Band DQed in Winnipeg for playing hornpipes

Published: March 27, 2016

The Conservatory of Performing Arts band competing at the 2016 Winnipeg Scottish Festival.

Winnipeg, Manitoba – March 26, 2016 – The Winnipeg Scottish Festival had a slightly smaller entry this year, reflecting some bands’ reluctance to travel on Easter weekend, but the afternoon band events still drew a capacity crowd to the indoor venue at the CanadInns Convention Centre. In the Grade 4 QMM event the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders were disqualified for playing a medley of hornpipes.

Grade 2
MSR & Medley
(one played)
1st City of Regina

Grade 3
(three competed)
1st Winnipeg Police (1,3,1,1)
2nd St. Andrews Society (2,1,2,2)
3rd Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders (3,2,3,3)

MSR (two competed)
1st Winnipeg Police (2,2,1,1)
2nd St. Andrews Society (1,1,2,2)

Grade 4
(three competed)
1st Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders (1,1,1,2)
2nd Lord Selkirk RFM (2,2,2,1)
3rd Conservatory of Performing Arts (3,3,3,3)

March Medley (two competed)
1st Lord Selkirk RFM (1,1,1,1)
2nd Conservatory of Performing Arts (2,2,2,2)

Grade 5
March Medley
1st Prairie Thistle

Judges for all events: Ken Eller, Alex Gandy (piping); Bob Worrall (ensemble); Roland Reid (drumming)

Do you have competition results that you’d like to share with the piping and drumming world? Just send them along with a photo or two using the format above to us by email!


Videos: Strong attendance at Toronto indoor

Published: March 26, 2016

The Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band competing in the Grade 5 event at the 2016 Toronto Indoor Games.

Toronto – March 26, 2016 – A strong entry across most grades of band, quartet and solo events made the 2016 Toronto Indoor Games at Mosspark Armoury in the city’s downtown a hive of activity, as the Peel Regional Police best the Toronto Police in the only contested Grade 1 band event. The Pipes & Drums of the 400 Squadron returned to competition after more than a year’s hiatus, winning the two-band Grade 2 event. Ian K. MacDonald won the overall prize in the Professional Solo Piping, and Iain Bell did the same in the Professional Solo Snare Drumming.

Grade 1
(one played)
1st Toronto Police
Judges: Glenna Mackay-Johnstone, Jim McGillivray (piping); Andrew Berthoff (ensemble); Doug Stronach (drumming)

MSR (two competed)
1st Peel Regional Police (2,1,1,1)
2nd Toronto Police (1,2,2,2)
Judges: Glenna Mackay-Johnstone, Jim McGillivray (piping); Andrew Berthoff (ensemble); Doug Stronach (drumming)

Grade 2
(two competed)
1st 400 Squadron (1,2,1,1)
2nd Paris Port Dover (2,1,2,2)
Judges: Glenna Mackay-Johnstone, Jim McGillivray (piping); Andrew Berthoff (ensemble); Doug Stronach (drumming)

Grade 3
(five competed)
1st Rob Roy (1,1,1,1)
2nd Toronto Police (Gr3) (2,4,3,2)
3rd Hamilton Police (4,2,2,4)
4th Guelph (3,3,4,3)
5th Northern Skye (5,5,5,5)
Judges: Brian Williamson, Andrea Boyd (piping); Andrew Berthoff (ensemble); Doug Stronach (drumming)

Grade 4
(one played)
1st Paris Port Dover
Judges: Peter Sinclair, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Elliott (ensemble); Doug Stronach (drumming)

Grade 5
March Medley
1st Hamilton Police (Gr5) (2,1,1,1)
2nd Ryan Russell Memorial (1,2,3,2)
3rd St. Andrews of Mississauga (4,3,2,5)
4th Paris Port Dover (Gr5) (5,5,4,3)
5th Scarborough (3,4,6,4)
6th Air Force City (5,6,6,5)
Judges: Peter Sinclair, Andrea Boyd (piping); John Elliott (ensemble); Doug Stronach (drumming)

Grades 1&2
1st Toronto Police
2nd Paris Port Dover
3rd Rob Roy
Judges: Gail Brown, Glenna Mackay-Johnstone

1st Rob Roy
2nd Paris Port Dover
3rd Toronto Police
Judges: Andrew Berthoff, Jim McGillivray

Grade 3&4
Air & 6/8 March
1st Toronto Police (Gr3) – Group MacDonald
2nd Toronto Police (Gr3) – Group Harrison
3rd Guelph
4th = Niagara Regional Police – Group Davidson / Niagara Regional Police – Group MacNeil
5th St. Andrew’s College
6th MacDonald

See next page for solo results . . .


Continue reading

Haikus for Grade 1

Published: March 25, 2016

CherryBlossom_smallSpring is here and it’s less than two months until the first major championship of the RSPBA season. The World’s are not far after that. In a fit of poetic inspiration, using traditional haiku, we attempt to capture the essence of the Grade 1 bands that have or will make the trip to Glasgow Green.

If we omitted a band, just let us know via comments if you would like to see a special haiku for them.


78th Fraser Highlanders

Thirty-three years
Since they first made this journey.
Orange you glad they did?

78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel)

A major breakthrough
For this big Maritimes band.
A Final exam.

Bleary & District

Upgraded to One,
Awakened from dream-year.
Refreshed, un-bleary.

Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia

Let’s meet the new Ross,
Not the same as the old Ross.
Stick with it, back end.


Continue reading

Trailing Drones: All ire, all the time

Published: March 23, 2016

Harry’s just done the full-on St. Patrick’s pub tour, and the head still feels like a pail of wet tattie scones. The Guinness flowed fulsomely, feeding fearless fools fully, and by the time “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Wearing of the Green” were played for the last time, the band had raised enough for new spats and hackles, and we are finally going to be able to get the full leopard skins for the bass-sec . . . er . . . em . . . I mean mid-section. They are right pumped about that. Harry sees the possibility for a few practical jokes at the games next summer, but he’ll keep that quiet at the moment.

Harry reads on p|d just like the rest of you (even those perpetually angry folk you who claim they don’t) and he was pretty interested in the new “fashion brogues” style on display by the band in the St. Patrick’s story. The good news about this method of lacing the brogues is that you can really pin your sgian dhubh to the leg so it won’t fall out on the dance floor. Harry’s thinking Henrietta might look pretty good in the actual fashion sandals, but she says she’d rather be found drunk in the High Street wearing just a football jersey.

Harry reminds her it wasn’t that much fun last time.

Not Harry, hairy, or, sadly, Henrietta.

The DVD of the 7887 Concert at Celtic Connections is rumoured to be coming out soon, and Harry also hears that the current 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band (in case anyone forgot around all the vintage Frasers revival hoopla that it still exists) is considering a re-release of the original Live In Ireland album, to which of course it owns the rights, along with the record label and music publisher. Let’s see where this goes.

On the subject of uniforms, Harry’s eyes grazed across a practice photo of the Dowco-Triumph Street’s “Glasgow Team” hard at work, and there was one piper for each of Harry’s toes (10). That got him to thinking about the cost of said team: kilt (£300), jacket (£200), sporran (£100), sheepskin bag (£200), G1 chanter (£100), glengarry & cap badge (£50), band tie (£15), flashes and band hose (£25). Altogether £990 per player times 10 is £9,900 or near enough $20,000. Add to that the cost of flights, practice space, time (time travel?), and you have a pretty major investment for any band.

Any mug who says, “There’s no money in pipe bands!” hasn’t been keeping track. Don’t get me wrong. I think what DTSPB is doing is necessary if they want to break through with enough quality numbers. The shrivelled-up Denny & Dunipace Grade 1 band is a cautionary tale, and let’s hope that the venerable Cullybackey indeed is able to field a competition band this year.

Lads and lassies, unless the powers-that-(RSP)be do something about the numbers business, the future of Grade 1 pipe bands is here, and except for those at the top, it is one grim scene.

On the subject of keeping track of numbers, Harry hears that there has been some internal financial drama in the Irish Pipe Band Association, and all bets might be off for the All-Ireland Championships being held in Eire for the foreseeable future. The Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA has had its own share of drama this winter with the association voting to put out long-time organizer and contributor Mervyn Herron. Herron apparently ran afoul of the wrong people with regard to his support for the Spring Gatherin’ last year, and rumour is he was, um, organized out of a position that the majority of bands and band members would strongly support him to retain. Thirty years of hard, successful volunteer work, now get tae . . . Jings, thanks a lot. And one wonders why there’s a shortage of good people stepping up to volunteer their services to pipe band associations.

Good to see a bit of resurgence in the area of printed music collections. Two efforts coming out this spring: Colin MacLellan’s homage to his great father, Captain John A. MacLellan’s piobaireachd compositions, and the fourth collection by Bob Worrall, who will launch his book officially at Piping Live! with a strong cast of players whose tunes are well represented in the collection.

And back to the topic of “There’s nae money in it” – it appears that our little world is getting wise to the whole streaming thing. I say the days of just going ahead and streaming or recording bands and soloists for broadcast are winding down, as we all wise up to it. Case in point: the Uist & Barra Invitational Solo Piping Competition apparently applied the brakes to its streaming effort at the eleventh hour when they realized that, hey, maybe they should ask permission, which they did. There was almost certainly the usual “We’re barely breaking even” guilt trip about not being able to compensate anyone for their hard work. But competitors are wising up to the fact that all this streaming is flypaper for websites and brands, and those who make the sticky stuff deserve their share, however small it might be. And, please, spare me the sh^te about how the whole thing might collapse if you actually pay people. If that’s the case, you’re in the wrong business, and go get people who know what they’re doing.

The lists are out for Oban and Inverness and Harry notes a bit of a logjam in the Gold Medal with quite a few folk holding a place without either a strong shot of winning or the will to retire. Always hard to say when the stars will align for anyone, but maybe it’ll get to the stage when the demand merits having to “re-earn” your place, in the same way Harry’ll soon have to re-do the driving exam? Interesting to see Gold Medallist Wilson Brown (Northern Meeting 1996, “Nameless – hiharin dro o dro”) with his name in the list for entrants to the Clasp, 20 years after winning the Gold Medal and not a few winters past his last solo competition appearance. Ever since Old Johnnie blazed a trail in his sixties (not to mention Messrs. MacPherson and Livingstone) folk are not about to give up when the tunes still feel good.

Henrietta says she isn’t giving up anytime soon. “As long as it still feels good!” she coos like a well-played cane tenor in a Duncan MacDougall drone.

She’s dead keen on the yoga. Harry? He’s dead keen on hearing your scoopage, moaning and conspiracy theories, so keep them coming.


Fred Walker passes away

Published: March 21, 2016

Fred Walker in 2014.

Fred Walker, the longest-serving Secretary, former President and a Life Ambassador of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Northern Ireland Branch, has died.

Walker originally took the office of Secretary in 1965 and held the post until he stepped down in 2001 and then served as President from 2006 to 2014, when he retired, handing over the position to Winston Pinkerton. Walker was then made an honourary Life Ambassador of the RSPBANI.

Fred Walker was one of the most well-known officials in the pipe band movement in Ireland and is recognized as being instrumental in shaping the branch into the force it is today, as probably the largest and most successful in the association. Walker’s formative years in the branch were influenced by many of its founders, such as President J.A. Faulkner, Chairman Eddie McVeigh and Walker’s predecessor as Secretary, Tom Hart.

Walker began his playing career as a side drummer with the now defunct Legacurry Pipe Band. For decades he announced the results at local competitions, and many will remember him affectionately for his witty comments generally relating to the geographical location that a prize winning band may have come from and particularly his misuse of an old war time slogan, which became a catchphrase, when he would remark that a “band’s journey had been really necessary” if they had travelled a long distance to obtain a prize.

Fred Walker was known as an absolute gentleman in the truest sense of the phrase. Our sympathies are with his family and many friends at this sad time.

The funeral will be at 10:30 am, on March 24th at Carnmoney Presbyterian Church, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland.

With details courtesy of Gilbert Cromie.

Chris Ross: the p|d Interview, Part 1

Published: March 20, 2016

The first in our five-part series with one of the bass drumming great . . .

 This content is for 1 Year Subscription and 2 Year Subscription members only. Please Subscribe or Login to read the article.

MacDonald wins overall at Duncan Johnstone Memorial

Published: March 19, 2016

Duncan Johnstone

Glasgow – March 19, 2016 – Charles MacDonald was the overall winner of the annual Duncan Johnstone Memorial Competition for those grade B and C by the Competing Pipers Association. The event was held at the National Piping Centre. It was the seventeenth running of the event, which pays homage to the late legend of hornpipe and jig playing and composition. MacDonald won on Piobaireachd preference over Connor Sinclair who won the MSR. No B-Grade contestants featured in the two prize-lists. Connor Jardine was the overall winner of the C-Grade.

1st Charles MacDonald
2nd Douglas Gardiner
3rd Ross Cowan
4th Calum Watson
5th Gavin Ferguson
Judges: Willie Morrison, Stuart Shedden

1st Connor Sinclair
2nd Callum Moffat
3rd Matt Wilson
4th Kris Coyle
5th Andrew Wilson
Judges: Euan Anderson, Iain MacLellan

1st Connor Jardine
2nd Andrew Bova
3rd Alex Gehrig
4th Ben Mulhearn
5th Alastair Donaghy
Judges: Neill Mulvie, Logan Tannock

1st Ross MacKay
2nd Brighde Chaimbeul
3rd Chris Lee
4th Connor Jardine
5th Ciaren Ross
Judges: Glenn Brown, Cameron Drummond

B/C-Grade Jig
1st Jonathon Simpson
2nd Ross Cowan
3rd Matt Fraser
4th Calum Watson
5th Brighde Chaimbeul
Judges: Euan Anderson, Iain MacLellan

Do you have competition results to share with the entire piping and drumming world? Feel free to email them to us along with a photo or two using the format above.


Al-Harrassi first to Level 7 SCQF in Oman


Athari Al-Harrassi with instructor Wilson Brown.

Athari Al-Harrassi has become the first person in Oman to achieve Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 7 certification in piping from the National Piping Centre, under the program run by Scotland’s Paul Warren and Karen McCrindle Warren.

The accomplishment is remarkable in that Al-Harrassi gained the certification in a country that traditionally and culturally prefers group progression, and that she is a female in a male-dominating society who rose above her male colleagues.

The military units in Oman the SCQF syllabus since 2012, and passing each exam provides opportunity for rank promotion and salary increase. Al-Harrassi was personally encouraged by the Oman Air Force Commander to continue her studies in piping.

“Her sheer hard work and dedication have paid off,” said McCrindle Warren. “Over the past three years she has refused all personal leave, stayed at work every weekend, and returned to work every evening to practice towards her exams. Athari is an inspiration, and a reminder to what can be achieved through an unrelenting sense of purpose, and pure hard work.”

In addition to written material, SCQF Level 7 piping requires four MSRs, four Hornpipes & Jigs, and four piobaireachds (standard, breabach, fosgailte and crunluath a mach) to be performed. She took the exam at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, administered by Gold Medalist Glenn Brown. All-Harrassi has received tuition at the National Piping Centre from the third of the three Brown Gold Medalists, Wilson.

Al-Harrassi reportedly plans to continue her studies in piping with a Sultan’s Armed Forces Senior Instructor Course, hoping to take over from Warren, McCrindle Warren and Brown to become Head of the Omani School of Music in 2020.

McCrindle Warren added: “She is a massive source of inspiration to all in the School of Music, and we would like to collectively congratulate her on such a great achievement.”


Gettin’ o’ the green: St. Paddy’s payday for bands

Published: March 17, 2016

We all know it’s an Irish celebration, but we also know that St. Patrick’s Day is the usually the biggest payday – and pay-week – for non-UK pipe bands, many of  which perform in parades and break up strategically into small groups to fan out across the pubs in major cities worldwide to rake in the green.

Pipe bands playing Scotland’s national instrument merrily turn a blind eye to the opportunities to benefit from the conflated tradition of having the higher-volume ceremonial music of the Highland pipes to entertain revellers with nine-note renditions of “The Wearin’ o’ the Green,” “Minstrel Boy,” and “St. Patrick’s Day.”

Even the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin features Scottish pipe bands. [Photo: Creative Commons]

Purists might want to have uillean pipes and bodhran, but who’s going to hear that in a busy pub, and they’re not exactly parade instruments.

The Denver & District Pipe Band of Colorado did 10 performances over 12 hours on March 12th, and then will do another five performances over four hours on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. The effort will put about US$4000 into the band’s coffers, or about a third of its annual budget.

The Grade 3 Coriovallum Pipe Band of Heerlen, Netherlands, will be playing a gig at their local Irish pub, netting them €380, and “Drinks will also be provided, if I am not mistaken,” according to band member Anne Vroomen.

Indeed, free bevvy, often of the green-coloured-beer variety, are provided to thirsty pipe bands, making the St. Paddy’s events even more enjoyable to pipers and drummers, even when they often have to freeze their fingers off and risk their instruments playing in frigid parades.

While St. Patrick’s Day events can be a boom-time for pipes bands, an economic downturn can have the reverse effect for groups that have come to depend on the money.

Calgary’s Grade 2 Rocky Mountain Pipe Band is in a city where there has been a sudden shift in the local economy due to plummeting oil prices.

“We have been involved in St. Patrick’s Day festivities the last couple of years, but with the economic climate the way it is in Calgary currently, the businesses we’ve worked with in the past have pulled back,” said Rocky Mountain Pipe-Major Sean Somers. “Unfortunately this year we’re not participating in any performances. It was a significant fundraiser for the band in years past, and actually helped fund the purchase of new snare drums for us last season. Depending on the number of places we perform, we’d make anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 as a band. So we’ll feel the pinch of not being involved for 2016.”

Be sure to complete the current pipes|drums Poll on the front page of the magazine to include your band’s involvement in paid St. Patrick’s Day gigs.


The kids are alright – the adults…not so much

Published: March 16, 2016

The recent highly successful Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, with its popular almost-anything-goes Freestyle event, has been endorsed by the RSPBA for the last three years, seemingly contradicting its stance on pipe band events not in line with its rules.

The world’s most powerful pipe band association has “supported the event,” according to sources close to the organization, even though that support reportedly amounted to providing the competition with the names of eight available RSPBA adjudicators to judge the traditional pipe band contests, and making RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill a “Patron” of the championship.

RSPBA adjudicators Bill Black, Tom Brown, Jim Campbell, John Connor, Alec Dudgeon, Alvis Kerr, Peter Snaddon and George Wilson judged the traditional band events at the Scottish Schools Championships.

Members of the Lochilphead High School Pipe Band competing in the quartet competition at the 2016 Scottish Schools Championships.

Quartets were judged by Harry McNulty and Tom Speirs, and the Freestyle competition was judged by Iain MacInnes of BBC Radio Scotland; Tudor Morris, Director of the City of Edinburgh Music School; and Craig Munro of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Judges for the Quartet and Freestyle events were sourced directly by the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust, which organizes the championship.

There are few rules around the Freestyle event, other than pipers and drummers combining with other musicians from their school to present a creative performance. The Scottish Schools event also worked with students as voluntary stewards, rather than stewards on the RSPBA payroll.

In contrast, the RSPBA allegedly put pressure on bands entered to compete at the Spring Gatherin’ in Belfast in 2015 when the event wanted to introduce a pipe band contest in which the audience would have a say in the result, which would have been contrary to established traditional RSPBA pipe band rules.

Spring Gatherin’ organizers eventually dropped the pipe band competition when the bands that had confirmed their participation reportedly said that they would have to withdraw due to political pressure exerted on them and insinuated repercussions and even threats of suspension.

The Spring Gatherin’ matter resulted in the resignation of one high-ranking RSPBA official from the association, and the 2016 event again does not offer pipe band competitions.

“[Perhaps] the RSPBA would not want to be seen to criticize an event aimed at school pupils,” said a source who commented on condition that his/her name would not be used. “Maybe they feel guilty that they have not started something like this themselves, or even thought about it. . . . The RSPBA should have been doing much more years ago about teaching piping and drumming in schools.”

“The RSPBA is quite right to let this happen, especially since the Freestyle event doesn’t require full pipe bands,” said another source speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s like a quartet with other instruments, and there are no RSPBA rules that I know of for quartet events, and these happen all the time.”

In Ontario, Canada, the upcoming Kingston Scottish Festival was denied sanctioning, and thus points towards the association’s annual aggregate awards, by the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, a popular competition now more than a decade old that uses its own stewards and other tweaks that go against PPBSO mores.

At publication time, RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton had not responded to an invitation to present his organization’s perspective on the topic.


Drummond, Henderson, Bailie win £1k prizes at CWC

Published: March 14, 2016

Copenhagen – March 12, 2016 – The revamped Copenhagen Winter Competitions returned after a year’s hiatus, offering first-prizes of approximately £1,000 to each winner in the solo piping, solo snare drumming and solo tenor drumming events, probably the biggest monetary prizes in solo piping and drumming. Fifty-seven competed across all events, representing players from seven different countries.

Prize-winners at the 2016 Copenhagen Winter Competitions: Snare drumming (L-R): Louise Overgaard, Anders Jensen, John Henderson. Piping: contest chairman, Bernard Bouhadana (L) and winner Graham Drummund. Tenor drumming (l-R): Marie Vinter, Cameron Dunsmore-Bennett and Jordan Bailie.

Solo Piping
1st Graham Drummond, Scotland
2nd Anna Kummerlöw, Germany
3rd Gavin Hardie, Finland
Judge: Michael Grey

Solo Snare Drumming
1st John Henderson, Scotland
2nd Louise Overgaard, Denmark
3rd Anders Jensen, Denmark
Judge: Stephen Creighton

Solo Tenor Drumming
1st Jordan Bailie, Scotland
2nd Cameron Dunsmore-Bennett, Denmark
3rd Marie Vinther, Denmark.
Judge: Tim Djursing

Do you have coimpetition results that you’d like the entire pipign and drummign world to see? Just send us an email in the above format, and we’ll be pleased to consider.


Watson’s and Dollar best of class at Scottish Schools

Published: March 13, 2016

Edinburgh – March 13, 2016 – A total of 118 schools from across the country were represented at the annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, the world’s largest schools piping competition. More than 700 students of piping and drumming participated in contests held at Broughton High School. George Watson College took the top-grade Juvenile event, while Dollar Academy won the Grade 1 Novice Juvenile category.

A scene from the 2016 Scottish School Championships in Edinburgh. [Photo: Wullie Marr]

1st George Watson’s College
2nd Dollar Academy
3rd Preston Lodge High School

Novice Juvenile A
1st Dollar Academy
2nd North Lanarkshire Schools
3rd George Watson’s College

Novice Juvenile B
1st Lochalsh Juniors
2nd George Watson’s College
3rd Knox Academy

Junior A
1st St. Columbus School
2nd Gordonstoun School
3rd Fettes College

Junior B
1st Ullapool High School
2nd Glasgow Academy
3rd Dundee Schools

1st Dumfries Schools
2nd Lochgilphead High School
3rd St Andrew’s R.C. High School A

Freestyle Musicianship
1st High School of Glasgow
2nd Gordonstoun School
3rd Sgoil Loinacleit

1st Portree High School
2nd Stranraer Academy
3rd Tobermory High School

Do you have competition results? Email them to us to share them with the entire piping and drumming world!

Canterbury retains NZ Champions title

Published: March 12, 2016

Feilding, New Zealand – March 11, 2016 – The Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band retained its status as New Zealand Pipe Band Champions with a win in both the Medley and MSR events in a sunny and windy day against four other contestants in Grade 1. The New Zealand Police Pipe Band made it fairly close, with two strong performances, and piping results were particularly scattered with Manawatu Scottish also in the mix at the top. Canterbury is not travelling to the World Championships in August, but New Zealand Police and Manawatu are.

In Grade 2, St. Andrew’s College enjoyed eight firsts from the eight adjudicators to sweep their events.

RSPBA panel judges Ken Eller and Joe Noble were flown in from Canada and Scotland, respectively, to assist with judging.

Grade 1
1st Canterbury Caledonian
2nd New Zealand Police
3rd Manawatu Scottish
4th Auckland & District
5th City of Invergargill

1st Canterbury Caledonian (2,3,1,1)
2nd New Zealand Police (1,1,3,3)
3rd Manawatu Scottish (3,2,2,2)
4th Auckland & District (4,4,4,4)
5th City of Invergargill (5,5,5,5)
Judges: Alastair Hanning, Brendon Eade (piping); Joe Noble (ensemble); J. Hilliard (drumming)

1st Canterbury Caledonian (1,3,1,1)
2nd New Zealand Police (3,2,2,2)
3rd Manawatu Scottish (2,1,3,4)
4th Auckland & District (5,4,4,3)
5th City of Invergargill (4,5,5,5)
Judges: Ken Eller, R. Fergusson (piping); Philip Mair (ensemble); J. Hobbs (drumming

Canterbury Caledonian competing at the 2015 World Championships.

Grade 2
1st St. Andrew’s College
2nd Northland Caledonian
3rd Canterbury Caledonian (Gr2)
4th Celtic (Nelson)
5th South Canterbury

1st St. Andrew’s College (1,1,1,1)
2nd Canterbury Caledonian (Gr2) (2,3,2,2)
3rd Northland Caledonian (3,2,3,3)
4th South Canterbury (4,4,4,4)
5th Celtic (Nelson) (5,5,5,5)
Judges: Ken Eller, R. Fergusson (piping); Philip Mair (ensemble); J. Hobbs (drumming

1st St. Andrew’s College (1,1,1,1)
2nd Northland Caledonian (4,2,3,2)
3rd Celtic (Nelson) (2,3,2,5)
4th Canterbury Caledonian (Gr2) (3,4,4,3)
5th South Canterbury (5,5,5,4)
Judges: Alastair Hanning, Brendon Eade (piping); Joe Noble (ensemble); J. Hilliard (drumming)


Continue reading

MWPBA expands again with more events and prize money

Published: March 9, 2016

The Midwest Pipe Band Association has already embarked on its 2016 season, with several indoor solo events completed, and an announcement of a new Professional Solo Piping competition in Palatine, Illinois, on May 14th with total prize money of US$3,500 up for grabs.

The open / non-invitational event is offering four prizes in each of Piobaireachd and MSR events, and five for aggregate placings. The famed solo piper and former Scots Guards Pipe-Major Brian Donaldson is the first adjudicator confirmed, according to MWPBA President Jim Sim. The MWPBA is organizing the event and putting up the prize money.

The organization has completed several of its indoor Regional Solo Contests, with Alma, Michigan; Lexington, Kentucky; Milwaukee; and Kansas City, Missouri, held so far, and the final one in St. Paul coming up before the top three qualifiers in each amateur grade going to the finals on April 9th, also in Palatine, at the Terry McHugh Memorial for pipers and the Jim Enright Sr. Memorial for all categories of solo drumming.

The MWPBA’s outdoor commences at Alma, May 28-29, and eight following, four of which (including Alma) are designated Champion Supreme, counting towards aggregate points.

  • Milwaukee – June 4th
  • Chicago – June 17-18 (CS)
  • St. Paul – July 9th
  • Springfield, Illinois – July 23rd
  • Waukesha, Wisconsin – September 3rd (CS)
  • Columbus, Indiana – September 10th
  • Eminence, Kentucky – September 17th
  • St. Louis – September 24th (CS)

Sim said that the Chicago Highland Games offer US$11,650 in prizes across band and solo events, with Grade 2 and Grade 3 bands again playing their medleys in concert formation, which the MWPBA unveiled in 2015.

The Grade 2 Greater Midwest Pipe Band competing in concert formation at the 2015 Chicago Highland Games.

“This was done for the first time last year and was well received by the bands and the crowd,” Sim added. “Last year’s band and solo entry [at Chicago] was the largest ever and we are expecting an even larger entry this year. As a result, some of the solos will be held on the Friday in 2016.”

He said that the St. Louis Highland Games are for the first time designated MWPBA Champion Supreme, and have increased prize money.


Applicants for Argyllshire Gathering informed

Published: March 7, 2016

The annual uncertain process for places in the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal and Silver Medal competitions gained some clarity, with the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban, Scotland, making its decisions. The appointments are made in conjunction with various planning committees and Scotland’s Competing Pipers Association. Of the 28 accepted for the Gold Medal, 12 are not permanent residents in Scotland, and more than half (16 out of the 28) in the Silver Medal are non-Scottish. There are a total of six females accepted for the 56 spots.

Solo pipers traditionally march to the Thursday games at Oban, with the Gold Medallist taking the pipe-major role, here Douglas Murray in 2014.

Out of respect for the organizers and contestants, pipes|drums waited until competitors were notified before publishing the information. The lists are in alphabetical order by last name.

The Argyllshire Gathering and the Northern Meeting at Inverness, Scotland, are considered the two major “gatherings” for elite solo pipers. Entry to the Silver and Gold Medal competitions is fairly subjective, with no official bye given to any applicant, even those who have won one of the awards previously. The Clasp at Inverness and Senior Piobaireachd at Oban are reserved for those who have won a Gold Medal.

This year’s Argyllshire Gathering is on Wednesday, August 24th, and Thursday, August 25th. The Northern Meeting is on Thursday, Septemebr 1st, and Friday, September 2nd.

Gold Medal (‡ winner of the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting; ⊗ Silver Medallist)
Chris Armstrong, Airth, Scotland ‡
Andrea Boyd, Ottawa ⊗
Gordon Bruce, Kilwinning, Scotland ⊗
Glenn Brown, Glasgow ‡
Sandy Cameron, Roy Bridge, Scotland ⊗
Andrew Carlisle, Pittsburgh
Jori Chisholm, Seattle
Cameron Drummond, Edinburgh ⊗
Decker Forrest, Isle of Skye, Scotland ⊗
Jamie Forrester, London
Bill Geddes, Dumfries, Scotland ⊗
Jonathan Greenlees, Glasgow
Andrew Hayes, Ottawa ‡
Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh ⊗
Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland ⊗
Alastair Lee, Surrey, British Columbia
Angus J. MacColl, Oban, Scotland ⊗
Ian K. MacDonald, Whitby, Ontario
James MacHattie, Summerside, Prince Edward Island
Donald MacPhee, Alexandria, Scotland ‡
Fiona Manson, Wellington ⊗
Peter McCalister, Dunblane, Scotland ⊗
Gordon McCready, Renfrew, Scotland ⊗
Sean McKeown, Toronto ⊗
Derek Midgley, Mill Town, New Jersey ⊗
Allan Russell, Kelty, Scotland
Innes Smith, Bridge of Allan, Scotland ⊗
James P. Troy, Victoria, British Columbia ⊗

Silver Medal
(*# on standby for Gold Medal no-shows, in order)
Ursa Beckford, Maine
Xavier Bouderiou, Brittany
Ed Bush, Prescott, Ontario
Greig Canning, Edinburgh
Kris Coyle, Northern Ireland
Jacob Dicker, Ottawa
Andrew Donlon, Pittsburgh
Ben Duncan, Edinburgh
Stuart Easton, Auckland
Michael Elder, Scotland
Michael Fitzhenry, London
Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh
Martin Keßler, Germany
Ana Kummerlow, Germany
Andrew Lee, Surrey, British Columbia (*1)
John Lee, Vancouver
Andrew Lewis, Scotland
Charles MacDonald, Inverness, Scotland
Cameron MacDougall, Inverness, Scotland
Ben McClamrock, Baltimore
Edward McIllwaine, Vancouver
Sarah Muir, Campbeltown, Scotland
Eric Ouellette, Syracuse, New York
Male Sicard-Cras, Glasgow
Connor Sinclair, Crieff, Scotland
Craig Sutherland, Perth, Scotland (*2)
Darach Urquhart, Glasgow
Andrew Wright, Dundee, Scotland

Seven pipers have been asked to be on standby in case of Silver Medal withdrawals or no-shows, in the following order:

  1. Steven Leask, Glasgow
  2. Andrew Hall, Belfast
  3. Matt Pantaleoni, St. Louis, Missouri
  4. Ashley McMichael, Belfast
  5. Duncan Beattie, Glasgow
  6. Steven Gray, Dumfries, Scotland
  7. David Shedden, Glasgow.



Perils of Practice on Hearing

Published: March 6, 2016

Young Sam Duarte’s scientific study of the negative effects of the pipes and pipe bands on the ears . .

 This content is for 1 Year Subscription and 2 Year Subscription members only. Please Subscribe or Login to read the article.

Beaumont out of the gate strong with win at U&B

Published: March 5, 2016

Callum Beaumont

Glasgow – March 5, 2016 – Callum Beaumont of Linlithgow, Scotland, was the overall winner of the annual Uist & Barra Invitational, the first major event of the Scottish solo piping year. The competition was held at the College of Piping.

1st Callum Beaumont, Linlithgow, Scotland, “The Phantom Piper of Corrieyarick”
2nd Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “The Rout of the Lowland Captain”
3rd Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland, “”Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie”
4th Alasdair Henderson, Dunoon, Scotland, “The Battle of Waternish”
5th Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow, “The Old Men of the Shells” #1

1st Finlay Johnston, Glasgow
2nd Callum Beaumont
3rd Willie McCallum
4th Stuart Liddell
5th Alasdair Henderson

Hornpipe & Jig
1st Alasdair Henderson
2nd Roddy MacLeod
3rd Glenn Brown, Glasgow
4th Gordon McCready, Renfrew, Scotland
5th Callum Beaumont

Judges for all event were Ian Duncan, Stuart Shedden and Andrew Wright.

Also playing but not in the prizes: Cameron Drummond, Edinburgh; Bill Geddes, Dumfries, Scotland; Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland; and Douglas Murray, Cardenden, Scotland. Faye Henderson, Kirriemuir, Scotland, played only in the Piobaireachd, as did Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland, but withdrew from the light music events.

Niall Stewart, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, withdrew from the competition due to illness.


Country star Johnny Reid loves pipe band drummers

Published: March 4, 2016

The Scottish-Canadian country music star Johnny Reid is in the midst of his 47-city “What Love is All About” tour across Canada, and he’s incorporating at least four local pipe band drummers into each show.

The tour began on February 1st in Vancouver and wraps up in Newfoundland on April 4th, with stops at famous stages like Massey Hall in Toronto.

Reid, who’s originally from Lanarkshire, Scotland, and emigrated with his family to Toronto when he was 13, works with his management to identify pipe bands in each region, then asks if they can put forward four snare drummers. They then receive audio of “My Heart Beats Like a Drum,” the drum score and instructions to prepare in advance.

Johnny Reid (right) performing “My Heart Beats Like a Drum” with drummers from the Conservatory of Performing Arts Pipe Band (University of Regina) at the Conexus COA in Regina, February 16th.

Drummers as young as 11 have so far performed to packed halls, and at Reid’s tour stop in Regina, Saskatchewan, drummers from the Conservatory of Performing Arts Pipe Band (University of Regina) band played three shows. Reid reportedly treats the drummers as VIPs at every stop and ensures that each player receives union musician rates for their time.

He asked the Regina drummers what they had planned for the summer, and they enthusiastically talked about their plan to join with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) group to travel to the Fredericton Highland Games in New Brunswick.

On top of their performance fees, Reid showed up the next day with a “big cheque” for the band to help with the cost of the trip.

Reid started the tour with pipers, but changed to drummers only, and the tour so far has hired more than 80 pipe band snare drummers, including L-D Gregor Merry of the RCMP E. Division Pipe Band of Vancouver, the Rocky Mountain of Calgary, the North Stratton of Edmonton, and 13 bands from Ontario, Dartmouth & District of Nova Scotia.

“Everyone is having a blast and it’s great to see snare drummers getting the limelight for a change,” said Mike Chisholm, who is working with Reid’s tour to identify and organize the drummers.

Johnny Reid has recorded more than 10 albums, with eight certified platinum (four several times over) in Canada. He has won five JUNO Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the USA’s Grammys, and in 2014 a SOCAN Award for his song, “Fire It Up.”



RSPBA members to vote on consultative judging trial

Published: March 3, 2016

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s annual general meeting at the Trades Hall in Glasgow on March 12th will enable member bands to decide two proposals that could be fairly contentious.

The first is a move for a “Consultative Pilot Scheme” that would see adjudicators at two major championships to have the option “to confer during the contest where it is deemed appropriate and conducive to the adjudication process, e.g. dealing with performance anomalies, unexpected incident, clarify any pertinent instrument or performer issues or a build-up of multiple performances evident of a similar standard in the lower half of the assessment spectrum.”

The proposal stresses that such a pilot “should only be exercised as an OPTIONAL [RSPBA’s stress] extension to the current recognised adjudicator duties and adjudicators should not lose sight of the requirement of the panel delivering an individual result from each adjudicator in his or her nominated discipline.”

Currently the organization disallows judges from discussing any performances with each other before their final result is submitted and the event is complete.

In contrast to the system used for several years by the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, which was abolished by members that voted at its 2013 AGM, the RSPBA scheme would see casual dialog during the actual competition event. The PPBSO system called for a 15-minute consultation period between all judges at the completion of all performances.

The second proposal recommends that adjudicators’ scoresheets be created in triplicate so that the judge him/herself can retain a copy. Currently RSPBA sheets are in duplicate, one copy kept by the association and the other going to the competing band.

There is no explanation so far as to why a third copy is needed, but at least one RSPBA insider, who asked to remain anonymous, surmised that it would be so that the judge could more effectively answer questions from competitors after an event.

The association had reportedly wanted to trial the consultative judging scenario at two major championships in 2015, but delayed implementation until a member vote could be taken.

The RSPBA permits one vote from each of its member bands either in-person or by official proxy.


All bands confirmed for Virginia

Published: March 2, 2016

The organizers of the first annual Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship in Norfolk, Virginia, have finalized the Grade 1 and Grade 2 entrants for combined and separate competitions on April 23rd.

Previously announced were Grade 1 Inveraray & District and Police Scotland Fife from Scotland and the Peel Regional Police and Toronto Police bands from Ontario, and in Grade 2 will be Great Lakes (Michigan), MacMillan (Maryland), Midlothian Scottish (Chicago) and New York Metro.

There will Medley and MSR events for all bands combined, plus separate Medley and MSR competitions solely for Grade 2, with prizes of US$2,500, US$1,000 and US$500 for the first three places. There’s also an Open Drumming Fanfare contest with one prize of US$1,000.

The event was originally to have a total of 10 bands in the competitions, with the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band committing but then withdrawing from the event. A Grade 2 band also had to withdraw. The Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band had been confirmed in 2015, but withdrew due to other commitments, replaced by Police Scotland Fife.

Judges for the events have not yet been finalized.


Oz Championships back to Queensland in ’18


The Australian Pipe Band Championships will return to the state of Queensland and, specifically, the Gold Coast in 2018, returning to the area after hosting the event in Caloundra in 2010.

Pipe Bands Queensland will take on the organization of the competition that will be held September 29-30, 2018. Details are still to come, particularly the exact location of the event, but the choice was made in part because of the currently multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investment going on in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Queensland’s Gold Coast

Pipe Bands Australia allows its various sub-organizations across the country to step forward to pitch on holding the national championship. The 2016 Australian Pipe Band Championships will be held October 1-2 at the Knox Grammar School grounds in Sydney, put on by the New South Wales Pipe Band Association.

The Gold Coast of Queensland is known for sensational weather and accommodation, particularly in September. Pipe Bands Queensland hopes to attract bands from New Zealand, Asia, North America and the United Kingdom.

The 2014 Australian Championship was held in Ballarat, Victoria, and won by the Western Australia Police Pipe Band.


(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” . . .

 This content is for 1 Year Subscription and 2 Year Subscription members only. Please Subscribe or Login to read the article.

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.


The new pipes|drums app offers the same publication with a streamlined experience. Get the latest news optimized for your smartphone.
Download on the App Store

Get it on Google Play
July 25, 1959James MacColl, San Francisco, wins Open Piobaireachd playing “The Bells of Perth,” Vancouver Caledonian Games.
  • Fall out
    Thu, 14 Jul 2016
    David Murray’s reported (but as it turned out, incorrect) passing got me thinking again about the military and piping. Looking back, I believe Murray is the last of the pure military men who had a major influence on the judging … …
Read more »
UPCOMING EVENTS July 28, 2016B In The ParkMajor's Hill Park, Ottawa

July 29, 2016Glengarry Highland GamesMaxville ON

July 30, 2016Scottish Pipe Band ChampionshipsLevengrove Park, Dumbarton, Scotland


August 6, 2016Dundonald Highland GamesDundonald

Pipers: Play the note with a doubling on it a little longer in order to accent it – not much, but be sure you do not skip over that note.
Ian Whitelaw, Redondo Beach, California