PP Editor’s Blog: Silver Chanter/ Letters/ Comments/ Games/ Nicol-Brown/ Bill Blacklaw

Congratulations to Iain MacFadyen on completing 50 years attendance at the Silver Chanter competition held this week at Dunvegan Castle, Skye. Iain’s family has had a long association with the competition and with the island. His brother John, who had a home there, was one of the Chanters’ co-founders back in the late 60s. The family connection with the Misty Isle continues with Cameron MacFadyen, Iain’s nephew, taking over from the highly respected Cailean Maclean as piping convenor of the Skye Gathering.

Iain adjudicated this year’s  Silver Chanter competition won by Roderick MacLeod. Congratulations to Roderick for winning the competition for a record seventh time with the difficult Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon. There was a move by the late Clan Chief John MacLeod of MacLeod (on whose family premises the event is held) to have the Silver Chanter declared more of a recital than a contest, citing salon-based mainstream singing as his model approach.

But as I wrote at the time, all art is competition. Performers, painters all want to get ahead of their peers with good reviews and plaudits and with exhibitions or concerts in the top venues. Piping’s just a bit more honest about it.

Iain is pictured above competing in the Former Winners’ MSR at Oban in 1981 – yes, 35 years ago! Hard to believe. The judges are P/M Ronald MacCallum, Dr Colin Caird and P/M John D. Burgess.

Busy day of games tomorrow (Aug 6). Results as we get them from:

Dundonald (Ayrshire); Entries on field; Jnr & Snr light music

Newtonmore: The Eilan, Newtonmore
Entries on field; Jnr & Snr

Entries on field before 10.15; Jnr & Snr

Tel: 01383 414982 |

Check out the Comments section for more on my article on piobaireachd analysis.

Two new letters published in our Letters column: thanks to Graham Farr for his kind words on Piping Press and to Matt Farrigan for his comments on the drop in numbers at our minor pipe band contests.

nicol-brown-chalicePaula Glendinning has sent this on this year’s Nicol-Brown competition in the US: On Friday, October 7, the Nicol-Brown committee will be hosting a judge’s recital and reception for the competitors, where they will be given their tune submissions for the following day. We hope you’ll be able to join us for this excellent evening of music with Willie McCallum at the First Reformed Church of Scotia.

On Saturday, October 8, the contest will begin at 9:30 am, and the award ceremony will be held at approximately 6:30 pm. Ten of the finest Amateur pipers from across North America will be selected to play in this elite invitational contest with three events: 6/8 Marches, Piobaireachd and MSR. The contest is dedicated annually to the memory of Robert U. Brown and Robert B. Nicol, the Masters of Piobaireachd.
On Sunday, October 9, the Nicol-Brown will host a Master Class at Celtic Hall from 10:00 am to noon. Nicol-Brown competitors will be given the privilege of receiving instruction from Willie McCallum, and pipers at all levels are encouraged to observe this very special Master Class. Topics will include musical expression, technique, and improving performances toward the professional level.’

By Bill Blacklaw
Bill Blacklaw

Saddened to have to report the passing of Bill Blacklaw, Aberdeen.

Bill  was a long-serving committee member of the Gordon Highlanders Association and President/Secretary/Treasurer of the Association pipe band. He learned his piping from ‘Cherry ‘ Anderson Snr. whilst at school at Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen. As far as we are aware Bill never served in the Gordon Highlanders but was recruited into Army intelligence where his gifts as a linguist were put to good use.

For many years he was the judge for the Dress & Deportment prizes at the Northern Meeting and his articles on that subject were avidly read in Piping Press and in our forerunner, Piper Press. Latterly he worked as a volunteer in the Gordon Highlanders Museum. Our condolences to Bill’s family. We are grateful to Duncan Watson and Jim Hamilton for their input on this item.

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