B- and C-Grade pipers hope to fly with Eagles
The original iteration of the Edinburgh-based Eagle Pipers’ Society in the 1970s ran a high-profile solo piping competition that attracted many of the UK’s best players, and almost 50 years on the organization is putting on an online contest for members of the Competing Pipers Association who have a B or C grading.
The competition will be by recorded video performances uploaded to YouTube, judges assessing them over a period of time.
Entries open via the Eagle Pipers website on March 19th, and will carry a £16 fee per event.
While contestants will have to be a member of the CPA, membership with the Eagle Pipers isn’t necessary.
The CPA does not have reciprocal agreements with any other piping associations around the world. The association’s grading system is for various levels of pipers with Professional or Open gradings in other countries. Obtaining a CPA grading can take some time, each member’s abilities are assessed individually before a committee assigns them a grading in each of piobaireachd and light music.
Each grade will have both a Piobaireachd and a March, Strathspey, Reel, Hornpipe & Jig, with B-Grade players submitting four tunes in each genre, and three tunes per genre for those in C-Grade. The MSRHPJ straight-through format harks back to that of the Eagle Pipers competitions in the ’70s.
The Eagle Pipers’ Society has always been a supporter of up-and-coming soloists and feels COVID has denied them the opportunity to rise up the ranks.
– Eagle Pipers’ Society President Douglas Gardiner
There’s a 30-player entry limit for each event, and pipers must wear “Highland dress” in their performances, with jacket and hat optional. The organization said that each category will probably be split into two heats of 15, with three from each going to a final.
Each round will be assessed by different judges, who are all from the list of approved judges on the UK’s Solo Piping Judges Association (SPJA): Callum Beaumont, Ian Duncan, Michael Grey, Murray Henderson, Roddy MacLeod, Iain Speirs, Tom Speirs and Bob Worrall.
Pipers will have plenty of time to prepare. Videos have to be recorded an uploaded June 10-13.
Prize money ranges from £150 for the winner of the B-Grade MSRHPJ to £15 for the fifth-prize-winner of the C-Grade light music. Entry fees from 60 players would cover the total purse of £970 almost exactly.
“The Eagle Pipers’ Society has always been a supporter of up-and-coming soloists and feels COVID has denied them the opportunity to rise up the ranks,” said Eagle Pipers President Douglas Gardiner. “While the CPA does not officially recognize the results of online competitions for grading purposes, they have advised they may look favourably upon outstanding achievement in events where SPJA/CPA Supplementary judges and a high calibre field are present. Our aim it make this as high quality a contest as possible to ensure pipers stand the best chance of a positive grading consideration by the CPA.”
The Eagle Pipers Society was founded in 1960, taking its name from the organization’s first meeting place, the Eagle Bar (now the Ensign Ewart) near Edinburgh Castle. The society fizzled in the early-1980s, as piping declined in the Edinburgh area, with its last meeting place the West End Hotel at Palmerston Place. The group went dormant for about 30 years until it was resurrected in 2009, holding monthly meetings that restarted online last September. Its eagle necktie has become a common sight at piping events around the world.
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