Argyllshire Gathering Catch up: Notes from the Senior Piobaireachd

Ian K MacDonald, Ontario, competing in the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban

By Robert Wallace

Thanks to the competitor who reminded me that I had not recorded my thoughts on this year’s Senior Piobaireachd event at the Argyllshire Gathering. The contest, with 21 competitors, was held on August 21 in the Corran Halls, Oban. I managed to listen to the whole event apart from the last player Andrew Hayes. Here’s what I noted down in the order recorded…

Dr Peter McCalister – The Fingerlock
Good pipe if a little light; D throw light; more of a skip needed in opening B sequence; pushed crunluath singling; wore jacket; VG perf. for first on.

Brian Donaldson – Bells of Perth
Pipe shaded off; D T&C open or suspect; darado too open; slip in dithis; some a machs not complete; no jacket ; needed more swing.

Bruce Gandy – Lament for the Union
Did he make enough of the time signature changes? Cut high G from high A in ground losing musicality; stacatto in last line down from high A; excellent finger and good, solid bagpipe.

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Ian K MacDonald – Daughter’s Lament
A very good performance; finger and pipe of high order; very well phrased and controlled; perhaps rushed crunluath doubling, but not too distracting.

Jack Lee – Scarce of Fishing
D flattish on chanter and buzzy drone; pipe harmonics suffering; tune lacked his usual fluency probably due to concerns on sound.

Glenn Brown – Donald Gruamach’s March
Technical problems in crunluath and a mach; urlar lacked flow and expression; nice instrument.

Angus MacColl – Bells of Perth
A good, solid performance, technically sound, only one dragged D; pendulum variation caught between two styles?

Angus MacColl tunes up for this year’s Senior Piobaireachd

Finlay Johnston – Lament for John MacDonald, Inverness
Lovely pipe; can this tune be compared to the likes of the Daughter’s Lament? Superb finger; could have focussed more on melody notes in T&C.

Greg Wilson – Daughter’s Lament
Chanter a shade dull on bottom; tone improved as he progressed. A few small, untidy technical moments and cut up to high A in cadence a little too quickly for my taste.

No luck for Finlay Johnston at this year’s Senior Piobaireachd

Fred Morrison – Donald Gruamach
Sweet pipe but a bit light?; very musical timing if a little slow; technically good but tired in a mach.

Alasdair Henderson – Fingerlock
Rather one-paced throughout; brought in the E gracenote on the taorluath a mach ahead of the beat; beautiful bagpipe; note fumble; crunluath a mach lacked precision.

Stuart Easton – Lament for John MacDonald, Inverness
Made the best of the tune; forgot the 3/4 pulsing in the taorluath doubling but redeemed himself in crunluath; pushed on towards end at hint of drone shift.

Stuart Liddell – Lament for the Union
First class performance in every way; a lyrical ground and variations showing all the required 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 rhythm changes; masterful handling; finger VG throughout though a mach tight.

Stuart Liddell, the winner of the Senior Piobaireachd at this year’s Argyllshire Gathering

Craig Sutherland – Bells of Perth
Pipes not off but not convincing; not really getting the ‘swing’ essence of the tune and seems to play to his body at times.

Duncan MacGillivray – Fingerlock
Fiery, untidy, different but absorbing interpretation; first correctly played taorluath a mach – grip then E gracenote; pipe held.

Alan Bevan – Daughter’s Lament
Pipe good but drifted; technically VG, only one top hand miss; no illogical phrasing; musical; taorluath doubling rushed slightly.

Iain Speirs – Edinburgh Piobaireachd
Lovely tune; pretty flawless; brought the best out of it in a very cultured fashion; finger and pipe exemplary.

Flawless performance from Iain Speirs at Oban ’19

Callum Beaumont – Scarce of Fishing
Beautiful pipe; lovely playing; pendulum variation needs more on note before the taorluath when played in groups of two; no a mach.

1 Stuart Liddell, Lament for the Union, £1,000
2 Ian Speirs, Edinburgh Piobaireachd, £350
3 Stuart Easton, NZ, Lament for John MacDonald, Inverness, £200
4 Callum Beaumont, Scarce of Fishing, £150
5 Alan Bevan, Canada, Daughter’s Lament, £100

Judges: W Morrison, S Samson, J Wilson

  • Read more from the 2019 Argyllshire Gathering here.
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