December 31, 2008

pipes|drums’ 2008 New Year’s Honours

To make sure that auld acquaintance isnt forgotten, we close out the 2008 year in piping and drumming with our sixth annual pipes|drums New Year Honours Awards!
We have tapped a panel of 12 canny pipers and drummers around the world (the editor of pipes|drums was not on the panel) for their nominations in several categories for the people, bands, products and stories that made the most news, the biggest impact and the best contributions in the piping and drumming world in 2008.
We also conducted Readers Choice Awards in four categories, and those results will follow in a separate article.

Congratulations to all winners of the pipes|drums New Years Honours. All nominees are to be congratulated, too. And to our panelists, we thank you for your input.

And the winners are . . .

Piper of the Year
Rossy MacLeod, 2008 pipes|drums Piper of the YearRoddy MacLeod, Glasgow – In addition to another stellar solo competition season (a fifth Silver Chanter, the Argyllshire Gathering Senior Piobaireachd, the Glenfiddich Piobaireachd. . .), Roddy MacLeod led another spectacular Piping Live! festival, was Director of the National Piping Centre and orchestrated and led the Grade 1 Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band. On top of all that, he managed and extended his own Roddy MacLeod Piobaireachd education web property. One would think he would be a frazzled mess with all that going on, but Roddy MacLeod continues to be known as one of pipings all-round good guys. He was clear favourite with our panel to be pipes|drums 2008 Piper of the Year. Said one panelist: Roddy may be the single biggest contributor to modern piping.
Also considered (in alphabetical order):
  • William Donaldson, Aberdeen – Donaldsons historical contributions to the art are profound, and his work in 2008 gave much back to the piping world, including his eighth edition of the Set Tunes Series.
  • Michael Grey, Dundas, Ontario – with his avant-garde Variations on a Theme of Good Intentions medley, the Toronto Police pipe-sergeant pushed the band to think about prizes second and do something musically different. The result was extended constructive worldwide dialog about the direction of pipe band competition.
  • Terry Lee, Vancouver – as Pipe-Major of the 2008 World Champions, Simon Fraser University, Lee produced a winning band on the day – a remarkable feat considering how little competition SFU has on its home circuit.
  • Robert Mathieson, Lanark, Scotland – the House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead leader continues to push pipe band boundaries, even putting a World Championship on the line, and retaining membership in the Big Three despite big personnel changes.
  • Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland – sure, McCallum won his usual heap of major trophies, but his work as an organizer of events at the University of Strathclyde are appreciated by thousands, making him a substantial nominee.
  • Terry Tully, Dublin – great credit goes to the St. Laurence OToole pipe-major for guiding his band to an RSPBA Champion of Champions title, the first time that the award had left Great Britain.
  • Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland – another spectacular competitive season from Ayrshires finest, whose recitals have become the stuff of legend.

Solo Competition Piper of the Year
Gordon Walker, 2008 pipes|drums Competition Piper of the YearGordon Walker – the Clasp to the Dunvegan Medal, overall awards at Inveraray and Cowal, the Braemar Gold Medal, topped off with a second consecutive Glenfiddich Championship, Gordon Walker is at the absolute top of his game . . . but weve been saying that for a few years now. “When he’s in top form – and he almost always is – Gordon Walker is just about unbeatable in a light music competition,” said one panelist. “What he can do with his hands is incredible, and the sound that he gets from his bagpipe . . . wonderful.”
Also considered (in alphabetical order):
  • Alan Bevan, Surrey, British Columbia – the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting came Bevans way, after years of near-misses.
  • Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland – the Inverness Silver Star, the Todd Bar Challenge and seriously well-in at numerous contests all year.
  • Roddy MacLeod – a great big load of great big prizes in 2008 for MacLeod, as mentioned above.
  • Willie McCallum – Another fine prize-winning season from McCallum, including the Silver Star at Oban.
  • Niall Stewart, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland – the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering lifts Stewart to the highest-echelons of the world solo piping scene.

Pipe Band of the Year
Spirit of ScotlandSpirit of Scotland – while other bands made news with familiar competition wins, this brand new group captured the imagination of the piping and drumming world in a way never seen before. SoS was a topic of conversation – both positive and negative – in practice halls and on websites and beer tents around the world from January on, culminating with the groups one and only 2008 competition appearance at the World Championships, where it qualified for the final, and then played through its entire medley with all members of the band present for the first time ever. The all-star concept is already being emulated. Whether the group continues or not, the inventive approach made a profound statement in pipe band history. Said one panelist: Without question the media darling of the year, both in terms of formal media such as papers and TV, and also the informal web forums, chat lines, etc. It was a great talking point all season, and the whole piping world was fascinated by this cheeky attempt to leap-frog all the BS that usually goes on with bands, and just show up to play. And play they did. Theres no question that the band was one of the great success stories of 2008.
Also considered (in alphabetical order):
  • Bagad Cap Caval – Brittanys finest took home the Grade 2 prize at the World Championships, the first time a group from continental Europe had managed such a feat. Cap Cavals subsequent promotion to Grade 1 will inject even more excitement into the 2009 Worlds.
  • Field Marshal Montgomery – a fateful pipe bag failure at the British Championships likely prevented FMM from taking another Champion of Champions prize after the groups solid 2008 campaign, which included wins at the European and Cowal and a second at the Worlds.
  • Simon Fraser University – the 2008 World Champions produced yet another convincing sound, guided by the steady hands of Pipe-Major Terry Lee and Leading-Drummer Reid Maxwell. The bands creative SFUTube initiative was a nice service for those wanting to see and hear the band on video.
  • Toronto Police – not since Journey to Skye has a single piece of pipe band music provoked so much conversation, debate and argument. Whether you love or hate the bands Good Intentions medley, there is should be no denying that it brought welcome variety to a pipe band world that many feel was stuck in a musical rut.

Drummer of the Year
Reid Maxwell, 2008 pipes|drums Drummer of the YearReid Maxwell, Vancouver – leading the SFU corps to a World Championship meant that Maxwell has won the award in four separate decades, with three different bands. Add to that another solid showing at the World Solo Championships, a prodigious teaching schedule and frequent judging assignments, and Reid Maxwell is our choice as the 2008 Drummer of the Year, Maxwells second time winning the award.
Also considered (in alphabetical order):
  • Scott Currie, Glasgow – Curries efforts to push tenor- and bass-drumming to the fore were major talking points in 2008. Never afraid to take on the establishment, Currie was relentless in his pursuit of overturning the RSPBAs decision to do away with Best Bass-Section awards.
  • Tyler Fry, Kincardine, Ontario – Frys work with House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead, his thriving TyFry business and his tireless teaching of tenor drumming made him a strong contender for the award.
  • Jim Kilpatrick, Ashgil, Scotland – Kilpatrick continues to be everywhere theres pipe band drumming, and his leadership of the Shotts section to another Champion of Champions award despite many new players, was another addition to his massive list of accomplishments.
  • Barry Wilson, Glasgow – Wilson took home his second straight World Solo Drumming Championship and continued to pull his ScottishPower section into contention for major prizes.

Recording of the Year
FMM's REWIND:REPLAY: pipes|drums' 2008 Recording of the YearREWIND:REPLAY, Field Marshal Montgomery – the first time that a DVD has gained the award, this capture of FMMs 2007 Glasgow concert received the most votes from our panel by a wide margin. It captures some classic FMM music, and some great history from the band,” said a panelist. “Great to have the perspectives of band leaders, and others. This is a very complete package.” Another panelist said that REWIND:REPLAY was the only recording that she repeatedly listened to since it was released. As live recordings continue to become the norm for both bands and soloists, the DVD format may well become more popular. The 2008 FMM release is the current benchmark against which others will be measured.
Also considered (in alphabetical order):
  • Bagpipe Revolution, Jori Chisholm – Seattles Chisholm pushes himself and the instrument in this late-year release.
  • without fear, Australia Highlanders – one of few pipe band recordings in 2008, the CD was well received and reviewed.
  • Lochbroom, Alasdair Gillies – a variety of live tracks of the great Gillies captured from various recitals over the years.
  • Gordon Duncan Tribute Concert, numerous artists – the live recording of the tribute concert in memory of the late, great Duncan.
  • Shores of Loch Ness, Niall Matheson – Big Niall shows the piping and drumming world his stuff on this fine CD.
  • The Waking of the Bridegroom, Patrick Molard – an esoteric collection of lesser-known piobaireachds from the Breton pupil of the famous Bobs of Balmoral.
Special mention in this category goes to the YouTube video of the Toronto Police unveiling its Good Intentions medley at the Georgetown Highland Games in June. The video at the time of this posting had been viewed more than 22,000 times.
Congratulations to all winners and nominees, and thanks to our panel of experts for providing their input.
Stay tuned to pipes|drums for our 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards and our fearless predictions for 2009!


  1. You know, it takes a great deal to get me to respond to blog comments. However, I can’t hold back here. It’s this kind of baseless negativism which stands in the way of progress in the arts. I read recently that it isn’t the new ideas that scare me; it’s the old ones”. Cammie could well afford to take a lesson from this. In fact

  2. Masons Apron – gotta tell you: speaking for myself only, I have zero prob with the trashing of music I’ve had a hand in making. Bring it on! 🙂 My note below was bewilderment that a person would kick off the blank slate that is their New Years day with a fairly unhelpful” anonymous note. Sad. I’d guess

  3. Cammy’s comments are not defensible, and it is an effort in futility to attempt to offset the virtriolic sentiment contained in his ignorant and completely spineless post. I personally enjoyed the Variations” medley immensely. My innitial response was somewhat less enthusiastic

  4. Heatherbelle, I think the fact that we play the Great Highland Bagpipe (all with the same 9 notes) and drums, wear kilts etc etc., warrants that it will always be a Scottish Idiom” (I too hate the term). Regardless of what ideas come out

  5. ita a pity toronto didnt take the journey to skye…and stay there lol..cant wait for the next load of trash they come out with…thank god theyre goin to france

  6. Cammy! What a way to start off your new year: an anonymous vile-o-gram! Suggest you head down the High Street, bypass the pub, and buy a copy of one of Deepak Chopra’s best. I’m guessing Bob 2 is Bob Worrall – and, on behalf of the TPPB team, thanks kindly! Happy to be in away in Lochiel’s company. Bonne année! Michael Grey

  7. Likewise, I hate these anonymous blog entries…thought my own feedback would have had my name attached as opposed to Bob 2″…lol. Michael guessed correctly……….Bob Worrall P.S. Looking forward to hearing the TPPB’s old and new material in Brittany this coming August.”

  8. I was shocked at first by the strength of ‘Cammy’s’ comments, until the analogy of a jug of milk came to mind. Cream at the top and sour milk at the bottom. Cammy’s cream is obviously the old traditional stuff. Double cream for me is the Toronto Police medley and the likes. To the serious musician, it can’t be ignored. It’s that kind of thing which will help us have more credibility in the greater world of music. Cammy’s comment seemed particularly sour at first, especially at this time of year when you’d hope for a bit more goodwill to be flying around,- but that aside, if you’ve just had a taste of sour milk and then a spoonful of cream, the cream tastes all the better. The ‘music’ is obviously going to be in Lorient this summer. That is the Worlds loss. But I really hope they’ll bring their innovate, forward looking, pioneering, 1st-rate musical composition and performance, back to Scotland at the earliest opportunity, so that we can be inspired by it, and learn from it. Hopefully too, open a few minds, and broaden a few horizons.

  9. Cammy, such comments are childish and gormless. TPPB – best of luck in Lorient. Having been there with a band myself, you’ll really enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. They really are all there to celebrate the music (not themselves), and they express this at every chance. It is fantastic. It beats the pants off what’s happening across the channel a week later. Your much talked about medley isn’t my cup of tea as a contest piece but I enjoyed parts of it. I was of the view that exile wwas reserved for serious crimes. I believe all you guys did was go on and play some music. Nothing wrong here! All the very best to you, TPPB.

  10. RE; Cammy’s Comments: I fail to see why everyone is so upset. Let’s take a look at what Cammy wrote…………………… 1A) “ita a pity toronto didnt take the journey to skye”………………………………………… Cammy is merely expressing sympathy towards the TPPB not being able to make the journey to Skye last year. I wasn’t able to make it either, which really is a shame as I have heard that it is a fascinating and beautiful place. I fail to see any negativity or harshness in this comment…………………………. 1B)”…and stay there lol”………………………………………………………………………………… OK, what’s wrong with staying on the Isle of Skye? See my previous point. 2) “cant wait for the next load of trash they come out with”……………………………………………… Again, a very positive comment. Cammy can hardly wait for the next two compositions to come out and is in fact eagerly awaiting their airing. And I believe that Cammy is saying that the music is “sick” or a “load of trash”…….gotta keep up with the youthful lingo! 3) “thank god theyre goin to france……………………………………………………………………….. Appears that Cammy is actually wishing the TPPB all the best and is thanking “God” that they are able to go to France. Sounds like a very kind statement to me…………… “

  11. Hi Cammie…I have a Royal Scots Dragoon CD that a well-meaning Aunt gave me for Christmas that I could send you. 300 001 copies sold but just not my cup of tea…perhaps traditional enough to be right up your alley. Happy thoughts…Kelly

  12. First off, this is another great composition by Mike Grey. But, what’s new. He’s been writing amazing stuff since he was a kid. The most important thing here is that the band” can clearly handle the material. The maturity and education of Doug Stronach and Jaja Jones shine through. If you threw that composition at most drum corps they’d be up the creek in a hurry. Well done to the entire band. Shame that the WPBC didn’t get a listen. They for sure will listen when you play in Brittany. Best Wishes for whatever is next musically. HOSS “

  13. he he…what a reaction to givin an honest opinion…couple of things to come back at some of the comments..its cammy not cammie…and bob your comment….”In fact, better still would be for him/her to take a trip to Lorient, Brittany and get exposed to the music being constructed by the bagads coming out of this rich musical heritage. Ten years ago I made my first trip to this festival and haven’t missed a year since.”….i made my first trip 25 years ago…and i never mentioned the quality of the music the bagads produce..which they showed the can reproduce on the competition field at the worlds….im sure they will come to their own conclusions as have i and most of the people i know….i predict a load of bretons buyin ear defenders around the time of lorient…might be a good business beat the credit crunch lol

  14. Since it’s the WORLD pipe band championship, you’d hope there could be a bit more WORLD music. Is there anything in the rules that says it must be in a ‘Scottish’ idiom?



Forgotten Password?