Blair Atholl Games/ Oban Videos/ Message to New England Students

The summer games season is almost on us and Piping Press would once more urge all pipers to get out and support these events if they can. It’s a great day out and a chance to steel yourself for the harder challenges ahead at Skye, Oban and Inverness.

If you don’t qualify for the major events then what better way to build up a track record to make sure you get selected next year? Check out the PP Guide to the Games here.

Blair Atholl Games take place on Sunday May 28. Dr Jack Taylor has taken over as Piping Convenor following the sad passing last year of respected piper and judge Duncan MacDiarmid.

Prize money has been increased all round and, though a graded event, all senior P/A competitions are open to non-members of the Competing Pipers Association, a rule surely within the ‘come all ye’ spirit of our Highland games.

Champion Piper Craig Sutherland in action at Blair Atholl last year
Graded members of the CPA can play in either P/A, B or C grades in piobaireachd, march, strathspey and reel and jig. Entries for the competition, possibly the first major Highland games of the summer, are healthy in the seniors but so far disappointing in the juniors.

Blair Atholl Games Piping Convenor Dr Jack Taylor
Dr Taylor: ‘Entries are coming in but only two juniors (under 18) so far.  There is a Piobaireachd competition for under 18s this year, as well as the usual MSR and Jig.  Own choice tunes for juniors. P/A, B, C Piob for seniors, non CPA eligible players can play in A/P event. MSR, H+J for seniors, open with heats and play-off. Three tunes in all events for seniors.’

Entries to Gus Clark by 21st May at – just say the events you want to enter, no entry form. Draws and judge benches will be published on Piping Press on Friday 26 May.

The official blurb for the games reads:The Atholl Gathering takes place on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May every year. This unrivalled spectacle gives locals and visitors alike the chance to participate in a unique Highland tradition that has persisted for generations.

Atholl Highlanders Talk
Saturday 27th May 2017 at 11.00am 
Explore the historical background of this unique regiment in Blair Castle’s magnificent ballroom with the castle’s archivist and an Atholl Highlander. Learn about Queen Victoria’s stay at the castle which led to the creation of the Atholl Highlander regiment and hear about what it’s like to be part of a private army.

Atholl Highlanders Parade
Saturday 27th May 2017 at 2.00pm 
Experience the amazing spectacle of Europe’s only private army parading on the castle forecourt to the sound of the pipes and drums. Following the parade, His Grace the Duke of Atholl will undertake the annual inspection of his men in front of the crowd. The parade is open to all castle and grounds visitors.

Atholl Gathering and Highland Games
Sunday 28th May 2017 commencing at 9.30am 
Kick off the Highland Games season this Bank Holiday weekend by joining His Grace the Duke of Atholl and his private army at the Atholl Gathering. Watch local and regional heavyweights battle for victory in classic competitions such as the caber toss, hammer throw and shot put, while around the arena, pipers and Highland dancers compete and entertain throughout the day. At 1.15pm, the Atholl Highlanders will march into the arena [see main picture] led by the booming sound of the pipes and drums before taking part in its own mini Highland Games. 

To get readers more in the mood for the summer games season here are a couple of videos from the PP Video Archive of the march to the games at the Argyllshire Gathering.

Firstly Douglas Murray leading the march in 2014, his historic double Gold Medal year:

Anything you can do… Ian K MacDonald and his historic 2016 Double Gold year:

Here is a message Principal Wallace sent out to all for former students of the New England Pipe and Drum Academy this week

Dear Student,

Just a note to invite you to attend this year’s New England Pipe & Drum Academy which will be held once more at the delightful Adelynrood Retreat at Byfield MA . The dates are June 16 – 21 and sorry for any confusion on this. To repeat, the dates are June 16 – 21. We will gather any time after 11am on the 16th and the first meal covered by your fees will be dinner that evening. That will take us through until the 21st when we will say our farewells after breakfast.

The faculty will be well known to you with Matt Pantaleoni flying up from St Louis and Donald McBride coming in from Kansas. With me from Scotland will our percussion instructor Tommy Johnston. Tommy was scheduled to come last year but fell sick just before the camp and had to call off. You can read his bio on the NEPADA site. You will also get other information there and details of how to register.

The daily schedule will be as before but with perhaps more emphasis on one to one teaching and the opportunity for each class to have lessons with the other instructors. We’ll have our class photograph of course and our pub night and parade in the town. 

The accommodation at Adelynrood is so quaint and peaceful and the food so good that it makes your camp just that wee bit special don’t you think? The teachers help too! Hope to see you on the 16th for a great week of study and friendship. I’d appreciate it if you could pass this message on to a piping or drumming friend. Here’s a link to the leaflet about the camp: leaflet.

Rob W