Pick The Glenfiddich Five and win a custom £360 kilt!

Published: October 3, 2015

Hot on the heels of our ever-popular Pick The Six contest for readers to predict the Grade 1 prize-list at the World’s, pipes|drums brings back Pick The Glenfiddich Five, where you can submit your prediction for the final overall prize-list at this year’s Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championship.

At stake is something that will be appreciated by pipers, drummers, enthusiasts and anyone who relishes the garb of auld Gall – a custom made-to-measure heavy-weight handmade kilt generously provided by R.G. Hardie & Co. valued at £360 ($720) from your choice of tartan selected from any of the main UK tartan mills.


And how exactly might you win this glorious prize? Well, here are the rules, so please read carefully:

  • Readers must submit their entry via e-mail – click here. (Please use the template automatically generated.)
  • Entries must list the competitors in their aggregate order of finish – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th.
  • Only one entry per e-mail address and person (all multiple entries from the same e-mail address will be discarded; please don’t try to game the system).
  • In the event of aggregate ties between piping competitors, the Piobaireachd event determines the winner.
  • Submissions must include full postal address.
  • The winning entry must pick the 2015 Glenfiddich Champion – the overall winner of the first-prize.
  • Ideally, the winning entry will pick the exact prize-list in exact order of finish.
  • If more than one entry gets the list exactly right, a random draw will be made.
  • If no entry is completely correct, the submission that picks the first-prize winner and gains the most points from the following system will win: 3 points for choosing a piper in the right spot, and 1 point for including a piper who made the top-five aggregate prize list but not in the correct place.
  • Entries close at 18:00 GMT, Friday, October 23rd.
  • Glenfiddich adjudicators, competitors, officials, people named Bob Worrall, the Duke of Atholl and the duke’s dogs are not eligible to win.
  • The winner will be notified by e-mail and a story will be published soon after. The winner’s name will be withheld, if desired.

As reference, here in alphabetical order are the 10 pipers contending for the prizes at the 2015 Glenfiddich Championship. Readers are encouraged to browse pipes|drums for results from this year’s solo piping events from around the world.


So, be sure to research the players and check out our Big Prizes database for past success at the Glenfiddich and other major events.

Thanks to our sponsors, R.G. Hardie, and good luck to all readers who give our Pick The Glenfiddich Five contest a go – and best of luck to all competitors on October 24th at Blair Atholl Castle. Gi’e it laldy!

Glasgow Police: Nicholson steps down; MacPherson now P-M

Published: September 30, 2015

In a surprise move, the Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band has changed pipe-majors, with Duncan Nicholson leaving the post, replaced by Pipe-Sergeant Iain MacPherson.

The move comes after Nicholson leading the band for five seasons, after being appointed to the job in 2010, succeeding Don Bradford, who had the role for two years following the abrupt departure of Donald Mackay in the middle of the 2008 competition season.

Under Nicholson the band had held its own at major championships, gaining several prizes along the way. The group under Nicholson held a steady seventh or eighth placing at the World Pipe Band Championships, and was eighth overall in 2015. The band has not won an RSPBA major since taking the 2007 Scottish Championship under Mackay.

Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band leaving the arena in the 2015 World’s Final.

Perhaps the biggest playing achievement during Nicholson’s tenure was the band’s staging of its “Ceolry” concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in 2014, and the subsequent release of a commercial recording.

Nicholson also helped to guide the band with Bradford through what was certainly its most tumultuous period, when its very existence was in jeapordy during a particularly rough patch in 2010 and then Scotland’s 2012 transition to a national police force. The band had been on the brink of being shut down altogether due to funding cuts and strategic realignment of the force.

Duncan Nicholson

Nicholson, a serving police officer, will reportedly remain with the band as pipe-sergeant. MacPherson, a native of Benbecula and also a police officer, has been a member of the band for many years, dating back to the band’s glory days under Pipe-Major Iain MacLellan.

“I’ll still be heavily involved with the band as pipe sergeant,” Nicholson said. “[We’re] looking to build a strong team for the future. I have enjoyed being pipe-major and want to thank everyone for there efforts [over] the last five years”

In a media statement, band manager and bass drummer Niall West, said, “Duncan has been an extremely committed and influential pipe-major whose musical and personal attributes have been deservedly recognised not only across the wider pipe band scene and beyond, but also, significantly, by his peers in Grade 1. Current circumstances create an opportunity for the band to take further steps forward through Iain’s leadership. His vast experience, eye for detail and personal drive will assist him greatly in this. Significant musical and technical developments are already ongoing involving Iain, Eric, Duncan and others and we are all looking forward to enhancing the band’s long standing reputation.”

West added that Nicholson suggested the change himself without any prompting.

Top 10 gearing up for 33rd Nicol-Brown Invitational

Published: September 28, 2015

The Nicol-Brown Chalice, awarded to the winner of the Piobaireachd event.

The 33rd Nicol Brown Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition is less than two weeks away as 10 of North America’s top not-yet-Professionals go at it hammer and tongs on October 10th at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Albany, New York, before judge Callum Beaumont.

The contest comprises players from across the continent, put forward by their home association as informed by their competition success over the year.

Competitors at this year’s Nicol-Brown:

  • Maeghan Bielski, Middleboro, Massachusetts, EUSPBA)
  • Tyler Bridge, Guelph, Ontario (PPBSO)
  • Allyson Crowley-Duncan, Latham, New York (EUSPBA)
  • James Dyson, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (ACPBA)
  • Andrew Hutton, Brantford, Ontario (PPBSO)
  • Kevin McLean, Maple Ridge, British Columbia (BCPA)
  • Christian Rhoads, St. Louis (MWPBA)
  • Blaise Theriault, Halifax, Nova Scotia (ACPBA)
  • Laureano Thomas-Sanchez, Cleveland (EUSPBA)
  • Jack Toohey, Newberg, Oregon (BCPA)

Dylan Chrismer, Alta Loma, California (WUSPBA) and Sean Regan, Woodstock, Virginia (EUSPBA) were invited but are not able to attend.

The weekend will feature various other events, including a free recital by the 25-year-old Callum Beaumont on Friday, October 9th, and a Celebration Dinner on October 10th, and concluding with a master class with Beaumont on Sunday, October 11th.

“The Nicol-Brown committee is thrilled to be hosting this year’s Clasp winner, Callum Beaumont, as the judge for our contest,” said organizer Paula Glendinning. “The contest will be a challenging day for our competitors, with outstanding prizes at stake, thanks to a host of generous people. Our 10 competitors from across the continent, and everyone in the piping community who is able to make the trip to Albany will also have the privilege of hearing Callum in concert on the Friday night, and the rare chance to attend a Master Class led by Callum on the Sunday morning. The Master Class format involves advanced students learning specifics of improving their musical performances from a premier teacher, with pipers of every level invited to listen and learn.”

The competition is named in honour of Robert Nicol and Robert Brown of Scotland, whose teaching heavily influenced much of the piping in the eastern United States primarily via two of their pupils, Donald Lindsay and James McIntosh.

As with the George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational on November 21st in Hamilton, Ontario, the event is made up of three events, with significant donated prizes for each: a 6/8 March; Piobaireachd; and March, Strathspey & Reel. The champion is determined from the aggregate results, and the winner receives airfare to compete at the Scottish Piping Society of London’s competitions in 2016 and a McC2 pipe chanter with a custom-designed sole from McCallum Bagpipes. Second-prize-winner is awarded a Peter Henderson Blackwood Pipe Chanter donated by Henderson’s Ltd.

Liam Hilder of Coquitlam, British Columbia, was the winner of the 2014 competition. For a complete list of Nicol-Brown Invitational first-prize winners, check out pipes|drums’ Big Prizes database.

The non-profit pipes|drums Magazine has made a financial contribution to the 2015 Nicol-Brown.

Steuber appointed LA Scots Leading-Drummer

Published: September 25, 2015

LAScotslogo_2015Quickly after pipes|drums reported on the departure of Bryce Parker as leading-drummer, the Los Angeles Scots announced the appointment of Molly Steuber to the position.

Steuber has been a member of the band for several years, and filled as lead-tip in Parker’s absence, which was not infrequent due to his residence in far-off Las Vegas. Steuber led the drum section most recently at the Pleasanton games.

Of note, Steuber is now the only female leading-drummer of the world’s current 32 Grade 1 bands.

Molly Steuber

The LA Scots also said that two former leading-drummers, Duncan McPherson and Richard Baughman, who will re-join the band, and band President Scott MacDonald said that all current snare and tenor drummers have committed to staying for 2016.

“Molly expects more commitments soon,” said MacDonald. “This will be the first time for many years that the majority of the drum corps will be from California.”

He added that the band expects to add “several players” to the pipe section, but did not provide details.

Being one of only two Grade 1 bands in the United States, it is difficult for the LA Scots to travel to competitions and still get to the World Pipe Band Championships, but the band hopes to compete in 2016 at the local Queen Mary event; Victoria Highland Games; Costa Mesa; and Pleasanton, in addition to the World’s.

LA Scots again looking for L-D after Parker walks


LAScots_logo_2015The Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band are once again looking for a leading-drummer after Bryce Parker resigned from the band to play with the Grade 2 St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston after one season in the role.

According to sources, the move appears to be a mutual split, since Parker is in line for a work promotion that would take him further away from the Los Angeles area. Parker reportedly had been successful in attracting new drumming talent to the LA Scots, and these drummers by accounts are expected to remain with the band.

Bryce Parker (third from left) with the LA Scots at the 2015 World Championships at Glasgow Green, Glasgow.

“The LA Scots want to extend a big thank you to Bryce Parker for all of his years playing in the band and for last year as Lead-Drummer,” said band President Scott MacDonald. “Numbers weredown last year for our band but we played well and had a great year. We understand that work commitments and the reality of being an out of town lead drummer are difficult. The band supports his decision and we will be announcing soon the direction of our drum corps plans for next year.”

Parker’s move to St. Thomas Alumni further bolsters that band, following the announcement that Graham Brown would become its leading-drummer. Parker is Brown’s brother-in-law, further enhancing the shift.

“I’m very excited to have my brother in-law playing with me at St. Thomas,” Brown said. “He’s a strong player with years of Grade 1 experience, which will be very valuable to the corps.”
Brown said that Parker will be his flank drummer.

The change is the latest in a series of leading-drummer moves by LA Scots. The band has had no fewer than four lead-tips in 10 years. LA Scots competed at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships, but did not qualify for the Grade 1 Final.

Ten wanted, 10 rounded up for Sherriff 2015

Published: September 22, 2015

George Sherriff, namesake of the amateur championship.

The contestants for the 2015 George Sherriff Amateur Invitational Piping Championship on November 21st at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 70 James Street South, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, have been determined, and they comprise the expected who’s-who of top-flight non-professional pipers from across North America.

  • Tyler Bridge, Ontario
  • James Dyson, Nova Scotia
  • Austin Diepenhorst, California
  • Andrew Hutton, Ontario
  • Kevin McLean, British Columbia
  • Ryan Praskovich, Pennsylvania
  • Sean Regan, Virginia
  • Christian Rhoads, Missouri
  • Blaise Theriault, Nova Scotia
  • Jack Toohey, Oregon

Invitees are determined by their home piping and drumming associations with their 2015 Grade 1 Amateur competition success taking into account. The number of contestants from various regions is as commensurate as possible with the relative piping densities of each circuit.

The event again takes on the familiar three-contest structure, beginning with a 6/8 March at 10 am, followed by Piobaireachd at 1 pm, and a March, Strathspey & Reel at 7:30 pm, with prizes for each contest and an aggregate award.

A scene from the 2013 Sherriff Memorial, with 2012 champion Callum Harper performing.

The event is organized with the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, and managed by Bob Worrall and a team of volunteers.

In addition to the PPBSO, the competition is underwritten by sponsors, including pipes|drums Magazine.

Judges for the 2015 event are Andrew Berthoff, Andrea Boyd and Ian Duncan, and the emcee will be Patricia Kirkwood.

George Sherriff was a major contributor to teaching in the Hamilton area of Ontario. This will be the twentieth annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational.

Liam Hilder of Coquitlam, British Columbia, was the 2014 George Sherriff Invitational champion.

Bleary elevated to Grade 1

Published: September 20, 2015

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Music Committee made its regrading recommendations and moved Bleary & District of Northern Ireland to Grade 1 following a second year of success in the penultimate grade, including winning the Champion of Champions aggregate title in 2015.

Bleary won three of the major championships and was second at the World’s in Grade 2.

Bleary & District pipers in the Grade 2 Final at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships.

“I’m delighted for all playing members and all associated with the band that all the hard work has paid off,” Bleary & District Pipe-Major Nigel Davison said. “We have had a wonderful time in Grade 2 and with the same effort and additions to both ends we will look forward to competing in Grade 1 with the best bands in the world.”

No RSPBA-member bands were apparently downgraded from Grade 1, and four bands from Grade 3A were promoted to Grade 2: Annsborough (Northern Ireland), City of Discovery (Scotland), Crosskelt (Northern Ireland) and Isle of Islay (Scotland). Isle of Islay won the Grade 3A Champion of Champions title.

The move up of 2015 Grade 3A Champion of Champions in drumming City of Discovery means that the city of Dundee will have two Grade 2 bands, with Mackenzie Caledonian also in the grade.

City of Discovery was formed in November 2014 after the 6th/8th Boys Brigade Pipe Band in the area decided to become an adult band, without the strictures of the youth organization behind it.

No non-member bands were apparently recommended for regrading by the RSPBA. The organization has not yet made an official public announcement, but has notified regraded bands individually.

The elevation of Bleary & District to Grade 1 brings the total number of Northern Ireland bands active in the grade to four, with Cullybackey, Field Marshal Montgomery and Ravara the other three. The upgrade of the two Northern Irleand bands brings the total number of Grade 2 bands from that country to three. The country has a population of 1.8-million. There are currently a total of 32 active Grade 1 bands in the world:

  • 78th Fraser Highlanders (Canada)
  • 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) (Canada)
  • Auckland & District (New Zealand)
  • Bagad Cap Caval (France)
  • Bleary & District (Northern Ireland)
  • Canterbury Caledonian Society (New Zealand)
  • City of Whitehorse (Australia)
  • Cullybackey (Northern Ireland)
  • Denny & Dunipace Gleneagles (Scotland)
  • Dowco-Triumph Street (Canada)
  • Field Marshal Montgomery (Northern Ireland)
  • Greater Glasgow Police Scotland (Scotland)
  • ILT City of Invercargill Highland (New Zealand)
  • Inveraray & District (Scotland)
  • Los Angeles Scots (USA)
  • Manawatu Scottish (New Zealand)
  • Moorabbin (Australia)
  • New Zealand Police (New Zealand)
  • Ottawa Police Service (Canada)
  • Peel Regional Police (Canada)
  • Peoples Ford-Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia (Scotland)
  • Police Scotland Fife (Scotland)
  • Queensland Highlanders (Australia)
  • Ravara (Northern Ireland)
  • ScottishPower (Scotland)
  • Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (Scotland)
  • Simon Fraser University (Canada)
  • St. Laurence O’Toole (Ireland)
  • Stuart Highlanders (USA)
  • Toronto Police (Canada)
  • Vale of Atholl (Scotland)
  • Western Australia Police (Australia)

By country, Scotland has eight Grade 1 bands, Canada seven, New Zealand five, Australia four, Northern Ireland four, United States two, Ireland one and France one.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more information on RSPBA and other associations’ regradings is it becomes known.

2015 World’s in photos


A little more than a month has passed since the World Pipe Band Championships at Glasgow Green in Glasgow, and pipes|drums was on the scene for the two days accumulating images from the event.

We once again bring pipes|drums subscribers a selection of photos from the weekend, each can be enlarged with a click. We appreciate you respecting copyright, but if you’d like to use any of them, simply drop us a line.

We hope you enjoy our annual photo feature from World Pipe Band Championships.

Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia entering the arena.


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Stuart Liddell overall winner at Springbank Invitational

Published: September 19, 2015

Springbank_logoCampbeltown, Scotland – September 19, 2015 – The annual Springbank Invitational Solo Piping Competition, organized by the Kintyre Pipers’ Society and sponsored by the local Springbank Distillery, and Stuart Liddell of Inveraray, Scotland, was the overall winner. All eight players went home with at least one prize. To run the 6/8 March event, contestants played their tune as part of their tuning for the Piobaireachd contest.

Judges for all events were Iain MacFadyen, Iain Morrison and John Wilson. Fear an tighe for the day was Alan Forbes.

Stuart Liddell, 2015 Springbank Champion (Photo copyright Derek Maxwell and used with permission.)

1st Stuart Liddell, “In Praise of Morag”
2nd Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim”
3rd Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow, “Lament for Donald Doughal MacKay”
4th Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland, “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”

1st Angus MacColl, “Craig n Darroch,” “John MacDonald of Glencoe,” “Susan MacLeod,” “Maggie Cameron,” “Pretty Marion,” “Alick C. MacGregor ”
2nd Willie McCallum, “Mrs. Duncan MacFadyen,” “Angus Campbell’s Farewell to Stirling,” “Dora MacLeod,” “The Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “Roddy MacDonald’s Fancy,” “John MacKechnie’s Big Reel”
3rd Stuart Liddell, “Abercairney Highlanders,” “The Clan McColl,” “Catlodge,” “John Roy Stewart,”
“The Little Cascade,” “The Cockerel In the Creel”
4th Iain Speirs, Edinburgh, “The Duchess of Edinburgh,” “Knightswood Ceilidh,” “Lady Louden,” “The Top of Craigvenow,” “The Smith of Chilliechassie,” “Bessie MacIntyre”

Competitors at the 2015 Springbank Invitational, L-R: Roddy MacLeod, Iain Speirs, Niall Stewart, Callum Beaumont, Angus MacColl, Willie McCallum, Douglas Murray and Stuart Liddell. (Photo copyright Derek Maxwell and used with permission.)

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Callum Beaumont, Bo’ness, Scotland, “Donald MacLeod,” “The Loch Ness Monster”
2nd Angus MacColl, “Kyle Howies,” “Skye”
3rd Stuart Liddell, “Raigmore,” “Biddy from Sligo”
4th Willie McCallum, “Dr. McInnes’s Fancy,” “John Patterson’s Mare”

6/8 March
1st Angus MacColl, “Tug Argan Gap”
2nd Douglas Murray, Cardenden, Scotland, “The Wee Toon”
3rd Niall Stewart, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, “Angus McVean”
4th Willie McCallum, “The MacNeils of Ugadale”

Bill McAllister, 1926-2015 (updated)

Published: September 18, 2015

William “Bill” McAllister, the last surviving brother from the previous generation of legendary Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band leaders, died early in the morning of September 18, 2015, at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, Scotland, at the age of 89.

The sibling of his more famous pipe-major brothers, John K. MacAllister (who spelled his surname with Mac) and Tom McAllister Jr., Bill McAllister joined Shotts in 1940 at the age of 14, and, like his brothers, was taught by his father, Tom McAllister Sr.


The McAllister dynasty of pipers at the front at Shotts Highland Games in 1980. L-R: P-M Tom McAllister Jr., Ewan McAllister, John K. MacAllister, Tom McAllister Sr., and Bill McAllister. [Photo copyright Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band and used with permission.]

During his National Service, Bill McAllister was with the Scots Guards, playing under Pipe-Major Walter Cowan Sr., the uncle of the current Walter Cowan of Annan, Scotland. During his tenure with the Scots Guards, McAllister received instruction from the legendary Willie Ross.

In 1947 he finished his service and returned to the mining town of Shotts, to rejoin the band, and with his brothers become a driving force in the JWT McAllister Reedmakers, producing chanter reeds that for at least two decades were the most desired and successful worldwide at a time when chanter reed manufacture was limited to a relative few organizations. For years, the McAllisters had nearly cornered the market for pipe band chanter reeds until the arrival of makers like Shepherd and Warnock, which gradually gained marketshare. In the 1990s the McAllisters sold their business to James Troy of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, who continues to operate the successful business.

Bill McAllister was also instrumental in the development and success of the War-Mac plastic pipe chanter, the first synthetic chanter to be mass-produced. Introduced in partnership with Andrew Warnock of Northern Ireland, the War-Mac chanter gained prominence in the 1970s, starting with major championships won by Shotts & Dykehead using the instrument. The success of the War-Mac chanter quickly prompted other bagpipe makers to bring out their own plastic chanters, contributing greatly to revolutionized tuning and tone for pipe bands.

Although less prominent than his more famous brothers, Bill McAllister played a major role in the evolution of pipe bands, helping to blaze a trail to where the category is today.

The funeral will be at 1:30 pm on Friday, September 25th, at Holytown Crematorium, Holytown, Scotland.

On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we extend our sympathies to Bill McAllister’s family and friends at this lamentable time.



David Wilton takes command of Lomond & Clyde

Published: September 16, 2015

David Wilton

David Wilton has been appointed pipe-major of the Grade 2 Lomond & Clyde Pipe Band of Clydeband, Scotland, taking over from interim leader Alisdair Tennant, who had taken over after the departure of David Wotherspoon

Wilton comes with a wealth of top-grade experience at a still very young age. Last year he competed with the Grade 1 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), and previously was with the Grade 1 ScottishPower for several years. And, before that, the now defunct Grade 2 Clan Gregor and Drambuie-Kirkliston pipe bands.

“After lengthy discussions with the band’s management committee Lomond & Clyde is delighted to announce the appointment of David Wilton as pipe-major,” said band chairman Fraser Sergeant. “Ensuring the right person for the job has always been a key priority for the band and we are delighted that David has accepted the post.”

Lomond & Clyde competing in the Grade 2 Final at the 2015 World Championships.

Wilton said that the well-known former Grade 1 band pipe-major Don Bradford will continue with Lomond & Clyde as the band`s musical director, and Allan Craig continues as leading-drummer.
Sergeant added that the band continues to recruit and invites anyone interested in joining to contact the band.

David Wilton is also a top-flight solo piper and a former Adult World Champion Highland Dancer.

Lomond & Clyde competed only at the five RSPBA major championships in 2015, finishing as high as third in Grade 2 at the British. The band finished sixth at the World’s.

(Updated) Mahoney steps down as New York Metro Pipe-Major

Published: September 14, 2015

Mike Mahoney with the trophy for fourth in Grade 2 at the 2013 World Pipe Band Championships.

Michael Mahoney has stepped down as pipe-major of the Grade 2 New York Metro Pipe Band, and long-time piper Matt Welch has moved in to the top position.

The move was made at a band meeting on the evening of September 14th, and did not come as a surprise to many in the band. Mahoney, who had been pipe-major since the inception of the band, had recently received a work promotion that required a greater time commitment. He is also planning to get married in January 2016.

Under Mahoney, New York Metro has progressed steadily, rising to be one of the United States’ best bands. The group competed successfully at the World Pipe Band Championships in 2013, finishing third in the highly contested event. (Click here to see videos of the compete competition.)

Matt Welch, who was a piper with the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University in the 2000s, had served as New York Metro’s musical director, but had stepped away from the band in the fall of 2014. He returned in August of this year to help set up the pipe section’s chanters at the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, where the band finished second in Grade 2, winning the medley event.

Matt Welch working with New York Metro before the North American Championships, August 2015.

Welch is a professional musician, and has several degrees in music composition, including a master’s from Yale University.

“It is with great pleasure that I accept the promotion to Pipe-Major of New York Metro Pipe Band, and see it as a natural extension of the recent direction of the band,” Welch said in a statement. “My previous role as music director was primarily created as a way to both pursue my doctoral studies at Yale (New Haven) and stay intimately involved in Metro’s instruction and sound set-up. When I began competing with the band, I was then made pipe-sergeant. Michael Mahoney and I had talked about this possibility of taking the position of pipe-major after Scotland 2014. Mike and I have always had an integrated collaboration in the running of NY Metro, which will not change. Mike . . . will remain a commanding luminary in the direction of the band. As one of the most talented Pipe-Majors I’ve worked with, I am very much looking forward to continuing great work and music with [him].”

“As for being the new P-M of New York Metro, I am mostly focused on [the band’s] message from its inception: pursuing international competitive success, performing inspiring concerts, and encouraging our community.”

Welch added that he lives only a block from the band’s practice location in Queens, New York, and that “Metro has all intentions to put out a top effort at next year’s World’s.”

New York Metro was at the centre of controversy in 2011 when the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association upgraded the band to Grade 2 after it won Grade 3B at the World Championships, taking both the band and the group’s home association, the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, by surprise.

Neither Mahoney nor Welch could be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Mackenzie: going to Pitlochry by bike for charity

Published: September 13, 2015

Going to Pitlochry earlier in the day.

It’s been a successful season for the Grade 2 Mackenzie Caledonian Pipe Band of Dundee, Scotland, and the group finished the year with an unusual motivational project in aid of charity.

To mark the final contest of the year at Pitlochry Highland Games on September 12th, four of the band’s members, including Pipe-Major Neil Nicholson and Pipe-Sergeant Allan Low, cycled from Dundee to Pitlochry through constant driving rain, arriving at the park in time to change into their uniforms to play in the Grade 2 and Grade 1 band events. The route would have been 45 miles had it not been for a few wrong turns, making it a 60-mile journey instead.

It was all in aid of the band’s charity of choice, Downs Syndrome Scotland, which has provided support to band members Gwen and Paul McAndrew who have a child with the condition.

The arrival of band members by bike at the Pitlochry games park.

“The band has enjoyed a great season and we wanted to do something a bit different to end it. Pitlochry is always a relaxed contest and this seemed like a good idea,” Nicholson said. “The cycle followed by two competition runs was actually made easier by the weather as we elected to have a 15-minute tune-up. The total raised so far has exceeded our wildest expectations, and thanks to the superb generosity of the pipe band community is now at £780.”

At the European Championships earlier in the year the band had received an elaborate “Piping at Forres” hamper, which every person who donates via the Facebook page set up by the band will be entered into a draw to win on September 20th.

Mackenzie Caledonian in the street parade through the Highland town of Pitlochry.

Mackenzie won the Grade 2 contest against two other bands. At the World Pipe Band Championship the band placed fourth in the Grade 2 final. The band competitions at Pitlochry just managed to take place through the rain, but the solo piping and the march-past were each cancelled.

Peel appoints bass-section leaders

Published: September 11, 2015

PeelPolice_logo2015The Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band of Brampton, Ontario, has brought in two veterans to revamp its mid-section, with hopes to “raise the performance bar.”

Former Grade 1 band members Reagan Jones and Matt Bellia have joined, with Jones on bass and Bellia working closely with the tenor drummers, reporting to Leading-Drummer Graham Kirkwood and Pipe-Major John Cairns “to develop a plan that will take the band to new heights in 2016 and beyond.”

Jones comes to Peel following several stints with other Ontario-based Grade 1 bands, including originally the 78th Fraser Highlanders and, more recently, the Toronto Police.

Bellia served as a tenor drummer with the 78th Fraser Highlanders from 2008 until 2015, where he was recently “lead-tenor.”

Peel Police competing at the 2015 Cambridge Highland Games, Cambridge, Ontario.

“Reagan and Matt will be a huge enhancement for the mid-section and a chance to help the band grow overall,” Cairns commented. “I look forward to working with these wonderful musicians, who are world-renowned leaders on their respective instruments. I am extremely impressed with their professionalism and vision for Peel’s mid-section and cannot wait to hear and see the finished product. 2016 is going to be a big year for the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, as the performance bar will be raised for every section in the band.”

The 2015 competition season was up-and-down for Peel Police, with an occasional second in typically three- or four-band events. But the band won the North American Championship at Maxville as recently as 2013. Peel finished last and second-last in the MSR and Medley, respectively, in their qualifying section at the World Championships, but higher in drumming, with a ninth and seventh ranking out of 12 bands.

North Stratton takes both days of Alberta weekend

Published: September 10, 2015

Calgary & Canmore, Alberta, Canada – September 5-6, 2015 The last weekend to close out the competition season in Western Canada at the Calgary and Canmore Highland Games proved to be cold and wet this past long weekend. Calgary Highland Games was drenched in a steady downpour, with organizers taking the unusual route of moving all solos indoors in the morning. Bands were outside in a steady drizzle in the afternoon, and all the bands earned a hearty cheer from the umbrella-covered spectators. Results were announced from the beer tent area and massed bands were cancelled. Canmore, the next day, featured its usual beautiful scenery, and slightly warmer temperatures than the previous day and no rain. Temperatures made low-double-digits in the afternoon. The Grade 2 North Stratton Pipe Band of Edmonton, Alberta, won each day on ensemble preference over Rocky Mountain.

Rocky Mountain in front of a rocky mountain in the Rocky Mountains at Canmore Highland Games.

Calgary Highland Games

Grade 2 (MSR, two competed) 
1st North Stratton (2,1,2,1) (EP)
2nd Rocky Mountain (1,2,1,2)

Grade 3 (medley, one played)
1st Odgen Legion

Grade 4
(march medley, two competed)
1st Edmonton Youth (1,1,1,1)
2nd Edmonton & District (2,2,2,2)

Grade 5
(march medley, four competed)
1st Ogden Legion (1,2,2,1)
2nd 78th Fraser Highlanders (2,1,1,2)
3rd Scottish Tradition School of Piping (3,3,3,3)
4th Alberta Firefighters (4,4,4,4)

Band judges for the senior circles were: Alan Bevan, Graham Davidson (piping); John Fisher (drumming); Iain MacDonald (ensemble)

Solo Piping

1st Ann Gray
2nd John Lee
3rd Andrew Smith
Judge: Alan Bevan

1st John Lee
2nd Ann Gray
3rd Stewart Smith
Judge: Iain MacDonald

1st Stewart Smith
2nd John Lee
3rd Ann Gray
Judge: Graham Davidson

Professional Snare Drumming

1st Elizabeth Shaw
2nd Bill Saul
3rd Michael Hansen
Judge: John Fisher

Hornpipe & Jig 
1st Elizabeth Shaw
2nd Bill Saul
3rd Michael Hansen
Judge: Scott Robertson


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Cook the right recipe for Glasgow Skye L-D

Published: September 9, 2015

Arthur Cook

The Grade 1 Denny & Dunipace Gleneagles and the Grade 2 Glasgow Skye Association each announced that they’d be looking for new leading-drummers at almost the same day, now it turns out that Denny’s former-L-D Arthur Cook has been selected for the open Glasgow Skye post.

Cook, a former World Solo Drumming Champion, replaces Jim Whitfield, who had held the position for seven years, and played with the band through the end of the 2015 season.

“This is an exciting time for the band and during this period of rebuilding the band are looking to invite interested pipers and drummers to join our ranks,” said Glasgow Skye treasurer Dougie Orr in a statement to pipes|drums.

The move follows the August 2014 appointment of Ewan Henderson as pipe-major of Glasgow Skye.

Both bands were out of the prize-lists at the 2015 RSPBA majors. Glasgow Skye finished as high as a seventh at the European Championships, and competed at a total of six events in the season. Denny & Dunipace was consistently at or near the bottom in Grade 1 majors.

Glasgow Skye will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in 2018.

“The band is looking to develop and progress as we work towards the milestone,” Orr added.

Denny & Dunipace has not yet announced who its new L-D will be.


John Wakefield, 1932-2015

Published: September 8, 2015

Wakefield_JohnJohn Wakefield, the well-known former Pipe-Major of the Toronto Scottish Regiment Pipe Band, died on September 5th, aged 83.

He began his piping career with the Rotary Highlanders Pipe Band in the 1950s and became its Pipe-Major, before moving on the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipes & Drums, beginning a long career with the Canadian militia.

Wakefield joined the Toronto Scottish in 1957, becoming pipe-major in 1962 until 1968. He returned as pipe-major of the regiment in 1970, until he retired in 1980.
He received the Canadian Forces Decoration and was made a Member of the Order of Military Merit for his service with the Canadian Forces, rising to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. He was appointed piper for the Lt. Governor of Ontario in the latter part of his life.

Following his competing days, John Wakefield was a frequent piping adjudicator on the Ontario circuit for much of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, and was a regular presence at the regional games

The visitation is from noon until 2 pm on September 11th at the Ridley Funeral Home, 3080 Lakeshore Blvd. West, Toronto, followed by a short service in the Ridley Chapel.

At this sad time, we extend our sympathies to John Wakefield’s family and friends.

Era of World’s recordings ends

Published: September 7, 2015

The first World’s record, the 1977 competition that the now defunct Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band won.

After 37 years of physical commercial recordings of the World Pipe Band Championships, the era appears to have come to an end with Klub Records Ltd. (KRL), confirming that neither a CD nor a DVD will be made of this year’s competition.

The first commercially available World’s record was in 1977, with an LP featuring the performances of the top prize winners.

“CD sales over the last few years have declined, and with the BBC showing live coverage of the World’s this does have an impact on CD/DVD sales,” said Isobel Waugh, managing director of Klub Records, the company that has made and distributed the recordings for almost 20 years.

As digital downloads have steadily replaced physical copies of music for the last decade, so too now has one-time streamed audio gradually replaced downloaded copies as a means of enjoying music.

ISA Music, the Glasgow-based music distribution and publishing company that incorporates the once-dominant Lismor label for the piping and drumming category, held reproduction rights to the World Pipe Band Championships for many years before the license was sold to Klub in the early 1990s. ISA has since switched to being digital distributors, and works with KRL and most of the Scottish record companies, linking them to major distributors, and carrying about 40,000 tracks in its repertoire.

The 2014 World’s recording, possibly the last physical commercial product from the event.

“It’s very different and very efficient but quite soul-less,” said Ronnie Simpson, head of ISA Music, referring to the new music business model. “We know that sales were dropping off and we think mainly because of the Simon Fraser University vs. Field Marshal Montgomery two-[band] race for the last decade. It’s ironic that [KRL] decided to call it a day this year, just as Shotts came rampaging back to form – and that’s a ‘seller’ every time.”

It is not known whether content from the World Pipe Band Championships will be made available via digital downloads or streaming.

The RSPBA has not yet responded to a request for comment.

BBC Scotland has broadcast the Grade 1 event at the World Pipe Band Championships via live streaming since 2009, for several years limiting the show to its UK audience. The publicly-funded BBC is supported through every UK taxpayer paying a license for broadcasting. Starting in 2011 the streamed broadcast was made available worldwide.

The BBC has also packaged the recordings into radio and television programs for more than four decades, each time securing the rights from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and Glasgow Life, the organizers of the event.

Whether the rights have been sold or given away, details of the license deal have never been disclosed by either the BBC or the RSPBA. The BBC has said that it has no obligation to disclose the terms, citing a clause in its charter.

KRL continues to make and distribute piping and drumming CDs, the latest being ScottishPower Pipe Band’s Live.

The BBC is under contiual financial pressure, and said recently that it will “gut” services. Though financial details are not known, based on the many tractor-trailors, multiple high-definition cameras, complex rigging and staffing of the event, the live stream of the World Pipe Band Championships involves a very large investment by the organization.

Cold wind but sunny at popular Blairgowrie

Published: September 6, 2015

Eric Ouellette. [Photo: Mike MacNintch]

Blairgowrie, Scotland – September 6, 2015 – There was the usual strong entry for the Blairgowrie Highland Games, organized again by Murray Henderson and his team. Conditions were dry and sunny but with a cold wind. Results were scattered across the events, which adhered to Competing Pipers Association gradings. Eric Ouellette of Syracuse, New York, had overall the best day with a first and a second in the open events.

1st Ed McIlwaine, Vancouver
2nd Darach Urquhart, Glasgow
3rd David Wilton, Glasgow
4th Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh
Judge: Andrew Wright

1st Greig Canning, Edinburgh
2nd Eric Ouellette, Syracuse, New York, USA
3rd Ashley McMichael, Belfast
4th Kris Coyle, Belfast
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Ian Duncan

Strathspey & Reel
1st Eric Ouellette
2nd Ashley McMichael
3rd Ross Millar
4th Kris Coyle
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Ian Duncan

CPA B-Grade
1st Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh
2nd Ashley McMichael
3rd Eric Ouellette
4th Greig Canning
5th Ross Millar
Judges: Colin MacLellan, Douglas Murray

CPA C-Grade
1st Lachie Dick, Edinburgh
2nd Kaitlin Kimove
3rd Jonathon Simpson
4th John MacDonald
5th Ben Mulhearn
Judges: Patricia Henderson, Iain Speirs

1st Jonathon Simpson
2nd Andrew Gray
3rd John MacDonald
4th Ben Mulhearn
Judges: Patricia Henderson, Iain Speirs, Andrew Wright

Strathspey & Reel
1st Jonathon Simpson
2nd John MacDonald
3rd Christopher Ross
4th Edward Gaul
Judges: Patricia Henderson, Iain Speirs, Andrew Wright

Do you have contest results? Feel free to send by email, along with a photo or two, so that we can share your glory with the entire piping and drumming world.

Small triumphs at Pleasanton (update 2)


Pleasanton, California – September 6-7, 2015 – The move to have smaller Grade 1 bands compete at the annual Pleasanton Gathering & Games in northern California proved a success, and Dowco Triumph Street took both days of competition.

Dowco Triumph Street at the 2014 World’s.

By invitation, Dowco Triumph Street of Vancouver, Greater Glasgow Police Scotland and the Los Angeles Scots competed at Pleasanton, but were limited to fielding only eight pipers, four snare drummers, two tenor drummers and a bass drummer. The organizers had in recent years struggled to attract or sponsor full top-grade bands that routinely field more than 20 pipers, 10 snare drummers and six tenor drummers.

Grade 1 (MSR)
1st Dowco Triumph Street (1,1,1,2)
2nd Greater Glasgow Police Scotland (2,2,2,1)
3rd Los Angeles Scots (3,3,3,3)
Judges: Ryan Canning, Tom Johnstone (piping); Ken Eller (ensemble); Jim Sim (drumming)

Grade 2 (MSR)
1st Prince Charles (1,1,1,1)
2nd Bushmill’s Irish (2,2,2,2)
3rd (EP) Queen City (4,4,3,3)
4th Wasatch & District (3,3,4,4)
Judges: Ryan Canning, Tom Johnstone (piping); Ken Eller (ensemble); Jim Sim (drumming)

Prince Charles at Lorient, August 2013.

Grade 1
1st Dowco Triumph Street (1,1,2,1)
2nd Greater Glasgow Police Scotland (2,2,1,3)
3rd  Los Angeles Scots (3,3,3,2)
Judges: Ryan Canning, Rene Cusson (piping); Paula Glendinning (ensemble); Blair Brown (drumming)

Grade 2 (medley)
1st Prince Charles (1,3,1,1)
2nd Wasatch & District (2,1,2,3)
3rd Queen City (4,4,3,2)
4th Bushmill’s Irish (3,2,4,4)
Judges: Ryan Canning, Rene Cusson (piping); Paula Glendinning (ensemble); Blair Brown (drumming)

Do you have contest results? Feel free to send by email, along with a photo or two, so that we can share your glory with the entire piping and drumming world.

Chisholm on top at Braemar

Published: September 5, 2015

Jori Chisholm with his Braemar hardware.

Braemar, Scotland – September 5, 2015 – Jori Chisholm of Seattle was the overall winner of the J. Colin MacKenzie Challenge Shield at the Royal Braemar Highland Games, winning both light music events. Gordon McCready of Renfrew, Scotland, won the piobaireachd competition and the gold medal for it. Weather cold and windy and temperatures never got above 10 degrees, but there was no rain. The event had the usual strong attendance by non-Scottish contestants, and Chisholm also received the Braemar Silver Medal for best “overseas” piper.

Piobaireachd (23 competed)
1st Gordon McCready
2nd Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh
3rd John-Angus Smith, London
4th Innes Smith, Bridge of Allan, Scotland
5th Andrew Lee, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
6th Ed McIlwaine, Vancouver
Judges: Malcolm McRae, Robert Wallace, Duncan Watson

Light Music (28 competed)
March (Pipe-Major Jimmy McGregor Cup)
1st Jori Chisholm
2nd Ashley McMichael
3rd Craig Muirhead, Glasgow
4th Ursa Beckford, Maine, USA
5th Greig Canning, Edinburgh
6th Nick Hudson
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Stuart Samson, Andrew Wright

Strathspey & Reel (Walter Drysdale Trophy)
1st Jori Chisholm
2nd Eric Ouellette, Syracuse, New York
3rd Ashley McMichael
4th Graham Mulholland, Dunkeld, Scotland
5th Andrew Lee
6th Gordon McCready
Judges: Jimmy Banks, Stuart Samson, Andrew Wright

Glenfiddich 2015 invitees determined

Published: September 4, 2015

Blair Castle, where the Glenfiddich Championship takes place.

With the conclusion of the Northern Meeting at Inverness, Scotland, the 10 spots for the 2015 Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship at Blair Atholl, Scotland, on October 24th have been determined, pending of course each piper accepting his invitation:

The first-reserve on the list is Andrew Hayes, Ottawa, for being third in the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban and fourth in the Clasp at Inverness.

It will be the first Glenfiddich for John-Angus Smith, while others have been there numerous times. This will be Willie McCallum’s 28th consecutive invitation to the competition, a record, as are his eight Glenfiddich Champion titles.

The Glenfiddich Championship (originally the Grant’s Championship) is in its forty-second year, and is held in the Great Hall of Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. For solo competition pipers, “The Glenfiddich” is the apex of the art, and simply gaining an invitation is an extraordinary accolade.

“This year’s invitation list is one of the best the contest has ever had,” said Liz Maxwell, special advisor and organizer of the Glenfiddich Championship. “We look forward to seeing many familiar faces and a welcome John-Angus Smith to the event, which will once again be streamed live on the net for the whole world to enjoy.”

The event, and many other Highland piping and fiddling contests, has been sponsored by William Grant & Sons Distilleries, a family-run company that independently owns the Glenfiddich and Balvenie whisky brands, among others.

In 2008, pipes|drums Magazine conducted a brief interview with Liz Maxwell on William Grant & Sons involvement in piping.

Inverness Day 2: Beaumont takes Clasp; McKeown wins A HP&J


Callum Beaumont, winner of the 2015 Clasp.

Inverness, Scotland – September 4, 2015 – The second day of competitions at the annual Northern Meeting at Eden Court Theatre saw Callum Beaumont of Bo’ness, Scotland, win the Clasp for previous winners of the Gold Medal at Inverness. It was the second Clasp for the 25-year-old Beaumont, who won previously in 2012.

In the Premier- and A-Grade Hornpipe & Jig, Silver Medallist took home the first, and the next three places also went to Canadian pipers.

Angus MacColl was the overall champion, winning the Northern Meeting Quaich, for most aggregate points from the top-level events. Sandy Cameron was the overall winner of the B-Grade events aggregate.

In the Junior events, Gavin Mackay of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, won the piobaireachd competition for those younger than 15.

All first prize-winners and a few organizers at the 2015 Northern Meeting.

Clasp (22 competed)
1st Callum Beaumont, “Lament for MacLeod of Colbeck”
2nd Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland, “Lament for the Earl of Antirm”
3rd Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland “Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon”
4th Andrew Hayes, Ottawa “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
5th Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “Lament for the Children”
Judges: Iain Morrison, Jack Taylor, Rab Wallace

Sean McKeown

B-Grade MSR (34 competed)
1st Angus J. MacColl, Oban, Scotland
2nd Sarah Muir, Inveraray, Scotland
3rd Sandy Cameron, Roy Bridge, Scotland
4th Greig Canning, Edinburgh
5th Andrew Lee, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Judges: Bill Livingstone, Malcolm McRae, Iain Morrison

Premier & A-Grade Hornpipe & Jig (45 entered)
1st Sean McKeown, Toronto
2nd James P. Troy, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
3rd Alex Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
4th Ian K. MacDonald, Whitby, Ontario, Canada
5th Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scvotland
Judges: Walter Cowan, Iain Morrison, John Wilson

B-Grade Hornpipe & Jig (31 entered)
1st Callum Moffat
2nd Ben Duncan, Edinburgh
3rd Angus J. MacColl
4th James MacHattie, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada
5th Matt Wilson
Judges: John Don MacKenzie, Bill Wotherspoon

Of note, Callum Moffatt played first in the B-Grade Hornpipe & Jig, his performance holding up against the 30 that followed. Readers can check out the order-of-play for all events here.

pipes|drums congratulates all prize-winners and all participants at the 2015 Northern Meeting for their admirable success.

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October 7Donald S. Ramsay appointed P/M of Edinburgh City Police, 1949. Alex Duthart born, 1925.
  • Merge method
    Thu, 1 Oct 2015
    The season’s over in the northern hemisphere. The World Championships and regional events are done and dusted. Pipe bands will take a break for a month or two, recharge the tuning metre, dry out the kitty litter, loosen the lugs, …
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UPCOMING EVENTS October 9, 2015Callum Beaumont Concert (A Nicol-Brown event)St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 21 Hackett Blvd., Albany, NY 12208

October 10, 2015The 33rd Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational Piping CompetitionSt. Paul's Episcopal Church, 21 Hackett Blvd., Albany, NY 12208

October 11, 2015Master Class with Callum BeaumontCeltic Hall, 430 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205

October 17, 2015World Solo DrummingGlasgow Caledonia University, Glasgow, Scotland

November 20, 2015The Balmoral Classic: The US Junior Solo Bagpiping and Solo Snare Drumming ChampionshipsMcGonigle Theater, CCHS, 4720 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA. 15213

Don’t practice what you don’t know. If you are unsure about something seek advice rather then play and practice something that could turn out to be wrong. It will be harder to correct.
Euan Anderson, Edinburgh