‘It is clear that local councils’ investment in providing tuition to young people in Scotland’s national instrument is creating a generation of fantastic pipers able to perform and compete to an extremely high standard,’ said Dr Decker Forest, judging the Iain Dall Young Pipers Festival at Gairloch on Saturday 23rd September.
‘This year’s competition featured excellent performances from some of the country’s best young pipers as well as local entrants, a good number of competitors travelled from as far west as north Skye and from Invergordon in the east.’
John A. McLaren won both Under18 March, Strathspey and Reel and (for the second year running) the Iain Dall Quaich for Piobaireachd with a fine rendering of the Old Men of the Shells. Honours were shared by Ciaran Kellett and Archie Maclean in the Under 15 competitions; Ciaran won Gold and the Iain Dall Chanter for Piobaireachd with the Marquis of Argyll Salute and Silver for March Strathspey & Reel, while Archie took Gold for MSR and Silver for Piobaireachd. Winner of the Flowerdale Cup (Novice) was Ruaraidh Drennan whose two older brothers have been distinguished Iain Dall winners in the very recent past.
Dr Forrest praised, ‘A unique and highly commendable feature of the competition’ namely the Ishbel MacAskill Memorial Prize for the best original tune. He continued, ‘Entrants submitted their compositions in notation and then performed them. It was a hugely enjoyable event in its own right and one which paid a fitting tribute to one of Scotland’s most esteemed Gaelic singers. The winner, Katrina Martin from Skye, presented an attractive two-parted air named ‘Lost at Sea’ which has the potential to become very popular , although previous three-times winner Archie Maclean with his piece ‘Standard Deviation’ and Calum Dunbar with ‘Na Gerrannan’ made it a close-run thing.’
Chairman, Dr Ian M Blake, introducing the judge and congratulating the pipers, welcomed parents and grandparents who had come to support them and who ferry sons and daughters to competitions all over the Highlands throughout the year. He reminded the audience of how much the Festival relied on the goodwill and generosity of sponsors like Alastair Pearson at The Old Inn, to say nothing of anonymous well-wishers who funded the prizes.
He added that he would be delighted to hear from anyone who could suggest a possible sponsor, or sponsors, to ensure the future of the only piping event which offers an award for a new, original, tune in the tradition of Iain ‘Dall’ MacAoidh. He thanked the judge Dr Forrest, Ian Ruari Finlayson and Gary Nimmo for their help tuning on the day and Gairloch High School for hosting the event. He also thanked especially caretaker Mike Bulmer who opened-up and set out notices early Saturday morning
Competition 1 Chanter: GOLD Hector Finlayson, Kyle; SILVER Giacomo Cecchini-Fraser, Portree; BRONZE Kiera Whittingham, Lochcarron
Competition 3 Novice The Flowerdale Trophy (Donated by John Mackenzieof Gairloch.): GOLD Ruaraidh Drennan, Drumnadrichit; SILVER Sasha Westerduin, Achnashellach
Competition 4 Piobaireachd Under 15 years The Iain Dall Chanter (Donated by The ClanMackenzie Society of Scotland & The U.K.): GOLD Ciaran Kellett, Kyle; SILVER Archie Maclean, Edinbane; BRONZE Calum Dunbar, Balloch
Competition 5 Under 15 years – March, Strathspey and Reel: GOLD Archie Maclean; SILVER Ciaran Kellett; BRONZE Calum Dunbar;
Competition 6 Piobaireachd Under 18 years The Iain Dall Quaich (Donated by North Highland Connections): GOLD John Alastair McLaren, Invergordon; SILVER Eòghainn Peutan,Kilmuir; BRONZE Jamie MacRae, Alness
Competition 7 Under 18 years – March, Strathspey and Reel: GOLD John Alastair McLaren; SILVER Gilleasbuig MacVicar; Portree; BRONZE Eòghainn Peutan
Competition 8 OPEN The Ishbel MacAskill Memorial Prize Best Original Tune for Pipes or Fiddle: Lost at Sea Katrina Martin, Portree