2001 New Year’s Honours
It’s time once again for our annual New Year Honours List in which our reviews team selects what it considers to be the most important products and artists of the year. The 2001 awards committee once again based its decisions on reviews, reader feedback, and overall market trends and competition results.
Solo Competitive Piper of the Year: Jack Lee, Surrey, British Columbia . While Jack Lee was not a prolific competitor during the 2001 campaign, he made a historic mark on August 22 at the Argyllshire Gathering by obtaining a very rare double – winning the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal and the Senior Piobaireachd events. He then went on to take the Piobaireachd event at the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Championships at Blair Atholl in October. While others garnered a larger number of awards, Lee’s ability to reappear successfully from seemingly nowhere is nothing short of extraordinary. For making the most of things when it most matters, Jack Lee gets our nod by a hair over Greg Wilson of New Zealand, as Solo Piper of the Year.
Also having great years: Greg Wilson, New Zealand; Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland; Gordon Walker, Glasgow.
Pipe Band of the Year: Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. While it would be easy simply to pick the World Champion for our award, SFU did much more in 2001 than win its fourth world title at Glasgow Green on August 11. The band continues to set the standard for combining shrewd organizational abilities with competitive and musical excellence. SFU’s incredibly ambitious, self-funded journey to New Zealand and Australia in the spring is a new pipe band benchmark, culminating with the band’s concert at the illustrious Sydney Opera House, which was captured on CD. While 2001 will be remembered as the year when SFU joined the ranks of history’s greatest four or five pipe bands, we fully expect the band to take the pipe band idiom to new stages and set new precedents in the future.
Drummer of the Year: Jim Kilpatrick, Whitburn, Scotland. What more can be said? We’ll just cut and paste from Kilpatrick’s 2000 award: By winning a phenomenal thirteenth World Solo Drumming Championship and guiding his Shotts & Dykehead corps to another RSPBA Champion of Champions title, Kilpatrick again extended his legendary status as a player. Additionally, he travels the world teaching and bringing his knowledge to students and is a committed ambassador of pipe band drumming.
Solo Piping Recording of the Year: Allan MacDonald & Gordon Walker, The Piping Centre’s 3rd Recital Series. Pure solo piping records are becoming rare, and in 2001 there were only a handful of CDs that weren’t instructional or didn’t include other instruments. The MacDonald and Walker recital edition captured and juxtaposed two very different, and very great, players playing what they wanted to play. From MacDonald’s poignant Gaelic airs, to Walker’s incendiary jigs, this is great live piping.
Also of note: Angus MacColl, A Tradition of Excellence.
Pipe Band Recording of the Year: Down Under: Live at the Sydney Opera House, Simon Fraser University. Our 2001 Pipe Band of the Year Award winners also gets the nod from us for their seventh recording, which captures the band’s pioneering show at the Sydney Opera House in April. While this recording might not be considered an all-time great, it was clearly the best pipe band CD of the year.
Special mention: Don Bradford’s “A Call to the Gathering” on Boghall & Bathgate’s Inspired in Belfast deserves specific recognition for its pure originality.
“Fusion” Piping Recording of the Year: Shambolica!, Michael Grey. Released in December and not yet widely distributed, Michael Grey’s new recording is well worth the two years it took to complete the project. The 11-track CD shows incredible variety, ranging from classical, to jazz, to industrial styles. Well known Canadian artist Jane Siberry teams with Grey on a stirring rendition of the “Nut Brown Maiden,” which she includes on her own recording. Shambolica! is a recording that holds the potential of being a breakthrough for piping, by making the music tastefully appealing to a far wider variety of new listeners.
Music Book of the Year: Bruce Gandy’s Contemporary and Traditional Music for the Highland Bagpipe, Volume 3. Nova Scotia’s Bruce Gandy has produced another first-rate collection, this time compiling original tunes and arrangements directed more towards the pipe band. He even had the intelligence to group the compositions in a logical, musical order, to make potential medley construction easier. What’s more, he proves that new pipe music can still be melodic for all and playable for intermediate-level pipers.
Special Product Awards: The Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book, The Piping Centre. The National Piping Centre has brought piping instruction up to date with a true improvement in teaching aids. Making the most of video and sound technology to complement a beautifully constructed and edited text, The Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book is true cause for teachers and learners to chuck out the tired old tutors of yesteryear.
The MacArthur-MacGregor Manuscript of Piobaireachd. The much-anticipated republishing of the “MacGregor” manuscript was well worth the wait for the music portion alone. Brilliantly edited and annotated by Andrew Wright, this section is invaluable for serious piobaireachd players. A gloriously printed volume, the book’s price unfortunately may be beyond the reach of many pipers.
Henderson Harmonic Deluxe Drone Reeds. Henderson Reedmakers of Kirriemuir, Scotland, has taken the next step in drone reed technology with the production of reeds with carbon-fibre tongues. The company is already on a revision to the original design that adds a tuning screw.
The Classic Collection of Piobaireachd Tutorials, Pipe-Major Donald MacLeod, MBE. Released in December 2001, the first four of a planned forty – yes, we said forty – CDs were put out by Lismor Recordings. The discs are a compendium of the great Donald MacLeod’s cassette lessons, which he started in the 1970s and sold to pipers requesting and paying for them. Rather than vaulting them up, MacLeod’s widow, Winnie, sensibly negotiated a deal with Lismor to make these first-generation recordings available to all at an affordable price. This series is the mother-lode for piobaireachd players of all abilities.
News Story of the Year
Prince Charles Made to Play in Grade 2. There were many newsworthy stories in the piping and drumming world in 2001, but the biggest of all was what became known as “The Prince Charles Debacle.” With only two weeks to go before the World Pipe Band Championships, Prince Charles learned that it would have to compete in Grade 2 at the contest, despite submitting its entry for Grade 1 in the spring.
The band actually learned about the decision by reading a story on the draw for order of play on Piper & Drummer Online, and thereafter confirmed it with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA).
Despite winning the Grade 2 event at the 2000 World’s, and competing with good success against Grade 1 bands all summer, Prince Charles was relegated by the RSPBA’s Music Board, which apparently cited the fact that the Western United States Pipe Band Association (WUSPBA) is not an officially recognized RSPBA sister association, thus their upgrading of Prince Charles held no truck.
After its appeal was rejected, Prince Charles went on to compete in Grade 2 at the contest, and finished fourth.
Other important stories of 2001: The sudden death of Tom McAllister; Jack Lee’s double victory at the Argyllshire Gathering.
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