Braemar Gathering – Updated With Juniors, Pic and Comment

A mixed day weather wise but the pipers had the benefit of a covered platform on which to play, writes the Editor.

The standard was mixed too but the winner of the ceol mor, Nick Hudson, Pittsburgh, USA, produced an outstanding rendition of one of the most difficult tunes in the piobaireachd canon to take the £1,000 medal.

Braemar Gold Medal Piobaireachd
1 Nick Hudson, Lament for the Laird of Anapool
2 Jori Chisholm, Battle of Waternish
3 Anna Kummerlöw, I Am Proud to Play a Pipe
4 Darach Urquhart, MacDonald’s Are Simple
5 Ed McIlwaine, King’s Taxes
6 Derek Midgley, Lament for MacLeod of Colbeck
Judges: M McRae, R Wallace, D Watson

1 Ben McClamrock
2 Jori Chisholm
3 Andrew Lee
4 Nick Hudson
5 Donald MacPhee
6 Graham Mulholland
Judges: J Banks, S Samson

Strathspey & Reel
1 Ben McClamrock
2 Andrew Carlisle
3 Jamie Troy
4 Dan Lyden
5 Calum Brown
6 Andrew Donlon
Judges: J Banks, S Samson

The day started quite warm but by mid afternoon had deteriorated a little with light showers and cool winds. This affected some of the pipes and fingers. I joined Malcolm McRae and Duncan Watson on the bench and an enjoyable eight hours of piobaireachd we had. Malcolm announced the tunes and the piper via a loudspeaker system and this added to the dignity of the event. I think more games should follow suit.

Twenty three pipers played and at the end our task of selecting the winner was straightforward. Nick Hudson from the USA was out on his own both in technical expertise and in musical expression. He glided through the difficult top hand work of Anapool as though it weren’t there. I judged him in South Carolina playing this piece earlier this year. He’s polished it up since then (though still good enough to win him that contest) and it will be a tour de force for him for many years if he continues to deliver it the way he did at Braemar.

I should say that Braemar restricts entries to 25 on a first come first served basis. That is just about as much as any bench can handle. Anyone wishing to have a go for that solid gold medal should get their entry in early in 2017 and anyone getting a prize is doing well – eight tunes are asked for, the chosen piece given at the bench. It’s tough up there you know.

feat im
The new canopy over the piobaireachd board at Braemar; similar protection from the weather in place at the ceol beag board too

Second prize went to another US piper Jori Chisholm, Seattle. On later in the rain, Jori had maximum benefit of the canopy and made full use of it checking his bagpipe at various areas of the platform before beginning. His pipe held and he set out Waternish in a well-tutored fashion. The last phrase in each line of the ground was different but well within the rhythmical structure of the tune. Technique was strong; a minor slip and a few small catches in the a mach were to be expected in the cold and damp.

Anna Kummerlöw from Germany handled her tune well too but snatched at the double echoes and rushed her crunluath doubling. Anna needs to get more C into her throw on D too; good finger otherwise and a bright instrument. In fourth came Darach Urquhart with a safe but solid MacDonald’s Are Simple; one missed crunluath and a wee bit lack of flow knocking him down the list. Ed McIIwaine from BC held the ends of lines too long in Variation 1 of the King’s Taxes but otherwise delivered a musical tune on an improving pipe.

Fifth went to Derek Midgley who paid scant attention to phrasing, particularly in his Var 1, and who had misses in the GDE and crunluath; good pipe. Of the others mention must be made of Graham Mulholland who for some reason stopped after a small choke about half way through the difficult Daughter’s Lament. He was early with the gracenote after the double echoes but that aside this was majestic playing. He should have kept going. Young Calum Brown had a good stab at the Earl of Seaforth and is one for the future; Andrew Lee was far too slow with the Piper’s Warning; good instrument and finger; Greig Canning‘s chanter continues to cause concern; the bottom hand C and B certainly did not enhance this talented piper’s King’s Hand.

Ben McClamrock was technically able but his Var 1 of Captain MacDougall was as square as Rubic’s cube and he failed to push to the theme notes in the crunluath; Dan Lyden had an unsettled pipe from the start; Eddie Gaul must get back to work on the Children – well off the mark; John MacDonald struggled manfully with Cronan Padraig Seumas but could not inject any music; Sandy Cameron was slowish with the Earl of Ross and clipped his echo beats too much; three chokes and stopped; Andrew Carlisle was another who needs the starting gun fired into his left lug; Scarce of Fishing must have taken near 25 minutes to complete.

James Dyson (no jokes about hoovering up prizes please) was off the tune in numerous places in the Viscount of Dundee but his cadence work would have cost him dear anyway; Alan Clark put together a good Marquis of Argyll but the pipe edged to flatness and there was uneven blowing on E & F; crunluath tight; Innes Smith was unconvincing with Nameless, Hiharin Dro o Dro nipping the B between the two C grips and D throws; off the tune in the T; Gordon Barclay broke down after two good lines of MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart; Andrew Donlon is another promising piper but he must inject more variety of tempo into Rory MacLoude: even paced from ground to T doubling, plus chokes and fumbles.

A special word for Andy Wilson from Northern Ireland. A particularly impressive pipe got him off to a flyer in the Fingerlock but then the express train arrived. He rattled through the dithis like a man possessed and had nowhere to go come the doubling. The second half of the tune was much better and with a little attention to tempo and control Andy will do well with this pipe and this tune; excellent hands. Finally Andrew Lewis delivered good fingerwork and a pleasant instrument, but his failure to hold the B theme note and the cutting up to D in the ground of Parading of the MacDonalds did not augur well. He then laboured over his cadences and insisted on an exaggerated 6/8 approach to the taorluath, even beating out this rhythm with his foot at one point.

So ended the contest and after the prizes were announced adjudicators held a short meeting with officials to discuss further improvements. One suggestion was the re-instatement of the competitor’s tent where pipe cases, capes etc can be stored saving a trek back to the car park.

Junior Events:

1 Finlay Cameron
2 Angus MacPhee
3 Donald Stewart
4 Liam Brown
5 Lee Taylor

1 Finlay Cameron (Roybridge)
2 Donald Stewart (Stewarton)
3 Angus MacPhee (Inverness)
4 Murray Watt (Craigievar)
5 Liam Brown (Montrose)

Strathspey & Reel
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Angus MacPhee
3 Donald Stewart
4 Liam Brown
5 Murray Watt

5 thoughts on “Braemar Gathering – Updated With Juniors, Pic and Comment

    1. Also, I know I didn’t otherwise play well enough to place, but I’d point out that my edition of the Binneas is Boreraig (2003, ironically with the picture of Rab Wallace on the inside cover), prescribes the shortened treatment of the B themal in phrase 1 and the cut B to D in phrase 2. I’m not sure this interpretation should be rejected out of hand.

  1. Junior Results as follows:

    March Open U18:
    1. Finlay Cameron (Roybridge)
    2. Donald Stewart (Stewarton)
    3. Angus MacPhee (Inverness)
    4. Murray Watt (Craigievar)
    5. Liam Brown (Montrose)

    Strathspey & Reel Open U18:
    1. Finlay Cameron (Roybridge)
    2. Angus MacPhee (Inverness)
    3. Donald Stewart (Stewarton)
    4. Liam Brown (Montrose)
    5. Murray Watt (Craigievar)

    I don’t have the Piobaireachd results, but know that the winner of best overall Junior was:
    Finlay Cameron (Roybridge)

    1. Piob result 1. Finley Cameron 2. Angus MacPhee 3. Donald Stewart 4. Liam Brown 5. Lee Taylor

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