Gradings for 2016 have been issued by the Competing Pipers’ Association to all their members. These are important for those wishing to gain places to play at Oban and Inverness. The promoters at both need to squeeze a lot of events into two days and as a result have to restrict numbers in the Gold & Silver Medals. Last year thirty got to play at Oban and 25 at Inverness.
The grading from the CPA is important but not the be-all-and-end-all of piping criteria. Oban for example has made it clear that it will consider a wide range: ‘Those ruled as being eligible. Essentially the order of merit as judged by the Joint Committee. Judgements are made on recent track record, CPA grading and judges discretion.’
I presume Inverness has a similar approach. Whilst it is a good thing if most competing pipers are members of the CPA, there should always be room at the major events for the individual who for personal reasons doesn’t want to be ‘in the union’. Oban and Inverness should be about hearing the very best players not about where they come from, who they know, or what organisation they belong to.
The same goes for the new judging association. It is a good thing if everyone comes together in common cause but I hope the major promoters will always have room for the adjudicator who chooses not to join perhaps because he/she doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of the ‘closed shop’.
With the bands it is different. There the major contests are all run by the RSPBA, and the association is therefore entitled to insist that the judges they employ will operate to a level they deem necessary and that they will honour the rules drawn up by RSPBA administrators.
Solo piping is much more diverse with dozens of different events run by different organisations and committees. Each has its own set of conditions, traditions and ways of doing things. This makes for an interesting and multifaceted programme of senior contests which starts in March with the Uist and Barra and ends with London in November.
Not many of the senior players who play at these major and invitational competitions are now members of the CPA. They see no point in being in an Association from which they derive little benefit. The bulk of its membership is in the C and B grades where the jostling for grading preference is fiercely fought over. This puts additional pressure on the Association’s Grading Committee who need to do a lot of serious listening to get it right. There can be no substitute for actually sitting through a B or C grade contest and hearing at first hand those on whom you are passing judgement.
It is here that the adjudicators would be able to help I feel. They, after all, do just that. Yet I don’t know of any of my colleagues who have been approached for their opinion on last year’s playing. Might this be something for the CPA to consider?
Those wishing to plan the summer might like to start by consulting our Diary. It has a link to the Scottish Games Association’s list of Highland games. We’ll update this as piping information becomes available. We would encourage competition promoters to forward all details to the usual email address. There is early season info on the Diary page too with dates for the Archie Kenneth Quaich (a two-heat and final event this year), the Uist & Barra Professional, Scottish Schools PB Champs. etc.
Pipe Major Gordon Walker (pictured) is in recital at the Scots Guards Club, Haymarket, Edinburgh, on Sunday 14th February, from 4pm. Tickets are £10 and include a curry after the performance. Tickets are available on the door. Get along to hear one of the world’s top pipers at the peak of his form.
The RSPBA have announced a few re-gradings ahead of the 2016 season. Check them out here.
Piping & drumming results from last weekend’s Winter Storm competition in Kansas City have been posted here. They show success for Alex Gandy in the light music and Jamie Troy jnr. in the ceol mor.