Lochaber Gathering Results (further update with more comment)

Lochaber Gathering was held today in a cool, damp Fort William. Pipers and judges were glad of the indoor facility at the Nevis Centre. There were good entries in all events except in the juniors. 

In the programme notes Piping Convenor Allan MacColl commented: ‘…On a less positive note the seriously depleted number of junior competitors from the Highlands is worrying. Locally, other than two highly talented entrants, no Lochaber players seem willing to compete as soloists. This is a drastic change from the halcyon days when Lochaber pipers competed and won an ample share of the top prizes. I commend the entrants from other parts of Scotland and from overseas who appear, despite their long journeys.’

Some pipers also  managed to travel the 12 miles west for a tune at the Glenfinnan Highland Gathering which coincided with Lochaber. Conditions there were atrocious with heavy rain and wind. Sponsors of the Lochaber Gathering are the Cameron MacKintosh Foundation, the Moidart Trust, Mr Robin Fleming Esq., The Highland Council, BSW Timber and McCallum Bagpipes. The picture above shows all the first prizewinners.

P/A Piobaireachd (12 played)
1 Derek Midgley, Park Piob. No2
2 Allan Russell, Earl of Seaforth’s Salute
3 Nick Hudson, Rory MacLoude’s Lament
4 Innes Smith, King’s Taxes
Judges: J Banks, R Wallace

Piobaireachd winners Steven Leask and Derek Midgley. Steven received the silver Lochaber axe brooch and Derek the gold

P/A March
1 Ben Duncan
2 Gordon McCready
3 Allan Russell
4 Steven Leask
Judges: J Banks, B Donaldson

P/A S&R
1 Gordon McCready
2 Allan Russell
3 Mike Fitzhenry
4 Steven Leask
Judges: J Banks, B Donaldson

Senior adjudicators on duty at Lochaber, the highly respected James Banks MBE and P/M Barry Donaldson

B Piob
1 Steven Leask
2 John Dew
3 Duncan Beattie
4 Ben Duncan
Judges: A Forbes, N Mulvie

B MSR
1 Matt Pantaleoni
2 Ross Miller
3 Sandy Cameron
4 Peter McCalister
Judge: R Wallace

H&J
1 Gordon McCready
2 Steven Leask
3 Andrew Donlon
4 Ross Miller
Judges: J Banks, B Donaldson


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Juniors

U-18 Piob
1 Finlay Cameron 2 Hamish Drennan 3 Martin MacRae

U-18 MSR
1 Finlay Cameron 2 Finlay Frame 3 Hamish Drennan

U-18 H&J
1 Finlay Cameron 2 Finlay Frame 3 Hamish Drennan

U-15 Piob
1 Luke Kennedy 2 Brodie Watson-Massey 3 Andrew Ferguson

U-15 MSR
1 Brodie Watson-Massey 2 Ruaridh Brown 3 Luke Kennedy

U-15 Jig
1 Brodie Watson-Massey 2 Luke Kennedy 3 Andrew Ferguson

Judge for all junior events: Euan MacCrimmon

Of the P/A Piobaireachd Robert Wallace writes: Derek Midgley gave us a smooth, professional rendition on a steady bagpipe with perfect technique. Close on his heels came Allan Russell who could have done more with the third ground of his tune but who finished in fine style with exemplary control of the cadences. Nick Hudson was a wee bit laboured with the third variation of his tune but impressed otherwise. Innes Smith needs to smooth out Variation 1 and doubling of his ‘Taxes’ but a very good instrument and enjoyable otherwise. Knocking on the prizewinners’ door were Jonathan Greenlees who had, like Derek, a smooth, professional delivery of Dro o Dro, but three missed crunluaths and an open hiharin had to be taken into consideration; fine pipe. Along with Jonathan came Gordon McCready who started very well but who had some stiffness in bars 5 & 6 of Beloved Scotland, a stiffness that is easily sorted with a glide to the end of phrase. Gordon also lacked control in the crunluath doubling but another fine instrument (even better in the light music). Of the others Peter McCalister played well enough but the thin pipe was lost in the Nevis Centre cavern and variation 1 of Lord Lovat was too light on its feet; Mike Fitzhenry phrased some passages of Beloved Scotland in two bars when they should be single; great hands; James McHattie had an off-day with the pipe; Sandy Cameron was too long with the connecting notes in Lady MacDonald – Kilberry pauses don’t need to be uniform in length and here the second should be shorter than the first; Sandy’s high G was a little flat too; Greig Canning, fresh from Inveraray’s success at the Worlds, had a much better pipe than the last time I heard him solo (Highlands and Islands) but he didn’t quite capture the music in Norman MacLeod’s Lament and the endings were not as the composer made them and clearly indicates in his score. Ed McIllwaine from Vancouver had a quality pipe and a good first line of the Vaunting. He then played a wrong note and stopped. Such a pity; jet lag can do all sorts of things to your brain and the judges encouraged him not to be discouraged.

P/A March winner Ben Duncan of the Army School of Piping with the magnificent Lochaber Medal for marches. This solid gold prize is retained by the winner. Ben won this award for the second year running
Gordon McCready, winner of the Strathspey & Reel and the Hornpipe & jig

Of the ‘B’ Piobaireachd, adjudicator Alan Forbes, Chairman of the Piobaireachd Society’s Music Committee, writes: Twenty competitors took part and, as might be expected, there was considerable variability amongst performances.   Several entrants for the Silver Medal at Oban and Inverness were competing, as were a couple for the MacGregor Memorial competition at Oban.   Bagpipes were giving problems, especially in the morning, possibly due to the coolish conditions in the competiton hall.

First prize went to Steven Leask who played the Battle of Bealach nam Brog effortlessly on an excellent pipe – a confident, professional performance which would have stood up well at a higher level.   In second place was John Dew, playing the long and challenging Colin Roy MacKenzie’s Lament.  This is one of John’s tunes for the MacGregor Memorial competition at the Argyllshire Gathering and he demonstrated good preparation both of the tune and the instrument.   Duncan Beattie took third place with a musical performance of Lament for the Iolaire and fourth was Ben Duncan with a nicely presented MacSwan of Roaig, again on a good pipe.

Other good performances came from Calum Wynd, another MacGregor contender, and Rebecca Tierney.   Surprisingly, not all of the Silver Medal entrants submitted the set tunes for this competition – one would have thought this an ideal opportunity to play them in competitive conditions.   One who did was Andrew Donlon from the USA who played Hail to My Country.   His pipe was powerful and a rather harsh crow on high A detracted a bit from a nicely phrased tune.  

Turning to the ‘B’ MSR the editor writes: Matt Pantaleoni of St Louis, Missouri, was a clear winner here with the best pipe I have heard from him in two years. On first, Matt’s performance of John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist, Cabar Feidh and Cecily Ross had the controlled touches that reminded me of his erstwhile teacher, the great Alasdair Gillies. Ross Miller played very well too but didn’t quite match Matt in the expression stakes; Sandy Cameron had a fine instrument, a fine march and a fine strathspey. He then plunged headlong into Broadford Bay and this lack of control almost cost him his prize. Peter McCalister was clean, controlled and competent and well deserved fourth, the pipe sounding bolder in the smaller room but perhaps the reeds had taken on some moisture and opened up more. Of the others and aside from the usual slips, it would be safe to say there was a lack of understanding of the basic MSR idioms: steady tempi, correct rhythm, phrasing, and clear technique. Some of the pipes were poor too.


One thought on “Lochaber Gathering Results (further update with more comment)”

  1. The lack of junior entries from Lochaber area is a crying shame and is sad to see.
    Evan MacRae & Duncan MacDonald established a junior piping setup that was second to none anywhere.
    I’m appalled at the current state of affairs, bearing in mind other Highland Council areas are flourishing.

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