Nicol-Brown Contest Details Announced/ Masters of Piobaireachd 20 years On

Paula Glendinning has sent this…..We’re pleased to announce that the 36th Nicol-Brown Competition will be held at the First Reformed Church in Scotia, New York, on Saturday, October 6, 2018. The contest will be judged by two former Nicol-Brown champions who are both exceptional pipers and teachers: Nancy Tunnicliffe and Eric Ouellette. 

On Friday, October 5, the Nicol-Brown committee will be hosting a recital by Eric Ouellette and a brief reception for the competitors where they will be introduced and given their tunes for the following day. We hope you’ll be able to join us for this excellent evening of music at the First Reformed Church of Scotia.

On Saturday, October 6, the contest will begin in the morning with the 6/8 March event, followed by the Piobaireachd and then the MSR contest in the late afternoon. The finest Amateur pipers from across North America will be selected to play in this elite invitational contest which is dedicated annually to the memory of Robert U. Brown and Robert B. Nicol, the Masters of Piobaireachd. An exceptional list of prizes is given each year, and the overall winner will receive airfare to compete in London in 2019.

Competitors and judges at the 2017 competition

On Sunday, October 7, the Nicol-Brown will host a morning Master Class where competitors will be given instruction from the judges. Topics will include musical expression, technique, and improving performances toward the professional level. More details will be available soon at and on Facebook.

We are always looking for prizes that will be meaningful rewards for our talented competitors. Cash is especially welcome to help us with travel expenses for our judges, and for scholarships for our prizelist.

Please email Kevin Wisehart if you’re interested in running an ad in the 2018 Nicol-Brown program. If you’ve been an advertiser before, please let Kevin know if you have any questions, and if you’ll be willing to repeat your ads.

If you’d like to sponsor or donate a prize for our prizelist, please reply to Paula Glendinning or speak to any of our committee members with whom you may be in contact. If you’d like to see the prizes that were donated last year, or download a copy of last year’s program, that is available online at:  Memorial gifts are certainly welcome, and we’d be glad to publish your dedication in our program.

• Pictured top is the impressive Nicol-Brown Chalice presented to the winner.

Masters of Piobaireachd Recordings

Volume 1 of the Masters of Piobaireachd series which appeared in April 1998

Editor’s note: Paula Glendinning’s message reminded me that it is now 20 years since the first issue of Volume 1 in the Masters of Piobaireachd CD series featuring the teaching of RU Brown and RB Nicol Balmoral. This groundbreaking CD sparked a number of similar recordings based on the playing of such ceol mor experts as Donald MacLeod and William M MacDonald, Inverness.

Work began on the MoP series in 1996, and, with arts council money, the reel to reel tapes collected by my fellow editor Norman Matheson, Aberdeen, were digitised and thus preserved for posterity. These tapes were a treasure of piping, singing and chat. Months of sifting through and editing hundreds of examples of the Bobs’ teaching ensued before the first CD appeared in April 1998. It featured the following 11 tracks:

1 Extract of interview with R.B.Nicol
2 Patrick Og MacCrimmon’s Lament (Oral instruction by R.B.Nicol)
3 Patrick Og MacCrimmon’s Lament (Played by R.U.Brown)
4 The Battle of the Pass of Crieff (Oral instruction by R.U.Brown)
5 The Battle of the Pass of Crieff (Comment by R.B.Nicol)
6 I Got a Kiss of the King’s Hand (Oral instruction by R.B.Nicol)
7 I Got a Kiss of the King’s Hand (Ground and 1st line of Variation 1 played by R.B.Nicol)
8 Earl of Seaforth’s Salute (Oral instruction by R.U.Brown)
9 Earl of Seaforth’s Salute (Ground to taorluath played by R.U.Brown)
10 In Praise of Morag (Oral Instruction by R. B .Nicol)
11 Unjust Incarceration (Oral Instruction by R.B.Nicol).

Working with Norman on this music was both a pleasure and an education. His recordings, were, as I said in my notes at the time, an authentic record of the teachings of two men who dedicated their lives to ceol mor and to promulgating the instructions they received from John MacDonald, Inverness. They are nothing less than an inalienable link with the past and genuine oral tradition.

A couple of reviews which appeared at the time:
‘A really fascinating recording.’ (The Tartan and the Green)
‘This CD is a must for everyone interested in piobaireachd.’ (Malcolm McRae, Past President of The Piobaireachd Society).

Twenty years on the importance of these CDs, ten in all, is undiminished. RW

• Masters of Piobaireachd CDs are available here. All proceeds from sales go to the Braemar Gathering junior competitions.

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