Despite reports, Kilpatrick not joining Vale of Atholl

Published: November 28, 2015

Jim Kilpatrick

The Grade 1 Vale of Atholl has confirmed that Jim Kilpatrick, the former Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and Polkemmet leading-drummer and 16-time World Solo Drumming Champion, will not be joining The band, following some consideration.

Numerous obviously unsubstantiated reports had said that Kilpatrick would be joining the Vale, taking over the leading-drummer role from Alistair “Bongo” McNab, who had held down the spot since 2013.

Rumours have abounded since Kilpatrick departed Shotts & Dykehead under controversial circumstances, Shotts insisting that he resigned, Kilpatrick contending that he was removed. In addition to reports that he was joining Vale of Atholl, other speculation has included Kilpatrick joining a number of bands, including Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, Spirit of Scotland, and an altogether new band sponsored by a wealthy benefactor.

Following Kilpatrick’s departure, Shotts & Dykehead appointed Blair Brown leading-drummer, only to announce on November 16th that he had left the band due to personal matters, with Andrew Lawson taking over the role permanently.

Vale of Atholl confirmed that it is still searching for a leading-drummer, following McNab’s stepping down after the 2015 season. The band has also lost four snare drummers, and recently Pipe-Sergeant Craig Sutherland, who has joined the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University of Vancouver.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for news what band the 59-year-old Kilpatrick joins, if any. He has been unresponsive so far to requests for comment.

Stewies at P+D: Holdaway and Fletcher (HD videos)

Published: November 25, 2015

For those in the northern hemisphere, the cold weather has set in and indoor practices have restarted as pipe bands around the globe work towards 2016. So pipes|drums lights up the hot stove and brings our faithful readers the first in our annual series of pieces from the summer, namely the (usually) annual Pipes+Drums Recital that we sponsor at the Piping Live! festival in Glasgow.

We start the series with performances by the leaders of the Grade 1 Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band of Wilmington, Massachusetts, Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway and Leading-Drummer Scott Fletcher. The Stuarts are one of only two Grade 1 bands from the United States, and this was their second trip to the World Pipe Band Championships in the top grade.

We hope that you enjoy and are warmed by these six videos on the pages that follow from the leaders of one of the world’s top bands.

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Mackay, Chamberlain sweep Balmoral Classic

Published: November 23, 2015

Gavin Mackay accepts the solo piping trophy at the 2015 Balmoral Classic.

Pittsburgh – November 20-22, 2015 – The ninth annual Balmoral Classic United States Junior Solo Junior Bagpiping & Solo Snare Drumming Championships were won, respectively, by Gavin Mackay of Kitchener, Ontario, and MacKenzie Chamberlain of Sarnia, Ontario. Mackay and Chamberlain each won both events in piping and drumming. Twelve pipers and four drummers competed. The competition is produced by the Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming and was held in the McGonigle Theatre, Central Catholic High School, in the university district of Pittsburgh.

Over the weekend, piping judges Bill Livingstone and Bill Wotherspoon and drumming judge Gordon Bell performed in recital, with Wotherspoon giving a talk on piobaireachd at the University of Pittsburgh. McCallum Bagpipes was one of the sponsors of the event.

Solo Piping
1st Gavin Mackay, “Clan Campbell’s Gathering”
2nd Kathleen Brown, “The MacGregors’ Salute”
3rd Stanton Man, “The Park Piobaireachd” (#2)
4th Steven MacDonald, “The Battle of the Pass of Crieff”
5th Colin Tait, “The Big Spree”

1st Gavin Mackay, “Dr. E.G. MacKinnon,” “The Islay Ball, “Kalabakan”
2nd Steven MacDonald, “The Duchess of Edinburgh,” “Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “The Cockerel in the Creel”
3rd Stanton Man, “Leaving Lunga,” “John Roy Stewart,” “The Rejected Suitor”
4th Kathleen Brown, “Stirlingshire Militia,” “The Doune of Invernochty,” “Alick C. MacGregor”
5th Jack O’Connell, “Major Manson at Clachanstrusal,” “Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “Major David Manson”

MacKenzie Chamberlain accepts the snare drumming trophy.

Duncan Bell, Bill Livingstone and Bill Wotherspoon judged both events.

Solo Snare Drumming
1st MacKenzie Chamberlain
2nd Cameron McCall
3rd Jeremiah Whitney
4th Dan Evans

Hornpipe & Jig
1st MacKenzie Chamberlain
2nd Cameron McCall
3rd Jeremiah Whitney
4th Dan Evans

Gordon and Donald Bell judged both events.

Videos: Diepenhorst wins 20th annual Sherriff

Published: November 21, 2015

2015 Sherriff Memorial champion Austin Diepenhorst (right) receiving a set of McCallum pipes from judge Ian Duncan.

Hamilton, Ontario – November 21, 2015 – The 20th annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition was won by Austin Diepenhorst of San Diego against a field of nine others from across North America in the three-event contest. Diepenhorst emerged the winner after winning the March, Strathspey & Reel and 6/8 Marches events. Kevin McLean of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, who won the Piobaireachd and was third in the 6/8 Marches and fifth in the MSR was second overall. The competition is organized by the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario and managed by Bob Worrall. Trish Kirkwood was emcee throughout the day, which started at 10 am and finished around 9:30 pm, and was held at St. Paul’s United Church in downtown Hamilton.

The competition had more than 40 sponsors, including pipes|drums, Iain MacDonald Reelpipes, John Walsh Bagpipes, R.G. Hardie & Co. and McCallum Bagpipes.

1st Austin Diepenhorst
2nd Kevin McLean
3rd Ryan Praskovich, Pittsburgh
4th Tyler Bridge, Guelph, Ontario
5th Andrew Hutton, Brantford, Ontario

2015 Sherriff Memorial competitors (L-R): Sean Regan, Austin Diepenhorst, Kevin McLean, James Dyson, Blaise Theriault, Andrew Hutton, Ryan Praskovich, Jack Toohey, Christian Rhoads, Tyler Bridge.

1st Kevin McLean, “The Groat”
2nd Ryan Praskovich, “The MacGregors’ Salute”
3rd Tyler Bridge, “The Big Spree”
4th Sean Regan, Woodstock, Virginia, “The King’s Taxes”
5th James Dyson, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “Scarce of Fishing”

1st Austin Diepenhorst, “John MacColl’s Farewell to Kilbowie Cottage,” “The Islay Ball,” “The Grey Bob”
2nd Ryan Praskovich, “Knightswood Ceilidh,” “The Piper’s Bonnet,” “Miss Proud”
3rd Christian Rhoads, St. Louis, “Colin Thompson,” “John Roy Stewart,” “Alick C. MacGregor”
4th Jack Toohey, Newberg, Oregon, “Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque,” “Lady Louden,” “Bessie McIntyre”
5th Kevin McLean, “John MacDonald of Glencoe,” “Tulloch Castle,” “The Sheepwife”

6/8 Marches
1st Austin Diepenhorst
2nd Andrew Hutton, “Miss Ishbel T. MacDonald,” “The Price of a Bottle of Beer”
3rd Kevin McLean, “Cameron MacFadyen,” “Jean Mauchline”
4th James Dyson, The MacNeils of Ugadale,” “All the Blue Bonnets are Over the Border”
5th Tyler Bridge, “Bonawe Highlanders,” “Dundee Police Pipe Band”

Also playing but not in the prizes was Blaise Theriault, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

All of the events were judged by Andrew Berthoff, Andrea Boyd and Ian Duncan.

Videos from the MSR begin on the next page.

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Grossart joins Glasgow Police as co-pipe-sergeant

Published: November 19, 2015

Rory Grossaart [photo: Craig Muirhead]

The well-known piper and reedmaker Rory Grossart has left the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band to join the Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band where he will serve as co-pipe-sergeant with Duncan Nicholson, the former pipe-major of the band, who previously handed over the reins to Iain MacPherson.

In Grossart’s pipe band career he had served as pipe-sergeant with ScottishPower under former P-M Roddy MacLeod, and was also P-S with the now defunct Grade 1 Black Bottle Whisky Pipe Band. By joining Glasgow Police, the band has effectively traded one-time pipe-sergeants with ScottishPower in that former Glasgow Police Pipe-Major Donald Mackay is now pipe-sergeant of ScottishPower.

“It’s a great move for the band to have Rory join us,” MacPherson said. “I think that his knowledge of sound and reed manipulation will be exciting for us moving forward. Having Duncan and Rory as joint pipe-sergeants gives us a wealth of technical and musical experience that will make us a stronger in the future. I’m really happy that we are steadily building a team of experienced pipers and drummers that will strive to improve the band for the challenge of next season.”

Grossart is also a successful competition solo piper and the owner or MG Reeds, making both chanter reeds and cane and synthetic drone reeds, working out of the McCallum Bagpipes facilities in Kilmarnock, Scotland. The band has not said whether it will be using Grossart’s products.

ScottishPower Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong also makes a successful line of synthetic drone reeds, but Armstrong said that Grossart’s move was not influenced by the use of products within ScottishPower.

Robert Cupples new PSNI P-M

Published: November 18, 2015

Long-time Grade 1 leader Robert Cupples is the new pipe-major of the Pipes & Drums of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), with seven-year incumbent and 25-year member Colin McClelland stepping down. McClelland will remain with the band.

Cupples was with the band, although under its previous Royal Ulster Constabulary name, serving as pipe-sergeant from 1999 to 2001 when the band was still in Grade 1.  He was Cullybackey’s P-M when the band won the Grade 2 event at the 2007 World Pipe Band Championships, taking the band to Grade 1, before he departed in 2013.

PSNI has lately enjoyed solid success, making the Grade 2 Final at the World’s for several years and finishing fifth in 2015.

Robert Cupples

In an official PSNI release, Cupples said, “It is an honour to be asked to lead the Pipes & Drums of the Police Service of Northern Ireland; I have enjoyed a long association with the band. I want to thank Colin for all his hard work and commitment. He took the band back out onto the competition circuit in 2009 after an absence of several years; he has led the band to success and he delivered the promotion of the band to Grade 2. The band is firmly established amongst the top six in the World in Grade 2 having recorded a 5th place finish at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships and my objective is to take us further. I count Colin as a very close friend and I am delighted that he will remain with us and he will assist me to ensure a seamless transition in leadership.”

McClelland added that “the timing . . . to step aside for Robert is right.  I wanted to stand down as pipe-major at a time when the band was in a position of forward momentum and I feel that we are in that place. The plan is to take the band to a new level and I believe under Robert’s stewardship we can achieve that.”

PSNI numbers with several other highly successful bands based in Northern Ireland, including Field Marshal Montgomery, Ravara and Bleary, which was promoted to Grade 1 following the 2015 season.

Prescription for band headaches with new software

Published: November 17, 2015

Former Grade 1 leading-drummer Ken Constable has launched “MyBand,” an integrated web application designed to provide music groups of all types – including pipe bands – a means to streamline the administrative tasks for a band of any size.

MyBand is a subscription-based application that starts at $15 per month with various selectable components, rising to as much as $70/month for a very large group, or $100/month for an organization with multiple bands.

Constable said that the product (available at, through a secure private network, enables bands to maintain one central list of active members of the organization; post and organize multi-media files like sheet music, score sheets, images  and audio/video recordings; schedule events and view reports on availability of members by member role using an RSVP system; manage inventory such as uniforms and equipment by assigning items to members; manage all communications, including emails to groups within the organization (pipers only, fund-raising committees, midsection, etc.); publish content to a mobile friendly public-facing website.

“Band managers typically have to deal with a lot of administrative nightmares,” said Constable. “Before MyBand, there wasn’t anything on the market that could meet all of a manager’s needs, whether it was communicating with band members, sharing files, managing inventory or planning events. This is the first time that a single, integrated product has come to market that can do it all and can do it well, ultimately saving those band managers a lot of time.”

A professional software developer, Constable has been a member of several top-grade pipe bands, and served as the leading-drummer of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band.

The product has been in beta-testing with several pipe bands in North America since October with favourable results.

Shotts appoints Andrew Lawson leading-drummer

Published: November 16, 2015

The extraordinary story of the redevelopment of 2015 World Pipe Band Champions Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia took another turn, with the band confirming that Blair Brown will not be the band’s leading-drummer going forward.

The band in short order has appointed long-time corps drummer and frequent World Solo Drumming finalist, Andrew Lawson, its new L-D.

Brown and the band agreed to make the change in order for Brown to take care of personal health concerns that have arisen since the announcement of his appointment to the L-D post following the controversial departure of long time L-D Jim Kilpatrick.

Brown and the band made the decision together and amicably. Citing Brown’s privacy, Pipe-Major Ryan Canning did not go into detail.

Andrew Lawson

Lawson, originally from Ontario, Canada, has served as the “number two” in the snare line for many years under Kilpatrick, and . He takes over in the role effective immediately and will be actively recruiting new members for the drum section.

“Whilst pipe bands are something we all take very seriously, health and well-being must always come first,” said Shotts Pipe-Major Ryan Canning. “I fully support Blair in his decision, and we’re all behind him. I am delighted that Andrew has accepted the role of leading-drummer. Andrew is a highly experienced pipe band drummer, and one of the corps’s longest-serving members. I have no doubt he will build and lead a strong and solid back end to complement the band’s existing pipe corps.”

“I am very proud to be the next leading-drummer of Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia,” Lawson said. “I have spent 12 years of my pipe band career in this band and am honoured to help lead it into what I believe will be a very exciting future. I look forward to getting on with the job.”

Jim Kilpatrick (left) and Blair Brown at the 2014 World Championships.

Blair Brown had planned to take up permanent residence in Scotland, moving from his current home in Portland, Oregon. It is believed that he will remain in Portland for the foreseeable future. He is a native of Milton, Ontario, and a Canadian citizen, but has worked in the United States as a drumming instructor.

The announcement follows a continuing ugly dispute over the departure of Kilpatrick. The band and Kilpatrick maintain different accounts of what led up to the 16-time World Solo Champion leaving, the band adamant that he resigned; Kilpatrick insisting that he was removed.

A very public spat ensued and continued on social media, with the Kilpatrick “camp” doing much of the fire-stoking. The band subsequently offered an apology for the way the situation was handled.

The 59-year-old Kilpatrick, who had planned for 2016 to be his final year as a competing drummer, has not said what band, if any, he will join.

Band Chairman Ewan McAllister commented, “Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia has a long and successful history. Andrew will help lead us into the next era in the band’s future. We will miss Blair very much, but we will also keep our hopes up that he is able to return to the band someday.”

The band said that practices are in full swing and that they have turned attention to recruitment of drummers over the winter, and that the pipe section is “completely full” with 26. Interested drummers are asked to contact Lawson directly by email.

The moves are significant for any Grade 1 band, and extraordinary for a reigning World Champion. Shotts & Dykehead essentially had rebuilt itself after Canning took over as pipe-major in 2012 after the band had nearly collapsed following the departure of Pipe-Major Gavin Walker, who ran the band for two years following the retirement of Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson, who had led the band since 1987, winning five World Championships during his tenure.

In late August, before the first announcement about the change in Shotts leading-drummers, the band lost corps drummer Graham Brown, Blair Brown’s brother, to the Grade 2 St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston.

Several hundred pay tribute to Ed Neigh (video)

Published: November 15, 2015

More than 200 people mostly from the piping and drumming rich area of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, that the late Ed Neigh played an important role in creating came out to honour his memory and contribution in a three-hour music tribute on November 15th at Bingeman’s Centre in Kitchener.

Most of Neigh’s family were there along with his many friends, some who travelled from as far away as Chicago, to enjoy a celebration of his life, which came to a sudden end on August 8th at the age of 70 after complications from hip surgery. A tireless teacher, former pipe-major of the Grade 1 Guelph Pipe Band, and recipient of many top solo piping awards, Neigh’s contribution to Ontario piping was profound, and the afternoon, organized by his long-time partner Darlene Carreiro was a fitting tribute.

Ken Eller filled the role of master of ceremonies, keeping the event moving along with recollections of his many years of friendship with Neigh. Eller spoke of various “Ed-isms” that the late piper would use, such as, when speaking to students about note-values: “Those aren’t fly-[droppings] on the music, they’re dots.”

Bob Worrall delivers a selection of tunes.

The performances started with the Grade 2 Paris Port Dover Pipe Band, which Neigh taught, performing with most very young players, then handing things off to Bob Worrall, another of Neigh’s good piping friends, who delivered a fine selection of light music on a sonorous pipe.

Worrall took the microphone to give a remembrance of Neigh, and drew attention to the fact that he was well ahead of his time as a pipe band leader, highlighting that the Guelph Pipe Band was almost half women in the 1970s at a time when most bands at the top level were men-only. Worrall remarked that even Ken Eller’s wife, Diane, a top-flight piper in her own right, played in Guelph because Eller’s Clan MacFarlane Pipe Band had a no-females policy in the 1970s.

Dylan Whittemore, Andrew Hutton and Tyler Bridge perform as a trio, each playing drones once owned by Ed Neigh.

Clasp-winner Jim McGillivray, Neigh’s most famous pupil, delivered a stellar rendition of “Too Long in this Condition.” McGillivray remarked, “I wish I could have a pupil who is half the pupil I was to Ed, but then I realize I wish I could be half the teacher Ed was to me.” Among his comments included a hilarious off-colour anecdote about Neigh’s legendary flatulence.

David Neigh, Ed Neigh’s son, played one of several strong fiddle performances with the Steel City Rovers, with Tyler Bridge, another of Ed Neigh’s pupils on smallpipes. Bridge later joined two more Neigh pupils, Andrew Hutton and Dylan Whittemore, in a great pipe trio, each playing a set of drones that Neigh owned.

Piping legend Bill Livingstone at age 73 was in superb form with a rendition of “Lament for Mary MacLeod,” later saying that he and Ed would discuss piobaireachd “always at full-blast,” and “the pipers on this stage today represent about 200 years of experience . . . which is horrifying.”

Ontario piper Michael Grey offered a short speech about a few memories of Neigh, describing him as “a living, breathing music-machine,” before playing a few tunes.

Jim McGillivray leads the Guelph reunion band out of the hall.

Near the end of the afternoon, David Neigh gave a heartfelt thank you to all attending, and thanked Carreiro “for making him happy and looking after his health in the last years of his life.” He then introduced a special version of the Guelph Pipe Band, which included many members of the original band of the 1970s, including McGillivray, Ellen Mole, Larry Willis and Bruce Anderson, as well as various young Neigh students.

Ken Eller concluded the event with comments, saying, “The world’s a better place for Ed being here, but it would be even better if he were still here.”

Capt. John goes to Drummond

Published: November 14, 2015

Cameron Drummond with the overall trophy at the Capt. John A. MacLellan Memorial Competition

Edinburgh – November 14, 2015 – Edinburgh’s Cameron Drummond was the overall Premier & A-Grade champion at the 2015 Captain John A. MacLellan Memorial Competition held again at the Army School of Piping at Redford. Innes Smith won the top Piobaireachd event, and earns an invitation to compete at the annual Capt. John A. MacLellan Memorial Trust Competition Recital in Edinburgh in August. The Competing Pipers Association also announced its end-of-year results for overall winners of their league table in piobaireachd across events adhering to CPA grading. Greig Canning was the winner in the B-Grade and Jonathan Simpson the C-Grade winner.

Premier & A-Grade
Overall: Cameron Drummond
1st Innes Smith, Glasgow
2nd Jonathan Greenlees, Glasgow
3rd Cameron Drummond
4th Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh
5th Ed McIlwaine, Vancouver
Judges: Tom Speirs, Rab Wallace

1st Cameron Drummond
2nd Steven Leask, Glasgow
3rd Jonathan Greenlees
4th Graham Drummond, Bathgate, Scotland
5th Craig Sutherland, Crieff, Scotland
Judges: Iain MacLellan, Stuart Samson

Prizewinners at the 2015 Capt. John MacLellan Memorial.

B Piobaireachd
1st Anna Kummerlow
2nd Greig Canning, Edinburgh
3rd Steven Leask
4th John Cameron
5th Gordon Barclay
Judges: Bruce Hitchings, Colin MacLellan

1st Graham Mulholland
2nd Andrew Bova, Glasgow
3rd Lachie Dick, Edinburgh
4th Andrew Hall
5th Ross Cowan, Motherwell, Scotland
Judges: James Banks, James Hamilton

Overall: John MacDonald
1st John MacLeod
2nd John MacDonald
3rd Alex Gherig
4th Andrew Bova
5th Jonathan Simpson
Judges: Andrew Frater, Ronnie McShannon

1st Katherine Belcher
2nd Edward Gaul
3rd Jonathan Simpson
4th john Macdonald
5th Gordon Barclay
Judges: Walter Cowan, Barry Donaldson

Open Hornpipe & Jig
1st Steven Gray
2nd Cameron Drummond
3rd Graham Drummond
4th Steven Leask
5th Sarah Muir, Inveraray, Scotland
Judges: Iain MacLellan, Stuart Samson, Tom Speirs, Rab Wallace

Andy White, 1930-2015

Published: November 11, 2015

Andy White in the 1950s.

The famous drummer Andy White died on November 9th at the age of 85. Although he was active in the pipe band scene for many years, he was most well-known for playing with the Beatles on the group’s first single, “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” called in as a session drummer in 1962 when producer George Martin disliked newcomer Ringo Starr’s playing. Starr was relegated to playing tambourine on the record, and White said he was paid earned £5 and no royalties for his work.

White was born on July 27, 1930, in Glasgow, and started drumming with the local Boys Brigade pipe band at age 12. By 17 he was a professional session musician, recording with artists such as Herman’s Hermits, Billy Fury, Tom Jones, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry.

Before moving to Caldwell, New Jersey, in the late 1980s, he played with Alex Duthart’s Grade 1 British Caledonian Airways drum section. In the U.S. he taught pipe band drumming and played occasionally with pipe bands, including the New York City Department of Corrections Emerald Pipe Band. He also was a certified judge with the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, and was a popular figure around the eastern U.S. piping and drumming scene.

At this sad time, we extend our sympathies to Andy White’s family and many friends on their loss.

Toronto’s Yonge St. lined with pipers on Remembrance Day


Toronto’s famous Yonge Street, perhaps the most well-known thoroughfare in Canada, was lined with pipers, stationed at nine intersections throughout the city’s downtown core, to help mark Remembrance Day.

After traffic stopped and Torontonians took a two minutes at 11 am to pay silent respect to those who served and sacrificed their lives for their country, the pipers each played “The Flowers of the Forest.”

“On Remembrance Day, we believe it is important to stop, take a minute and reflect on the sacrifices made by Canada’s war heroes throughout history to protect our freedom and way of life,” said Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area executive director Mark Garner, who organized the tribute.

Former Grade 1 Toronto & District Pipe Band piper Jerry Fulton playing at the 2015 Rememberance Day event on Yonge Street, Toronto.

Pipers played together at the city’s Yonge-Dundas Square and then played at the intersections of Yonge Street and Shuter Street, Dundas Street, Gould Street, Elm Street, Gerrard Street, College Street, Wood Street and Grosvenor Street – a distance of one kilometre.

The foundation for Canada’s strong piping and drumming community was helped significantly by the military, with Scottish regiments in the country ensuring that the pipes and drums were well taught. Many prominent figures in Canadian came up through the Canadian military, which continues today to support piping and drumming, though in a limited capacity.


James Richardson, VC.

The Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, has been awarded to three soldiers for playing the pipes.

George Findlater, Gordon Highlanders, for piping while wounded at the Battle of the Dargai Heights during the Bohr War, on October 20, 1897; Daniel Laidlaw, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, for his gallantry at the Battle of Loos on September 25, 1915; and, the only Canadian-piper recipient, James Richardson, 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. At the Battle of the Battle of the Somme in France on October 8, 1916, the Bellshill, Scotland-born Richardson played his company “over the top” of the trench and continually played his pipes through enemy fire, inspiring fellow soldiers to rush through barbed wire to take an important position.

In Remembrance Day ceremonies in Commonwealth countries throughout the world, the pipes are a prominent aspect of almost every formal tribute, but the Yonge Street tribute is a rarity in that the pipes themselves are the centrepiece of the event. Toronto is the fourth-largest city in North America.


EUSPBA completes first online election of officers

Published: November 10, 2015

The Eastern United States Pipe Band Association has announced the results of what would appear to be the first-ever online vote for executive committee roles, producing a dramatic increase in input from members.

More than 50 percent of the EUSPBA’s 2,800-plus member-votes were cast online, with a total of 1,442 counted. In the organization, solo members have one vote and each member band counts as seven votes. Because of the speed of the process the organization announced the results in advance of its annual general meeting on November 13th, enabling those elected to make travel plans to the meeting in Baltimore.

“We see the new voting format continuing well into the future,” said EUSPBA Vice-President Jim Dillahey. “Not only does the digital ballot save the EUSPBA thousands of dollars in printing and mailing costs, but the number of members voting more than doubled. No ballots were thrown out for being filled out incorrectly and nobody had to find a stamp. The process of the election using the voting program Simply Voting is totally blind in that as the election manager, I couldn’t see the individual votes cast, however I could see who had voted and then send reminders to those who had not voted yet.”

Dillahey said that obtaining valid working email addresses for member “was not exactly a simple task,” but through the effort the organization now has its most up-to-date email database ever, which will allow further digital communication between the EUSPBA members and leadership at the branch and executive levels.

Until now, associations have required members to vote physically at meetings, either in-person or with a member carrying their hand-written proxy, generally resulting in only a small fraction of an association’s membership deciding elected officers and rule and policy changes.

For example, the approximately 1,200-member Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, which requires in-person or hand-delivered proxy voting, saw a total of about 100 combined votes, or a less-than-10-percent of overall membership determining key positions and rules at its 2015 AGM. Among the positions decided at the meeting were President, Vice-President, Treasurer and two Member At Large roles on its executive committee. Numerous rules and policies were also determined by eight percent of members.

The EUSPBA typically sees at most 20 percent of members attend its AGM. The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, with approximately 250 member bands has a stronger percentage turnout, with representation from about 25 percent of them at its AGM. Because the RSPBA does not represent solo players, they work from a one-band = one-vote system.

In the EUSPBA online election, Carole Hackett was elected to the important Officer At Large position, against David Bailiff, James Davidson and Andrew Kerr. Matt Wood and Sheldon Hamblin each stood unopposed for Treasurer and Executive Secretary, respectively, and were reaffirmed.

In the EUSPBA online process, members could only vote for officers. Motions to change rules and policies will still be decided in-person at the organization’s AGM.

A source close to the EUSPBA said that most motions tabled simply go to the organization’s Music Board or Executive for consideration, and generally are then rejected, possibly playing in to the decision not to make motions subject to online voting.

Dillahey said that “the discussion is an invaluable part of the process” when it comes to changes to rules and policies, so the online method would not work when voting on motions from branches.

McCallum Bagpipes out of this world in space tribute

Published: November 9, 2015

Six years after astronaut finalist and 1993 Inverness Gold Medallist Bruce Woodley first posed the idea, a set of McCallum pipes were played in the International Space Station when astronaut Kjell Lindgren played “Amazing Grace” in tribute to the late research scientist Victor Hurst.

According to Kenny MacLeod of McCallum Bagpipes, Lindgren contacted him about the idea more than two years ago, wondering if playing the instrument in orbit might be possible

MacLeod said that the pipes are a production P0 set made from acetyl Delrin, which the company routinely makes. Because of payload weight restrictions, keeping weight down is paramount. The pipes had to go through rigourous NASA testing before they went up.

Astronaut Kjell Lindgren plays “Amazing Grace” in space.

“They are light and can fold away quite small without damaging them, which is what he needed,” MacLeod said. “They were just for the mission and it was just bad timing that their colleague died, but he was taking them anyway.”

MacLeod wasn’t sure if Lindgren started playing specifically for the mission.

The idea of playing pipes in space was proposed by Woodley, who said in 2009, “I think it would be great fun to play bagpipes in space, however it might be a challenge to get a set of bagpipes ‘space certified’ from the point of view of flammability. Also launch costs are high (some estimate north of $25,000/kg) to the space station, thus weight might also need to be reduced to be practical for this purpose. The space station [is] pressurized to 14.7 psi (standard sea level pressure), but the shuttle also has the capability to operate at a reduced pressure (about 10.5 psi, I think) for reasons related to spacewalks. 10.5 psi is equivalent to about 9,000 feet above sea level – think about trying to get a good sound 1,000 feet higher than Vail, Colorado. I believe the Apollo spacecraft were all about 4 psi cabin pressure, or about 32,000 feet above sea level (in 100 per cent oxygen environment) presumably to save spaceship structural weight. I’m guessing if the future lunar spacecraft follow this design, it would be very difficult to play bagpipes and have them sound like anything we hear on the ground without a whole lot of re-design and testing!”

Woodley ultimately was not selected for the program in 2009, and resumed his career as a professor of physics.

Kenny MacLeod added that the pipes might not get back to earth due to further weight restrictions for return flights to Earth. “They might just put them into orbit. That could be interesting if they were found in a few hundred years’ time!”

The pipes were played on the 45th expedition to the International Space Station.

Shotts junior contest inspires tomorrow’s champions

Published: November 7, 2015

Overall 18 and under winner John Campbell

Shotts, Scotland – November 7, 2015 – The Shotts & Dykehead Junior Piping & Drumming Championship grew in its second year, as the event at Calderhead High School attracted strong entries in all areas. The contest has quickly emerged as one of the top events for juvenile pipers and drummers, and a strong contingent of top-flight younger judges volunteered their time for the organization. The band had the World Championship trophy on hand for kids to hold and pose for photos with, providing further inspiration for young players as “tomorrow’s champions.”

pipes|drums contributed trophies for the top overall piping winners as well as a monetary donation, and other sponsors included Asset Guardian, McCallum Bagpipes, Chris Armstrong Bagpipe Products, Niall Bagpipes, Canning Reedmakers, Maverick, Grampian Growers, Roddy MacLeod RJM Chanters, Ace Percussion, Billy Price, Financial Clarity, Blow Pipes and Striking Drum and Graham Brown Percussion.

Overall Winners

pipes|drums Trophy for the Best overall 18 and under piper: John Campbell, Johnstone
Best Placed Piper Robert Clark Memorial Trophy: John Campbell, Johnstone
pipes|drums Trophy for the Best overall 15 and under piper: Finlay Cameron, Dollar Academy

All prize-winners at the 2015 Shotts & Dykehead Junior Piping & Drumming Championship.

Solo piping
18 and Under
1st Connor Jardine
2nd John Campbell, Johnstone
Judges: Michael Fitzhenry, Alasdair Henderson

The pipes|drums trophies.

2/4 March
1st John Campbell, Johnstone
2nd Connor Jardine
3rd Douglas Mair, Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia
4th Robert Dick, George Watson’s College
5th Ben Scott, West Lothian Schools
6th Finlay Frame, Johnstone
Judges: Alasdair Henderson and Greg McAllister

Strathspey & Reel
1st John Campbell, Johnstone
2nd Connor Jardine
3rd Freddie McFadyean, Dollar Academy
4th Douglas Mair, Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia
5th Robert Dick, George Watson’s College
6th Finlay Frame, Johnstone
Judges: Alasdair Henderson, Greg McAllister

Happy winners.

Slow Air
(14 competitors)
1st Evan Smillie, Clyde Valley
2nd Ellie Birch, North Lanarkshire Schools
3rd Melissa Henderson, North Lanarkshire Schools
4th Maisie Biggar, North Lanarkshire Schools
5th Lauren Watson, North Lanarkshire Schools
6th Darci Burns, North Lanarkshire Schools
Judge: Graham Drummond

1st Murray Leven, Strathendrick Association
2nd Harrison Bishop, No affiliation
3rd Maisie Biggar, North Lanarkshire Schools
4th Darci Burns, North Lanarkshire Schools
5th Ellie Birch, North Lanarkshire Schools
6th Melissa Henderson, North Lanarkshire Schools
Judge: Graham Drummond

Calderhead High School was stowed out, so it was.

15 and Under
1st Angus MacPhee, Ross & Cromarty Pipes and Drums
2nd Finlay Cameron, Dollar Academy
3rd Lewis Russell, West Lothian Schools
4th Calum Craib
5th Jordan Ednie
6th Andrew Ferguson, Dollar Academy
Judges: Bill Geddes, Gordon McCready

A few competitors with the World’s trophy, and everyone got something for just participating.

Ground of Piobaireachd
1st Ruaridh McIntyre, City of Edinburgh Schools
2nd Rebecca Anne Paterson, Dunoon Grammar School
3rd Max Grieve, George Watson’s College
4th Andrew Knowles, George Watson’s College
5th Hazel Whyte, North Lanarkshire Schools
6th Ben Traynor, City of Edinburgh Schools
Judges: Bill Geddes, Gordon McCready

1st Finlay Cameron
2nd Lewis Russell
3rd Calum Craib
4th Angus MacPhee
5th Jordan Ednie
6th Jamie Niall Campbell, Dunoon Grammar School
Judges: Cameron Drummond, Finlay Johnston

Strathspey & Reel
1st Lewis Russell
2nd Finlay Cameron
3rd Angus MacPhee
4th Andrew Ferguson
5th Calum Craib
6th Jamie Niall Campbell
Judges: Cameron Drummond, Finlay Johnston


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PPBSO brings in new prez; Freestyle toast; transfer period in


After the RSPBA and Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario in the world’s third-largest piping and drumming organization with approximately individual 1,200 members, and its 2015 annual general meeting saw about 30 turn up in-person, and about 80 proxy votes sent in to decide various roles, rules and policies at the Best Western motel in Brantford, Ontario.

Leading the developments were election of officers, and Chris Buchanan was acclaimed president, being the only one to stand. Two-term incumbent Duncan MacRae did not accept a nomination from the floor, so Buchanan, a piper who was vice-president of the organization for the last year, will serve a two-year term.

The gathering at the 2015 PPBSO AGM in Brantford, Ontario.

With the vacancy left in the vice-president position, former president Charlie MacDonald was elected to the role to finish the current term, defeating Matt Kiegelmann, pipe-major of the Grade 4 Barrie Pipe & Drums, in a vote. Incumbent treasurer John Allen was reappointed to the role, also by acclimation.

Kiegelmann and Eric Froats, a drummer, were appointed by acclimation to the two open Member at Large positions with the organization.

Only two motions put forward by branches were passed. The solo piping Professional Freestyle event was soundly eliminated by a unanimous vote. PPBSO Music Committee Chair Peter Aumonier had reported that a survey of solo Professional solo pipers earlier in the year showed that the Freestyle event was “almost 100%” disliked. The organization will bring back either a Jig or Hornpipe & Jig event at all contests.

The original intention of the Freestyle event was to encourage competitors to be creative, allowing them to play essentially whatever they wished in a two-to-four-minute timeframe.

Also passed at the meeting was a motion that will determine a minimum period of time for a member of a band to transfer to another: “A player registered with one band may transfer to another band within the period of registration. All transfers must be declared to the administrator in writing at least XX days prior to the first contest in which that player will compete with the gaining band.” The organization will determine the actual length of time, likely in sync with the RSPBA’s likely move to 21 days from its current 14. The PPBSO has not had a defined transfer window before.

In his report, MacRae said that the RSPBA will be implementing a new roster-checking system likely based on the PPBSO model as the former organization continues its crackdown on players “parachuting in” for big contests, primarily the World Championships. The RSPBA, he said, will work with associations around the world in an attempt to verify that players on competing bands’ rosters are within the rules.

MacRae also reported that the PPBSO has decided that gaining official status as a charity was determined “At this time not in the best interests of the society.” The investigation on whether to become charitable has been on table for at least 15 years.

He said that there was a “critical shortage of judges” in 2015, so the organization will appoint a “Chief Certification Examiner” from the existing pool of judges who will help to maintains certifications, reports to the PPBSO Music Committee on judging needs and oversee processes.

In Aumonier’s report he also discussed the shortage of available judges and that the group will review the existing eligibility requirements and certification process for new PPBSO adjudicators.

Aumonier added that he will step down as chair of the Music Committee.

The two-and-a-half-hour meeting concluded with a solid round of applause for out going President Duncan MacRae.

Flanders fields fourth annual trio event

Published: November 6, 2015

Going by the increasing number of events and interest in piping and drumming, there might not be a faster-expanding scene in the world than continental Europe, and the fourth annual Trio Piping Competition, presented by the Flanders Red Cross Pipe Band, will happen in Hamme, Belgium, on March 12th, with events for all grades.

The competitions is a rare format: three pipers in each competing group, each trio presenting their knee-quaking selections before critical ears, where every slip is that much more magnified.

“With just three pipers on the stage, there is nowhere to hide,” commented Andrew Thierney, pipe-major of the Grade 3 Belgium Blend Pipe Band.

The trio event has seen around 20 performances through the grades, from an average of eight different bands, mainly from Belgium and The Netherlands putting in their combinations of three.

The Flanders Red Cross band organizers hope to expand the 2016 event with more entrants in the upper grades and the Open category, even though there are only five bands in the BENELUX region capable competing at Grade 3 or better.

The Belgium trio contest coincides with the Copenhagen Winter Competition on March 12th and 13th.

Highland piping and drumming have had a decent presence in continental Europe primarily since after World War II, but in the last 10 years have seen expansion, with Brittany by far being the greatest exponent of high-quality playing. Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany is so far the first and only Grade 1 band from non-British Isles Europe.

Copenhagen contest offers £1,000 prizes

Published: November 3, 2015

The Copenhagen Winter Competition has been running for at least 40 years and now, with new leadership, is greatly increasing prize money in the hope of attracting more attention and entries from top-tier competitors.

Under the direction of new chair Bernard Bouhadana, the Danish contest will offer £1,000 each for the top aggregate solo piper, snare drummer and tenor drummer at the March 12-13, 2016, contest, making among the richest prizes, not only in Europe, but the world.

McCallum Bagpipes will also contribute more than £1,000 in merchandise that will be awarded to prize-winners.

“Denmark would not be the first country to spring to mind when listing the world’s foremost bagpipe-playing nations,” Bouhadana said, “and with good reason since the Danish pipe band scene has mostly been what you would expect: half a century of about a dozen bands of relatively little import in the grand scheme of things. Only time will tell if Denmark will one day be cited as a great piping and drumming nation, but it seems more likely today than it ever has.”

The picturesque and happy city of Copenhagen in winter.

The contest will also offer accommodation on-site for as little as £14 to sweeten the deal for those travelling to the event.

Denmark has not produced many competition pipe bands, but this year the Grade 2 Balagan Pipe Band was started by Bouhadana, attracting players from mostly from Europe and around the world, ostensibly to compete at the World’s, where it qualified for the Grade 2 Final and finished ninth overall.

Denmark was determined to be the happiest country on earth, according to the 2013 World Happiness Report.

All-star drummers added to Live In Ireland 87 In Scotland cast

Published: November 2, 2015

A cadre of pipe band snare drummers with nearly 20 World Solo Championships between them have been confirmed for the January 30, 2016, “Live In Ireland 87 In Scotland” concert, joining Leading-Drummer Reid Maxwell at the centre of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall stage.

Gordon Brown (Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia), Stephen Creighton (St. Laurence O’Toole), Jim Kilpatrick, (ex-Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia), Paul Turner (ex-Dysart & Dundonald, ex-Vale of Atholl), and Eric Ward (Greater Glasgow Police Scotland) have each joined the concert, which reprises the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band’s vaunted 1987 show in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, which was recorded, resulting in Live In Ireland, probably the most successful competition pipe band album of all-time in terms of sales.

Bill Livingstone, the pipe-major at the 1987 concert, returns to lead the 29th anniversary show. At age 73, Livingstone is a member of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band, which he joined in 2011 after departing the 78th Fraser Highlanders, which he had led since 1980.

Those already committed to the event include, on the piping side, Tom Bowen, Ross Brown, Iain Donaldson, Bruce Gandy, Michael Grey, Gordon MacRae, Brian Pollock and Jake Watson, who played in the original concert; several current pipe-majors of Grade 1 bands: Ryan Canning (Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia), Stuart Liddell (Inveraray & District), Roddy MacLeod (Spirit of Scotland), Sean McKeown (Toronto Police), Richard Parkes (Field Marshal Montgomery), Alen Tully (St. Laurence O’Toole); and a number of piping personalities such as Bernard Bouhadana (P-M of Grade 2 Balagan), Ian Duncan (former P-M Vale of Atholl), Jenny Hazzard (a 78th Fraser Highlanders member in the 1990s), Ian K. MacDonald (former P-M Toronto Police), Duncan Nicholson (former P-M and current pipe-sergeant Greater Glasgow Police Scotland), Terry Tully (former P-M St. Laurence O’Toole) and Ross Walker (former P-M Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia).

Drummers from the 1987 concert include Sean Allan, Scott Brown, Stu Liddell and Tim Murphy, and Gavin MacRae, Grant Maxwell, Steven McWhirter (Inveraray & District)a and Duncan Millar had already committed to the event.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to participate in the ‘Live In Ireland 87’ concert which is one of the all-time great, if not the all-time greatest, pipe band live recording,” McWhirter said. “I’ve been the butt of many J. Reid Maxwell jokes for not attending the 1987 concert as a Ballymena man – but like to remind him I was only four years old. I lived only three miles from the concert venue so when the opportunity came up to participate how could I say no! Playing alongside the original band members who made this great recording is one thing, but playing alongside the all-star cast is going to be something that I hope will be remembered and continues to shape the pipe band movement for a long time to come.”

A photo from the original 1987 78th Fraser Highlanders concert in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

The concert is part of the annual Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, but is funded primarily through crowd-sourcing, with participants paying their own way to travel to the event, which reportedly will be preceded by several days of rehearsals in Glasgow.

John Wilson and Bob Worrall are reportedly on board as co-hosts of the concert.

Less than three-months out, organizers said the ticket sales in the “main area” are more than half-sold. Tickets are priced from £14 to £17.

It is not known if the concert will be a faithful reproduction of the 1987 version including solo spots or if it will expand with different content. The most celebrated piece from Live In Ireland was the Canadian jazz composer Don Thompson’s “Journey To Skye,” which he wrote expressly for the band.

The question as to what the group will wear remains – whether somehow gathering together enough of the original iconic bright orange 78th Fraser Highlander tartan kilts (a tartan currently worn by the Grade 3 Atlanta Pipe Band), abandoned by the band in 1998 in favour of a new 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band tartan which the competing band wears today, or something entirely different.

The group will play chanters provided by McCallum Bagpipes and reeds from David Chesney.

Glenfiddich behind the scenes: p|d pics and a vid

Published: November 1, 2015

Thanks to the live-streaming of the Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championships, the whole world can hear and see the contestants and their performances at the world’s most prestigious Highland piping competition.

This year the good people who organize the event offered pipes|drums exclusive access to what goes on behind the scenes at Blair Castle. So we purchased tickets, took time off of work (we don’t do all this stuff for a living), packed up our gear, got on a few planes and arrived in our jet-lagged state to take in the day-and-a-half of events in Pitlochry and Blair Atholl.

The result is a special video and photos that offer pipes|drums readers a special glimpse at the event, the venue, the hall, the corridors of Blair Castle, the tuning rooms, the judges, the stewards and of course the competitors.

If you enjoy the video and photos even half as much as we enjoyed the in-person experience of the Glenfiddich weekend, we will be pleased, so please use our various comments systems to let us know.

Our thanks to Glenfiddich organizer, and 2015 special Balvenie Medal recipient, Liz Maxwell and her excellent team for her help and hospitality, and congratulations to all stewards and competitors on what is certainly the world’s greatest solo piping event.

Blair Castle on a fine autumn day.


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Roddy MacLeod: Bratach Gorm number seven

Published: October 31, 2015

London – October 31, 2015 – Roddy MacLeod of Glasgow won his seventh Bratach Gorm at the annual Scottish Piping Society of London competitions at the Kensington Conference & Events Centre, the 76th anniversary of the contest. Competitors in the Bratach Gorm, which is reserved ostensibly for Highland Society of London Gold Medallists, were required to submit tunes from a special list of “modern” piobaireachds, and as a result the entry was far smaller with only six competing. Contestants were given the tune they would play on Wednesday of last week. Chris Armstrong of Airth, Scotland, took home the Gillies Memorial cup for the Open Piobaireachd. With the win, MacLeod gains an invitation to the 2016 Glenfiddich Championship. Greig Canning was the overall winner of the B-Grade events and Ross MacKay the same in the C-Grade.

Bratach Gorm (six competed)
1st Roddy MacLeod, “A Son’s Salute to his Parents”
2nd Gordon Walker, Moscow, Scotland
3rd Callum Beaumont, Bo’ness, Scotland
4th Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland
Also competing: Glenn Brown, John-Angus Smith
Judges: Neill Mulvie, Jack Taylor, Bill Wotherspoon

Open Piobaireachd (William Gillies Memorial)
1st Chris Armstrong
2nd Roddy MacLeod
3rd Cameron Drummond, Edinburgh
4th Willie McCallum
5th Jamie Forrester, London
Judges: Roddy Livingstone, John Wilson, Andrew Wright

Premier and A-Grade
(London Medallion / John MacFadyen Quaich)
1st Callum Beaumont
2nd Willie McCallum
3rd Cameron Drummond
4th Roddy MacLeod
5th Glenn Brown, Glasgow
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Walter Cowan, Bob Worrall

March (J.B. Robertson Rose Bowl)
1st Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland
2nd Gordon Walker
3rd Callum Beaumont
4th Cameron Drummond
5th Chris Armstrong

Hornpipe & Jig (Mary Flora Beaton Cup)
1st Cameron Drummond
2nd Alasdair Henderson
3rd Callum Beaumont

Piobaireachd (Snuff Mull)
1st Cameron Drummond
2nd Alasdair Henderson
3rd Derek Midgley, New Jersey
4th Innes Smith
5th Peter McGregor
Judges: Tom Johnstone, Ronnie McShannon

MSR (Strachan Cup)
1st Steven Leask
2nd Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh
3rd Ben McClamrock, Baltimore
4th Ross Miller
5th Ashley McMichael
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Walter Cowan, Bob Worrall

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Steven Leask
2nd Ross Miller
3rd Ashley McMichael
Judges: Euan Anderson, Andrew Frater, Iain MacLellan

1st Xavier Bouderiou, Brittany
2nd Greig Canning, Edinburgh
3rd Ben McClamrock
4th Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh
5th Ross Cowan, Annan, Scotland
Judges: Archie MacLean, Rab Wallace

1st Lachie Dick, Edinburgh
2nd Callum Moffatt
3rd Greig Canning
4th Andrew Hall
5th Graham Mulholland
Judges: Euan Anderson, Dixie Ingram, Colin MacLellan

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Calum Watson
2nd Callum Moffatt
3rd Andrew Wilson

1st Ross MacKay
2nd Graham Mulholland
3rd Jonathan Simpson
4th John Mackey
5th Callum Carswell

1st Alasdair Donaghue
2nd Eddie Gaul
3rd Ross MacKay
4th Katherine Belcher
5th Craig Holsquist

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Alasdair Donaghue
2nd Greg McAllister
3rd Andrew Bell

Fredericton back at it in 2016 with Gallant in charge

Published: October 29, 2015

Often the dreaded “hiatus” word can be a death-knell for competing pipe bands, but the Grade 2 Fredericton Society of St. Andrew of New Brunswick, Canada, plans to return to competition with a new full-time pipe-major in Chris Gallant.

After taking a break in 2015, the band currently comprises 14 pipers, seven snares, four tenors and a bass, building up its ranks from the organization’s teaching academy. Gallant officially takes over from Derick Wilson, who remains with the band. Another former pipe-major, Gord Perry, has also returned to the band.

Chris Gallant [photo: Matt Carter]

“I am honoured and humbled to take on this responsibility,” Gallant said. “This will be a team approach, and I will draw on the advice of the former [Fredericton] pipe-majors. I am pleased that the immediate past P-Ms are back playing in the ranks as well this fall. I intend to carry their legacy forward, and those of the P-Ms before them, and help bring this band to the successes of the past.”

With currently only one other Grade 2 band – the College of Piping, Summerside – in the Canadian Maritimes provinces on Canada’s east coast, competition is scarce, Fredericton hopes to travel to several events in Ontario or the eastern United States. Although the Atlantic Pipe Band Association has not yet announced regradings, the Grade 3 Dartmouth & District Pipe Band of Nova Scotia is thought to have a strong chance of moving up after finishing fourth in Grade 3A at the World Pipe Band Championships.

Gallant said that the Fredericton Society of St. Andrew is developing new repertoire at “a limited number of engagements and contests for this upcoming season,” and has its sights set on a bigger level of engagement in 2017, in sync with its 90th anniversary.

Chris Gallant’s brother, Justin, remains as leading-drummer.

Muirhead & Songs: new book and gear for ensembles


The well-known Craig Muirhead of Glasgow has debuted Arranged, a collection of arrangements of popular music for the Highland pipes, complete with versions in B-flat and chord charts for playing with other instruments, and has also teamed with McCallum Bagpipes on their B-flat chanter and drone extenders that help to bring the entire instrument in tune in ensemble performance.

Muirhead said that he has exhaustively cleared all of the rights with various publishers to use the music, which includes hits such as “Budapest” by George Ezra, “Cheerleader” by OMI, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” in the 40-song collection.

Muirhead is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Music in Glasgow, majoring in piping, and an accomplished pianist, which has helped him to develop the arrangements. Professionally he teaches piping at the Strathallan School, where he gained the post in 2014. He said that the popularity of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers collective cover band has helped to prompt the idea to put out the products.

McCallum drone extenders

“I often receive requests from pipers across the world to transcribe/arrange popular songs for the bagpipes, but the main inspiration for producing a book like this was the kids I teach at school,” Muirhead said. “Since I started at Strathallan School last year, I realized how many of the young people were inspired to start by the Chilli Pipers and how music such as this can be used as a reward for practicing traditional tunes. I have said in my introduction, that the study of traditional pipe music should not be substituted for the pieces in this collection, but should be enjoyed on the top of your own playing.”

Muirhead has presented each song in pipe notation, then in B-flat, each with chord charts to make it easier to perform as part of an ensemble, “from a performance at a family party, to on-stage with your school band.”

And Muirhead’s teaming with McCallum Bagpipes on the company’s B-flat chanter and drone extenders as a package with the book will be announced. Separately the book is priced at £15 plus postage and packing, McCallum drone extenders at about £22.50, and plastic B-flat chanter £110, blackwood £200. The book, chanter and extenders bundle will be £132 and the book and extenders bundle £32.

Baughman gets the Carnegie Mellon gig

Published: October 28, 2015

Carnegie_Mellon_logoCarnegie Mellon University has hired the Juilliard graduate and former Grade 1 leading-drummer Richard Baughman to be its Drumming Instructor. Baughman, who also has a doctorate in percussion performance from the University of Southern California, has uprooted from his native Los Angeles to move to Pittsburgh.

The university went through a lengthy search for applicants and reportedly gained strong interest in the job, which allows Baughman to teach privately and conduct workshops on his own.

Richard Baughman

“The creation of this new drumming position is a huge step forward . . . and we are thrilled to have secured somebody as qualified as Richard for the role,” said Director Piping Andrew Carlisle. “I am excited that Carnegie Mellon is now investing in a more substantive drumming instructor position that can provide talent, leadership, time and dedication to the band.”

Baughman’s will provide regular instruction to student drummers, directing the university band’s drum corps during practices, performances, and competitions, and will take on a leadership role in building a cohesive and talented drum corps for the Grade 3 band.

Baughman said, “This is pretty much a dream job for any pipe-band-obsessed drummer, which has been my case since I can remember. My work has just started and . . . I am looking forward to a fantastic future at Carnegie Mellon and am excited to hear what will come from the Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums.”

Among the bands that Baughman has played with are Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Toronto Police, 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), and, from 2007-2010, the Los Angeles Scots as leading-drummer.

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The more you play, the better you get; the better you get, the more you enjoy it; the more you enjoy it, the more you play.
Anne Spalding, Broughty Ferry, Scotland