Published: February 28, 2003

Queen Mary Plays Host to Extraordinary Piping Competition

Long Beach, California – February 15-16 – The Queen Mary Hotel here is the venue for one of the world’s more unusual piping, drumming and pipe band competitions on the outskirts of the city of Los Angeles. With solo events held on the 1930s ocean liner’s teak decks and remarkable Art Deco Observation Bar, and band contests on the dock outside, “The Queen Mary” showcases western United States talent for two days, culminating in an Open Kitchenpiping contest before some 400 enthusiasts.

The Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco won both days of Grade 3 band events, while the Misty Isle Pipe Band of Torrance, California, took both contests in Grade 4.

In the professional solo piping, Seamus Coyne of Los Angeles won the March, Strathspey & Reel event, while Ian Whitelaw, Redondo Beach, California, won the Hornpipe & Jig contest. Aggregate winners in the amateur piping grades were Grade 1: Micah Babinski, Grade 2: Cyrus Luciano, Grade 3: Sam Vaca, Grade 4: Cameron Scott.

The Open Kitchenpiping event, in which pipers play a free-form selection for as long or short as they wish, was won, by popular audience vote, by Steve McGarrity, Los Angeles. This year’s contest was tame compared with years past, when pipers performed with everything from a Mexican mariachi band to dressing in drag.

The Queen Mary Festival opened on the night of February 14 with a combined concert by the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band and the Celtic rock group Bad Haggis. During the concert, the two groups merged to perform stirring renditions of piper Eric Rigler’s “The B-52” and “Walking the Plank.”

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