Highlands & Islands Festival – Complete Results, Pictures and Comment

A successful competition was held in the new Oban High School today (Sat May 5). There were healthy entries in all grades except the P/A Piobaireachd where nine entered but seven played. Cameron MacDougall, Nigg, continued his successful run winning the P/A Piobaireachd and the B MSR. Cameron is pictured above left with B Piob winner Steven Leask.

P/A Ceol Mor for Cooper Salver (1st) and Dugald MacColl Memorial Trophy (2nd).
1 Cameron MacDougall, Old Men of the Shells
2 Gordon McCready, Lord Lovat’s Lament
3 Sarah Muir
4 Allan Russell
5 Gordon Bruce
Judges: R MacShannon, S Samson

1 Sarah Muir
2 Gordon McCready
3 Allan Russell
4 Angus J MacColl
5 Gordon Bruce
Judges: A Maclean, J Wilson

P/A MSR winner Sarah Muir

B Ceol Mor
1 Steven Leask, Battle of Bealach nam Brog
2 Chris Lee, Daughter’s Lament
3 Jonathan Simpson, Melbank’s Salute
4 Andrew Wilson, Hiharin Dro o Dro
5 Craig Martin, Massacre of Glencoe
Judges: P Henderson, R Wallace

Our Editor reports on the B Grade Piobaireachd: The bench was unanimous in its choice of prizes. Steven Leask presented an invigorating Bealach nam Brog and if there were some timing issues in the second line of the ground doubling they were secondary to the overall effect his fine pipe, technique and general expression imparted.

I criticised Chris Lee at the Scottish Pipers Association for submitting unnecessarily difficult pieces. This guy just doesn’t give up! As if to prove me wrong, on he comes two weeks later with the taxing Daughter’s Lament – and what a brave effort he made at it. The pipe was solid – superb even. The technique slightly less so with the F-doubling-on-E chedari noted and the occasional catch interfering with our enjoyment. But this determined young player stormed ahead, keeping the music flowing and the small audience enthralled. Would he make it to the end? Of course he would and a very well-earned second prize for Chris.

Third went to Jonathan Simpson with Melbank’s Salute. Jonathan was inconsistent in his approach work at the T&C cadences and the ground needs smoothing out; good hands and pipes. Andy Wilson from Nor’n Irn plays Hiharin Dro o Dro very well but I’ve heard him make a better job of it than he did here. Variation One lagged, dragging the T singling with it. The shape was right, just no momentum. Solid pipe however, and only one missed crunluath.

A commendable Massacre from Craig Martin, though he was early with the gracenote after the double echoes in the ground. Craig managed to control the nerves to hang on at the end without imploding. Good instrument.

Of those who didn’t make the list, Rebecca Tierney had the pipes in, then out, then in again – then out, and her Lord Lovat suffered accordingly; Edward Gaul was anything but his usual ‘steady Eddie’ self with the bag slipping and this affecting all aspects of his delivery of Patrick Og; Andrew Bova is clearly neglecting his piobaireachd with a very weak Beloved Scotland. A good ground and Thumb variation from Gordon Barclay with Macleod of Raasay, but the fingers just weren’t moving in the T&C. A much better pipe from John MacDonald than at the SPA but he was very snappy with the upward cuts in the Little Supper. These notes should be short, yes, but not so severely cut in my view; he also had timing issues in the last line of the ground before the B grip.

Caitlin MacDonald wasn’t feeling well but bravely took the floor with Mackay’s Short Tune. Not surprisingly she just couldn’t get going. Lewis Russell is young enough to sort his fosgailte and I suggested to him he gets to it right away. That aside, his MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart  was clippy in the Ground and Thumb but OK otherwise. Kris Coyle, another Ulster piper, had quite a good urlar in Mary MacLeod but he got bogged down on the first note of the three note groupings in Variation 1 doubling and never recovered. William Rowe was ‘woolly’ with his timing of Grain in Hides and had several technique problems; Brighde Chaimbeul didn’t have the pipe for Ronald MacDonald of Morar; Charles MacDonald missed the repeat of the first two bars of line one of Captain MacDougall and the hands were tight thereafter.

All in all a mixed bag with some enjoyable playing. I repeat my earlier point. Presenting a piobaireachd on a good bagpipe with professional technique and good timing is a very difficult thing to do. Mixing ceol mor study with band playing, folky smallpiping, or allowing oneself to be distracted by alternative settings and flawed revisionism takes the eye off the ball and we end up with some of the results above. All of these players are excellent pipers, make no mistake. But to be successful requires that bit more effort, more focus, more dedication than a lot of people may realise.

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1 Cameron MacDougall
2 Gavin Ferguson
3 Kristopher Coyle
4 Jonathan Simpson
5 Dan Nevans
Judges: B Donaldson, M Henderson

C Ceol Mor
1 Callum Moffat
2 Enora Morice
3 Dan Nevans
4 Graham MacIver
5 Robert Low
Judges: A Maclean, J Wilson

1 Lewis Russell
2 Stuart McCallum
3 Andrew Bell
4 Enora Morice
5 Douglas Mair
Judges: R MacShannon, S Samson

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Junior Piping

Piobaireachd Ground Under 15
1 Fraser Hamilton 2 Milly Fox 3 Jack McGowan

Under 15 years Piobaireachd
1 Gregor MacDonald 2 Christopher Happs 3 Bobby Allen
4 Archie Clark 5 Calum Dunbar 6 Innes Munro

Under 15 years March
1 Milly Fox 2 Bobby Allen 3 Gregor MacDonald
4 Christopher Happs 5 Finlay Peden 6 Joshua Riley

Under 15 years S&R
1 Gregor MacDonald 2 Christopher Happs 3 Bobby Allen
4 Thomas Wilson 5 Fraser Hamilton  6 Finlay Peden

Under 15 years Jig
1 Archie Clark
2 Bobby Allan
3 Christopher Happs

Under 15 Champion: Bobby Allan

Junior Champion Ross Connor with other junior trophy winners and Jamie Mellor of the Argyllshire Gathering who presented the trophiesPiobaireachd 15 and under 18
1 Eosaph Caimbeul 2 Ross Connor 3 Thomas Young 4 Cameron May

15 and under 18 March
1 Thomas Young 2 Ross Conner 3 Luke Kennedy 4 Eosaph Caimbeul

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15 and under 18 S&R
1 Luke Kennedy 2 Thomas Young 3 Eosaph Caimbeul 4 Ross Conner

15 and under 18 H&J
1 Ross Conner 2 Luke Kennedy 3 Eosaph Caimbeul 4 Jenni MacLean

Under 18 Champion: Ross Conner

Novice March Under 14
1 Mark Morrison 2 Andrew Russell 3 Tamzyn Cassidy

Lodge Argyll prize for highest placed piper resident in county: Logie Johnston

Chanter under 12 – scale and two-part march
1 Sara Dodds 2 Alexander MacDonald 3 Eva Boretti
4 Kia MacKechnie 5 Roan MacColl 6 Cara Duncan

Chanter Under 12
1 Grace Kelman 2 Zara McLeod 3 Lewis McCuish

Chanter 12 & 14 years March
1 Rachel Gallagher 2 Anndra Monk

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