Annual Jimmy McIntosh Solo Piping Championship, Davidson, North Carolina

By Dr Jack Taylor

A report about Jimmy McIntosh’s annual competition held last Friday evening in Davidson, North Carolina, where there was a high standard in the piobaireachd with all nine players showing good musical understanding. 

Firstly the results:

1. Andrew Carlisle, Battle of Bealach nam Brog
2. Derek Midgley, Lord Lovat’s Lament
3. Nick Hudson, Rout of Glenfruin

1. Nick Hudson
2. Derek Midgley 
3. Andrew Carlisle 

Judges, competitors and the man himself Jimmy McIntosh (far right)

Hornpipe and Jig
1. Derek Midgley
2. Nick Hudson
3. Dan Lyndon 

It’s been a pleasure to chat to Jimmy.  We reminisced about Tayside Piper’s Club junior competitions in Broughty Ferry and neither of us could remember whether Bob Brown had played five or six piobaireachd in his recital there.  

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I didn’t know that Jimmy had played in the MacKenzie Caledonia band with my own teacher Bert Barron, nor that Jimmy had gone to the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban on the pillion of Bert’s motor bike. Hair-raising preparation I’m sure. 

When Jimmy came to USA everyone was playing Too Long in this Condition, the Wee Spree or the Old Sword. He has singlehandedly opened ears to a broad repertoire and an deep understanding of the musical elements of piobaireachd.

Andrew Carlisle with Jimmy and his wife Joyce

Generations of students have benefited and he is clearly held in the highest esteem. He treats them as a big happy family, and to them he is a hugely respected grandfather whose pawky humour, canny nature and inspired teaching makes them want to return for more. 

I used Jimmy’s Piobaireachd Society Collection, and pasted inside the front cover was this quote, origin unknown:

‘What would music be without those who endow it with life and feeling; who make it well known and well loved and whose work thus attains the highest plane of artistic achievement.’

That was doubtless about his own teacher, RU Brown, but equally it would apply to Jimmy. 

As I followed the tunes I noted how closely most of the players followed the various pause marks and alterations in note values marked in the book. 

Andrew Carlisle wended his way through Bealach nam Brog with skill and subtlety. Lord Lovat’s Lament was oh so sad in Derek Midgley’s hands, but Nick Hudson’s Glenfruin didn’t get quite enough of the rout treatment.

Alastair Murray played a controlled and thoughtful Cill Chriosd but he didn’t hold the long notes enough in the fosgailte doubling.  

Grace Abernethy’s Park 2 was fluent and nuanced, but a bit rushed.  Michael MacLeod impressed with natural musicality in Old Men of the Shells.  

EJ Jones didn’t quite hit the rhythm in the ground of Beloved Scotland. Amy Garson tended to over-express parts of the Earl of Seaforth, and Dan Lydon was a shade square in the ground of Blue Ribbon with drifting drones distracting from an otherwise solid performance.

Heavy rain meant Saturday’s Loch Norman Games piping events were cancelled, a disappointment for the organisers and many who had travelled far.

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