The Jimmy McIntosh MBE Piobaireachd Challenge was held in Davidson College, North Carolina, on Friday 20th April. The competition is growing in stature with some of the US’s top players taking part. Nick Hudson and Andrew Carlisle are pictured above.
1 Andrew Carlisle, McKenzie of Applecross’s Salute
2 Nick Hudson, MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament
3 Dan Lyden, Red Speckled Bull
4 Any Garson, Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay
Judges: Donald McPhee, Ed Krintz
1 Nick Hudson 2 Andrew Donlon 3 Andrew Carlisle 4 Dan Lyden
1 Andrew Donlon 2 Andrew Carlisle 3 Dan Lyden 4 M McLeod
Judges for both light music events: Sandy Jones and Jim Wilson
Nearby Loch Norman Games were held the following day on Saturday April 21.
1 D Lyden, Blue Ribbon 2 A Donlon, King’s Taxes
3 M McLeod, Lament for the Children
4 A Garson, Park Piobaireachd No2
Judge: Jim Wilson
1 A Donlon 2 K McKeveny 3 D Lyden
Judge: D McPhee
1 D Lyden 2 K McKeveny 3 A Donlon
Judge: E Krintz
Additional competitors both days were Alistair Murray and Daniel Carr.
Adjudicator Donald MacPhee reports: I was asked to give my thoughts on the 2018 Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Challenge held on the campus of Davidson College in Davidson North Carolina. The contest is held the night before the EUSPBA Loch Norman Highland Games near Charlotte, North Carolina. Davidson College is a Liberal Arts College and has strong Presbyterian roots.
Also, if you are a sports fan, Davidson is where the great basketball player Steph Curry of the current NBA World Champion Golden State Warriors attended and played his college basketball. The town of Davidson is a real pretty, small college town, and the judges on the evening had burgers in a small soda shop across from the contest venue. The eatery may have been a bit more modern but there was a Norman Rockwell feel about this town without doubt.
Getting back to the contest…it was held in the Presbyterian church at Davidson College and it proved a good venue for the contest. On a slightly separate note, there was light music on the night (MSR and H&J) which was adjudicated by Balvenie Medal recipient Sandy Jones and Jim Wilson. The gentleman I had the pleasure of adjudicating with for the piobaireachd was Ed Krintz. Ed as most of you may not know had an influence on my piping during my early years as he held the position of bagpipe tutor in between the two Sandys (Sandy MacPhee, my dad, and Sandy Keith) in Dunedin, Florida, during the late 70s and early 80s. It was great to hook up with Ed again.
There was a draw of 12 pipers on the night of which only 10 played. (The two withdrawals were Matt Pantaleoni and Atlanta Pipe Band Pipe Major Bobby Minnear). The first competitor was Daniel Carr. Daniel is a World Champion Highland dancer as well as a first class piper. My sister was in attendance with dancers from St.Thomas’ in Houston where my sisters teach the Highland dancing. During a break at the games the following day I took a wander to stretch the legs and try to get my daily 10,000 steps. Well I am glad I did because it coincided with the Sailor’s Hornpipe on the dancing board and Daniel was the piper. His playing was outstanding and he never repeated a tune for the five or six groups during the time I was there.
Back to the contest. Daniel was asked to play Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute but mixed up his phrases – easily done with this tune. His pipe was one of the better instruments on the night. Second to play was Amy Garson and her tune was the Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay. Amy played a careful ground and first variation and in our thoughts was a bit too careful with her phrasing in the T & C variations. Lovely to see her back on the competitive boards. Amy, as you all know, won the Silver Medal and placed third in the Gold Medal a few years ago.
Next to play was Andrew Donlon and his tune was Rory McLoude’s Lament. Andrew has a big bold pipe that I liked but I just felt at times that his bass drone was not locked in throughout the tune and a change of mind during his performance didn’t help. Nick Hudson was next playing MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament. Nick played on a really nice pipe but I just felt his treatment of his high As in the ground lacked a bit of consistency – a very musical tune that would be there or thereabouts without doubt.
Northern Ireland piper and well known reed maker Alastair Murray, now living in Pittsburgh, was next to play with the Lament for the Earl of Antrim. Alastair was telling me after the contest he was having difficulties with his pipe all week and with this classic tune – that’s not a good combination. Next on, and our sixth competitor, was 17-year-old Michael McLeod – a long time student of Jimmy McIntosh. And what a future this young man has. His tune was Kintarbert’s Fancy and we both felt that young Michael was a bit too careful with the pace of his tune after the ground.
Sean Patrick Regan was next with Grain in Hides. This tune needed a bit more than the note for note presentation that Sean Patrick gave us. Sean has excellent fingers and maybe could refine his pipe a bit better. Our next competitor was Pipe Major of the Wake and District Pipe Band, Ken McKeveny with Beloved Scotland. This tune was well presented in musical shape and construction, however the pipe wasn’t of the same standard. With a tune like this that encompasses the full register of the chanter, that, again, was not a good combination.
Northern Ireland’s Carnegie Mellon Music Professor and FMM piper Andrew Carlisle was the penultimate piper playing MacKenzie of Applecross’s Salute. Andrew’s pipe was first class, his handling of the variations, in particular the ends of his variations, was a pleasure to listen to.
The final piper was Dan Lydon playing the Red Speckled Bull. This was another of the better pipes and we both felt that in an early variation he was ‘milking’ his passing notes, trying to maybe bring out some music there instead of trying to do this with theme notes. In saying that I enjoyed Dan’s tune. The prize winners were 1 A Carlisle 2 N Hudson 3 D Lydon and 4 Amy Garson.
In these times of the possible decline in competitions of this standard, it’s nice to see the success of this 6th Annual competition that is honouring Jimmy McIntosh MBE. With the excellent communication that his wife Joyce provided prior and during the contest and the support of the EUSPBA and Loch Norman Highland Games, this is a an event with a venue and infrastructure which allow for growth in the years to come .