NZ Silver Chanter Announce Benches for 2018

Courtney Williamson, Secretary of the Highland Piping Society of Canterbury, based in Christchurch, New Zealand, has sent this…

The Highland Piping Society of Canterbury are honoured to announce what we believe to be a  ‘world first’ for solo piping with the appointment of an all-women judging panel for the 2018 Silver Chanter Solo Piping Championships being held on the 20th and 21st of October. 

Comprising of six highly qualified judges of international standing, the panel will be led by two of Scotland’s greatest pipers – Patricia and Faye Henderson. They will be supported by four of New Zealand’s best – Fiona Manson (now from Melbourne), Tracey Williams, Marion Horsburgh, and Rosie Hobbs.

Why is this important? Women are noticeably under-represented in the piping movement. These judges remind us all that women do compete and succeed at the highest levels. We hope the assembly of this panel inspires all pipers to achieve at the highest levels, and teachers to support all learners.

Who are they? Patricia Henderson is the most qualified and highly regarded woman solo piping judge in the world – she has led and defined women in piping. It wasn’t until 1977 that women were allowed to compete at major Scottish piping competitions. After becoming a “professional” graded player at only 17 she was one of four women to compete at the prestigious Argyllshire Gathering (Oban), Northern Meeting (Inverness) and London competitions that year. Patricia became the first woman to win a prize in the Highland Society of London Gold Medal, placing fourth in 1978 at the Northern Meeting (Inverness), and fifth in 1979. Patricia was the first woman invited to join the Solo Pipers Judges Association (Scotland), has been judging through them for seven years, and is the only woman to hold the ‘senior’ qualification for piobaireachd. Because of this standing, Patricia is a regular adjudicator at the world’s most prestigious piping competitions. Patricia is also a sought-after teacher having taught in piping schools in France and USA. 

Don’t miss this wonderful evening of ceol mor 7.30 – 9.30pm, a unique occasion sponsored by the Piobaireachd Society; tickets £10/£8; click on pic

Aged just 26, Faye Henderson is already one of the most accomplished women in solo piping and is a true inspiration to young pipers. 2010 became a milestone year when Faye won the Highland Society of London Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering, aged 18 and on her first attempt, the first female in history to achieve this award. This lead to an invitation to play at the Glenfiddich Piping Championship where Faye is the youngest to ever be invited. The weekend was made even more special by her sister, Fiona, qualifying for the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship. Since winning the Gold Medal in 2010, Faye has been successful at the elite events, winning the Piobaireachd and Overall at the Uist and Barra Association Invitational and the Captain John A MacLellan MBE Invitational. She has also placed 2nd in the Bratach Gorm three times, as well as gaining regular prizes in the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering.  Her knowledge and experience make her an extremely capable judge. Faye is the daughter of Patricia and Murray Henderson.

Originally from Christchurch, Fiona Manson has been playing pipes since she was 14 years. Her main passion has always been piobaireachd. In 2001 she moved to Scotland to further her piping career. Fiona is a regular prize winner on the Scottish solo circuit and has competed regularly in the Gold Medal piobaireachd competitions at Oban and Inverness, gaining prizes from 2008-2013. Other major prizes include Silver Medal Piobaireachd – Inverness (2002); Open Piobaireachd – Inveraray (2007 and 2011); A Grade Piobaireachd – Highland Society of London Competition (2003); Silver Chanter (2000); Comunn na Piobaireachd Gold Medal (1998) and Clasp (2000); and RU Brown Gold Medal (2015) and Clasp (2016). Fiona has also been involved in teaching and judging and has twice recorded for BBC Pipeline programmes.

Tracey Williams’ piping career began in Hawke’s Bay with the Havelock North High School and City of Hastings Pipe Bands. Tertiary study took her to Wellington and her band career continued there with the City of Wellington. Tracey’s introduction to piobaireachd came from the highly influential One-on-One seminar series and early instruction from Iain Hines. She moved to Scotland in 2004 – receiving tuition from Murray Henderson, Hugh McCallum and Stuart Samson. She qualified for the Silver Medal three times, finishing 3rd in 2011. Tracey also placed 2nd twice at the Dunvegan Medal; won the Young Piper of the Year Piobaireachd event; and the Lochaber Axe. After returning to New Zealand she won the 2014 Comunn Na Piobaireachd Gold Medal. Tracey was Secretary of the Competing Pipers’ Association for six years; was commissioned to organise the inaugural Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Memorial Trust Piobaireachd Recital Competition and Dinner; was involved with every Piping Live! Festival from 2004 – 2013; and worked as an administrator at The National Piping Centre in Glasgow. Tracey returned to New Zealand in late 2013 and won the New Zealand Gold Medal in 2014.

Marion Horsburgh was taught bagpipes by her father John McVean, and sister Rosie Hobbs.  She has received tuition from Airdrie Stewart, Donald Bain and Iain Hines. In 1987, thanks to a scholarship from the William Boyle Foundation she spent a memorable 3 months in Scotland learning from Pipe Major James McGregor. Marion has won several National titles for solo piping as well as the Silver Chanter, the Comunn na Piobaireachd Gold Medal and two Clasps. Her international successes include twice winning the Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at the Braemar Gathering, the Silver Medal Piobaireachd and B Marches at the Argyllshire Gathering, and the RU Brown Gold Medal Piobaireachd in Adelaide. With the City of Wellington Pipe Band she won five Grade 1 National Championships. She has competed in Grade 1 at the World Pipe Band championships many times and been a guest soloist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on several occasions. Marion is the Musical Director of the Scots College Pipe Band and a member of the Grade 1 Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band.  She is a regular tutor at the RNZPBA National Summer Schools and has served for many years on the committees of Comunn na Piobaireachd and the Wellington Pipers Club.

Rosie Hobbs was taught to play the pipes by her father Jock McVean. When she was 12 she joined the local North Otago Highland Pipe Band. On moving to Christchurch, she joined the Canterbury Caledonian Ladies’ Pipe Band. Several years later, Rosie moved to the Caledonian Mens’ Band to experience the challenges of Grade 1 at a time when women were not normally accepted at this level. Rosie later joined her sister Marion in the ranks of the City of Wellington Pipe Band to compete in the World Pipe Band Championships. In the early 1990’s she received tuition from Donald Gannaway and in 1994 won the Comunn na Piobaireachd Gold Medal followed by the Silver Chanter in 1995. Administrative involvement has involved the Highland Piping Society of Canterbury (President from 1995 to 1997). In 2016, Rosie was appointed to the Board of the RNZPBA. For the past 15 years, Rosie has been regularly judging both solo and pipe band music.

Further support will be provided by two leading local pipers – Liz Drury and Rowan Manson.

Labour Weekend General Information: These judges will determine the allocation of some 30 trophies and close to $6,000 worth of prizes we have available across 6 grades (Open, U21, B, C, D, and Novice). This contest also features the two final events in the hotly contested William Boyle Foundation Under 21 years’ New Zealand championship, which sees young pipers competing across multiple contests around the country. The winner receives $1,000 prize money. 

For the second year in a row we will hold all the Novice, D, C, B grade and Under 21 events on the Saturday, and all the Open grade events on the Sunday. Our premiere Silver Chanter event will be held on the Saturday night, and the former winners’ Clasp on Sunday night. 

For those unable to attend, we expect to live-stream some of our events. Follow our Facebook page or visit our website for updates on this, or other matters

Details: Silver Chanter Solo Piping Championships, 20-21 October 2018. All events held at St Andrews College, Christchurch. Entries close 26 September. Visit our website or Facebook page for more information.

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