March 31, 2006

Updated: Maxville considering shutting down Saturday Professional Piobaireachd

One of the longest-running and most prestigious solo piping events in North America, the Professional Piobaireachd competition at the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville, Ontario, may be shut down to make judging and timing less complicated.

Additionally, the Friday Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal events, which are held separately from the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO), could drop its March, Strathspey & Reel event. According to PPBSO President Ron Rollo, PPBSO Champion Supreme points will be counted from the Gold Medal piobaireachd contest.

The proposal is still to be discussed by the PPBSO Executive and Music Board before any changes are finalzied.

It is not yet known how the coveted North American Solo Piping Championship title would be decided, and whether the piobaireachd result would be counted, if such moves were made.

“This decision came from the Maxville committee,” said Rollo. “They felt it was duplication of Friday’s event and, with time constraints as they are, a move to cut the time on Saturday. It will make the judging a little less complicated.”

“It’s a terrible move by the Glengarry games to get rid of the Piobaireachd,” said competitor Bruce Gandy of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “That’s a huge tradition and it’s a big step towards getting rid of more events to make their business run a bit smoother. Once they find out this works okay for them, what’s next? Why not just get rid of the March and Strathspey & Reel as well and just take points from the winners on the Friday competitions?”

The only solo events to be held on Saturday could possibly be the Professional light music contests, Professional side drumming, and Grade 1 Amateur piping contests.

“The Piobaireachd at Maxville has always been one of the great North American contests to win,” said former competitor and current judge Jim McGillivray of Aurora, Ontario. “It’s a shame to see it go the way of the wonderful trophies lost to fire. But sometimes change can be good. Let’s hope the Friday piobaireachd event can assimilate the Saturday tradition and combine it with the ‘Gold Medal/Bar’ prestige of the Friday competition – now over 30 years old – for a tradition that is both new and old.”

The Professional Piobaireachd typically attracts an entry of between 25 and 40 pipers. Competitors who also play with pipe bands routinely scramble to rearrange the order of play with their fellow competitors so that they can do both.

It is not known whether the Gold Medal piobaireachd competition will continue to call for set tunes to be submitted, or if it will change to pipers submitting any four piobaireachds, the current PPBSO requirement.

It was also revealed that the Grade 4 and Grade 5 pipe band competitions could possibly begin around 9 a.m. on the Saturday.


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