January 31, 2012

pipes|drums’ 2011 New Year’s Honours

Drummer of the Year

Steven McWhirter, Glasgow – what a year for the Ulster-born Inveraray & District Leading-Drummer. He gained his second World Solo Championship and brought up the corps quality and ensemble integration of his band’s section in an impressive fashion. McWhirter has long been recognized as a solo virtuoso, and in 2011 he demonstrated that he’s ready to be one of the great corps leaders of his generation.

Panelists” comments:

  • This is the one L-D who plays with his PM the whole time, he rarely, if ever takes his eyes off his PM. Great to watch.”
  • “Steven captured his second World Solo Drumming title. He also led Inveraray & District drum corps to its best finish at the World Championships.”
  • “Never mind the World Solo Championship; it is how he is developing the youngsters at Inveraray that makes the difference.”
  • “Another well deserved world solo drumming prize for Steven – that, coupled with bringing on a young drum corps at Inveraray ensures Drummer of the Year award.”

Also nominated (in alphabetical order):

Gordon Brown, Whitburn, Scotland – another excellent year from Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia’s L-D, who enjoyed a strong finish at the World Solos and excellence at RSPBA majors with his corps.

Jim Kilpatrick, Ashgil, Scotland – the world’s most famous pipe band drummer captured yet another World Drum Corps Championship. Playing with an overhauled Shotts & Dykehead and a new Pipe-Major in Gavin Walker, Kilpatrick stayed his usual course and produced impressive results under challenging circumstances.

Reid Maxwell, Vancouver – Maxwell continues to unveil a sparkling drum corps designed first and foremost to complement the SFU pipe section and present his band as a band. While Maxwell keeps trying for the World Solo title that has eluded him, his focus on his pipe band is once again impressive.

Barry Wilson, Glasgow – Wilson played a key role in ScottishPower’s rise up and his drum section continues to get better and better. Solid performances both on technical and creative levels turned heads and ears this year past, and, although he didn’t manage to extend his streak of four World Solo titles, Wilson continues to make his mark as one of the best pipe band drummers ever.


  1. I’ll try that comment again, can’t you have a pipesdrums book of the year award (any book pipe/drum or pipe band related) and also a separate product award?

  2. While I can see this is rather novel and might interest some, I think it actually serves to do little else but highlight just how small the top of the pyramid is (and that our focus is always up there). With the very rare exception, it’s the ‘same olds’ year after year. Band of the year: FMM. How many ‘experts’ are required to deliberate and agree on that…? It would be better if the ‘panel’ had carte blanche to dissect the year that was and make some statements about what was good, bad or otherwise, and not restricted to the elite level. Some commentary about the grades around the globe – comparisons etc. Readers might benefit a bit more if the expert panel was engaged to express its views on the broader scene, not simply be polled or asked to recite results that we all know already.

  3. Thanks, @uilleannonlooker. If you look back at the awards over the years (see links at article end), you’ll see that some years there are enough books to warrant that. 2011 saw relatively few collections being released. @Lawrie – thanks for your, as usual, frank feedback. Similarly, you’ll see in past years it’s not so straightforward. I agree that a lively debate with a panel of experts on the good and the bad of the year would be fun and enlightening, but the awards are structured as such to make them relatively straightforward. Panelists did in fact mention people, bands, events and products that they thought merited nomination, and, interestingly, every band nominated had at least one vote, so the winner was not unanimous.



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