Captain John MacLellan Memorial Competition: Updated with Pix and Comment

prizesThis was a superbly run event, writes the Editor, a model of its kind, and one that deserves much more support than it gets. It was once more a credit to the promoters, the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming and the Competing Pipers’ Association.

Senior Pipe Major Martin Macdonald was responsible for the brilliant organisation in the absence of Major Steven Small, the Army School Director who could not attend.

As Colin MacLellan said in his address to the audience at the prize-giving, his father would have been immensely proud of the efforts made in his memory. The only downside of the day was the President of the CPA playing without a bonnet. Captain John would not have been amused! The main picture (top) shows trophy winners gathered in the MacLennan Room at Inchdrewer House in the Army School, Edinburgh. Sponsors of the event were: McCallum Bagpipes, Prosperity Financial Solutions, Isle of Arran Distillers, Wounded in Service Events (WISE), the CPA and Legion Scotland.

Innes Smith winner of the P/A Ceol Mor. Innes received the prestigious John MacLellan Memorial Medal and also an invite to next August's recital/competition featuring Captain John's compositions
Innes Smith winner of the P/A Ceol Mor. Innes received the prestigious John MacLellan Memorial Medal and also an invite to next August’s recital/competition featuring Captain John’s compositions

P/A Piobaireachd
1 Innes Smith, Nameless Hiharin Dro o Dro
2 Jonathan Greenlees, Old Men of the Shells
3 Cameron Drummond, MacDougall’s Gathering
4 Jenny Hazzard, Lament for the Viscount of Dundee
5 Ed McIlwaine, MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament
Judges: T Speirs, R Wallace. (Report on this competition below).

P/A MSR
1 Cameron Drummond
2 Steven Leask
3 Jonathan Greenlees
4 Graham Drummond
5 Craig Sutherland
Judges: I McLellan, S Samson

B Piobaireachd
1 Anna Kummerlow, Melbank’s Salute
2 Greig Canning
3 Steven Leask
4 John Cameron
5 Gordon Barclay
Judges:  C MacLellan, B Hitchings

Anna Kummerlow from Germany, winner of the B Piob
Anna Kummerlow from Germany, winner of the B Piob

B MSR
1 Graham Mulholland
2 Andrew Bova
3 Lachie Dick
4 Andrew Hall
5 Ross Cowan
Judges: J Banks, J Henderson

John MacDonald winner of the C Piobaireachd and C Grade Overall. John received a striking set of pipes from sponsor McCallum Bagpipes as one of his prizes
John McDonald winner of the C Grade Overall. John received a striking set of pipes from sponsor McCallum Bagpipes

C Piob
1 John MacLeod
2 John McDonald
3 Alex Gehrig
4 Andrew Bova
5 Jonathan Simpson
Judges: R MacShannon, A Frater

C MSR
1 Katherine Belcher
2 Edward Gaul
3 Jonathan Simpson
4  John McDonald
5 Gordon Barclay
Judges: W Cowan, B Donaldson

Winner of the C MSR, Katherine Belcher
Winner of the C MSR, Katherine Belcher

Open H&J
1 Steven Gray
2 Cameron Drummond
3 Graham Drummond
4 Steven Leask
5 Sarah Muir
Judges: I McLellan, S Samson, T Speirs, R Wallace

steven-gray
Steven Gray winner of the Open H&J

Of the P/A Piobaireachd Robert Wallace writes: First on was Jenny Hazzard playing Lament for the Viscount of Dundee. The bagpipe was nicely pitched but the drones never gave the impression of being as one. Apart from a rather open crunluath fosgailte, the fingering was of good standard. The ground needed more flow, an overdwelling on some notes hindering forward progression; the same in the singlings of variations 1 & 2. Overall a good start to the day.

Prizewinners Jonathan Simpson, Greig Canning and Steven Leask
Prizewinners Jonathan Simpson, Greig Canning and Steven Leask

Craig Sutherland was next with My King Has Landed in Moidart. This is one tune where the Piobaireachd Society setting is superior to Kilberry. I feel the 2/4 of the former helps expression better than the 4/4 of the latter. Craig rushed off the first D in the first small phrase and this upset the rhythmic applecart. Thereafter he was searching for the pulse and rushed on in hot pursuit. Meanwhile the bagpipe started to drift. Craig’s fingering was near flawless throughout – only one missed taorluath on D.

The Old Men of the Shells was the tune given to Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Greenlees. Like Jenny, his pipe never gave the impression it was completely locked down. That said, it did not alter from its 90% ‘on’ position. His timing and fingering were good with the exception of Variation 2 doubling where he seemed to hesitate on the low Gs and low As.

Overall winner Cameron Drummond
Overall winner Cameron Drummond

Cameron Drummond started well with MacDougall’s Gathering with a pleasing ground –  even though he could have made more of the phrase endings. Into the taorluath on a solid, well set instrument, and here the melody grew tired with a lack of focus on the theme notes and a square treatment of the grip turns. Same problem in the crunluath. Beautiful hands throughout.

Gordon Bruce was untidy with Lament for MacSwan (technique and timing). The instrument was well set and at times Gordon showed a welcome return to form – but then ring rustiness overcame him and the performance suffered accordingly. The shape of the tune was as one would wish, and he just needs to put  a bit more work in and he will be back to the form that saw him take both Silver Medals a couple of years back.

Ed McIlwaine timed MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament very well but the pipe let him down. Indeed, when he first blew up one wondered if he was going to get it close at all. Fortunately for him there were no lights at the John MacLellan and he was able to bring some order to his sticks before he ran out of energy. Unfortunately they did not last and all his pleasing phrasing and subtlety, could not, in the circumstances, fully appease the bench.

First and second in the ceol mor, Innes Smith and Jonathan Greenlees
First and second in the P/A ceol mor, Innes Smith and Jonathan Greenlees

The final player was Innes Smith with Nameless: Hiharin Dro o Dro. A rich, harmonic bagpipe filled the room from the moment he struck up; the chanter projected, the music produced lively and interesting. Maybe too lively at times with some of Innes’s cuts in the urlar and variation 1 more like those an enthusiastic surgeon might make with a wee sharp knife than a gracenote finger; but all things considered, cultured playing from a rapidly maturing piper. Have a listen to part of Innes’s performance:


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