PP Editor’s Blog: Pitlochry/ Worlds/ Glenfiddich/ Donald MacLeod

What a pity to see that there will only be two bands competing in Grade 1 at Pitlochry on Saturday. In my day all the top bands took part.

It was seen as a ‘final fling’ of the year and the Perthshire town had its very own pipe band atmosphere that day. For the finale all the bands used to line up in one long file and play together at the March Past the Pipe Majors making up the front rank.

Those of a certain age will remember getting to Pitlochry before the new A9 opened. Could be quite a trek and that all added to the sense that we were headed somewhere different. Here’s the draw for Saturday:

Grade Novice
01 13:00 Kelty and Blairadam
02 13:09 West Fife Schools
03 13:18 Mackenzie Caledonian

Grade 4
01 13:37 Badenoch and Strathspey
02 13:46 Alyth and District
03 13:55 Northern Constabulary
04 14:04 Vale of Atholl
05 14:13 Carnoustie and District
06 14:22 City of St Andrews
07 14:31 Ardross
08 14:40 Lanark and District
09 14:49 Perth and District[wds id=”5″]

Grade 3
01 15:08 City of Brechin
02 15:17 Vale of Atholl
03 15:26 Peter Vardy Glenrothes and District 2010
04 15:35 City of Discovery

Grade 2
01 15:45 Mackenzie Caledonian

Grade 1
01 16:04 Vale of Atholl
02 16:13 Mackenzie Caledonian

There’s also solo piping but no piobaireachd. Admission for adults is £8, children 5 -16 £2, parking £2, dogs on leads OK, tickets on day.

Still with the bands, the RSPBA has announced the dates for the majors for next year, with only the British still to be confirmed:

British Championships – Date and Location to be confirmed
United Kingdom Championships – June 11th at Belfast
European Championships – June 25th at Grant Park, Forres
Scottish Championships – July 30th at Levengrove Park, Dumbarton
World Championships – August 12th/13th at Glasgow Green, Glasgow.

Looking back on the 2015 season I wonder what you thought of it? I think at the start most people were expecting another Field Marshal grand slam given the way they started picking up the first three majors, albeit the Europeans on ensemble preference after a three way tie with SLoT and Shotts.

All season the top bands were FMM, Shotts, SLoT and Inveraray. The latter threatened but never quite made it; SloT took the Scottish after FM’s drumming got hammered. All the while Shotts were quietly bubbling along, and after a fourth at the British, always making the top three, and always playing to the same consistent standard that eventually made them an irresistible force at the Worlds last month.

They showed that one good performance in the year at Glasgow Green is not enough if you are going to prevail. Consistency is the key (and this applies to any grade). Week after week you make the judges sit up and take notice – you put yourself in the frame. Then, when circumstances are right, and you up your game another notch, bingo! the big one.

One thing before we leave the Worlds, I take it SLoT placed second in Grade 1 given their slightly better ensemble marks – a first and a third against Inveraray’s first and fourth. The table below, courtesy the RSPBA, shows how close things were for second and third.
G1 table

Read more about the Worlds and see our picture gallery of winners in the October Pipe Band Magazine, available from the first of the month.


October is shaping up to be a busy month of piping with the Mod at Oban on October 10, the Glenfiddich on October 24th (not 25th as the Blair Castle/Atholl Estates website has it). The following week, Sat. 31st October, there is the London Championship, Bratach Gorm etc. This has been brought forward a week so that judges at Glenfiddich can be called for duty at London. Glenfiddich Piping and Fiddle sponsor both contests and it makes sense to make use of judges flown in specially at both contests.

By our reckoning the following pipers will be playing at Blair: Stuart Liddell (Open Piobaireachd at Oban), Roderick MacLeod (Masters Championship at the Piping Centre), Callum Beaumont (Clasp at Inverness), John Angus Smith (Gold Medal at Oban), Finlay Johnston (Gold Medal at Inverness), Angus MacColl (Former Winners MSR at Oban), Jack Lee (Bratach Gorm), Bruce Gandy (Former Winners' MSR at Inverness). That leaves two places that usually go to the prizewinners from the senior events at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting. That must mean that William McCallum with a second and third in the Former Winners events and Iain Speirs for his second in the Senior Piob. at Oban, must take the remaining two places.

I hope the day will be livestreamed again and that the Piping Centre will continue their support for the Donald MacLeod competition by asking for donations from those who tune in. At Inverness P/M Iain Murdo Morrison, the organiser of the Donald MacLeod, showed me one of the beautiful medals now on offer at Stornoway, courtesy of a very generous donation from a supporter of the great P/M MacLeod (pictured top).