One fact that emerged from yesterday’s story concerning the RSPBA’s Adjudicator Panel was this: the passion and concern everyone involved has for the pipe band art. The judges themselves are dedicated to trying to get their results correct and to have in place the best system that allows that to happen.
It is inevitable that there will be clashes of personality and disputes over how this should best be done. In a way it is a wonder that there are not more. It is a pity that men of the stature of John Wilson, Joe Noble and Ian Duncan have been forced to take the action they have, but we hope that, in the end, it can be sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction.
The panel needs men of P/M Ian Duncan’s ability and background – no question. The more Grade 1 pipe majors we have taking up the clipboard and pencil the better. A fast track which allows them to get on the panel ahead of judges who may not have similar experience or track record should not been seen as something to the detriment of the panel. Quite the opposite. And remember this: it is what the bands themselves want.
I remember back to the days when RG Hardie, John Weatherston and Iain McLeod were all asked to sit exams before they could get on the judging panel. None took up the offer, yet here were individuals who had done everything there was to do in the pipe band competition sphere.
Nonetheless I do believe some adjudicator training is necessary no matter how many World Championships or Grade 1 prizes you have won. That said, this experience, this proven knowledge and ability, has surely to be to the credit of the applicant and put him ahead of another, who may turn out to be just as good an adjudicator, but who does not have the top-level success to guarantee the fast track treatment.
With the summer pipe band season on us next month all attention will focus on the competition arena, and I hope that after a few months of cooling off and careful reflection the judges can get round the table and allow wise counsel and common sense to prevail.
Tomorrow sees the annual Donald Macleod Memorial contest in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. Pipers taking part are Finlay Johnston, Gordon McCready, Roderick MacLeod, Callum Beaumont, Angus MacColl, Stuart Liddell, William McCallum and John Angus Smith.
Judges for what is always a highly entertaining competition, are Alan Forbes, Iain MacFadyen and John Wilson.
Pipers are asked to submit two of P/M MacLeod’s piobaireachd, one of which they are asked to play, and three of his marches, strathspeys and reels and three of their own choice. They must then play their chosen Donald MacLeod composition along with their own submission in a two march, two strathspey, two reel sequence.
There is also a hornpipe and jig contest, but points here do not count towards the overall prize. The competition, held in the Caladh Inn, begins at 10.30am UK time.
A new discount for bands sending four or more students to the New England Pipe & Drum Academy has been announced. Bands will save $50 per person if they register pipers or drummers in groups, minimum four. Register here. Check out the teaching faculty here. The camp will be sponsored by top US reedmaker Chris Apps plus other leading manufacturers.
Tickets are on sale for Piping At Forres, the European Pipe Band Championships, sponsored by Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which will take place on Saturday 25 June in Grant Park. (See promo pic up top). Former Runrig frontman Donnie Munro is to be competition Chieftain for 2016.
The promoters are hoping that the number of bands will top 100. Enquiries have already been received from pipe bands in the Netherlands, Denmark and from the Brisbane Boys College in Australia who first came in 2014 and plan to return this year.
The competition is the biggest single ticketed day event in Moray and in 2015 brought in an estimated £1.3 million to the local area. Tickets are now on sale at Beaver Travel in Forres and Elgin; Brodie Countryfare, The Bookshop, Logie Steading; Brambles Boutique, Nairn; Ewe & Me, Aberlour and Grantown-on-Spey or online at www.pipingatforres.com. Tickets are in the form of wristbands allowing the ticket holder to exit and enter the park throughout the day.
Advance ticket prices offer a saving over the price of tickets sold on the day as follows:-
Adult (18-59) £11.00 (£13.00 on day)
Youth (12-17) £7.00 (£8.00 on day)
Senior Citizens (60 +) £10.00 (£11.00 on day)
Children under 12 Free of charge when accompanied by an adult, although they must be in possession of a wristband.
Family Ticket 2 adults, 2 youths £30.00 (£32.00 on day).
Piping At Forres is also keen to hear from any businesses interested in sponsoring the event. There are several levels of sponsorship and any business, large or small, wishing to sponsor the event should contact Sponsorship Director Eddie Tomkinson.
Donnie Munro said: ‘I am deeply honoured to have been invited to act as Chieftain for this highly prestigious international event. Pipe Band Music has undergone enormous changes over the years and the professionalism, the quality of musicianship and complexity of performance, is now quite outstanding. I am sure this will be a fantastic day out for everyone.’
Whilst the competition is the responsibility of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association the practical arrangements for the event in Forres are the responsibility of Forres Events Ltd, a small group of Forres business men and women who have volunteered their time to put Forres on the piping map and run a world-class event for an economic benefit to the local economy.
The organisers of the annual Iain Dall MacKay competition in Gairloch, Wester Ross, have sent this: