On Saturday last (April 20th) the Lisnagarvey High School was the setting for both the 2019 Ulster Solo Piping and Drumming Championships and the RSPBA NI Branch World Adult Solo Drumming (WSD) qualifier. There was an entry of sixty four pipers, thirty eight side drummers and twenty one tenor drummers with very few drop outs.
The adjudicators were Piping: Robert Barnes, Mark Faloon, Rachel Moloney, Harry Stevenson, and Richard Parkes MBE; Tenor and bass drumming: Simon Hodgett and Chris Pollock and Side Drumming: Lee Innes and Ian Lawson.
The big winners were James Frazer (above) who arrived in the solo piping big time when he claimed the Ulster Adult title for the first time beating off the challenge from former champions and Field Marshal Montgomery colleagues Scott Wallace, Ashley McMichael and Kris Coyle.
Christopher McNicholl, who plays with the Inveraray & District Pipe Band, won both the Ulster Adult Drumming title and the RSPBA NI Branch WSD qualifier beating off the challenge of Gareth McLees (Field Marshal Montgomery) and William Glenholmes (Vale of Atholl).
There was a bit of a stir caused at the Solos when a popular online broadcaster was prevented by the RSPBA NI Branch from streaming the event live on Facebook (read more on this below).
One highlight of the day’s results was the prize for Andrew Shilliday in the B Section Piobaireachd. Andrew’s health challenges are well documented and his success against some very talented young pipers is an example to others facing similar challenges in this and other activities.
Another highlight was that of Jamie Coffey the 10 year old drumming sensation who featured in the recent BBC Northern Ireland series ‘The Band’. Jamie was the winner of the Under 14 drumming title.
Novice Chanter: 1st Sarah Boyce (McDonald Academy), 2nd Josh Anderson (Cleland Memorial), 3rd Jacob Tate (Syerla & District).
Advanced Practice Chanter: 1st Charlie McAlister (Matt Boyd Memorial), 2nd Shaun Townsley (Cleland Memorial), 3rd Jake McAlister (Matt Boyd Memorial).
Novice Piping: 1st Tyler Gillespie (Bready Ulster-Scots).
Piobaireachd B: 1st Emma Livingstone (Matt Boyd Mem.) 2nd Michael Harvey (PSNI), 3rd Andrew Shilliday (Tullylagan), 4th Desmond Smith (Manorcunningham), 5th Tim Wharton (Joseph Forde Memorial).
Piobaireachd A: 1st James Frazer (Field Marshal Montgomery), 2nd Kris Coyle (Field Marshal Montgomery), 3rd Scott Wallace (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Piobaireachd Under 16: 1st Thomas Wilson (Harry Ferguson Memorial), 2nd Ewan Mitchell (Ballybriest√ 3rd Adam Brimage (Matt Boyd Memorial).
Piobaireachd Under 18: 1st Emma Ferguson (Matt Boyd Memorial).
Juvenile Piping Under 14: 1st Sam Purvis (Tullylagan), 2nd Thomas Wilson (Harry Ferguson Memorial), 3rd William McFarland (Tullylagan).
Juvenile Piping Under 16: 1st Jake McConnell (Matt Boyd Memorial), 2nd Andrew Pollock (Altnaveigh Memorial), 3rd Tigerlily Keoghan (New Ross and District).
Juvenile Piping Under 18: 1st Fraser Rodgers (Upper Crossgare), 2nd Marc Warnock (Tullylagan), 3rd Nathan Coburn (Ravara).
Piping C Grade: 1st Mark Hasson (Colmcille), 2nd Beth Preston (PSNI), 3rd Emma Livingstone (Matt Boyd Memorial).
Piping B Grade: 1st Ryan Cupples-Menendez (Field Marshal Montgomery), 2nd Scott McKay (Scottish Power), 3rd Alastair Donaghy (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Senior Piping A Grade MSR: 1st Ashley McMichael (Field Marshal Montgomery) 2nd Scott Wallace (Field Marshal Montgomery), 3rd James Frazer (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Open Adult Hornpipe & Jig: 1st Ashley McMichael (Field Marshal Montgomery) 2nd James Frazer (Field Marshal Montgomery), 3rd Ryan Cupples-Menendez (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Senior Piping Overall: 1st James Frazer (Field Marshal Montgomery), 2nd Scott Wallace (Field Marshal Montgomery), 3rd Ashley McMichael (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Bass & Tenor Drumming: Open Bass: 1st Ewan Smyth (Quinn Memorial), 2nd Robert Coady (McDonald Memorial), Craig Rogers (Ravara).
Under 14 Tenor: 1st Holly Purvis (Tullylagan), 2nd Keeva Smith (Matt Boyd Memorial), 3rd William Currie (Ballyboley).
Under 16 Tenor: 1st Poppy Cowan (Closkelt), 2nd Sophie Thompson (PSNI) 3rd Adam Montgomery (Quinn Memorial).
C Grade Tenor: 1st Lara Hoy (Battlehill]. B Grade Tenor: 1st Ewan Glenny (St Laurence O’Toole), 2nd Emma Frazer (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Drumming: Unaccompanied Snare: 1st Scott Martin (Syerla & District), 2nd Conor Gallagher (Colmcille), 3rd Ethan Smith (Matt Boyd Memorial).
Under 14 Drumming: 1st Jamie Coffey (Major Sinclair Memorial), 2nd Samuel Hanna (Broughshane & District), 3rd Jamie Kerr (PSNI).
Under 16 Drumming: 1st Mark Gallagher (Colmcille), 2nd Ben Jenkins (Ballyboley), 3rd Alex Buchanan (Thiepval Memorial).
Under 18 Drumming: 1st Daniel Mulcahy (Closkelt), 2nd Conor Lawlor (St Laurence O’Toole), 3rd Lee Montgomery (Quinn Memorial).
Junior Drumming: 1st Adam McCollum (Field Marshal Montgomery), 2nd Ashley Fyffe (PSNI), 3rd Richard Black (Syerla & District).
Intermediate Drumming: 1st Matthew Shaw (Ravara).
Senior Drumming Hornpipe & Jig: 1st Gareth McLees (Field Marshal Montgomery).
Senior Drumming MSR: 1st Christopher McNicholl (Inveraray & District).
Ulster Adult Champion: 1st Christopher McNicholl (Inveraray & District), 2nd Gareth McLees (Field Marshal Montgomery), 3rd William Glenholmes (Vale of Atholl).
The programme for the event carried a notice stating that ‘Live Streaming is not permitted at today’s solos’. When clarification was sought the following statement was issued by the NI Branch later in the day:
‘The RSPBANI Executive Committee made the decision not to live stream today’s Ulster Solo Championships for a number of reasons. These included safeguarding GDPR regulations, permissions from competitors, copyright permissions and the diminishing number of spectators coming to support the players.
‘Recording performances and sharing them on the internet is certainly a great way to allow supporters around the world to follow events but it is disappointing for competitors arriving in a hall or competition room to two or three of an audience.
‘Knowing that supporters are watching around the world is all well and good but we feel that there is nothing to beat a live audience to enhance an event and to encourage and support competitors.
‘There was no charge into today’s event, therefore, this was in no way a ‘profit-led’ decision.’
The streaming live of events is something that will be the subject of much discussion, indeed Facebook has quite a few opinions on this particular issue.
It is a different thing for the BBC to broadcast the ‘Worlds’ Grade 1 when there is a paying audience of close on 30,000 present and almost 200 bands entered but can promoters of the lesser contests whether they are indoor or outdoor permit this to happen?
Admission charges which were not a factor with these Ulster Solos are vital income. Live streaming, given the technology that is available today, allows enthusiasts to sit in the comfort of their own home to enjoy the music, take in the atmosphere without it costing them either the cost of diesel/petrol to travel or the admission charge.
It is an entirely different matter for competitions to be streamed overseas (I enjoyed the recent New Zealand Championships myself) but to do similar for local contests is financial madness in my opinion.
A subject worthy of some discussion perhaps?
- Picture credit to Brian Hasson. See more snaps from then Ulsters here.