By Julie Stewart
The 41st William Livingstone, Senior, Memorial Invitational, or, ‘The Livingstone’, to those familiar with the event, was held Saturday, May 11, in the historic James Street Armouries, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in the Officers’ Mess of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.
The Livingstone contest is one of the most challenging anywhere: players are required to prevail in both piobaireachd and ‘light’ music contests in order to take the overall championship. Entry is by invitation with event organisers basing their criteria for entry on an overall view of a prospective contestant’s competitive track record.
The Livingstone was live-streamed on Facebook with Fear an Tighe, P/M Kenny Eller, challenged with shepherding audience and pipers though the day’s – and night’s – proceedings.
The evening light music portion of the event featured each piper’s own choice of march, strathspey, reel, hornpipe and jig. It was William Livingstone, Senior, P/M Bill Livingstone’s father (Bill of the 78th), who first promoted this format after having experienced – as an enthusiastic listener – the great Eagle Pipers’ Society professional MSRHJ contests in Edinburgh in the 1970s. The event began as a light music-only event and naturally evolved in the 1990s to include the big music.
This year’s Livingstone again included some of the piping world’s most in-form pipers. Gold and Silver Medallists and A-grade light music winners were all in the mix.
The evening’s capacity crowd of 95 were witness to a heartfelt post-contest recognition of past multiple winners in attendance: Bob Worrall (the first Livingstone winner), John MacKenzie and John Cairns all received gifts in recognition of their past multiple victories. A highlight of the evening was the presentation to Bruce Gandy, the record-breaking winner of seven Livingstones, with a replica of the perpetual banner presented to each annual overall winner of the contest.
I am the long-time contest chief organizer and President of the Niagara-Hamilton Branch of the Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario and I feel this event is more than a contest; it brings the best together and through that inspires us to love our music – even more.
Piobaireachd (four tunes submitted)
1st Andrew Carlisle, Pittsburgh, PA (The End of the Great Bridge)
2nd Nick Hudson, Houston, TX (Lament for the Laird of Anapool)
3rd Sean McKeown, Whitby, ON (The Old Men of the Shells No. 1)
MSR/H&J (piper’s own choice)
1st Andrew Carlisle (Pipe Major George Ross’s Farewell to The Black Watch, Inveraray Castle, The Rejected Suitor/ Jim Tweedie’s Sea Legs, Butterfingers)
2nd Matt MacIsaac, Stayner, ON (Hugh Alexander Lowe of Tiree, Cabar Feidh, Broadford Bay/ The Golden Wreath, Donald MacLean)
3rd Ian K. MacDonald, Whitby, ON (The Ross-shire Volunteers, The Piper’s Bonnet, John Morrison of Assynt House/ Colin Mackay, Alex MacDonald)
Also competing but not in the prizes: Andrea Boyd, Toronto, Glenn Brown, Glasgow, Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Callum Harper, Bolton, Ontario, Ben McClamrock, Washington, DC and Derek Midgley, New Jersey.
Judges: John Cairns (London, ON), Michael Grey (Dundas, ON), Bill Livingstone (Whitby, ON)