Congratulations to Craig Muirhead on winning through to the next round of the Scots Guards KO against Brian Lamond. The first round of the SPA KO is on November 7 at the College of Piping. The jousters are Finlay Johnston and John Patrick. 7.30 start, bar and refreshments.
The Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA have sent this: ‘Thanks to Ian Burrows, pictures from all 2015 pipe band contests (except Rostrevor) can now be seen on the RSPBANI website, go to: http://www.rspbani.org/viewimagegallery.php‘
The Society’s Recital Day, when their Piobaireachd Group all get together and give a tune (a bit like Brittany’s ‘Piobaireachd by the Sea’ without the brine and seafood), is on Nov 1. The Society’s 50th Anniversary is on Feb 22, 2016 and they plan a special evening. Well done to all concerned, particularly the hard-working secretary/treasurer Alex McConnell.
Disappointing to see that there will only be eight pipers competing for one of the major awards in solo piping, the Bratach Gorm, in a couple of weeks. Part of the reason will be the decision to set modern tunes. Laudable that the London Society should give these pieces an airing at the highest level, but the first year was always going to be difficult. If they do it again in future years things should improve in the same way that so many of the pipers at the Donald MacLeod contest already know the tunes, having played there for a number of years.
One of those entered for the Bratach is Gordon Walker. Isn’t that a great shot of the P/M up top? Thanks to Mark Geddis for supplying. It was taken at the recent NI Piper of the Year contest in Ballymena where Gordon was adjudicating and giving a recital. Now Mark has sent us another great pic and it is the basis for today’s caption competition. I want to hear suggestions apropos what Gordon is saying, and what competitors Kevin [Rogers of SLoT] and Ashley [McMichael of FM] are thinking. Try to keep it clean folks but give free rein to your creativity. These guys are all in possession of that rare animal in some quarters of the piping world – a sense of humour. Send thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prize for the best: £20 voucher for the Piping Press Shop.
Kevin was one of those playing for the drummers at last weekend’s World Solo Drumming. It was noteworthy how many of the pipers are now eschewing the big band sound for a more suitable solo tone. There were good instruments from Kevin, Craig Munro (also of SLoT) Ally Henderson of Inveraray (who played for winner Steven MacWhirter), another young piper from Inveraray whose name escapes me (McAllister?), P/M Chris Armstrong and P/M Alen Tully.
Some thoughts on Rosneath: The playing in the C Grade Piob was mixed, with basic problems with flat pipes and fingers costing many potentially good players prizes. Setting pitch should not be an issue: take a reading from a master player such as Gordon and then make sure your low A is set to that and the drones tuned accordingly. The winner, Jonathan Simpson, gave us a good Lament for Donald of Laggan, and with his quality pipe and technique showed he is ready to move up to B Grade. Second-placed John MacDonald had a good instrument too and more focus on the theme notes in the Flame of Wrath would have improved his delivery. Ben Mulhearn, third, was a shade erratic in MacLeod’s Salute or he might have done better; well set pipe. Finishing early, I listened to a few tunes in the A Piob where Darach Urquhart’s Big Spree was spoiled by an indifferent instrument. Mike Fitzhenry just lacked a little polish in his MacSwan of Roaig; brilliant hands; pipe shaded. Mike (who couples his solo piping with playing in Field Marshal) tells me he has just finished an MBA and hopes to have more time on his hands for practice now that that is out of the way. Readers will remember his success earlier this year at Lochaber. Clearly one to watch.
In the light music Jonathan Greenlees, another FM piper who doubles his band work with a solo career, continued his good run of form (two wrong notes eliminated him from the ceol mor) from the Mod, taking the Strathspey & Reel. Ally Henderson had an aberration in the S&R but played well to take the March. Declared Champion Piper after winning the A Piob, Ally has had a great year taking both A light musics at the Argyllshire, a feat seldom achieved, among other successes.