(Video) MacLellan piobaireachd collection imminent

Published: March 1, 2016

Piobaireachd enthusiasts are looking forward to getting their fingers and their ears on the much-anticipated Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Complete Collection of Ceol Mor, edited by the legendary piper’s son, Colin MacLellan, a famous piper in his own right.

The 31-page collection features all 11 of the piobaireachds that John MacLellan composed in his lifetime, and a double CD of each of the tunes performed either at the annual Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Invitational Recital-Competition or especially by Colin MacLellan.

The book also includes written notes on each tune, with Colin MacLellan’s remembrances of the inspiration for each piece as well as brief analysis of the compositions themselves.

The collection also includes Colin MacLellan’s own “Salute to John A. MacDonald, Canada’s First Prime Minister,” which was awarded first-prize in a composing competition organized by this publication in 1991, a contest also entered by John MacLellan. The tune that the elder MacLellan composed for the competition was his last, and subsequently named by Colin MacLellan, “For My Lass, Fair, Pretty and Highland.”

John MacLellan’s best-known piobaireachd is “The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairack,” a tune that has been set by the Piobaireachd Society for the solo piping major gatherings in Scotland.

The collection will have a suggested retail price of £20, and will be available directly from MacLellan through his reedmaking business, as well as select piping supplies dealers around the world.

(See Part 1 of our five-part 2009 interview with Colin MacLellan.)


Thriving, effective, insightful


Matthew Welch reviews Simon McKerrell’s “Focus on World Music Series: Scottish Traditional Music” . . .

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Banner day for Mackays at TKO

Published: February 29, 2016

Toronto – February 27, 2016 – The brother and sister Gavin and Drew Mackay each won their respective events in their final rounds of the annual Toronto Amateur Knockout held at Mosspark Armoury. Gavin Mackay was the first winner of the Ed Neigh Memorial Trophy for the A Division contest for Grade 1 and Grade 2 amateur pipers. The events are the culmination of several qualifying rounds that narrow the field. Each section had to play medleys of certain lengths comprising music of their own choice. The competition is organized by the Toronto branch of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.

Adjudicator Colin MacLellan, B-Division winner Drew Mackay and A Division winner Gavin Mackay at the 2016 Toronto Amateur Knockout.

Grade 1 & 2 Medley
1st Gavin Mackay
2nd Charles David Mitchell
3rd Mark McLennan

Grade 3 & 4 Medley
1st Drew Mackay
2nd Kayleigh Johnstone
3rd Luca Zadra

Both events were judged by Colin MacLellan.


Updated: Denny & Dunipace to sit out 2016 season

Published: February 28, 2016

The Grade 1 Denny & Dunipace Pipe Band of Stirling, Scotland, has elected not to compete in 2016 after it wasn’t able to attract a new leading-drummer following the departure of Arthur Cook last summer.

According to Pipe-Major David Clunie the band remains a going concern, but he personally will take a sabbatical year and members of the band are free to compete with other bands in 2016 as it hopes to regroup for 2017.

“The pursuit of finding another lead-tip continues and hopefully something can be put together for 2017,” Clunie said, adding that Denny’s Grade 4 band will continue as usual with more input from him and others.

When asked about the possible reasons that no young potential leading-drummers stepped forward, Clunie said, “I think there are various reasons why it’s so difficult, but certainly lack of good young talent to take on, or afraid of taking on leading roles at this level due to risk of being ridiculed by inadequate judging doesn’t help. I’m probably stating what a lot of people already think and I’ve got nothing to lose from it.

“I think there are guys who would love the opportunity but fear the backlash or failure associated with corrupt/inexperienced judging out there. Grade 1 is a joke and you can guess the prize list order and the rest within a place of each other depending on who’s judging. Everyone knows it and all the band members in every band know it, but we do nothing about it. Bands still turn up on the hope that the judges take a moral pill that day and might get a chance of upsetting the apple cart.”

Although rumoured to be in similar straits, the Grade 1 Cullybackey Pipe Band of Northern Ireland plans to compete in 2016, according to Pipe-Major Richard McGrath, but with reduced numbers.

Denny & Dunipace in 2015.




With Northern Ireland’s Bleary & District’s promotion to Grade 1, the effect on UK Grade 1 numbers is neutralized, and the addition of the reformed Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band for 2016, planning to compete at all five major championships, raises the net number in the top grade by one.

For the Grade 1 contest at the 2016 World Pipe Band Championships, Canterbury Caledonian of New Zealand, a consistent competitors at the event over the past several years, will reportedly not make the trip this year, while Manawatu Scottish and the New Zealand Police are planning to return to Glasgow Green. From Ontario, Canada, the Toronto Police will not travel to Scotland, but the Grade 1 Ottawa Police will reportedly make its first appearance at the World’s since being elevated to Grade 1 following the 2014 season.

Along with Clunie, Arthur Cook joined Denny & Dunipace in 2010 when the band was in Grade 2, taking it to Grade 1 in short order. Cook announced he would leave the band after the 2015 World’s, and then joined the Grade 2 Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band in September 2015. Cook is a previous winner of the World Solo Drumming Championship.


Outside the Box, with Jim McGillivray

Published: February 27, 2016

Metro Cup a fascinating cross-section of today’s international solo competition scene . . .

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Spring Gatherin’ back in Belfast

Published: February 26, 2016

After encountering significant challenges from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association around its debut event in 2015, some might have wondered if The Spring Gatherin’ in Belfast would take place again, but organizers have revealed that the concert-laden piping and drumming festival, competition and workshop will return on April 8-9 at the Ramada Plaza Shaw’s Bridge hotel.

The event has expanded its list of confirmed performers with the addition of three flute bands, which are every bit as if not more popular than pipe bands in Northern Ireland. The Ballinran Flute Band, Cahard Flute Band and Kellswater Flute Band will join Grade 1 Ravara, Grade 3B Major Sinclair Memorial, and Grade 4A Portavogie pipe bands, all of Northern Ireland. Also added to the bill is the Coleraine Fife & Drum Band.

“It is clear from the reaction of both the participants and audience this year, that the event is a much needed addition to the calendar of the pipers and drummers in Ireland and beyond, with its laid back style and proximity to its audience the atmosphere created by this mix was appealing to all,” Director Colin Wasson said in a news release. “It also became apparent there was a desire from bands outside the world of piping to be included in such an event and create a hub which all genres could buy into and enjoy.”

The Manorcunningham Pipe Band performs at the 2015 Spring Gatherin’.

The event features concert performance and solo piping and drumming competitions, as well as a workshop by prominent pipers and drummers to wrap up the weekend. The Spring Gatherin’ was inspired by the success of the well-established annual Winter Storm competitions, recitals and workshops in Kansas City.

The original concept for the 2015 Spring Gatherin’ included a pipe band competition, but one that deviated from rules set by the RSPBA. The RSPBA allegedly put pressure on bands that had committed to compete to withdraw, and the organizers then modified the event to be only non-competition performances for pipe bands. One RSPBA executive resigned reportedly over the matter.

Mervyn Herron of the RSPBA’s Northern Ireland branch has agreed to return to The Spring Gatherin’ as event controller.

“We consider the inaugural Spring Gatherin’ to have been a great success, with extremely positive and encouraging feedback given from many participants and attendees, and we are delighted that it is returning in 2016,” Wasson continued. “Many have emphasised how well organised they found the 2015 event to be. In fact, all feedback received has been 100% positive. The common thread we all kept hearing was that pipers and drummers have been waiting for an event like this to happen in the UK for a long time and that they hope it returns for many years to come.”

Tickets for the event begin to go on sale on February 27th.


Auction for Gandy Development fund starts March 1st

Published: February 24, 2016

Everything from a 1965 World Championship medal received from the legendary Pipe-Major Robert Hardie of Muirhead & Sons, to an autobiography autographed by the late John Wilson of Edinburgh and Toronto, to a created and signed by the famed former Shotts Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson and much more will go up for auction on March 1st, with all proceeds going to the Bruce Gandy Bagpipe Development Society, the charitable arm of the famous piper’s professional piping business of lessons, workshops, composing and other aspects of the art.

The auction currently features more than 30 items in various categories, each with a minimum starting bid, with PayPal and all major credit cards accepted.

The Bruce Gandy Bagpipe Development Society “promotes and enhances bagpipe music through educational funding and partnership,” with goals including the development of youth programs supporting Highland bagpiping locally, nationally, and internationally and educational scholarships and bursaries for bagpipe students to use for private lessons, workshops, and piping schools, and travel to major events.

The spring fundraiser auction runs from March 1 until a week or longer, depending on the item, and all items have been donated by various people. Monetary donations to the Bruce Gandy Bagpipe Development Society are also accepted. The BGBDS is part of the Bruce Gandy Foundation.

Gandy said that pipers, drummers and enthusiasts who are interested in contributing related items are encouraged to contact him via his website.


Metro Cup medleys in video

Published: February 23, 2016

We’re pleased to bring you medley performances from the 2016 Metro Cup Invitational Solo Piping Competition, held on February 20, 2016, at the Ramada Airport Hotel in Newark, New Jersey. Contestants could perform whatever they wished in a medley between five and eight minutes long. Each piper had five minutes to tune.

Gordon Walker [Photo: Teale Failla]

We received permission from the competition organizers and each player shown, and offered monetary compensation to the pipers in return.

The first five videos, accessible on separate pages, are in the order of finish in the Medley event. After that they are in alphabetical order by last name:

1st Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland
2nd Callum Beaumont, Linlithgow, Scotland
3rd Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland
4th Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland
5th Glenn Brown, Glasgow

We thank each piper and hope that pipes|drums readers enjoy these often amazing performances.

Continue reading

NZ Police: Wellington & Hawkes Bay Champs

Published: February 22, 2016

Feilding, New Zealand – February 20, 2016 – The New Zealand Police Pipe Band took straight firsts in both events in the two-band Grade 1 Wellington & Hawkes Bay Centre Championship. The contest did not have a strong attendance by competing bands, as many are preparing for the New Zealand Championships, also in Feilding, March 11-12. There was no Grade 2 competition.

Grade 1
1st New Zealand Police (1,1,1,1)
2nd Manawatu Scottish (2,2,2,2)

1st New Zealand Police (1,1,1,1)
2nd Manawatu Scottish (2,2,2,2)

The Wellington Police Pipe Band celebrate their success at Feilding.

Grade 3
1st Wellington Red Hackle (1,1,1,1)
2nd City of Hastings (2,2,2,2)

1st Wellington Red Hackle (1,1,1,1)
2nd City of Hastings (2,2,2,2)

Grade 4
1st Manawatu (Gr4) (2,2,1,1)
2nd Kapiti Coast (1,1,2,2)
3rd Wellington Red Hackle (Gr4) (3,3,3,3)

1st Wellington Red Hackle (Gr4) (1,1,3,2)
2nd Kapiti Coast (2,3,2,3)
3rd Manawatu (Gr4) (3,2,1,1)

Judges for all events: Andrew Sander, Ross Ferguson (piping); Gary Watt (ensemble); Phil Stebbings (drumming)

Got competition results? See an error above? Just drop us a line at .


Beaumont wins 2016 Metro Cup

Published: February 20, 2016

2016 Metro Cup champion Callum Beaumont and organizer Eric Stein.

Newark, New Jersey – February 20, 2016 – Callum Beaumont of Linlithgow, Scotland, was the overall winner of the 2016 Metro Cup Solo Invitational Piping Competition, held before a sizable and appreciative audience at the Ramada Newark Airport Hotel. It was Beaumont’s second win of the event. In addition to the prize money, the overall winner receives a solid gold medallion, valued at more than US$1200. The event is organized by the Metro New York Branch of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, and a team of volunteers led by Eric Stein. A well run silent auction raised substantial funds to offset costs, as did regional pipe bands sponsoring competitors to attend and conduct workshops and recitals especially for them.

In the P-M George Bell Amateur Championship held in the morning, Sean Moloney of Limerick, Ireland, won the overall award with a second in the piobaireachd event, which was adjuidicated by Brian Donaldson, and a first in the MSR, judged by James P. Troy.

1st Callum Beaumont, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim” (US$1000)
2nd Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “MacNeill of Barra’s March” ($600)
3rd Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland, “Scarce of Fishing” ($400)
4th Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute” ($200)
5th James P. Troy, Victoria, British Columbia, “Lament for the Laird of Anapool” ($100)

Medley (own choice, 5-7 minutes)
1st Gordon Walker ($1000)
2nd Callum Beaumont ($600)
3rd Willie McCallum ($400)
4th Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland ($200)
5th Glenn Brown, Glasgow ($100)

Also competing but not in the prizes were Brian Donaldson, Wisconsin; Alex Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh; Andrew Lee, Vancouver; Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland; and John Patrick, Kilsyth, Scotland.

Judges for both events were Jim Bell, Andrew Berthoff and Jim McGillivray.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for video from the medley performances.



Junior bands cross continent to assist one another


The 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Youth Pipe Band and the Conservatory of Performing Arts Pipe Band (University of Regina) are working together on a special initiative that will provide development and competition opportunities for both organizations.

The two youth bands have been working on a common repertoire for a number of months, and will be coming together twice in the 2016 season, once at the Saskatchewan Highland Gathering and Celtic Festival (May 21-22) in Regina, Saskatchewan, and again at the New Brunswick Highland Gathering in Fredericton, New Brunswick (July 23-24).

The combined band will be led by Eilidh MacDonald, former pipe-major of the Regina band, and currently a member of the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Grade 1 group.

Eilidh MacDonald leading the Regina Junior group.

Rod MacLean, President of the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Bands, is enthusiastic about the benefits for the Halifax-area youth. “Our organization has well-established Grade 1 and Grade 3 bands, plus a new crop of dedicated and enthusiastic learners, but not quite enough to field a full group for all the games in the Maritimes. Eilidh suggested combining them with her ‘home’ band to give our learners some motivation and experience they wouldn¹t otherwise have.”

The Halifax youth members are raising funds for their trip to Regina in May, where they will be hosted by the Regina band, and will compete and perform with the Conservatory Pipe Band.

In Regina, the young members of the Conservatory Pipe Band are excited about their first trip outside the Prairies as a band, and are also fundraising and working hard to raise the funds for the trip. “It’s a great development for the band,” says Iain MacDonald, the band director. “We were looking for a project to get the kids really excited about the music and the opportunities it provides, and this seemed perfect. Eilidh has been working with the band here in the spring and summers, and we are really pleased to be aligned with the 78th in Halifax, and look forward to all the opportunities and friendships that will develop as a result.”

The City of Regina and 78th Highlanders pipe bands will support the initiative with uniforms and instruments for all the players, including a set of Campbell Tunable Pipe Chanters sponsored by the chanter¹s developer, Kyle Campbell. The Halifax-Regina Youth Pipe Band will launch a Facebook page so that people can follow the activities, and the group is open to donations or in-kind sponsorships to assist.

Fleming spies Bucksburn for L-D role

Published: February 19, 2016

Joe Fleming when he was with Shotts & Dykehead.

The Grade 2 Bucksburn & District from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, has appointed Joe Fleming as its leading-drummer., taking over from Simon Lipp who left the band last December, and previous L-D Mike Haggart who has held down leadership of the Bucksburn corps until now.

A native of Lanarkshire, Fleming comes with experience at the Grade 1 level, playing with Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and Inveraray & District. He expects to graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a BA (Hons) in Scottish Music, and move to Aberdeen where hopes to introduce pipe band drumming lessons to schools in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire areas.

“It has been some time since Bucksburn’s drum corps had seen success on the competition park and Joe and his energized corps will strive to bring this back to the band again,” said Bucksburn & District Pipe-Sergeant and Secretary Gus McAskill. “We have a young band with very talented players who are keen to do well and Joe’s appointment will enhance this greatly.

“The band wishes to express its gratitude to Mike Haggart for his efforts during his short time as Stand-in Lead Drummer. Mike will continue to help and support Joe in his new role.

The Bucksburn & District organization, which includes a juvenile teaching and competing bands operation in addition to the Grade 2 band, will celebrate its seventieth anniversary in 2017. The annual concert in Aberdeen put on by Bucksburn & District will feature the Grade 1 ScottishPower as the headliner on May 14th.

John MacDougall, 1936-2016

Published: February 18, 2016

John MacDougall, the famous solo piper of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, died suddenly on the morning of February 18th. He was in his eightieth year.

He was a major exponent of the “Balmoral” school of piobaireachd, receiving tuition from Robert Nicol and, primarily, Robert Brown, which led him to great competitive success in both piobaireachd and light music.

He was a five-time winner of the Former Winners MSR (1969, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1978), twice winner of the Senior Piobaireachd (1978, 1981) and winner of the Highland Society of London Gold Medal (1969) at the Argyllshire Gathering; he won the piobaireachd title at the Grant’s/Glenfiddich Championship (1976); the Clasp (1978), Silver Star MSR (1966); the Highland Society of London Gold Medal (1960) at the Northern Meeting; the Open Piobaireachd at London (1976); and the Silver Chanter twice (1968, 1980) among many other prizes.

John MacDougall (far left) with Hugh MacCallum, John D. Burgess and Iain MacFadyen c.1979.

In the 1970s John MacDougall was such a successful competitor around the Scottish Highland games that he earned the nickname “The Highland Hoover” for his efficiency in sucking up the prizes. Perhaps apocryphal, he was said to have won three piobaireachd competitions at three different Highland games in one day.

Stories about John MacDougall were many. He was known for his mischevious wit and charm, and had a reputation for being absent-minded at times, often not returning trophies and, when he did, not investing in the engraving to include his name. He was alleged to have found more than £10,000 in cash and cheques amassed from prizes that he had won over three decades, simply thrown into a desk drawer.

He was said to have routinely practiced in shirtsleeves in an unused granite quarry in all types of weather to toughen himself against the elements one must be prepared to face on the Scottish games circuit.

A native of Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire, MacDougall did his National Service with the Cameron Highlanders, was a printer to trade, and was piping instructor to Badenoch and Strathspey area schools. Two of his most successful pupils were the Highland Society of London gold medallist Niall Mathieson and the top-flight soloist John Don MacKenzie. MacDougall lived for most of his life in the small village of Kingussie.

Grant’s Championship 1977 competitors. John MacDougall is standing, fourth from left. Others L-R: Tom Speirs, Iain Clowe, Bill Livingstone, Malcolm McRae, MacDougall, Iain Morrison, Hugh MacCallum, John D. Burgess, Iain MacFadyen, Murray Henderson, Arthur Gillies and Duncan MacFadyen.

His pipe band career was limited, starting with the local Boys Brigade and later playing with the Bucksburn Pipe Band. In the 1960s he was recruited by Pipe-Major Donald Shaw Ramsay to be a member of the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band, the first band of all-star pipers and drummers, which also included John D. Burgess, Alex Duthart, Bert Barr and Kit Reynolds.

In his later years, MacDougall was a frequent adjudicator of top solo piping competitions.

On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we extend our condolences to John MacDougall’s family and friends at this sad time.


New bass, no World’s for TO Police

Published: February 17, 2016

The Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band has made the rare and difficult decision to give the 2016 World Championships a miss, as it embarks on a year of “regrouping and rebuilding,” including the addition of Sean Allan on bass and Jake Watson to the pipe section.

Pipe-Major Sean McKeown and former-pipe-major Ian K. MacDonald took the stage with Allan and Watson and the rest of the “vintage 78th Fraser Highlanders” and special guests at the Live In Ireland In Scotland concert at Celtic Connections in Glasgow on January 30th.

Allan replaces Neil Whitelaw, who had held the bass spot for a season, coming into the band when McKeown took over as pipe-major.

“I had the opportunity to play with Sean the week of Celtic Connections 2016 for the Live in Ireland 87 concert, and I was really impressed at his style and delivery,” McKeown said. “While it was a difficult decision to make, ultimately Sean’s style was more aligned with the direction I see this band heading in. That said, Neil joined at a time last year where we had a new pipe major, leading drummer and an entirely new drum corps and mid-section. I thought he did a great job, and I very much appreciate his efforts and dedication to the band last year. I do wish the best for him.”

The son of the late famed bass drummer Luke Allan, Sean Allan had not played with pipe bands for more than a decade. He was once a tenor drummer with the 78th Fraser Highlanders, and played snare with the Toronto Police when it won Grade 2 at the World’s in 1986.

Members of the Toronto Police Pipe Band at the line in the MSR qualifying round at the 2015 World Championships.

Watson returns to the Toronto Police after serving as its pipe-major in the late 1980s and 1990s, and most recently played in Grade 1 with the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, which he left after the 2014 season. McKeown said that his band has added “a number of talented new players in the drum corps, mid-section, and pipe section, with a mix of youth, and experience.”

Despite the upgrades, Toronto Police has opted not to travel again to this year’s World Pipe Band Championships.

“We have decided that we will be focusing on regrouping, and rebuilding this band at home,” McKeown added. “We want to ensure that we can be consistently good here before making the trek back overseas in 2017.”

The band will be competing throughout the 2016 Ontario season, and will travel to the Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship on April 23rd in Norfolk.


First Boney Invitational goes to Troy

Published: February 16, 2016

James P. Troy with the Boney Music Invitational trophy and Andrew Bonar.

Burnaby, British Columbia – February 13, 2016 – The inaugural Boney Music Invitational Piping Competition took place at Simon Fraser University’s Halpern Centre, where James P. Troy of Victoria, British Columbia, took the top prize for his 20-minute freeform recital performance. The contest was organized by the well known piper Andrew “Boney” Bonar and the British Columbia Pipers Association.

Alastair Lee, Surrey, British Columbia, was runner-up and also performing were Jori Chisholm, Seattle; Andrew Lee, Surrey British Columbia; and Brittney Otto, Vancouver. The five competitors comprised the top five finishers from the BCPA’s 2015 Grand Aggregate Professional Solo Piping standings.

The event was judged by five judges seated in the audience. The players were not aware of who was judging. The judges were not aware of who the other judges were.

Each performer entertained the audience of more than 100 with a 20-minute recital within which each had to perform a ground of a piobaireachd, a four-parted 6/8 march, two two-parted strathspeys, tunes composed by a member of the BCPA and tunes composed by Canadian composers not from British Columbia. The performers filled the remaining time with tunes of their choice.

The evening was organized as a benefit to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation, a cause that the British Columbia piping and drumming community has backed since Bonar was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, for which he continues to receive treatment. More than $950 was collected on the night.

Andrew Bonar was recognized on the night by the BC Cancer Foundation for his support of brain cancer research in the province, and Jori Chisholm made the presentation, quoting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”


Donlon, McClamrock on top in Jersey


Morristown, New Jersey – February 12-14, 2016 – This was the first running of the Piobaireachd Conference, which incorporated two days of piobaireachd masterclasses and teaching with two competitions, one held each evening – a Piobaireachd on Friday, and March, Strathspey & Reel twice through on Saturday. The main organizer was James Stack assisted by June Hanley and Matt Wood of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association.

The guest instructor/lecturer was Colin MacLellan of Edinburgh, who took Ben McClamrock, Baltimore (“The Rout of the MacPhees”), Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh (“Castle Menzies”), Dan Lyden, Maryland (“Hector MacLean’s Warning”), Andrew Donlon, Pittsburgh (“Rory McCloude’s Lament”) and Derek Midgely, New Jersey (“Clan Chattan’s Gathering”) through their tunes before a substantial and interested audience, pointing out suggestions of style and differences in settings and preferences.

The afternoon session focused on some of the set tunes of 2016, and the tunes were again presented in different styles and settings, with various illustrations of quite rare recorded music accompanying the talk. Tunes covered in this session were “Lament for MacSwan of Roaig,” “Mary’s Praise,” “The Stewarts’ White Banner,” “A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick,” “I am Proud to Play a Pipe” and “The Piper’s Warning to his Master.”

On Sunday morning a lively discussion took place as a session on the various systems and conventions of adjudication in Scotland, and this provided much needed information for those present who are members of the EUSPBA’s panel of judges. The Sunday morning session, which completed the conference, featured the presentation of some of MacLellan’s favourite music, including “The Unjust Incarceration,” “MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament” and the MacArthur/MacGregor setting of “The MacDougalls’ Gathering.”

The event was mainly supported by the EUSPBA and the Piobaireachd Society.

Piobaireachd (10 competed)
1st Andrew Donlon, “The End of the Great Bridge” (US$500)
2nd Nick Hudson, “The Lament for the Laird of Anapool” ($300)
3rd Derek Midgely, “The Rout of the Lowland Captain” ($200)
4th Dan Lyden, “The Battle of Auldearn” ($100)
5th Ben McClamrock, “The Red Speckled Bull”
6th Duncan Bell “MacNeill of Barra’s March” (MacArthur MacGregor MSS)

MSR (10 competed)
1st Ben McClamrock, “The Glengarry Gathering,” “Tulloch Gorm,” “The Brown-Haired Maid” ($500)
2nd Andrew Donlon, “Inveran,” “Delvinside,” “The Man from Glengarry” ($300)
3rd Nick Hudson, “Queen Elizabeth II’s Welcome to Invergordon,” “Pipe-Major Hector MacLean,” “The Little Cascade” ($200)
4th Derek Midgely, “Mrs. John MacColl,” “Arniston Castle,” “The Cockerel in the Creel” ($100)
5th Andrew Walker, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, “Brigadier-General Ronald Cheape of Tiroran,” “Caledonian Society of London,” Alick C. MacGregor”
6th Dan Lyden, “Pipe-Major John Stewart,” “John Roy Stuart,” “The Smith of Chilliechassie”
Judges: Colin MacLellan, James Stack

Game, set, match for Murray at Wheel

Published: February 15, 2016

Judge Ian McLellan, Douglas Murray and City of Edinburgh Pipe Band Pipe-Major Barry Donaldson at the 2016 Pipe-Majors’ Wheel of Fortune competition.

Danderhall, Scotland – February 13, 2016 – Douglas Murray of Cardenden, Scotland, was the winner of the annual Pipe-Majors’ Wheel of Fortune competition, organized by the Grade 2 City of Edinburgh Pipe Band, winning the MSR and the Wheel of Fortune medley contest where competitors spin the golden chanter, with the final selection made by an audience member as pipers take the floor.

Callum Beaumont of Linlithgow, Scotland, finished second overall, and Alasdair Henderson from Dunoon, Scotland, was third.

Murray played “Highland Wedding,” “Susan MacLeod” and “John Morrison, Assynt House” for his MSR, which was judged by Ian McLellan, and his audience-adjudicated medley featured the Irish air “Eileen Mary Connolly,” two Irish reels – “Sleepy Maggie” and “The Humours of Tulla” – the hornpipe “Crossing the Minch” by Donald McLeod, his own composition “Mojo’s Jig,” and a show-stopping rendition of Gordon Walker’s “The Fiddlers’ Rally.”

Last year’s overall winner, Brian Lamond of Inverkeithing, Scotland, won the Joke event, in which each competitor has to tell a joke or story to the audience, with a gag that involved a man who had to make a donkey laugh and cry.

Also competing but not in the prizes were Jonathan Greenlees, Glasgow; Finlay Johnston, Glasgow; and Angus Nicholson. Chris Armstrong withdrew due to illness.

A bidder from Canada won the original two-part tune of any genre composed by Allan MacDonald, and a donated set of pipes from William Sinclair & Son (Bagpipe Makers) were auctioned for £950.


Lucky 13 in line for 2016 Metro Cup

Published: February 14, 2016

The annual Metro Cup Solo Invitational Piping Competition, organized by the Metro New York Branch of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, is set for Saturday, February 20th, at the Ramada Plaza Newark Liberty International Airport Hotel, with an impressive lineup of 13 contestants that include seven Highland Society of London Gold Medalists.

The professional contest comprises Piobaireachd and Medley events, each with a first-prize of US$1,000. There’s also the Pipe-Major George M. Bell Amateur Championship for the top six amateur pipers from each of the branches of the EUSPBA, and pipers from the Midwest Pipe Band Association, the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, and the overall winner of the CLASP competition in the UK.

Professional pipers and the piobaireachd chosen for each of them to play:

  • Callum Beaumont, Linlithgow, Scotland, “Lament for the Earl of Antrim”
  • Glenn Brown, Glasgow, ” Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
  • Brian Donaldson, Delafield, Wisconsin, “The Old Men of the Shells” No.1
  • Alex Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “The Kings Taxes”
  • Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute”
  • Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland, “I Got a Kiss of the King’s Hand “
  • Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh, “Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay”
  • Andrew Lee, Vancouver, “The Big Spree”
  • Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland, “In Praise of Morag”
  • William McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “MacNeil of Barra’s March”
  • John Patrick, Kilsyth, Scotland, “The MacDougalls’ Gathering”
  • James Troy, Victoria, British Columbia, “Lament for Laird of Anapool”
  • Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland, “Scarce of Fishing”

The popular event features a silent auction, with funds returned to the event, which is also supported by regional pipe bands that organize workshops and recitals for many of the professional players.

Judges for the professional events are James Bell, Andrew Berthoff and Jim McGillivray.

The 2015 Metro Cup was won by Willie McCallum.


Vids: Armstrong & Jørgensen: Pipes+Drums Recital

Published: February 13, 2016

PipingLive2015Day2_ (25)_medWe take you back to the height of the 2015 competition season (in the northern hemisphere) and the performances of Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong and Leading-Drummer Jake Jørgensen of the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band at the annual Pipes+Drums Recital, sponsored by pipes|drums Magazine, at Piping Live!

We hope that you enjoy these high definition videos from two of the piping and drumming world’s greatest exponents of the art.


Continue reading

Bagpipe Amnesty up to 14 sets donated

Published: February 11, 2016

After two-and-a-half weeks, the Bagpipe Amnesty program launched by the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust has chalked up donations of 14 sets of pipes from around the world, with the latest from Lyndsey Spiers of Aberdeen, Scotland, who contributed three full instruments on her own.

Spiers grew up in a pipe band world, learning from an early age via her father’s involvement with the local Bucksburn & District Pipe Band as a drummer. The campaign has also seen two pipe band drums contributed, and last week a set of pipes was donated by Andi Gamblin of Kansas, who read about the program and arranged for her pipes shipped to Edinburgh.

Lyndsey Spiers , left, with Heather Mackay, a piper with the Grade 2 Buchan Peterson Pipe Band.

The initiative is looking for people with unwanted pipes to contribute the unused instruments to any of 66 fire stations across Scotland, so that they can be refurbished by Wallace Bagpipes and placed with kids learning the pipes in Scotland who might come from families that can’t afford a full set.

“It is amazing that we are receiving messages of support and donations from around the world,” said Trust Chief Executive Alexandra Duncan. “It shows that piping is important to so many people.”

The Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust currently teaches piping at no charge to more than 1,000 children across Scotland in schools, and provides qualified instructors for 14 programs running in 11 areas.


“Murdo’s Wedding” – melody, simplicity married

Published: February 10, 2016

Major Gavin Stoddart competing at the Scotway competition in Glasgow City Chambers, December 1989, his last competition appearance.

For pipers of all abilities, “Murdo’s Wedding” is a staple. The two-part 4/4 march is at least as popular and played as “Flett From Flotta,” and probably approaches even “Scotland the Brave” for its ubiquity in repertoires.

It’s a simple tune with a memorable melody: common hallmarks of music with staying-power. But how did it come about? Many will know that “Murdo” is a fairly common male name in Scotland, especially in the Highlands and islands. So, who was this Murdo, and what was so important about the guy’s wedding?

The tune was written by Major Gavin Stoddart BEM, one of the great competitive solo pipers of the latter half of the twentieth century. Among many big prizes, Stoddart won both Highland Society of London Gold Medals and the Silver Star Former Winners MSR at the Northern Meeting.

Now retired from his esteemed career with the military, during which he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to his country and to piping, we contacted the always congenial and humble Gavin Stoddart to ask if he could enlighten us on the roots of and reasons for “Murdo’s Wedding.”

Here’s what he returned:

“In 1964 I was playing the practice chanter in the back of my father’s shop in the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh. I was really just messing around and killing time before it was time for my lesson with Captain John MacLellan. I was using a tape recorder and when I replayed the tape a musical phrase stuck out – this consisted of the first two bars of the tune. It was quite easy from there to develop it further and the first part was completed fairly quickly. I was stuck on the start of the second part and when my father heard what I was playing he said the tune had something going for it and helped out with the first bar for the second part and the remainder of the tune flowed from there.

Murdo Murray, 1966 – then a married man.

“I didn’t have a name in mind for the tune and it wasn’t until Murdo Murray, a tenor drummer with the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band asked my father to play at his wedding and if he would compose a tune. Murdo came from Laxdale just outside Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. He was a ‘beat’ policeman on the Royal Mile and used to pop in to my father’s shop. Murdo married Catherine Anne Maciver on the 17th March 1965 at the Free Church in Stornoway.

“Around this time Iain McLeod, Pipe-Major of the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band, included ‘Murdo’s Wedding’ on a recording and it quickly became popular.

“I was aged 16 when I wrote ‘Murdo’s Wedding.’ I had lessons from Captain John from 1961 and until 1965, and in August 1966 I enlisted as a piper with the Scots Guards.”

A photo taken in 1966 when Gavin Stoddart was a guest piper with the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band on a trip to Moscow, which coincided with Stoddart’s eighteenth birthday. The band was there for a British trade fair and the band threw a surprise birthday party for him. L-R: Ronnie Ackroyd, Chris Anderson, Chief Inspector and Band Secretary Willie Orr, George Lumsden, Jimmy Orr, Tam Richie (looking up), L-D Bob Montgomery, Gavin Stoddart, Bob Gibson (his left eye), Neil Sumner, P-M Iain McLeod, Harry McNulty (his left eye), David Laird, Murdo Murray, Alex Shand, D-M Jimmy Hermiston, Lawrie Gillespie.

“Murdo’s Wedding” is a simple tune with humble origins, for a humble tenor drummer, from the imagination of one of the piping world’s most humble personalities, Gavin Stoddart.

For a beautifully set manuscript of “Murdo’s Wedding,” go to Jim McGillivray’s where you can download music for a small cost, with proceeds shared with the composers who own copyright.


RSPBA expands list of accredited judges

Published: February 8, 2016

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has widened its pool of accredited judges with at least five new judges joining its panel, including British Columbia resident Terry Lee, the former Simon Fraser University Pipe Band Pipe-Major who led the group to six World Championship titles during his thirty-plus-years tenure with the band.

In addition to Lee, Paul Brown, Stuart Coils, Alvis Kerr and John Moneagle have been brought into the fold. Brown was a snare drummer with Grade 1 St. Laurence O’Toole, Coils was a snare drummer with the Grade 1 Strathclyde Police for many years, Kerr was Pipe-Sergeant with Grade 1 Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and Moneagle served for many years as Leading-Drummer with the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl Pipe Band.

It is believed but not confirmed that former Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe-Major Ross Walker amd SFU and Inveraray & District snare drummer Ian Lawson will also be brought onto the RSPBA panel.

“I am very pleased and honoured to be joining the panel,” Lee said. “It seems to be the next logical step for me in pipe bands and I hope to give back to the association.”

With the RSPBA’s adoption of a policy that prohibits adjudicators judging family members playing in bands competing in the finals at championships, the deeper accredited panel is expected to provide more flexibility at majors. Under the new policy, Lee would not be assigned to a Grade 1 final in which SFU is competing due to family members in the band.

RSPBA Adjudicators Panel Management Group Convenor John Wilson. [Photo copyright pipes|drums]

RSPBA Adjudicators Panel Management Group Convenor John Wilson. [Photo copyright pipes|drums]

Accreditation for judges is managed by the RSPBA’s Adjudicators Panel Management Group, which is headed by John Wilson as convenor, with Joe Noble vice-convener, Robert Mathieson secretary and Gordon Lawrie and Gordon Craig leading adjudicator training and development.

Each of the new judges proactively applied to go through the RSPBA’s accreditation process, according to a source within the RSPBA.


Wheel of Fortune adds new tune to fundraising


The eleventh annual Pipe-Majors Wheel of Fortune invitational solo piping competition has taken its fundraising novelty to another level with an online auction in which the winner will receive a tune composed especially for him/her by famed piper and music creator Allan MacDonald.

The winner will receive and be allowed to name a two-part tune by MacDonald “in any idiom” in return for being the highest bidder.

The popular Pipe-Majors Wheel of Fortune contest calls for contestants to compete in a variety of creative events, where a wheel is spun to determine what the player has to perform, in addition to having to tell a joke to the audience.

Organized by the Grade 2 City of Edinburgh Pipe Band, the event will be held at noon on February 13th at the Danderhall Miners Club on Edmonstone Road in Danderhall, near Edinburgh.

Competitors at the 2016 event will be:

  • Chris Armstrong, Glasgow
  • Callum Beaumont, Linlithgow, Scotland
  • Jonathan Greenlees, Glasgow
  • Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland
  • Finlay Johnston, Glasgow
  • Brian Lamond, Inverkeithing, Scotland (2015 winner)
  • Douglas Murray, Cupar, Scotland (2014 winner)
  • Angus Nicholson
2015 Pipe-Majors Wheel of Fortune winner Brian Lamond in full joke mode at last year's event.

2015 Pipe-Majors Wheel of Fortune winner Brian Lamond in full joke mode at last year’s event.

The band said that the idea for an original tune being made a prize came about when MacDonald visited a band practice looking for a chanter reed from Pipe-Major Barry Donaldson.

Tickets for the fundraising competition is £15 for adults and £5 for those younger than 16.


RSPBA adjudicators can no longer judge family in finals

Published: February 7, 2016

The Board of Directors of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association have reportedly passed a resolution that will prohibit adjudicators from judging bands that have a relative of the judge, with the rule coming into effect starting in 2016.

The motion was reportedly made by the RSPBA’s Adjudicators Panel Management Group and then presented at the Adjudicators’ AGM in November, where it was debated and then approved unanimously by those in attendance, before it was sent to the RSPBA’s Board of Directors for approval. The organization’s Adjudicators Panel Management Group comprises Gordon Craig, Gordon Lawrie, Robert Mathieson, Joe Noble, Peter Snaddon, John Wilson and two directors.

At least 10 current adjudicators potentially would be impacted by the policy, including Tom Brown, J. Campbell, David Barnes, Terry Lee, Ciaran Mordaunt, John Nevans, Gordon Parkes, Winston Pollock, Alan Ronaldson and George Wilson and many more could be affected, depending on how extensive the definition of “relative” is and whether it includes cousins and in-laws.

According to several sources who asked that their names not be used, the rule will mean that “immediate family members” will not be allowed to judge their relative’s band, but only in the finals of the organization’s five major championships, including the World’s. The policy will apply to the finals of all grades.

“I disagree with the decision,” said one RSPBA adjudicator who asked to remain anonymous. “If I didn’t think I could do it fairly I would not have. From a personal perspective this decision implies that I have been biased in my decisions over the years! I will be asking for evidence of this. If judges cannot be trusted to judge fairly due to family connections then the same must apply to commercial connections and close friendship connections also. In my opinion it’s better to have strong monitoring and trust judges until they prove that they should not be trusted through evidence of inconsistent results. I want to challenge this face to face with those who made the decision and that might take some time.”

The selection of judges for championship finals has reportedly been based on the new criteria. Judging allocations for 2016 had not been announced by the RSPBA at publication, but was released a few hours later by the organization.

At championships where final competitions are known to be talking place, judges with family connections in bands in a specific grade will not be assigned to that grade’s final event. Every championship contest without a qualifier would be considered a “final,” meaning that judges affected by the rule would not be able to judge the grade in which a band has a family member on its roster unless it is a qualifying round.

The availability form that adjudicators complete now includes a family member declaration clause.

Enacting the “no judging relatives” rule across the board was deemed to be impractical if it were applied to all competitions and heats

The RSBA’s Adjudicators Committee might still put together an appeal of the decision.

“Some toys may be thrown out of the pram, but that’s life,” said one source.

The rule would come after decades of controversy, essentially dating back to the inception of the association in 1930. The topic is a sensitive one for every piping and drumming organization that coordinates competitions. The only association with a formal rule is the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, which brought in a measure in the 1990s to stop adjudicators from judging “close relatives,” including in-laws, in both band and solo competition.

The Competing Pipers Association in the UK has a policy that strongly advises competitors not to compete before any judges who are considered relatives.

RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton had not responded to a request for comment at publication time.

pipes|drums predicted that such a policy would be enacted in the magazine’s Ten headlines we could be writing in 2016 article of January 5th.


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May 3, 1976Angus MaPherson dies, Migdale, age 98.
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May 8, 2016Gourock Highland GamesGourock Park

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Pipers: Leather bags will mould to your shape and this is one of the reasons why I recommend leather – a bit more expensive to start, but a sound investment in your piping performance and enjoyment.
James Begg, Begg Bagpipes, Glasgow