George Balderose reports….Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – November 16-18, 2018:
The Twelfth Annual Balmoral Classic produced by the Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming began with major changes in the venue and programming.
For many years all of the weekend events occurred at Central Catholic High School’s facilities. This year the Classic moved to three separate venues in or around the nearby Pitt campus.
The weekend began on Friday evening with a special contra dance with bagpipe music provided by Balmoral Classic judges.
A book, entitled The Balmoral Guide to playing the Bagpipes for Community Dances, was released at the event. Prior to the dance Balmoral judges Matt MacIssac and Dr. Angus MacDonald gave 20 minute recitals in the same hall, the St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral.
The US Junior Solo Junior Bagpiping and Solo Snare Drumming Championship contests on Saturday were held in nearby Bellefield Hall Auditorium of the University of Pittsburgh.
Pipers were required to submit two MSR medleys (March Strathspey, & Reel) and two Piobaireachd, one of each to be selected by the judges for the contest.
Drummers were required to submit one MSR medley and one Hornpipe and Jig medley. Thirteen pipers from seven states plus Ontario and Scotland, and three drummers from New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania competed in the double event contests.
The Overall piping winner of piping contest was Charlie Morris of Agoura Hills, California. Charlie took first place in both contests, the March, Strathpey, Reel, and the Piobaireachd events and therefore had the highest overall points to win the Ralph and Patricia Murray trophy for the Overall Winner and a set of blackwood MacRae Bagpipes donated by MacCallum Bagpipes.
Taught by Seamus Coyne, Charlie demonstrated fine technique and expression, and plays from the left shoulder as most pipers, but with his left hand on the lower notes and the right hand on the upper ones.
Tyler Destremps, with a 2nd in Piobaireachd, won the presentation set of aged imitation ivory blackwood bagpipes, donated by David Naill Bagpipes.
Tyler received the David Naill set because of a Balmoral Classic rule that says should the same contestant win both events, the set assigned to the winner of the Piobaireachd event set goes to the 2nd place contestant in that contest.
Tyler is a student at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the CMU pipe band.
1. Charlie Morris The Old Men of the Shells (pictured top)
2. Tyler Destremps Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks
3. Kayleigh Johnstone Lament for the Little Supper
4. Kate Runciman Lament for Captain MacDougall
5. Sebastian Benedetto The Bicker
1. Charlie Morris Craig-n-Darroch, Susan MacLeod, The Grey Bob
Sebastian Benedetto, Cape Neddick, Maine
Tyler Destremps, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Robert Dunn, Montville, New Jersey
Kayleigh Johnstone, Aurora, Ontario
Alexandra Knox, Woodbine, Maryland
Elizabeth Knox, Woodbine, Maryland
Steven MacDonald, Dundee, Scotland
Calum MacNeil, Dearborn, Michigan
Charlie Morris, Agoura Hills, California
Kate Runciman, Guelph, Ontario
Jacob Shelton, Goldon, Colorado
Colin Swett, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Duncan Winters, Grand Junction, Colorado
1. Shane Stapleton, Scots Air, Donald Cameron’s Powderhorn
Nicholas Moore, Medina, Ohio
Shane Stapleton, Deer Park, New York
Connor Williams, Sharpsville, Pennsylvania
Andrew Carlisle and Kolya Sier for Nicholas Moore
Andrew Carlisle and Kolya Sier for Shane Stapleton
Christopher Lorince for Connor Williams