Editor’s Notebook: Look Back at the Season/ Inverness/ Worlds MSRs/ BB Fears/ South West School

Canadian Alan Bevan piping at Glenisla

So summer’s lease has come and gone and I think we can look back on a very successful return to competition in both solo and band worlds. Next year will be even better I feel, all things being equal.

I think the standards in the Grade 1 bands were every bit as good as before the shutdown – but maybe not so in the solos. A lot of weak interpretation and ring rustiness.

Part of the problem is the lack of teaching. Retired pipers want to judge and having pupils at Oban and Inverness restricts the benches they can join. At least one judge has told me of his quandary. He feels he owes it to piping to pass on his knowledge but he also values his place on the bench.

Games round-up: Moira Robertson, Lochaber, pointed up an issue at Glenfinnan: ‘My daughter Laura has been doing the games circuit for a number of years now and she was told she would have to go into the Adults as she is 17! It was the same as Arisaig. My band were playing there and Laura would have competed solo if it was either U18 or 18 & Under.

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‘I spoke to the Secretary but she didn’t know the rules for the Junior piping. In my day Arisaig and Glenfinnan were 18 & Under. Myself and my two older brothers competed there for years. I also know of many other juniors who are Laura’s age (from outwith the area) who would have come if the age category was suitable.’
Something for Glenfinnan and Arisaig to think about.

Over at Aboyne they recorded super figures with 12,500 people flocking through their gates. It was a similar story at Braemar with huge crowds. Elsewhere well done to Greig Canning for getting the piping going at Bowhill and to Stuart Samson for taking on Blairgowrie and to the promoters at Crieff – piping’s back with a bang at the old drover’s town. Of the majors, there was an enthusiastic entry on Skye and a real ‘great to be back’ feeling at Oban, the first solo major for three years. I’m sure it was the same at Inverness.

Northern Meeting

Talking of which, congratulations to the NM committee on their decision to appoint Derek Fraser their new Piping Convenor. Having worked closely with Derek since his return to frontline piping I feel sure he will be a success in his new role.

Whilst we are in Inverness, the committee might now like to re-think their unfortunate publicity slogan ‘the most prestigious piping competition in the world’.

Is Jamie Forrester’s Highland Society of London Gold Medal less prestigious than Nick Hudson’s? Was Connor SInclair’s Silver Star easier than Alex Gandy’s? I think not. Because the BBC choose to record one and ignore the other should not be taken as a measure of worth, more of convenience and habit.

The Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting are two great events with different traditions going back decades. No need for any point scoring.

MSRs at the Worlds

Reader Sam Wiley: ‘For a project for a course that I am taking I’m hoping to do some statistical analysis on tune selection for MSRs at the World Championships over the years.

‘I’ve been able to get a significant amount of information so far, but am hoping to get access to programmes and/or tune selection lists for as many years as possible, as well as if each band played Set 1 or Set 2 on Friday or Saturday.

‘You may not have this information readily available, so if not could you potentially point me in the direction of where I can find these tune lists? Thank you so much.’ Email Sam here if you can help him.

TA Pipe Majors

Can you name them?

Joe Davies, Pipe Sergeant Instructor at the Army Piping School: ‘I’ve been sign posted to Piping Press regarding the photo above. I’m looking for the names of the pipers in this photo, someone on Facebook said that Piping Press ran an article on this photo some time ago and it had the names of each of the pipers. If so, would you be able to forward the names to myself? Thank you.’

Left to right and from memory Joe: Captain John MacLellan, Alex M MacIver, ?,?, John Riach, ?, Norman Gillies, ?, ?, Calum MacPhee, ?, Tom MacAlister, ?.

Not very good I’m afraif but I am sure our readers can help. Please email editor@pipingpress.com.

South West Piping & Drumming Academy

The Academy is scheduled to hold its Autumn School 17- 21 October 2022 at Abernethy Trust Outdoor Centre near Castle Douglas. This will be a residential week of first class tuition in both piping and drumming.

Places are offered free of charge to any school children from P4/5 to S6 residing with Dumfries & Galloway. The school is designed to assist our efforts to form a Dumfries & Galloway Schools Pipe Band which would represent the region in competition. There may also be places available to young pipers and drummers from other areas in Scotland. If interested, please contact Andy McCartney on 07754 326746 or andrewmccartney2@gmail.com

BB Fears

John Shone: The BB was founded way back in 1883 in Glasgow by Sir William Alexander Smith. Over the last circa 140 years it has been the training ground for  many of our top pipers. Until recent years it was the provider of more pipers than any other organisation; schools have now taken over the main teaching responsibility.

The HQ for the BB nationally is at Felden Lodge in Hertfordshire. The Brigade moved its administrative HQ from London many years ago, much to the disappointment of many at that time. We were told the move would bring stability to BB finances. It hasn’t. The Brigade Executive have now announced that Feldon Lodge is to be closed and sold so as to ‘bring stability to the Brigade’s financial situation’.

Unfortunately this announcement coincides with a statement from the BB in Northern Ireland that they are minded to secede from the UK Brigade’s administrative area, citing cost savings as just one of their reasons. These two events, if they occur, will weaken the organisation. What next? Will Scotland also declare UDI? And what about Wales?

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