As would be expected with such a stellar line-up, this was a day of first rate professional piping. A large crowd heard the very best of both ceol mor and ceol beag. Comment on the performances and the winners are as below but listed among the latter should be the audience too. Here are the complete results:
1 Faye Henderson, Lament for the Earl of Antrim
2 Douglas Murray, Lord Lovat’s Lament
3 Angus MacColl, End of the High Bridge
4 Chris Armstrong, Patrick Og MacCrimmon’s Lament
5 Finlay Johnston, Farewell to the Laird of Islay
1 P/M Gordon Walker (pictured top receiving the overall trophy from former U&B secretary Jeanette McHugh), John MacDonald of Glencoe, Tulloch Castle, Ca’ the Ewes
2 William McCallum, Angus Campbell’s Farewell to Stirling, Caledonian Society of London, John MacKechnie
3 Roderick MacLeod, Clan MacColl, Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch, Sheepwife
4 Chris Armstrong, Crags of Stirling, Bob o’ Fettercairn, Alick C. MacGregor
5 Iain Speirs, Donald MacLellan of Rothesay, Maggie Cameron, Smith of Chilliechassie
1 Alasdair Henderson, Rhonda Blair, Skylark’s Ascension
2 P/M Gordon Walker, Dora Watt, Rakes of Kildare
3 Douglas Murray, Mad Hornpipe, Curlew
4 Chris Armstrong, Colin MacKay, Deerstalker
5 Roderick Macleod, Ina MacKenzie, Old Wife of the Mill Dust
Naill Pipe Chanter:
The judges, who must have had a difficult task, were Iain MacFadyen, Stuart Samson and William Morrison.
Robert Wallace writes:
Roderick MacLeod got the contest off to a respectable start, though the pipe drifted slightly, tune lacked spark, and Isabel MacKay needs spark; Gordon Walker had an Auldearn 2 of two halves, the first very good and the second hampered by an over-dwelling on cadence Es and an indifferent crunluath; Peter McCalister had a weak sounding chanter and unbalanced with it, beautiful drone, bit too cut in Var 1 singling; Gordon McCready started well but went badly off his Donald Duaghal MacKay in Var 1, line 1, solid pipe; Angus MacColl gave us beautiful, lyrical playing on a fine instrument, possibly just a little crushing in the a mach; Glenn Brown, sporting a magnificent beard, had technical issues on D and his Beloved Scotland had a perfunctory feel, nice pipe; William McCallum’s Campbell of Kintarbert was going well until the crunluath where his timing and technique were questionable; Iain Speirs’ Prince’s Salute was a model of control and expression, the only flaw to my ear a consistent tendency to cut the end-of-line low As; Faye Henderson had several places where her tune was more staccato than the required legato but finished strongly on a holding pipe (C dullish); Douglas Murray gave us poise, control and beautiful expression throughout his tune, my only quibble an overcut F in the run up to high A in variation 1, immaculate pipe; William Geddes expressed his Old Men of Shells with commanding maturity but the pipe needs to be a little, a little, more robust to eliminate the chips to low G; Finlay Johnston set his tune out well and went on to give a peerless demonstration of good phrasing and how to blow and control high G; Chris Armstrong handled his tune with great skill, brushed off an early fight with hiharin and chedari to finish well in charge of this difficult piece (P Og), good pipe; Callum Beaumont was another who just didn’t bring the music out in his tune, Ronald MacDonald of Morar needs a much more sympathetic approach than he gave us, and he could start by lengthening the D gracenote in hihorodo, lovely pipe and finger.
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Angus MacColl played musically as ever, but some of the fingering may have been a tad tight, slips in Joshua James; William Geddes’s lightish chanter was again evident here and he composed a few new phrases for the Seagull whilst on stage; Douglas Murray had a couple of slurs in his strathspey but regained his composure to give us a formidable hornpipe and jig; solid playing but an unmusical jig from Chris Armstrong; one or two crossing noises from Finlay Johnston in an otherwise well played set; too much band playing from Craig Sutherland in his first appearance at the U&B – work crushed; Iain Speirs – lovely pipe, expressive throughout and no major errors; Alasdair Henderson was too fast into his MSR but regained his brain to produce an exemplary H&J; Callum Beaumont was finger perfect in the MSR but rushed his hornpipe and had slips in the jig; Roderick MacLeod never nailed the pipe in the MSR (low A and F flattish) but raised the drones for the H&J bringing the instrument much closer to the instrument we expect from him; Gordon McCready had one or two shaky moments (second part strathspey, EFE in March) and the hornpipe lacked melody; Glenn Brown had some slurring on D again and EFE was not clean enough in John MacFadyen of Melfort; lovely pipe and finger from William McCallum – classy MSR playing, errors in jig; commanding pipe from Gordon Walker, some tight playing in reel and a couple of misses in strathspey but brought the contest to a very strong end.
Piping Convenor John Angus Smith is to be congratulated for the efficient running of his first Uist & Barra, a tradition begun by his distinguished predecessor Seumas MacLean. At the conclusion of the prizes Julia MacIsaac, President, thanked everyone for attending and wished them a safe journey home.
Footnote: It was pleasing to see two leading pipers, everyone knows who they are, playing at the U&B for the first time in many years following a self-imposed boycott which coincided with the de-camping of the contest from the Piping Centre to the College of Piping six or seven years ago. We hope this is behind us now and all top players will continue to support this important competition wherever it is held.