Editor’s Notebook: PPBSO Suspension/ Watson’s Contest/ Florida Academy/ Lewis Recital

The Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario have suspended one of their prominent members for 12 months, according to several reliable sources. I understand the suspension is in response to this individual’s consistently belligerent attitude towards the RSPBA with whom the Society have always had a good working relationship.

The Society has been embarrassed into taking action but are refusing to discuss it. Well done to them for keeping their house in order and for protecting the identity of the individual.

Unwarranted criticism of the RSPBA has been rife on both sides of the Atlantic and has a corrosive effect, especially on the many volunteers who give freely of their time and energy for the pipe band cause.

The RSPBA like all organisations has its flaws. They do get things wrong; don’t we all. But much of the recent vituperation directed at them has been unwarranted and the PPBSO have now decided to act.

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George Watson’s Contest

School piping tutor Ben Duncan reports: ‘George Watson’s College is holding its annual Invitational Schools Competition at GWC on Sunday 3rd March. There will be solo piping and drumming in the morning and full band contests, with three separate categories (Junior, Intermediate, Senior) in the afternoon.

The GW band and trophies

‘It is sure to make for a great day of piping and drumming so if you’re in town, please come along and support the next generation of pipers and drummers.

‘There is an extremely healthy entry across all events with 23 bands entered and 134 competitors across the solo events. Events start at 9am and will be held in the main Senior School building.’

Florida Pipe & Drum Academy

Another successful school drew to a close today and tomorrow we head to the North East Florida Games for a spot of judging.

Service band personnel – fire and police departments – were well represented among the students and were pleased to hear Bill Caudil, President of the EUSPBA, announce a new category of band competition for service bands.

Hot stuff….instructors Matt Pantaleoni, Barry Donaldson and Bill Caudill piping at the Academy pub night

As Bill said, these bands are often the public face of the pipe band movement in the US yet many don’t compete, even against their peers.

Now this new category of competition will bring them into the fold and ultimately raise standards.

Lewis & Harris Recital

Katie Laing reports….The Lewis and Harris Piping Society are looking forward to their recital on Friday, 1 March, when the pipers will be Neil Smith and James Duncan MacKenzie. Neil is originally from Aird, Point, and was taught from the age of 11 by the late Angus ‘Boxer’ MacLeod, the first school’s tutor on the east side of Lewis.

Neil Smith

Neil was subsequently tutored by the late P/M Iain M Morrison who succeeded Angus as school’s tutor. Neil has won the Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings and the A Grade March and Strathspey and Reel at the Argyllshire Gathering on consecutive years.

During his early career he played with the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band and enjoyed considerable success with them, winning the British, European and Cowal Championships.

Neil is currently employed as a Distillery Ambassador based at Glengoyne Distillery north of Glasgow , and lives in Strathblane.

Sharing the platform with him will be James Duncan MacKenzie, another product of the local tutoring system.

James is originally from Back, but now lives in Shawbost with his wife Katie, and is currently employed as the schools piping instructor for the west side of Lewis and Harris.

James MacKenzie

He was initially taught by P/M Nicky Gordon and the same P/M Morrison, and has picked up a number of solo prizes including the Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings in 2019 and the Dunvegan Medal at the Skye Gathering in 2022. Last year he was the first Lewis-born piper to play in the prestigious P/M Donald MacLeod Memorial.

The senior pipers will be supported by two of the junior members of the Society. More info here.

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