Inveraray & District Pipe Band picked up their second major title of the season when they took first place at the Scottish Championships Grade 1 contest held today at Levengrove Park, Dumbarton.
Previously P/M Stuart Liddell’s band had won the first major of the season, the British at Paisley. Today, a total of 141 bands competed on what was a briefly showery but cold day on the banks of the River Leven. The weather affected the quality of the instruments and many bands struggled with sound.
The Grade 1 contest was a mixed bag of March, Strathspey and Reel playing, said PP Editor Robert Wallace who listened to the whole contest.
‘Some bands were clearly caught out by the cold and damp; others just hadn’t done enough work on their unison playing. Once more the MSR sorted out the good from the really good.
‘Does Inveraray’s win make them favourites for the Worlds in two weeks? I don’t know. Any of the top four bands today could lift the big one – and remember it is over two disciplines Medley and MSR with eight judges involved in the final. Everything is different at Glasgow Green, but there is no doubt that the winners today will get a lift going into the Worlds.’
In second place came St Laurence O’Toole from Dublin with current World Champions Shotts third. The drumming prize went to Inveraray.
The full result in Grade 1 was:
1 Inveraray (pictured going into the circle today)
2 St Laurence O’Toole
3 Shotts & Dykehead
4 Field Marshal Montgomery
5 Scottish Power
6 Fife Police
Grade 2 again went to the all-conquering Police Service of Northern Ireland, Grade 3a to Aughintober (N Ireland), 3b to Marlacoo (N Ireland) , Juvenile to Boghall Juveniles , 4a to Ullapool, 4b to Johnstone, Novice A to Dollar Academy and Novice B to Kintyre Schools. Read the full results here. Check Piping Press later for a critique of Grade 1 from the editor.
The penultimate pipe band championship of the season is underway at Levengrove Park, Dumbarton, west of Glasgow.
141 bands will compete for the Scottish Champions title in nine grades from Novice B to Grade 1.
The contest concludes at 5.20pm with MacKenzie Caledonia’s performance in Grade 2. First results approximately an hour later.
Get them as they are announced by joining Twitter and the RSPBA’s feed. Alternatively wait a few minutes and read the summaries here.
To hear Grade 1, get along to the park (admission free) for 2.15pm. Here is the order of play and times:
Grade 1 – Final
14:15 Scottish Power
14:25 Inveraray and District
14:35 Field Marshal Montgomery
14:45 Bleary and District
14:55 Police Scotland Fife
15:15 Vale of Atholl
15:25 St Laurence O’Toole
15:35 Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia
15:45 Spirit of Scotland
15:55 Peoples Ford – Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia
16:05 Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band
Adjudicators: Anthony Sloane, John Connor, Greg Dinsdale
The picture above is from the Scottish Championships in 2008. It shows P/M Stuart Liddell leading the band from the field after winning the Grade 2 title.
Click on ad. to order
The annual Skye Gathering Dunvegan Medal competition begins at 8.30am on Tuesday (Aug. 2) in the Skye Gathering Hall, Portree. Here is the running order:
1 Jamie Forrester
2 Andrew Bell
3 Anna Kummerlöw (Germany)
4 Matt Pantaleoni (USA)
5 Gordon Barclay
6 Darach Urquhart
7 Steve Spencer
8 Derek Midgley (USA)
9 Alasdair Henderson
10 Neil Clark (scratched)
11 Jenny Hazzard
12 John Angus Smith
13 Brighde Chaimbeul
14 Bruce MacDonald
15 Jamie Elder
16 Greig Canning
17 Andrew Carlisle (Northern Ireland)
18 John MacDonald
19 Jan Belak (Germany)
20 Nick Hudson (USA)
21 J Ross Cowan
22 Mike Fitzhenry
23 Andrew Hall (Northern Ireland)
24 Martin Kessler (Germany)
25 Sandy Cameron
Pipers have to submit four tunes all of MacCrimmon provenance; as a result the music is of the highest quality. The winner is entitled to compete for the Clasp to the medal on Tuesday evening. There is also a full range of light music on offer at Skye with the Kemble Star for Marches and the Peter MacFarquhar Medal for Strathspeys and Reels the two most prestigious awards.
These competitions are held on Wednesday with the Silver Chanter competition at Dunvegan Castle in the evening.
I am not sure the prestige of Inveraray Games is helped by the pipers being given their piobaireachd a week before the contest. It makes things easier all round for the competitors but is much less of a test.
Compare it with Braemar where it’s eight tunes, the chosen piece given at the bench. Promoters often justify the ‘early tune’ decision by saying it cuts down the number of breakdowns. In a premier grade contest this should not be an issue. These pipers are all skilled exponents with many tunes in their repertoire.
Over on Benbecula we had the Young Piper of the Year. The age limit on this contest seems to have increased over the years and it is now 30 and under. Thirty is young when you are in your 60s, but I would have thought ‘Young’ should mean, say 21 and under, or maybe 25.
The promoters will want to attract top pipers out to the isles right enough and may have had to push the age bar to do so. It certainly allows local players hear some of our top ‘young’ pipers of today, men of the calibre of Alasdair Henderson, this year’s winner.
Still with the games and my unashamed promotion thereof, the above picture comes courtesy Peter McCalister and shows Graham Mulholland playing for adjudicators Malcolm McRae and John Ross at Lochearnhead.
Judging at Tobermory with John Wilson (above) was, as ever, a pleasure. John tells me he is on duty at the Scottish Championships tomorrow at Dumbarton where he is doing Grade 2. Also on the judges roster are Australia-based adjudicators Sam Young and Nat Russell.
I admire the passion these gents have for the pipe band art, travelling all that way every year at their own expense. We shouldn’t forget either Greg Dinsdale and Ken Eller who will be coming from Canada and Terry Lee who flies in from Vancouver for the Worlds.
Reasonably priced air fares have made pipe bands (and solo piping) a truly international endeavour these days and we are all the better for it – but the fervent committment of all enthusiasts is not something you can put a price on.
The weather forecast for Dumbarton is semi-favourable: 17 degs., chance of rain.
Apropos the Worlds, the Grade 4b band Clan MacPherson from the US have sent this: ‘Rob, It is President Jack from the Clan MacPherson Pipes & Drums in North Andover, Mass. We may need another snare drummer for our competition at the Worlds. We went from five down to maybe only two snares.
Do you know someone in Scotland who maybe interested in playing with us? Of course he/she would need to learn our scores fast, and we will start with offering free board from 8/4 – thru 8/13. I know, just crazy; we lost three snares leading up to this two-year quest. Your friend from Boston. John F. Shattuck cell 978-479-6438; John_F_Shattuck@raytheon.com‘
Can anyone help this band? My understanding was that the minimum number of sides in 4b was two so maybe the band will be OK anyway.
Travelling to Tobermory we took the opportunity to visit Ulva, the small island nestling within Mull’s northern and southern arms. The name comes from the Norse ‘Ulffur’, meaning Wolf’s Island. Ulva’s main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Major General Lachlan MacQuarrie, Governor of New South Wales (1762 -1824), and widely considered the ‘father’ of modern Australia. On the wall of a small exhibition on the island are his famous words, ‘I do not think because I come from a small and desolate island my ideas are as limited in extent. It is the man who is born in a city on an island who seldom gets himself and his country into true perspective with the rest of the universe. But when a man of ideas, like myself, emerges from a mere speck in the ocean, he becomes a citizen of the world.’
Ulva is notable too for the piping school established there in the village of Ormaig by Charles MacArthur after he returned from his time with the MacCrimmons. (A sailing friend tells me that getting to and from Ulva to Borreraig would have been no bother to the mariners of the day). Hard to think that such a small island would have been able to sustain such a school, but at one time Ulva was a thriving community of an estimated 500 people with the full range of skills necessary for 18th century living.
The piper would have been an important person in such a Gaelic -based society, playing for the people as well as his clan chief (the MacArthurs were pipers to MacDonald of the Isles). According to Angus MacKay and his literary assistant, ‘The MacArthurs were esteemed next to the MacCrimmons, and like them kept a seminary for instruction of pipe music…..Pennant who visited the Hebrides in 1774 eulogises Sir Alexander MacDonald’s piper in whose house or college he was very hospitably entertained, and was gratified by the performance of many piobaireachds. He describes the building as being divided into four apartments, the outer being the shelter for cattle during winter; another formed the hall where the students appear to have practised; a third was set apart for strangers and the fourth was reserved for the family.’
Time constraints – the ferry goes off at 5pm – meant we couldn’t make it to Ormaig but here is the exhibition’s drawing of the ruins of what was possibly the MacArthur college:
Junior Piping Trophies:
Kelly Cup (Open Chanter): Angus MacIntyre
Archie Lindsay Memorial Trophy (under 15): Findlay Cameron
Roddy Morrison Memorial Cup (under 15): Findlay Cameron
John Steel Memorial Cup (overall Under 18): Calum Craib
Pipe Major RJ Gillies Memorial Trophy (under 18 local): Calum Craib
1 Cameron Drummond (pictured on an earlier occasion after winning the Dunvegan Medal on Skye)
2 Greg Canning 3 Jonathan Simpson
4 Decker Forrest 5 James MacPhee
Fincastle Star awarded to Local Winner of Jigs: Fiona MacLean
The John Campbell (New Zealand) Challenge Cup awarded to the piper with most points in the Open: Cameron Drummond
R MacIntyre Memorial Cup (Open Piob.): Cameron Drummond
Archie MacDonald Memorial Shield plus £10 for most points in competitions 4, 5 and 6: Alastair Henderson & Decker Forrest
George MacKinnon Memorial Shield (Open March): Alastair Henderson; Finlay MacDonald Ormiclate Cup (Open Strathspey & Reel): Cameron Drummond John MacDonald Memorial trophy: Andrew MacIsaac Adam Scott Memorial Cup: Andrew MacIsaac
Wednesday 27th July
1 Andrew Hall 2 Ben Duncan
3 Bruce MacDonald 4 Jonathan Simpson
Strathspey & Reel
1 Andrew Hall 2 Sandy Cameron
3 Jonathan Simpson 4 Angus J. MacColl
1 Angus J. MacColl 2 Jonathan Simpson
3 Sandy Cameron 4 Andrew Gray
Judge for Senior Light Music: Iain MacFadyen
1 Angus J. MacColl, Macleod of Raasay’s Salute
2 Ben Duncan, Battle of the Birds
3 Andrew Hall, Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay
4 Jonathan Simpson, Battle of Auldearn No. 2
5 Bruce MacDonald, Lament for Mary Macleod
1) What is particularly poor about the fare of the MacDonald book and manuscript? Is it missing something, for example? Are the pibrochs chosen too massive? Some of them are rather extensive.
2) What ‘un-piping’ motifs do you see? His book is explicitly designed for piano-forte and violin, but at least nine of the selections come from Hannay-MacAuslan, which manuscript offers no hint at all of being anything other than for bagpipes. Is it just a matter of the kinds of constraints that time signatures impose upon the notation of rhythm? Or is there something else?
I would love to learn more from you and perhaps pull together an article or two of your insights for Alt Pibroch Club, where, I think, a lot of us can learn from your insights. What do you think?
Well David, firstly apologies for taking so long to get back to you. D McDonald’s scores, when played literally, are, to my ear, musically inept. Double echoes are a case in point. It should be no surprise that we do not play them the way of the early writers; they disturb rhythm and worse – there is no echo to speak of.
Playing cadence Es as part of a three or four note trill may be fine on the harp or piano or small pipes even, but they were never meant to be heard as such on the great pipe. Remember that the music has been fashioned to suit the instrument, the strong harmonic on the bass matching perfectly our constantly repeating E and providing satisfaction each time it does so.
As regards time signatures, these are always a mere guide. There is no passage of ceol mor which conforms exactly to 3/4 or 4/4. Try running any urlar through computer software and you will see what I mean. A good teacher is essential; the page a rough approximation of timing with the correct notes and movements.
If piobaireachd ever was played the ‘alternative’ way (and this I doubt), it is so unmusical that it should be no surprise to anyone that it died out completely. Eventually pipers – those who could read music – disregarded these scores in favour of Angus MacKay. Though not without fault, he made a much better fist of setting the music down on the stave, of course borrowing heavily from the early pioneers such as Donald MacDonald, but distilling their work into a representation that was much closer to what was actually played. That’s why his book was an instant success.
If MacDonald was so correct why did all the later 19th century composers/ compilers: Glen, William Ross, Gen. Thomason, John Ban MacKenzie not follow him in their depiction of the crucial motifs? In their young day all of these men would have known pipers or tutors alive and playing at the time MacDonald was writing. Anyone aged 80 today can easily recall the music of the 1950s. Someone of that age in say 1880 would know how pipers played in 1820, well before Angus MacKay’s book appeared.
I keep hammering away at getting revisionists to appreciate that I agree that alternative settings as found in all the sources you mention on your fine website are things to enjoy, publicise, promote. The sad thing is that adoption of these interesting differences is hindered by the need, as some see it, of preserving the unpleasant way some of these writers portray double echoes and cadences – with devotees requiring these to be performed literally.
Yet, as I say, I doubt if these figures were ever in common currency and you yourself have acknowledged the piano connection in D McD. As Duncan Watson’s recent piece recorded from Archie Kenneth, we will never know, and looking to Gaelic song for evidence in favour of this approach has led researchers up a whole series of well-intentioned, but ultimately fruitless blind alleys. It may be worth mentioning that if knowledge of this language is ‘the thing’, Donald MacLeod, a native speaker steeped in song, followed mainstream tradition when composing and writing his sweet tunes.
So rather than concentrating on evidence in favour wouldn’t it be more fruitful to look at evidence against playing these motifs the way you demonstrated at the Piobaireachd Society conference? Look closely at the work of the writers mentioned above, but more than anything do not shy away from piping’s oral tradition. We have recordings of William MacLean talking about and playing what he was taught in his lessons with Calum Piobair in the 1890s. We have the music of John MacDonald, Inverness, and MacDougall Gillies whose learning pedigree stretches back to the same time. Are we really saying that these giants of the art and, more importantly, their tutors, got it all so horribly wrong?
When we interpret Donald MacDonald’s settings and those of MacArthur and others within the oral tradition that has come down to us they present some marvellously interesting variations on the usual settings we hear. But we do all of their work and their memory a disservice when we insist on a literal reading of their scores. Their music deserves to be heard and celebrated but not in the way the revisionist lobby dictates.
Field Marshal Montgomery came out on top at the 65th Ulster Pipe Band Championships which were held in Antrim’s Castle Gardens on Saturday, July 23rd, writes Andrew Cromie.
This contest is the RSPBA Northern Ireland Branch’s flagship event and as such it attracted a strong turnout of bands playing to a large crowd of spectators who were eager to be entertained. The highlight of the day was the Grade One event which was won for the 25th time by Field Marshal Montgomery. The band under P/M Richard Parkes is pictured leaving the field after competing.
Four bands were expected to be competing in Grade One, however Bleary & District took the decision to withdraw as a mark of respect following a bereavement in the Davison family. Ravara also pulled out in the run up to the event. That left a straight head-to-head between Field Marshal Montgomery and St Laurence O’Toole.
St Laurence won the March, Strathspey and Reel section on ensemble preference, while Field Marshal were winners in the Medley event. Field Marshal went on to lift the overall title and also collected prizes for best pipes and second drums with St Laurence winning the prizes for best drum corp and bass section.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland continued their commanding run in Grade Two by taking first place and prizes for best pipes and bass section. Thiepval Memorial, from Co Donegal, claimed second place, and the prize for best drums with Closkelt in third. First place, and prizes for best pipes, drums and bass section in Grade 3a all went to Aughintober as they dominated the prize list ahead of Colmcille, Upper Crossgare and Drumlough.
Marlacoo & District took the honours in Grade 3b along with prizes for best pipes and bass section. Matt Boyd Memorial were placed second and won the piping prize ahead of Achill and Tullintrain. First place in Grade 4a and the prize for best pipes went to Battlehill with McNeilstown, Cleland Memorial, Portavogie and Cullybackey making up the top five. Best drums in Grade 4a went to Tullylagan while Augharan collected the bass section award.
Gransha, from Co Down, were the victors in Grade 4b followed by St Mary’s Derrytrasna, Gilnahirk, who were winners of the drumming prize, Sgt Walker Memorial and Kildoag, who won the bass section. Gransha and St Mary’s shared the prize for best pipes. The Ulster champion drum majors are Zara Cupples, Kara Gilmour, Lauren Abraham and Paula Braiden.
Results – Bands
Grade 1: 1, Field Marshal Montgomery, also 1st Medley, best pipes and second drums; 2, St Laurence O’Toole, also 1st MSR on ensemble preference, best drums, bass and M&D.
Grade 2: 1, PSNI, also best pipes, bass and M&D; 2, Thiepval Memorial, also best drums; 3, Closkelt.
Grade 3a:1, Aughintober, also best pipes, drums and bass; 2, Colmcille; 3, Upper Crossgare, also M&D; 4, Drumlough.
Grade 3b: 1, Marlacoo & District, also best drums and bass; 2, Matt Boyd Memorial, also best pipes; 3, Achill; 4, Tullintrain. Best M&D: Major Sinclair Memorial.
Grade 4a: 1, Battlehill, also best pipes; 2 on ensemble preference, McNeilstown; 3, Cleland Memorial; 4, Portavogie; 5 on ensemble preference, Cullybackey, also M&D. Best drums: Tullylagan. Best bass section: Augharan.
Grade 4b: 1, Gransha; 2, on ensemble preference, St Mary’s Derrytrasna; 3, Gilnahirk, also best drums; 4, Sgt Walker Memorial; 5, Kildoag, also best bass. Best pipes shared between Gransha and St Mary’s. Best M&D: Ballydonaghy.
Drum Majors results
Adult: 1, Paula Braiden (Cullybackey); 2, Lauren Hanna (Drumlough) 3, Alicia Dickson (Matt Boyd Memorial); 4, Andrea McKeown (Battlehill); 5, David Brownlee (Derryclavin).
Juvenile:1, Lauren Abraham (Ballybriest); 2, Emma Barr (Field Marshal Montgomery) 3, Zoe McDowell (Aughintober); 4, Gemma McDowell (Tullylagan); 5, James Kennedy (Whitewater).
Novice:1, Zara Cupples (Cullybackey) 2, Louis Anderson (Crozier Memorial) 3, Benjamin Walker (Battlehill); 4, Leanne Crooks (Syerla & District); 5, Louise Smiton (Closkelt).
• Don’t miss the next RSPBA major contest, the Scottish Championships to be held this Saturday, July 30th, at Levengrove Park, Dumbarton. Admission is free. Those travelling by train disembark at Dalreoch. The Scottish is the last major before the Worlds and a chance to hear your favourite bands before the big one in August. Grade 1 is particularly difficult to call with the three preceding majors all going to different bands: Inveraray (British), Field Marshal (UK) and SLoT (European). Check Piping Press early next week for a review of the contest. Grateful thanks to John Kelly for all photographs from the Ulsters.
Secretary of the Highlands & Islands ‘Young Piper of the Year’, Pauline Craib, has sent this: ‘I’ve attached a full list of results from the Young Piper 2016 and some photos. The first photo is Molly Perkins being presented with the trophy for Novice Piping. The second is Finlay Cameron, overall winner of the under 15 category. The third photo is Kevin Beaton picking up the trophy for under 15 local.
‘All prizes were presented by James MacLean.
‘The Committee would like to thank everyone who supported the event, the National Piping Centre for donating prizes for the junior competitions and in particular, McCallum Bagpipes Ltd who donated a large number of prizes for the junior events.’
Comunn Phiobireachd Uibhist agus Bharraigh (Uist and Barra Piping Association) Highlands and Islands Young Piper of the Year 2016 Open Chanter
1 Innes Scullion
2 Kieran MacCormick
3 Ryan MacIntyre
4 Ruaraidh Drennan/John Finlay MacKinnon (equal)
1 Molly Perkins
2 Allana Beaton
3 Andrew MacNeil
4 Eosaph Galbraith/Liam Joseph Harvey (equal)
Under 15 March Under
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Kevin Beaton
3 Calum MacDonald
4 Eilidh MacLeod
Under 15 S&R
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Christopher Happs
3 Eilidh MacLeod
4 Marion MacCorquodale
Under 15 Jig
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Christopher Happs
3 Eilidh MacPhee
4 Marion MacCorquodale
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Christopher Happs
Overall Under 15 Winner – Finlay Cameron
Local Under 15 Winner – Kevin Beaton/Eilidh MacLeod
Full range of contests for Juniors and Seniors including the Braemar Gold Medal worth £1000!
Under 18 March
1 Angus MacPhee
2 Calum Craib
3 Archie Drennan
4 Cailean Martindale
A very busy Saturday on the Scottish Games circuit saw good turnouts at all three events despite the spread. Pleasant weather helped; very little rain around either in Argyll, Perthshire or Stirlingshire.
Notable were these games for the support from senior players – a healthy trend and one Piping Press wholeheartedly applauds. Let us hope more of the big names get out of doors for a tune during the remainder of the season – without forgetting to mention the pipers who regularly sustain these events year after year.
Lochearnhead Games Piob 1 Derek Midgley, New Jersey, MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament (pictured) 2 Craig Martin, Massacre of Glencoe 3 Edward Gaul, Lament for the Viscount of Dundee 4 Peter McCalister, Mary’s Praise Judges: Alan Forbes, Andrew Wright
1 Graham Mulholland
2 Callum Beaumont
3 William Geddes
4 Peter McCalister
Judges: Malcolm McRae, John Ross
1 Callum Beaumont
2 William Geddes
3 Jenny Hazzard
4 Graham Mulholland
Judges: Andrew Frater, John Fraser
Airth Games Open Piobaireachd
1. Fred Morrison – The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute
2. Duncan Beattie – The MacDonald’s are Simple
3. Connor Jardine – The Groat
4. Neil Clark – The Battle of Auldearn (No. 2)
Judge: Roddy Livingstone
1. Fred Morrison
2. Sam Hemer
3. John Cameron
4. Connor Jardine
Hornpipe & Jig
1. Fred Morrison
2. Sam Hemer
3. Connor Jardine
4. Neil Clark
Ceol beag judge: Neill Mulvie
Taynuilt Games Piob
1 Angus MacColl Snr.
2 Euan Dewar
3 Angus MacColl Jnr.
Piobaireachd judges: Ronnie and Gordon Clark