December 19, 2019

pipes|drums Best of the Decade Awards – Recording

As the decade of the 2010s draws to a close, pipes|drums reflects on the accomplishments, recordings and products that highlighted the last 10 years.

And what a 10 years they were!

The decade was rich with piping and drumming achievements. It was hard to decide the very best of the best, so we assembled a group of 50 accomplished pipers and drummers to allow us to democratically determine the winners.

Opinions will vary. It’s all subjective. Our nominees were chosen from the annual pipes|drums New Year’s Honours winners, plus select others that rated highly.

We have six categories:

The second in our six-part feature series . . .


pipes|drums Recording of the Decade

On the Day – The Story of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band
(read the 2011 pipes|drums review)

The 2011 feature documentary by professional filmmaker and piper John McDonald of Pasadena, California, captured the extraordinary week in 2008 that saw the world’s first truly all-star one-time band get together to test their mettle at Glasgow Green.

On the Day strives to tell a story – one of camaraderie and commitment by the more than 35 pipers and drummers who assembled, ultimately winning one qualifier event and making the Grade 1 Final and finishing eleventh overall.

Pipe-majored by Roddy MacLeod and with John Fisher leading the percussion, cameras trailed members, microphones captured personal thoughts, and McDonald made the canny decision to tap other competitors for their views. Sumptuously shot and beautifully rendered in post-production, the movie also broke new ground for pipe bands by being shown across Canada in major movie theatres.

Sooner or later, another band of all-star players will try a similar test, but it’s unlikely that we will see a documentary on the level of On the Day.

With 38% of the vote, On the Day narrowly beat out Inveraray & District’s Ascension commercial recording of their 2103 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall concert, which gained 35%.

A few comments from panelists:

  • “The Spirit of Scotland ‘experiment,’ in a way, answered a question that most of us have had our entire band careers: could a group of capable soloists come together and win the World’s? John McDonald expertly captured the story on film.”
  • “The most fun, and brought some flesh, blood and personality.”
  • “Records the trials and emotion of competition day at the World’s.”
  • “A unique and high-quality recording of a unique and high-quality ensemble.”
  • “An intimate viewing of the most groundbreaking pipe band of all time. We all know/knew these guys, and the production made them look like the stars they are/were, and made us feel special because we could say, ‘I know her/him.’ Great story, presented as well as it possibly could be.”
  • “Definitely a great piece of film for the decade and shows so much of how people should carry themselves and prepare.”
  • “This was a really positive and inspirational look at what makes top pipers and drummers tick (love of music and friends).”
  • “The concept of taking the worlds top players and have them practice together for a short period and then compete at the World Pipe Band Championships had never been done. It made the video that much more unique.”

Also nominated, along with their percentage of votes:

Here’s a chart that shows how the voting went:

[Disclosure: the editor of pipes|drums was a member of Spirit of Scotland in 2008 and 2016, and did not have a vote in this survey.]

Stay tuned for the remaining pipes|drums Best of the Decade Award winners over the next four days, and of course the 18th annual pipes|drums New Year’s Honours to be announced on December 31!



pipes|drums Best of the Decade Awards – Music Collection
December 18, 2019



  1. There are so many people I must acknowledge and thank for their important contributions in receiving this recognition. I sincerely apologize if I miss anyone.

    First, for the CD.

    I want to thank Jim McGillivray for taking on the huge task of co-producing the CD, something I had no experience with and would have been totally lost without his hands-on guidance. He told me how to design the liner notes with the details that pipers would value and appreciate. And he remembered and helped locate (along with Doug Stronach, Christine McCue, Ellen Mole and Rob Crabtree) some of Alasdair Gillies’s never-released recordings from 2001.

    I want to thank Doug Stronach for mastering the CD and putting in the extra effort in the 11th hour to meet the deadline and overnighting the master recording to the duplicator.

    Most of all, I want to thank the solo musicians: Roddy MacLeod, Colin MacLellan, Willie McCallum, Matt MacIsaac, Niall Stewart, Simon McKerrell, Angus MacColl, Stuart Samson, Euan MacCrimmon, Niall Matheson, and again, Jim McGillivray for making the new recordings specifically for the album. They all went above and beyond, making the CD a true master work for the ages.

    There was just enough room at the end of the CD to add the medley performance of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championship. So thanks to every member of the band for a stellar performance “on the day,” and to the RSPBA and BBC Scotland producer Gregor Sterling for use of the live recording.

    I also want to thank the people involved in creating the CD Liner Notes:
    My daughter, Nina Schwanse, who not only designed the Liner Notes but also the “box” of the Box Set and all the contents therein.
    McCallum Bagpipes and Chris Apps for the illustrations.
    Kate Halsey, proofreader extraordinaire for all the Box Set copy.
    The pipers, all of whom provided some background info about each of their tunes and their instruments.

    My sincere thanks also extend to those who contributed so much to the additional Box Set Extras and Design:
    Andrew Berthoff for writing the introduction booklet.
    Angus Nicol for writing about the history of the Oban and Inverness Gold Medals in the booklet.
    Derek Maxwell and Ryan MacDonald for their photographs.

    And, of course, the Bonus DVD Extras disc would not have been possible if the documentary had never been made in the first place!
    So I share this honor with Jennifer Febre Boase, who initiated the idea of making the documentary and provided the seed money to kickstart the production. Jim Allen (who would later co-produce Pipes & Sticks on Route 66) gets a special shout out for donating all the postproduction audio mixing at Post Haste Sound.
    There are so many others, hundreds, in fact, with whom I share this honor, for you are the ones who made the telling of “The Story” possible. I wish I could thank each of you personally, but for now I acknowledge you below, and apologize to those I may have omitted. Thank you all!
    > Pipers
    P/M RODDY MacLEOD MBE, Glasgow
    WILLIE McCALLUM, Glasgow, Scotland
    ANGUS MacCOLL, Oban, Scotland
    ALASDAIR GILLIES, Ullapool, Scotland (1963-2011)
    IAIN SPIERS, Edinburgh, Scotland
    COLIN MacLELLAN, Edinburgh, Scotland
    JENNY HAZARD, Edinburgh, Scotland
    JIM McGILLIVARY, Aurora, ON, Canada
    SIMON McKERRELL, Glasgow, Scotland
    FINLAY JOHNSTONE, Glasgow, Scotland
    SIMON MARSHALL, Livingston, Scotland
    WILSON BROWN, Glasgow, Scotland
    ANDY ROGERS, Fredericton, NB, Canada
    ROBERT CROZIER, Melbourne, Australia
    NIALL STEWART, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland
    IAIN RUARIDH FINLAYSON, Kyle of Lochalsh
    STUART SAMSON MBE, Glasgow, Scotland
    JOHN MULHEARN, Glasgow, Scotland
    BILLY EVANS, Ballyclare, County Antrim, Ireland
    ANDREW BERTHOFF, Toronto, ON, Canada
    NIALL MATHESON, Inverness, Scotland
    EUAN MacCRIMMON, Oban, Scotland
    MATT McISAAC, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    > Side Drummers
    L/D JOHN FISHER, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    GRAHAM KIRKWOOD, Oakville, ON, Canada
    JAMIE TROY, Victoria, BC, Canada
    CURT WATTS, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    SCOTT NICHOLSON, Kingston, ON, Canada
    JAQUIE TROY, Victoria, BC, Canada
    DAN BIST, Barrie, ON, Canada
    MARK McKERRELL, Glasgow, Scotland
    > Bass Drummer
    CRAIG COLQUHOUN, Kincardine, ON, Canada
    > Tenor Drummers
    CHRIS DUNCAN, Blairgowrie, Scotland
    WHITNEY BONNET, Kincardine, ON, Canada
    TIM DJURSING, Copenhagen, Denmark
    KAHLIL CAPPUCINO, Ottawa, Ontario
    SIAN MAILER, Auchterarder, Scotland
    AMANDA SHIRLEY, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    > Drum Major
    JASON PAGUIO, San Diego, California, USA
    > Band Secretary
    Ian Duncan
    Finlay McDonald
    Ronnie McShannon
    Jonathan Cheyne
    Hugh Cameron
    Alberto Laidlaw
    Edited by
    Associate Producer
    Audio Post Production
    Production Manager
    Production Assistant
    Assistant Editor
    Music Supervisor
    Location Sound Recordist

    Aaron Shaw, Forrest MacDonald, Warren Casey, Karen Stetler, Sarah Habibi, Ian Embelton and the RSPBA, Shawn Bishop, Helen Wilkinson, Kenny MacLeod and McCallum Bagpipes, Ronnie McShannon, Alastair Dunn and R.G. Hardie & Co., Pipe Dreams (Ezeedrones), the National Piping Centre and Piping Live!, Hosbilt, McGillivrary Piping and pipetunes.ca, ;\]Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Mike Greene and the members of the Dunsire Forum, and the hundreds of people who contributed funds, both large and small, to complete the project.



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