PP Editor’s New Year Blog: the Official Honours List for 2016/ Wheel of Fortune/ South Florida

All the best for 2017 to all our readers and advertisers and thank you for making the past year such a success for Piping Press. We are now approaching our one millionth view since we started in September 2014: 993,651 to be exact, as of today.

I believe it has been an outstanding year for piping and for pipe bands and it has been our pleasure to record and report on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. Here is a light-hearted look at our Heroes of 2016:

The Duke of Argyll and Ian K

Piper of the Year: This has to be Ian K MacDonald from Toronto. After many years of trying, almost giving up at one point, this super piper finally cracked the big one, the Gold Medal. But not only did Ian win at Oban, he did the same at Inverness too, and with a scintillating performance. Those who have not played for a Gold Medal will perhaps not realise the pressure the competitor is under. Ian took it all in his stride and proved a very popular winner.

Runner up has to be Finlay Johnston. As well as other successes, Finlay took first in the Clasp at Inverness, one of the two main ceol mor prizes in world piping. And he did it with a maturity and subtlety of expression which belied his young years, much in the same way Callum Beaumont did a couple of years ago.

Our Pipe Band of the Year has to be Field Marshal….and it all comes down to the Worlds. With Inveraray on everyone’s lips, on strode P/M Parkes and his band to deliver two beautiful performances to just edge it away from P/M Stuart Liddell and his band. Stuart’s turn will come and he can be consoled with the Champion of Champions award, but Dickie P remains the man to beat.

Pipe Band Personality of the Year is RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill (left). Not a piper or a drummer, Gordon is not afraid of casting the chain of office aside and getting his hands dirty for the bands, erecting tents, judges tables and chairs etc. He can often be seen mingling out on the field offering encouragement when he could easily be cosied away in the sponsors’ hospitality tent. As he nears the end of his term of office we should recognise his work for the pipe band movement. Runner – up  has to be Chris Earl of Pipe Bands Australia for nothing else other than his determination to do the right thing by the PBA and in the face of some pretty hostile reaction to the City of Whitehorse business.

Blunder of the Year  has to go to the Solo Piping Judges Association for their short-sighted decision on perceived conflicts of interest. It’s okay to sell someone a reed and/or a chanter and then judge him but not if you’ve given him a couple of lessons over a 12 month.

Book of the Year is the Side Lights on the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor which I produced along with Malcolm McRae for the Piobaireachd Society. It gets the gong not because of my involvement but because here we now have a comprehensive record of the teaching of piobaireachd from a bygone era and published in a style commensurate with its content.

Noah Morrisette of the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy has sent this reminder:

‘There are only ONE DAY left of discounted registration! Registration is $400 until January 1st. After January 1st the price will return to $450…still the cheapest five-day pipe and drum program in the country!  With just six weeks until the start of the academy things are really starting to take shape! The city of Boca Raton is anticipating our arrival, the instructors’ accommodations and flights are set, registration is open, and spots are filling up. The South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy is five full days of world-class pipe and drum instruction. We are a not for profit 501 c3 corporation, established to bring experienced and knowledgeable pipe and drum instruction to South Florida.’

Paul White of the P/M’s ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contest has sent this: The City of Edinburgh Pipe Band has announced the line-up of the 2017 Pipe Majors’ Wheel of Fortune competition. Douglas Murray, Pipe Major of Police Scotland Fife and a Double Gold Medallist in 2014, will return to defend the title he won last year.  P/M Murray will be joined be joined by a field of top pipers – the Magnificent Seven – who will pit their wits against the Wheel of Fortune for the first time:

  • Gordon Bruce
  • Lachie Dick
  • Ben Duncan
  • Jenny Hazzard
  • Sarah Muir
  • Allan Russell
  • Jonathan Simpson

The competition, which will be held in Danderhall Miners Club on Saturday 11th February, marks the first major event in the City of Edinburgh band’s 70th anniversary celebrations.  Announcing the line-up for the event, Pipe Sergeant Mike Knott said: ‘We are once again delighted to attract a field of top pipers to the Wheel of Fortune.  Dougie Murray has been a great supporter of our event over the years, while we’re sure our audience will enjoy hearing the seven musicians who will make their Wheel debuts next month.

‘Our band celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and we plan to mark it in style, starting with a day to remember in Danderhall. I want to thank the pipers who have agreed to join us – without them, there is no Wheel of Fortune – and to encourage band supporters and piping enthusiasts to turn out in force to give them the welcome they deserve.’

Tickets for the competition, which begins at 12.15pm, are priced at £10.00 for people aged 16 and over and £5.00 for people under 16. For further information on the event, please contact Paul White, on 07941 679015 or by sending an email to paulwhite2@blueyonder.co.uk.

How the competition works: Each competitor plays three sets of tunes – a March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) of their choice, a selection of light music of their choice and a selection of tunes determined by the Wheel of Fortune. Four of the five tune categories in the selection are determined by competitors spinning the Wheel of Fortune’s Golden Chanter on arrival at the competition.  The final category of tune is determined by a member of the audience spinning the chanter as competitors take the floor.

The Wheel of Fortune tune categories are:

Donald McLeod tune, 4/4 march, Gaelic or Irish slow air, Gordon Duncan tune,

G.S MacLellan tune, Hornpipe, 9/8 march, Own tune, Pibroch (ground), Polka, Two Irish jigs, Two Irish reels

Each competitor has a Joker which they can play to deselect a category of tune chosen by the Wheel.  Competitors can play the Joker at any time, but only once.  When a category of tune is deselected, the Golden Chanter will be spun again to provide an alternative. The tune categories selected by the Wheel can be played in any order but they must be combined to form one continuous medley.

Each competitor can add a maximum of three tunes of their choice to those selected by the Wheel.  These tunes can also be played in any order but must form part of the continuous medley. There are four judges for the MSR, light music and Wheel of Fortune selection of tunes.  Three of the judges will be respected for their ability, experience and dedication to piping, while the fourth judge is the audience.

The MSR competition is judged in its own right.  The Wheel of Fortune competition will take account of the light music performance as well as the medley determined by the Wheel. All competitors are invited tell a joke at the end of their performance, with the best joke determined by an audience vote.

2 thoughts on “PP Editor’s New Year Blog: the Official Honours List for 2016/ Wheel of Fortune/ South Florida

  1. I’m afraid I’m struggling to see why a Pipe Bands Australia official should be in the running for any honours. Doing the right thing for PBA should not be to the detriment of Australian pipe bands. If they are not one and the same, I think something has gone wrong.

  2. Publication / reporter of the year should be another of your categories, Robert, and on behalf of the South West of Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy, I would respectfully nominate ‘Piping Press’. Your reports are absolutely up to the minute, your articles are most interesting and well presented, so it is little wonder that you are approaching your one millionth view.
    I read your articles on bagpipe makers Thow of Dundee with tremendous interest. I play a set of Thow bagpipes, and tried some time ago to find out a little more about their history and their makers. My pipes were played in the first world war, and when I hang up my boots and come to the end of my playing days, my bagpipes will go to one of the museums in Dundee. From my research, they do not have a set of Thow Bagpipes in any of their museums. I also traced a set of Thow bagpipes, exactly the same as the ones I play, to a piper in Los Angeles.
    Anyway, Robert, we wish you and all your readers a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2017, and would take this opportunity to mention a coup[le of things we have planned here in the South West :

    Weekend workshop – Abernethy Trust, Ringford, near Kirkcudbright from Friday evening 17th February until around tea time on Sunday 19th.
    Pupils stay over for the two nights, but day pupils will also be very welcome, and this workshop is for both pipers and drummers.

    Summer School – as in past years will be held at SRUC Barony Campus from Sunday 9th July until Friday 14th. Once again the majority of pupils will be residential, but pupils attending daily will also be very welcome.

    For further details of both of these please contact Andy McCartney on 07754 326746 or by e-mail to : andrewmccartney2@gmail.com

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