This was a good renaissance weekend of piping, in an excellent venue, with slick stewarding, and a somewhat larger audience than usual – all this helped to produce a sense that things are getting back on track at last after the pandemic.
Like me, I am sure the organisers, the Scottish Piping Society of Southern Africa, were particularly gratified that four of the competitors in ‘100 Guineas’ were quite well under 25 years of age. This augurs well for the future of South African piping.
Judging duties meant I did not manage to hear any of the playing in the other grades (Intermediate, Amateur, Novice and Chanter), but it was encouraging to see that there was a sizeable entry in the Novice (13) and Chanter (12), though unfortunately very few entered Intermediate or Amateur. There is interest, despite the impact of covid on the schools’ learner programmes, and we can only hope this will push through in the next couple of years.
The Society is grateful to Glasgow-based Wallace Bagpipes for its sponsorship of the amateur events.
Open Strathspey and Reel (The President’s Cup): Once again Joshua Hogg dominated this event, with another virtually immaculate performance. He played Susan MacLeod and the Smith of Chilliechassie, with the reel, particularly, wonderfully controlled and accurate: 1 Joshua Hogg, 2 Frans Coetzee, 3 Jonathan Visser, 4th Emily Pentz; Judge: Roger Davies
The overall result is based on points in each section, with the Piobaireachd event counting 7, 5, 3, 1, and the two light music events counting 4, 3, 2, 1 each. In the event of a tie, the higher points in piobaireachd is the decider. No fewer than 7 of the 8 competitors had won points, which made for an interesting result. In the end it was: 1 (Winner of the LM Millar Memorial Trophy) Frans Coetzee; Runner-up: Joshua Hogg, 3 Thomas Fuller, 4 Jonathan Visser
The Former Winners’ March, Strathspey and Reel (The Captain DM MacLennan Trophy): The qualification for this event is a win in either the March, or the Strathspey and Reel, in the 100 Guineas or the Royal Scottish Gathering (the premier South African Gathering until its demise in the early years of the 21st Century). Previous winners in the March or Strathspey and Reel continue to compete in these events, so if one player dominates for a few years, the list of qualified players may remain very small. The event does not count towards the 100 Guineas competition.
This year there were just three competitors. Brian Mulhearn opened, with the Highland Brigade Welcome Home from South Africa, Captain Colin Campbell, and Alick C MacGregor. The march is published in John MacFadyen’s second book, where it is timed very evenly.
I was interested to see what Brian would do. He chose to dot and cut, and made a pleasant tune of this, though once again his tendency to speed up through each tune rather detracted from the overall performance. Joshua Hogg was given Miss Elspeth Campbell, Lady Loudon, and the Rejected Suitor, and made a very fine job of it, with the pipe singing.
Thomas Fuller followed, with Hugh Kennedy M.A. B.Sc., Maggie Cameron and the Brown Haired Maid. The judge decided that his variation was not entirely acceptable! The result was 1Joshua Hogg, 2 Brian Mulhearn, 3 Thomas Fuller; Judge: Chris Terry
The other event of the day was the Pipe Major Alan Watters Jig Challenge. In this event, seniors and juniors compete together. This does not form part of the Hundred Guineas championship. The result here was: 1 Gordon Grossett, 2 Joshua Hogg, 3 Thomas Fuller, 4 Frans Coetzee. Best Junior: Aurryn Gaertz; Overall winner for the season: Richard Payn; Overall junior winner for the season: Aurryn Gaertz
The following day a number of events took place, the main one being the Junior Hundred Guineas event. This is limited to pipers who were under 19 the previous year on October 1. Competitors are required to play in all three events.
Junior Guineas Piobaireachd (Dr M MacDonald Bayne Trophy): Competitors must submit one tune from a set list of 22 tunes, and may not play the tune played in the previous year’s contest. Daniel Cotton started the event with a well-controlled performance of MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart, on a good instrument that held quite well. Alas, along with most of the other competitors he went a little astray in the latter part of the tune, but this was a good start to the event.
Lance Higgins played the Company’s Lament, and knew where he was going with this. Adam Thatcher also had a good idea of the Lament for Alasdair Dearg MacDonell of Glengarry. For most of the rest of the players, I had the feeling that they had made a start on piobaireachd, but had left the start far too late for this year’s competition.
Emily Pentz (pictured top), who had travelled quite some distance for this weekend’s piping, gave a beautifully controlled Lament for Donald of Laggan. A lapse of concentration towards the end was unfortunate, but her technique and musicality set her well ahead of the rest. She has a great future ahead. The result was: 1 Emily Pentz, 2 Daniel Cotton, 3 Lance Higgins, 4 Adam Thatcher. Judge: Chris Terry
Junior March (March Floating Cup): Competitors submit two marches, and are asked to play one, twice through. The requirement of twice through is quite a difficult task for young players. Once again Emily Pentz took top honours. Her Major David Manson at Clachantrushal was marred only by a slight finger indiscretion at the start of the third part, but she managed to negotiate this same wobble eight times without collapse. Apart from this, her tune was bright and controlled, with excellent technique. Daniel Cotton was again second, with a quite solid Dr EG MacKinnon:
1st Emily Pentz, 2nd Daniel Cotton; 3rd Aeden Southee; 4th Adam Thatcher; Judge: Gordon Delaney
Junior Strathspey and Reel (Strathspey and Reel Floating Cup): Two sets are submitted. Not surprisingly, Emily Pentz ran out a clear winner, with Susan MacLeod and Alick C MacGregor. Adam Thatcher came in ahead of Daniel Cotton this time, while Lance Higgins was fourth; Judge: Kgabe Molepo
The same points system is used to determine the Junior overall positions:
1 (Jack Gartly Silver Chanter) Emily Pentz, 2 Daniel Cotton, 3 Adam Thatcher, 4 Lance Higgins
Intermediate Piob.: 1 R Mackenzie, MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart, 2 P Louw, Catherine’s Lament; Judge: Chris Mulinder
Intermediate March: 1 P Louw 2 R Mackenzie, 3 J Scott-Barnes: Judge: Craig Herwill
Intermediate S&R: 1 J Scott-Barnes, 2 P Louw 3 R Mackenzie; Judge: Struan Young
Intermediate Overall: Rory Mackenzie; Intermediate Overall for the season: Paul Louw
Amateur Piob.: 1 J Reid, 2 L de Kock; Judge: Chris Mulinder
Amateur March: 1 J Reid, 2 L de Kock, 3 C Thompson; Judge: Struan Young
Amateur S&R: 1 J Reid, 2 L de Kock; Judge: Craig Herwill
Amateur Overall: Jesse Reid; Amateur Overall for the season: Beth Odendaal
Novice Piob.: 1 C Wittstock, 2 T Jenkings, 3 M Bloy, 4 G Schwartzman; Judge: Thomas Fuller
Novice March: 1 J Andrews, 2 C Wittstock, 3 D Taylor, 4 A Gaertz; Judge: Greg Hurly
Novice S&R: 1 J Andrews, 2 T Jenkings, 3 M Bloy, 4 Taylor; Judge: David Harris
Novice Overall: 1 Cameron Wittstock, 2 Terence Jenkings, 3 Joshua Andrews, 4 Matthew Bloy; Novice Overall for the season: C Wittstock
Chanter competition: 1 T McDonald, 2 O Lamb, 3 M Powell, 4 A Charlton
- Read part 1 of this report here.
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