project,” focused on explaining specific Scottish snare drum rudiments and showcased their use in non-pipe band compositions, and was run by Michael Eagle, former leading-drummer of the now defunct Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band. Eagle is currently a professional percussionist.

According to Ian Gibson, who is also a professional percussionist as well as the bass drummer and mid-section leader of the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band of Brampton, Ontario, “The workshop was a huge success attracting well over five hundred attendees ranging from college students, professors, industry experts and professionals, including the Principal Percussionist of the New York Philharmonic.”

The Ruff Drags at PASIC 2014 in Indianapolis.

Casey Cangelosi, a renowned percussion composer, performer and educator, and Nick Angelis, a featured soloist with the original cast of Blast and a drum-line educator in the United States, demonstrated at the workshop, which also included a performance by the Ruff Drags, a pipe band oriented drum line that has played at the annual Winter Storm workshop in Kansas City the last few years.

Gibson said that the Percussive Arts Society International Convention workshop resulted in “numerous inquiries from people wanting to learn more about playing in pipe bands.”

The convention is held every year. Details of the 2015 event are not yet known.

Peel Police aims to get a head with bass drum badge

Published: November 22, 2014

The Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band of Brampton, Ontario, wants to flash a new badge next year and is asking the pipe band public for help.

The Peel Regional Police Pipe Band’s 2014 bass drum.

The band is taking the novel approach of putting a new head design out for tender in a contest for “graphic artists, graphic art students, and anyone who has a knack for this type of art work to submit a logo for consideration.”

An older Peel Regional Police Pipe Band logo.

The competition will be judged by the Peel Regional Police Chief of Police and a leadership group from the band.

“We are hoping that you will use your talents to create a new look that is fresh and modern, yet clearly represents our close relationship to the Peel Regional Police,” said Pipe-Major John Cairns. “We are excited about the idea and to see what creative minds who have a knack for this sort of thing can come up with.”

The most recent Peel band logo.

The band said that in designs a reference to Canada would be welcome, and that the design should also be usable in other applications, such as promotional merchandise.

The winner will be decided by January 31, 2015, and will receive $250, a letter of recognition from the Chief of Police, a certificate from the band, band tote bag and other promotional merchandise.

The 40th anniversary logo for the Peel Regional Police force.

The Peel Police band represents the police force for the Ontario region of Peel and its 1.3-million residents. The band has had several bass drum head designs and a few logos over the last 15 years. The image is seen widely around Ontario, as the band is one of the hardest working for its sponsorship, and a musical ambassador for the police force.

The design needs to work with a 30-inch diameter bass drum head and can be tested at a special design website, and must be submitted by e-mail as an Acrobat pdf file by January 7, 2015, with name, address, phone number and email address.

In 2014 the band used the special fortieth anniversary logo of the police force on its bass drum. Ian Gibson is the bass drummer and section leader for the band.






HD videos from the Sherriff Memorial MSR

Published: November 16, 2014

Kevin McLean, winner of the MSR event.

pipes|drums brings readers, viewers and listeners exclusive video of all 10 performances from the March, Strathspey & Reel event at the 2014 George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational, held at St Paul’s United Church in Hamilton, Ontario, November 15, 2014.

We hope that you enjoy these, which are available on the pipes|drums Magazine YouTube Channel as a playlist.

The videos are in order of the five prize-winners in the MSR event, and alphabetically thereafter.

Congratulations to all competitors at and organizers of the competition for their part in delivering another top-notch event.

2014 Sherriff Memorial Champion: Liam Hilder


Liam Hilder, 2014 George Sherriff Memorial Champion.

Hamilton, Ontario – November 15, 2014 – Liam Hilder of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, gained the 2014 George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Championship with a first in the 6/8 March, and thirds in the Piobaireachd and March, Strathspey & Reel events. The Sean Regan won the Piobaireachd, while Kevin McLean took the MSR. It was the nineteenth annual Sherriff Memorial, this year’s event at held at St. Paul’s United Church. The contest is staged by the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario and put on by a team of volunteers led by organizer Bob Worrall. The competitions is supported by many sponsors, including pipes|drums.

Liam Hilder received a full set of engraved pipes from McCallum Bagpipes, airfare to compete in Scotland. Regan was awarded a complete bound Piobaireachd Society Collection from Scott’s Highland Services. For winning the MSR, McLean got a new blackwood Henderson chanter from R.G. Hardie.

In October, Liam Hilder also won the overall award at the Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational, completing a rare double in one year of the world’s two top amateur solo piping competitions.

Sean Regan, winner of the Piobaireachd.

1st Liam Hilder
2nd Kevin McLean, Maple Ridge, British Columbia
3rd Sean Regan, Woodstock, Virginia

1st Sean Regan, “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
2nd Kevin McLean, “The Red Speckled Bull”
3rd Liam Hilder, “The Piper’s Warning to His Master”
4th James Dyson, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart”
5th Tyler Bridge, Guelph, Ontario, “Tullach Ard”

1st Kevin McLean, “John MacDonald of Glencoe,” “”The Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “The Smith of Chillichassie”
2nd Andrew Hutton, Brantford, Ontario, “Major Manson’s March to Clachantrushal,” “Lady Loudon,” “The Brown-Haired Maid”
3rd Liam Hilder, “The Hills of South Uist,” “Delvinside,” “The Sheepwife”
4th Tyler Bridge, “Mrs. John MacColl,” “The Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “Lt.-Col. DJS Murray”
5th Kaitlin Kimove, Stoney Creek, Ontario, “Inveran,” “Tulloch Castle,” “The Cockerel in the Creel”

MSR winner Kevin McLean

6/8 March
1st Liam Hilder, “Fairview Cottage,” “The Trees of North Uist”
2nd James Dyson, “Dornoch Highland Gathering,” “All the Blue Bonnets Are Over the Border”
3rd Tyler Bridge, “Bonawe Highlanders,” “Dundee City Police Pipe Band”
4th Sean Regan, “Dr. Ross’s 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering”
5th Tyler Harris, St. Catharines, Ontario, “MacLeod of Mull,” “Cameron MacFadyen”

Also competing but not in the prizes were Andrew Hahn, Valley Center, California, and Jack Williamson, Topeka, Kansas.

Judges for all of the events were Andrew Berthoff, Toronto; Patricia Henderson, Kirriemuir, Scotland; and Iain MacDonald, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for videos from the MSR competition.

Sherriff strolls into town for 10 top amateur pipers

Published: November 13, 2014

Ten of North America’s top amateur solo pipers are rolling into Hamilton, Ontario, for the 19th annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition on Saturday, November 15th at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

Callum Harper at the 2013 George Sherriff Amateur Invitational.

One of the world’s most prestigious solo contests for non-professional pipers, “The Sherriff” is often a transitional event as they move to the professional or open grade. The 10 contestants are nominated by their home associations and representation is weighted by the depth of competition in their areas.

  • Tyler Bridge, Ontario (Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario)
  • James Dyson, Nova Scotia (Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association)
  • Andrew Hahn, California (Western United States Pipe Band Association)
  • Tyler Harris, Ontario (Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario)
  • Liam Hilder, British Columbia (British Columbia Pipers Association)
  • Andrew Hutton, Ontario (Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario)
  • Kaitlin Kimove, Ontario (Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario)
  • Kevin McLean, British Columbia (British Columbia Pipers Association)
  • Sean Regan, Virginia (Eastern United States Pipe Band Association)
  • Jack Williamson, Kansas (Midwest Pipe Band Association)

There are three events that comprise the Sherriff, beginning with 6/8 Marches at 10 am; Piobaireachd at 1 pm; and MSR at 7:30 pm.

Last year’s Sherriff winner was Aaron Stone of Auburn, Washington, and past winners include Glenn Brown, Faye Henderson and Alex Gandy, all of whom have gone on to successful careers in the Professional category.

The competition is organized by the well-known piper Bob Worrall and team of volunteers. Judges for all events at this year’s Sherriff Memorial are Andrew Berthoff, Toronto; Patricia Henderson, Kirriemuir, Scotland; and Iain MacDonald, Regina, Saskatchewan. Glenna Mackay-Johnstone will be the fear-an-tighe.

The competition is named in honour of the late George Sherriff, who committed much of his life to teaching piping in the Hamilton area.

Videos of MSR performances from the 2013 Sherriff are available as a playlist at the pipes|drums YouTube channel, and the magazine will again brig readers coverage this year’s event.

pipes|drums is once again a financial sponsor of the competition.

SFU getting ready for 2015 Pre-World’s Concert

Published: November 11, 2014

They’re a band that has had their share of adversity over the years, from the sudden deaths of pipers Robert Barbulak and Malcolm Bokenfohr, who were killed in a car accident in 1993, to the loss of Silver Medalist piper Darleen Miharija to multiple sclerosis, and now the fight that piper Andrew Bonar is waging as he recovers from a brain tumour, but it’s with absolute resolution that the six-time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band has named their August 12, 2015, Pre-World’s Concert, “Nous Sommes Prets.”

The traditional Clan Fraser and university motto means “We Are Ready” in English.

Tickets for the concert, as always organized and promoted by the Grade 2 Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band start selling on November 21st directly from the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

The concert will be the first major show under the direction of Pipe-Major Alan Bevan, who took over the band in October 2013, after its first and only pipe-major Terry Lee stepped down and subsequently retired from competition

“[We are ready] is also a reflection of how the band feels as they prepare for the 2015 competition circuit,” Glasgow Skye Treasurer Dougie Orr said.

The 2015 Pre-World’s Concert will be the fourth time that SFU has taken on the show. The band last took the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall stage in 2009, which resulted in a recording. SFU has staged major concerts and recordings at some of the world’s most famous concert venues, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, the Sydney Opera House, and Massey Hall in Toronto.

McWhirter, Kilpatrick, Armstrong win first LIVI INNvitational

Published: November 10, 2014


Steven McWhirter playing in the MSR [Photo: Graham McDougall, Cheez Photography]

Livingston, Scotland – November 8, 2014 – Steven McWhirter of Inveraray & District and Jim Kilpatrick of Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia were the winners of the MSR and Freestyle events, respectively, at the first LIVI INNvitational Freestyle Solo Drumming Competition held at a packed Livingston Inn in Livingston, Scotland. Chris Armstrong of ScottishPower was awarded the MSR piping prize. The Freestyle contest was judged by the audience.

The event was organised by RSPBA adjudicator Jim Baxter, with proceeds going to Enable, a charity for those with learning disabilities and other special needs.

The day culminated with a performance of the famous Alex Duthart fanfare by all of the invited drummers, with Inveraray & District Pipe-Major Stuart Liddell joining on snare.

Snare Drumming
1st Steven McWhirter
2nd Eric Ward, Greater Glasgow Police Scotland
3rd Mikey McKenna, St. Laurence O’Toole
Judges: Arthur Cook, Gordon Craig, Mick O’Neill, Paul Turner

Jim Kilpatrick lights up the Freestyle event [Photo: Graham McDougall, Cheez Photography]

1st Jim Kilpatrick
2nd Aaron McLean, Field Marshal Montgomery
3rd Grant Cassidy, St. Laurence O’Toole

A drum signed by the competitors at the 2014 LIVI INNvitational. [Photo: Graham McDougall, Cheez Photography]

1st Chris Armstrong
2nd Ryan Canning, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia
3rd Stuart Liddell
Judge: Robert Mathieson

Also competing in the drumming but not in the prizes: Gordon Brown, Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia; Grant Cassidy, St. Laurence O’Toole; Stephen Creighton, St. Laurence O’Toole; Russell Esler, ScottishPower; Willie Glenholmes, Cullybackey; Jake Jørgensen, ScottishPower; Andrew Lawson, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia; Chris McNicholl, Inveraray & District.

Andrew Bonar, in his own words


The news of world-class piper Andrew Bonar’s successful operation to remove a large brain tumour have rattled and inspired the piping and drumming world. Many rumours have circulated, and the man himself asked pipes|drums if he could have the opportunity to share his experiences.

Only days after his surgery, Bonar has emerged with what seems to be full cognitive function. His future will depend on further tests and intensive treatments. For now he his resting with his family at home in Surrey, British Columbia.

He said, “If one person could benefit from reading about what I went through, it would be of use for me to talk about it.”

Here, then, are Andrew Bonar’s personal thoughts about the events leading up to, during and just after his surgery.

Andrew Bonar in 1991 when he played with the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders while studying in Ontario to become an air traffic controller.

To clarify the happenings of the past few weeks in my own words, for the past few years, I have been diagnosed with having a head cold. Every day my head felt congested, my ears were plugged, and my eyes felt they were being pushed out from the inside. I have forgotten the sound my alarm clock makes because I wake up in the middle of the night with headaches. No cold medicines ever made me feel better.

In the middle of October, I went to my family doctor complaining that my balance was off. I had starting veering to the . . .

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Andrew Bonar recovering following emergency brain surgery

Published: November 9, 2014

Andrew Bonar in a 2011 photo.

Andrew Bonar, one of the best pipers ever to emerge from North America, is recovering remarkably well following a lengthy operation on November 4th to remove a tumour from the left side of his brain.

After weeks of trying to identify what was causing problems with balance, headaches and coordination, specialists finally diagnosed the tumour. The 48-year-old native and resident of Vancouver was rushed to the complicated procedure, which resulted in removal of a deeply embedded golf ball-sized growth.

Within only days, though, Bonar was release from hospital, having regained balance and coordination, and with what appears to be no loss of brain function.

Bonar competing at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships.

He was able to enjoy the 10th birthday party for his daughter, Kate, on November 8th.

Andrew Bonar is one of the most accomplished pipers to come out of British Columbia. Except for a stint in 1991-’92 with the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders when he was studying to become an air traffic controller, Bonar has been with the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band since 1980, competing at the World Pipe Band Championships 29 times, being in the prize-list 25 times, and winning the big prize with the band six times.

As a solo piper Bonar has captured many top prizes, including the British Columbia Pipers Association Professional Knockout seven times and a record 20 times as a finalist, the MacCrimmon Cairn for piobaireachd four times at the BCPA’s Annual Gathering, four times BCPA Grand Aggregate winner, and in 2010 won the Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting.

Only a few months ago, Bonar competed with SFU at the World Pipe Band Championships, and as a soloist at the Northern Meeting.

Bonar said that he faces much more medical treatment on the road to full recovery, but added, “I still plan on teaching and playing my chanter. While the brain is readjusting, I have no immediate plans to be blowing up the big pipe.”

Bonar is one of the most-liked and smartest people in the piping and drumming world. He has worked as an air traffic controller at Vancouver’s main control centre for aircraft for 20 years.

A few of his extraordinary tricks are the ability to play full tunes backwards and switch hands while playing. Aside from his piping skills, he is celebrated for an uncanny ability to recall minute facts and figures from his 40 years in piping.

On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we wish Andrew Bonar a full and fast recovery.

Worrall, MacDonald made Life Members by PPBSO


Bob Worrall at home with his PPBSO Life Member Award.

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario awarded an Honourary Life Membership to Bob Worrall and Charlie MacDonald at the organization’s annual general meeting in Brantford, Ontario, on November 8th. The award is the highest given by the organization and is specifically for contributions to the PPBSO.

Worrall is known throughout the piping world for his work as a teacher, adjudicator, organizer, host and performer. During his years as a dominant competitor from 1971 to 1984, he won 12 Solo Champion Supreme awards, given to overall competitive success over a season, and he was one of the first non-Scottish pipers to make a strong mark in Scotland, in 1977 winning both the March and the Strathspey & Reel at the Northern Meeting.

With the PPBSO he was instrumental in establishing the organization’s judging accreditation process, which has been used as a model around the world. He served in various elected and appointed positions with the PPBSO, including more than 15 years with its Music Board.

In 1995 he worked to start the George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition, which has become one of the most important events for amateur pipers around the world. The 19th annual “Sherriff” will take place on November 15th in Hamilton, Ontario.

In 1987, Worrall was one of the first non-UK judges to be approved to adjudicate pipe bands in Scotland. Since that time he has been a regular judge at the World Pipe Band Championships, and, more recently, is a frequent adjudicator of top solo piing contests in the UK.

Worrall has taught piping locally to individuals and around the world in workshop settings, with many of his students rising to the top levels of competition. Over the last 10 years he has been a frequent host of piping and drumming events, most noteworthy as co-host of BBC Scotland’s live streaming broadcast of the World Pipe Band Championships.

Charlie MacDonald’s contributions to the organization have involved holding every executive-level position, and was President from 2009-2011. Over the years MacDonald contributed to many important initiatives, including the redevelopment of the organization’s bylaws, moving it to a more professionally structured, business-like entity.

A piper, MacDonald was a member of the Grade 1 St. Thomas / McNish Distillery Pipe Band from the late-1960s to early-1980s, and was pipe-major of the Downsview Pipe Band. He also competed in the Open solo category for many years.

He serves as the PPBSO’s historian, and is known for his attention to detail as the longest-serving member of the organization’s executive committee.

Worrall and MacDonald were presented with their Life Member Awards by PPBSO President Duncan MacRae.


pipes|drums sponsors Shotts Junior trophies

Published: November 6, 2014

pipesdrums-logo-smallThe nonprofit pipes|drums Magazine is stepping up to sponsor two trophies at the Shotts & Dykehead Junior Piping & Drumming Championship on November 29th at Calderhead High School in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.

The hardware for both the overall 18-and-under and 15-and-under solo piping categories will be made possible via a cash donation from pipes|drums, along additional merchandise prizes from sponsors such as Naill Bagpipes and R.G. Hardie.

In addition, all first-prize winners in each piping and drumming event will receive a complimentary one-year subscription to the online magazine. The organizers are not presenting overall trophies for the drumming events, but other trophies for individual contests are being provided by the North Lanarkshire Council.

“We’re always pleased to give back when we can, and the new Shotts Junior event is a perfect fit, and we wish the band and the competitors nothing but success with the contest,” said pipes|drums publisher Andrew Berthoff.

The 2014 Shotts & Dykehead Junior Championship is the first year for the Grade 1 band’s new event.

The sponsorship is the latest contribution from pipes|drums to nonprofit piping and drumming causes, made possible from proceeds from subscriptions to and advertising in the magazine. Other sponsorships include the Edinburgh Local Mod, the Nicol-Brown Memorial and the George Sherriff Memorial.



Shotts on tap for May 2015 Aberdeen concert

Published: November 5, 2014

Shotts_Bucksburn_Concert_Poster_2014_smallThere’s perhaps no bigger turnaround story in pipe bands in recent years than the one told by Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, which in 2012 was on the brink of collapse and in 2014 regained prominence and presence with consistent prizes in RSPBA major championships, including getting in the list at the 2014 World’s.

So it’s fitting that the band’s May 2, 2015, concert at the Aberdeen Music Hall in Aberdeen is called “Reinvented.”

The annual spring concert put on by the Bucksburn & District Pipe Band organization, which comprises a Grade 2 band and a feeder group, has also quickly risen to prominence on the Scottish pipe band performance calendar.

The fifth annual North of Scotland Pipe Band Concert by Shotts follows successful shows by Field Marshal Montgomery, Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and St. Laurence O’Toole.

“Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band are delighted to have been asked to take part in Bucksburn & District’s widely acclaimed, and now annual, Aberdeen concert,” said Shotts Pipe-Major Ryan Canning. “For us, this is the perfect opportunity to get Shotts back on a concert stage for the first time in many years. It’s another big step forward for the band as we work on developing a brand new concert repertoire, which we’re excited to debut in May.”

Canning was made pipe-major of the band in 2012 after the sudden departure of Gavin Walker in July of that year. A native of Northern Ireland, Canning was a member of Field Marshal Montgomery for many years before joining Shotts, bringing with him several high-profile pipers and drummers.

“Every concert to date has given something very special to the Northeast of Scotland and ‘Reinvented’ will be no different with the current World Drumming champions adding to what I’m sure will be extra special for the drumming lovers in the audience,” said Bucksburn President Gus McAskill. “Ryan and [Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick] have reinvented the band and continue to build on their success from 2014 with the band’s first live concert in years. Ryan has given Shotts a new lease of life with his enthusiasm, knowledge and of course his reputation as one of the most popular composers working today. It’s going to be another fantastic night.”

Shotts & Dykehead has not staged a full concert since Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson ran the band, when it regularly performed and recorded new music.

The Bucksburn & District organization is one of Scotland’s longest running bands and a staple in the northeast of Scotland. The group’s Grade 2 and Juvenile bands typically take the stage for part of the concert.

Tickets are priced at £19 and £17 and are available from the Aberdeen Box Office.

Jack Lee wins Bratach; Bruce Gandy takes Gillies Piobaireachd at London

Published: November 1, 2014

Jack Lee

London – November 1, 2014 – The traditional annual solo piping competitions put on by the Scottish Pipers Society of London took place at the Kensington Conference & Events Centre. Jack Lee won the Bratach Gorm, the biggest piobaireachd award of the event, and thus gained an invitation to the 2015 Glenfiddich Championship, while Bruce Gandy took the Gillies Cup for Premier and A-Grade Piobaireachd.

It was the third time in Lee’s piping career that he gained the Bratach Gorm, which is reserved for winners of the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal and other elite events.

Callum Beaumont of Bo’ness, Scotland, was the Champion Pioer of the event, and Sarah Muir of Inveraray, Scotland, won the overall A-Grade trophy.

Noted and applauded by several competitors: adjudicator Ronnie McShannon asked to move to judge a different competition when a pupil was competing in the Bratach Gorm. While the Competing Pipers Association’s policies include asking competitors to govern themselves when competing before their instructor, competitions and judges rarely enforce it themselves. Organizer Roddy Livingstone said that a competitor offered to withdraw from an event when a familiar member was judging, but that judges, too, was able to move to a non-conflicting event.

Bratach Gorm
(Premier Grade)
1st Jack Lee, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, “Lament for the Laird of Anapool”
2nd Faye Henderson, Kirriemuir, Scotland
3rd Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow
4th Glenn Brown, Glasgow
5th Callum Beaumont
Judges: Colin MacLellan, Bob Worrall, Bill Wotherspoon

Gilles Cup (Premier, A-Grade)
1st Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
2nd Iain Speirs, Edinburgh
3rd Roddy MacLeod
4th Cameron Drummond, Perth, Scotland
5th Callum Beaumont
Judges: Ian Duncan, Malcolm McRae, Stuart Shedden

R.G. Lawrie Snuff Mull (A-Grade)
1st Innes Smith, Bridge of Allan, Scotland
2nd Jamie Forrester, London
3rd Bill Geddes, Dumfries, Scotland
4th Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh
5th Peter McCallister, Dunblane, Scotland
Judges: Roddy Livingstone, Tom Speirs

John Roe Plate (B-Grade)
1st Ed McIlwaine, Vancouver
2nd Matt Fraser
3rd Sandy Cameron, Roy Bridge, Scotland
4th Sarah Muir
5th Peter Hunt, Stevenston, Scotland
Judges: Neill Mulvie, Andrew Wright

National Piping Centre Trophy (C-Grade)
1st Bruce MacDonald
2nd John McElmurry
3rd Roger Huth
4th Duncan Beattie
5th Callum Moffat
Judges: Alan Forbes, Ronnie McShannon

Light Music
London Medallion MSR (Premier Grade)
1st Callum Beaumont
2nd Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland
3rd James Murray, Perth, Australia
4th Iain Speirs
5th Bruce Gandy
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Iain MacLellan, John Wilson

J.B. Robertson Rose Bowl 2/4 March (Premier Grade)
1st Douglas Murray, Cupar, Scotland
2nd Andrew Hayes, Ottawa
3rd Chris Armstrong, Airth Scotland
4th Willie McCallum
5th Bruce Gandy
Judges: Barry Donaldson, Andrew Frater

Strachan Cup MSR (A-Grade)
1st Steven Gray, Locherbie, Scotland
2nd Sarah Muir
3rd Graham Drummond, Bathgate, Scotland
4th Andrew Lee Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
5th Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Ian MacLellan, John Wilson

London Scottish Hodden Grey MSR (B-Grade)
1st Ross Miller
2nd Andy Wilson
3rd Calum Moffat
4th Faye Henderson
5th Sandy Cameron
Judges: Barry Donaldson, Andrew Frater

Robert Crabb Memorial MSR (C-Grade)
1st Duncan Beattie
2nd Matt Fraser
3rd Glenn Ross
4th Rachel Corr
5th Jacob Dicker
Judges: Walter Cowan, Tom Johnstone

Mary Flora Beaton Cup Hornpipe & Jig (Premier-Grade)
1st Chris Armstrong
2nd Andrew Hayes
3rd Willie McCallum
Judges: Barry Donaldson, Andrew Frater

Donald Forbes Medal Hornpipe & Jig (A-Grade)
1st Sara Muir
2nd Stephen Gray
3rd Andrew Lee
Judges: Roddy Livingstone, Tom Speirs

Hugh MacMillan Trophy Hornpipe & Jig (B-Grade)
1st David Shedden
2nd Emmett Conway
3rd Anna Kummerlow
Judges: Colin MacLellan, Bob Worrall, Bill Wotherspoon

C-Grade Hornpipe & Jig
1st Fraser Allison
2nd Glenn Ross
3rd Duncan Beattie
Judges: Walter Cowan, Tom Johnstone

May 3, 1976Angus MaPherson dies, Migdale, age 98.
  • Easy prizes, or challenging fun?
    Sun, 19 Apr 2015
    Play easy and boring music well, or play harder and interesting stuff and have more fun? It’s an age-old quandary for lower grade pipers and pipe bands. Almost every judge would say (over and over again), play tunes that your … Co …
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UPCOMING EVENTS May 9, 2015Kiwanis Amateur Piping/Drumming & Mini Band CompetitionLondon Central Secondary School, London, ON

May 9, 2015Bob Worrall RecitalThe London Club, 177 Queens Ave

May 9, 2015Bob Worrall, piper, in recitalLondon, Ontario

May 9, 2015Kiwanis Music Festival Amateur Piping, Drumming & Band CompetitionLondon, Ontario

May 9, 2015Prescott Highland GamesWatson Lake Park Prescott, AZ

Pipers: If you think the low A on your pipe chanter is flat and you want to undercut it, be very careful, as a little bit of undercutting sharpens a lot on the low A. If you undercut too much you can ruin your pipe chanter.
Charley Kron, C.E. Kron Bagpipes