Nova Scotia piper Bruce Gandy has clinched the BC Pipers’ Association MacCrimmon Memorial Cairn and Medal as the winner of the Open Piobaireachd and the Mary MacLeod Collins Memorial Trophy for the Open piping aggregate at the 2021 Annual Gathering, held online April 2 & 3, 2021.
This was Gandy’s eighth win of “The Cairn” at the Annual Gathering. His first win was in 1982. The online competition drew competitors from around the world to the Annual Gathering event that was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bruce is pictured above performing his winning tune, The Big Spree.
By Rob MacNeil, BCPA Vice President
And piper Callum Bevan dominated the Grade 1 field with three first place finishes; the Malcolm Nicholson Memorial Trophy for Combined Grade 1 Annual Gathering and Mini-Gathering aggregate, and the MacIver Memorial Trophy for most points overall.
Bevan won the Kathleen & Donald Memorial Trophy for Grade 1 Jig, the Duncan Watson Memorial Shield for Grade 1 March, Strathspey and Reel and the Caber Feidh Trophy and Iain MacKinnon Memorial Trophy for Grade 1 Piobaireachd.
The Grade 1 snare drumming aggregate and winner of the Delta Police Pipe Band Shield is Blake Prescott.
Other winners in the online competition included Andrew Carlisle who won the Duncan McInnes Memorial Trophy for Open MSR, Kyle Howie who won the Donald MacDonald Shield for Open Jig, and Brodie Watson-Massey who won the CPA “C” grade Piobaireachd.
The 88th Annual Gathering was held online, with competitors in the lower grades submitting videos in advance, while Grade 1, Open & CPA grades players competed live, via Zoom, and then uploaded their performances.
‘There were lots of technical challenges with this online competition, and I thank the team at BCPA for their hard work in pulling everything together,’ says Chief Steward Lynn Bullis. ‘The digital stewards, the IT team working to resolve issues and all the other volunteers behind the scenes did a great job, and I thank them.’
‘Overall, the event was a success. The online component attracted competitors from around the world, which was great. Now, we would love to see them all here in person next year, for our 89th Annual Gathering.’
Full results of the 88th BCPA Annual Gathering can be found on the BCPA website. Click HERE.
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Of the Open Piobaireachd, adjudicator Robert Wallace writes: It is very difficult to judge an online piobaireachd competition. The quality of sound varies so much competitotr to competitor that you almost have to dismiss instrument quality from your list of criteria.
However, there can be no question that pipers who invest in good audio equipment make the best impression. One such was the winner Bruce Gandy. His sound was consistent, undistorted and clear. The bagpipe locked in and he gave a profressional, smooth account of the tune John Burgess told me was his favourite, the Big Spree. I don’t know if Bruce was a little worried about the pitch of his F but at times he did tend to come off it a fraction early on to the edres in the urlar and variation 1. It sounded fine to me early on but maybe flattish as the tune progressed. Overall a very nice performance.
Second place went to James MacHattie of the PEI College of PIping. This was well-thought through Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute with good tempo change and balanced phrasing. James ran Bruce very close but tightness in the finger in the T&Cs just went againt him.
Brad Davidson did not quite set the rhythm correctly in the double echo Es in MacDougall’s Gathering but quickly got back on the rails once these pesky motifs were out of the way. Brad stood still playing to the microphone and camera and may have got more momentum into the piece had he walked round the room. That said, the finger and pipes were just what were required and he handled the difficult T&C turns with considerable aplomb.
John Dew was fourth with the Rout of the Lowland Captain. I was riding shotgun with John as he skedaddled from the Prestonpans battlefield but was thrown from the saddle when he hit Variation 2. Rounded off like this it lost all urgency. Competent playing otherwise, and if John can focus on his piobaireachd among all his other piping pursuits, he will continue to climb the ranks.
The Lament for the Viscount of Dundee was fingered well by Ciaran Ross. He placed his coverless bag under his arm and was off with no tuning required. He dwelt a bit too long on the low G connecting notes in Variation 2 and lacked phrasing in the triplet. A piper with good potential and his mammy might like to buy him one of those smart new Piobaireachd Society bag covers for his birthday.
The final place went to Andrew Hall. His MacNeill of Barra’s March was square in the ground and the chanter seemed dull on C and E. Andrew leapt in to life in the second part of his performance playing musically and with confidence. Would that he had started out that way.
Of the others: Andrew Carlisle (Lament for the Children) disappointed with a poor pipe; Jamie Troy jnr. (Lament for Patrick Og) the same; Fraser Allison (King’s Taxes) lacked expression; Charles Morris (Macleod of Raasay) pretty good timing but pipes well off at end and a few ropey crunluaths; Ross Miller (The Groat), good pipe, weak interpretation; Alastair Murray (Only Son) good pipe, hand trouble; Mark Elliot (MacKay’s Banner), VG finger, pipe overstrong; Calum Wynd (Old Men of the Shells) pipe off, forcing melody; Bobby Durning (Rout of Glen Fruin), VG finger, nice pipe, timing suspect.