Full Results from the 2016 Lochaber Gathering – Updated with Pictures, Audio Recording and Comment

There was a very high standard of performance in all grades. The above picture shows (l -r) Ben Duncan, winner of the Lochaber Gold Medal for Marches, Gordon Walker winner of the Strathspey & Reel and Callum Beaumont, winner of the Gold Lochaber Axe ‘An Tuagh Òir’. See below for comments on the playing. 

‘P/A’ Piobaireachd (four own choice tunes submitted)
1 Callum Beaumont, Lament for Hugh (£300)
2 Gordon McCready, Battle of the Pass of Crieff (£200)
3 Euan MacCrimmon, Lament for the Earl of Antrim (£150)
4 Derek Midgley, Isabel MacKay (£100)
Judges: A Maclean, R Wallace

‘P/A’ March (two marches to be played – own choice)
1 Ben Duncan
2 Gordon Walker
3 William Geddes
4 Gordon McCready
Judges: A Maclean, R Wallace

‘P/A’ S&R (two strathspeys and two reels to be played – own choice)
1 Gordon Walker
2 Ben Duncan
3 Nick Hudson
4 Callum Beaumont
Judges: A Maclean, R Wallace


‘B’ Piobaireachd, Silver Lochaber Axe, 'An Tuagh Airgead'
(two tunes asked for)
1 Jason Craig
2 Maël Sicard-Cras
3 Andrew Donlan
4 Bruce MacDonald
Judges: A Forbes, A Frater

‘B’ MSR
1 Matt Pantaleoni
2 Duncan Beattie
3 Andrew Bell
4 Greig Canning
Judges: B Donaldson, N Mulvie

Open H&J
1 Callum Beaumont
2 Gordon Walker
3 Gordon McCready
4 Ross Cowan
Judges: A Forbes, A Frater

The B/C Grade competition was held over two heats of 12, three pipers from each going forward into the final.
1 Jason Craig, Australia, Earl of Seaforth's Salute.
2 Mael Sicard-Cras, Brittany/Glasgow, I am Proud to Play a Pipe
3 Andrew Donlon, USA, Rout of the MacPhees
4 Bruce MacDonald, Portree, MacLeod of Raasay's Salute

Unplaced were Charles MacDonald, Inverness, playing Lament for Captain MacDougall and Brighde Chaimbeul, Kyle, playing Lord Lovat's Lament. Adjudicator Alan Forbes reports: ‘This was a very enjoyable competition with a good standard of play more or less throughout and a wide range of tunes submitted.

‘Great to see a big contingent of overseas pipers - Canada, USA, Australia, France - all of whom appeared well prepared and gave an excellent account of themselves, and three of whom took the first three places! Prizewinners all played fine tunes on excellent bagpipes.’

Of the P/A competitions Editor Robert Wallace writes:
‘Anyone who qualifies to play in this grade is, by definition, a top player. Comments need  to be considered in this context. At Lochaber we had an outstandingly good series of P/A competitions. The first prizewinners all gave performances which would have graced any stage in world piping, and on their day any of the entrants could have taken top place.

Callum Beaumont with the Gold Lochaber Axe which is retained by the winner
Callum Beaumont with the Gold Lochaber Axe which is retained by the winner

Callum Beaumont was a good winner in the ceol mor with the Lament for Hugh. Some connecting notes were rather terse - particularly in the Thumb singling - and the a mach variation needed more of a push towards the final E of each movement but these were minor points when considering a bagpipe of matchless perfection, concomitant technique and a piper with the musical nous to turn what appears on paper not much of a tune into something very enjoyable to listen to.

Not far behind came Gordon McCready with Battle of the Pass of Crieff. He had possibly the best bagpipe we have heard from him and again first-rate technique, phrasing and control. There was a little distance between these two and third placed Euan MacCrimmon. First on, Euan’s pipe didn’t quite last an early morning Earl of Antrim and, as a consequence, rushed the crunluath doubling. Fourth went to Derek Midgley: another fine pipe and good technique, but a tune hampered by a lack of progression and a third ground played slower than the first.

A number of tunes were close to the list: Nick Hudson - Lament for the Children (pipe suspect, Var.3 cut in places); William Geddes - Clan Chattan (ruined by rushing and crushing in the crunluath and a mach); Edward McIlwaine - Piper’s Warning (ground too slow; pipe not locked); Gordon Walker - Auldearn 2 (sticky crunluath and a mach); Fiona Manson - My King Has Landed in Moidart (sleepy, slow urlar, crunluath loose in places); Jonathan Greenlees - Mary’s Praise (some unmusical passages, particularly Var 3). Unfortunately Greig Canning (Castle Menzies), Peter McCalister (Mary’s Praise) and Sandy Cameron (Isabel MacKay) all had chanter and a few timing issues. Innes Smith had a hole in his bag and, after two good lines of MacSwan, departed to carry out some urgent surgery on his pipe.

After lunch and my talk (quite well attended) it was on with the P/A March and Strathspey & Reel. These two competitions were dominated by P/M Gordon Walker and Ben Duncan - possibly the Army’s only representative in the upper echelons of solo piping these days, and one who carries their name with considerable distinction both in performance and appearance.

benBen won the Lochaber Gold Medal for Marches (above) with a cracking pairing of Bonny Ann and Glengarry Gathering. Pipe, finger, phrasing, rhythm it was all there. He had to be good because P/M Walker was on song, make no mistake. Gordon was bright and bold with Hugh Kennedy and Knightswood Ceilidh with Ben just pipping him on tempo. Smooth delivery and flowing phrases were a characteristic of William Geddes’s Taking of Beaumont Hamel and Major Manson at Clachantrushal. Fine pipe too. The final place went to Gordon McCready, the pipe not as good as in the ceol mor but he gave us solid, correct playing nevertheless.

The Strathspey and Reel was played immediately after the marches and the winner here was Gordon Walker. Have a listen to Gordon's playing here. Listen for  lift in his strathspeys in particular and the clarity of the fingerwork right to the end of his performance.

There were good performances from Ben Duncan, a well deserved second, Nick Hudson (3rd), whose pipe was much better than in the piobaireachd and who played with expression and good lift, and Callum Beaumont, who lost some of the clipped work of his march to take fourth.

The trophies at Lochaber, the Gold and Silver Axe and the Lochaber Gold medal are collectively worth £2,000. The recipients were all worthy winners of these awards graciously presented at the prize giving  by Councillor Henderson. Lochaber proved to be a long day and I would recommend that the promoters introduce tuning lights for all grades next year. These will hurry things along and also give the pipers some preparation for a similar stricture at Oban a few days later.

18 and Under Piob.
1 Archie Drennan
2 Finlay Frame

18 and Under MSR
1 Finlay Frame
2 Archie Drennan

18 and Under H&J
1 Finlay Frame
2 Archie Drennan

15 and Under Piob.
1 Andrew Ferguson
2 Finlay Cameron
3 Angus MacPhee

15 and Under MSR
1 Robbie MacIsaac
2 Angus MacPhee
3 Finlay Cameron

15 and Under Jig
1 Robbie MacIsaac
2 Finlay Cameron
3 Angus MacPhee

Youngest competitor: Eosaph Caimbeul

Junior judges: Euan MacCrimmon, Neil Mulvie


2 thoughts on “Full Results from the 2016 Lochaber Gathering – Updated with Pictures, Audio Recording and Comment”

  1. There are mistakes in the under 18 results from Lochaber yesterday
    It should be

    Under 18 piobaireachd
    1 Archie Drennan
    2 Finlay Frame

    Under 18 MSR
    1 Finlay Frame
    2 Archie Drennan

    The Hornpipe & jig is correct.

    Jane Drennan

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