Scottish Pipers’ Association Professional Results, Updated with Pictures and Comment

The annual professional competition run by the Scottish Pipers’ Association was held at the Piping Centre in Glasgow on Apr. 6th. There were excellent numbers competing. Champion Piper was Ben Duncan (above).

Editor Robert Wallace writes: I think it would be fair to say that last weekend the Scottish Pipers’ Association competition regained much of its rightful status as a major piping event. The entry spoke for that as did the level of performance and the large audience in attendance at the end. 

I judged the Open and B grade March and Strathspey and Reel and an enjoyable three and half hours it was too, not least thanks to the company of my fellow adjudicator Tom Johnstone.

We heard a mixed bag of playing on mostly good bagpipes. We agreed that the biggest faults were some pipers bringing pipe band level technique to the solo platform, and several of the 26 entrants not understanding the basic rules of the game be they for march or strathspey or reel.

The winner of the March was Callum Wynd with Kantara to El Arish. This was exemplary 2/4 playing and a credit to his teacher, the master of the art, P/M Ian McLellan. (Tom raved about an old recording he had of Ian winning the Former Winners at Oban with Hugh Kennedy, Pipers’ Bonnet and Thomson’s Dirk.) 

Callum and trophies

Close on the heels of Callum’s large brogues was Australian Chris McLeish with MacLean of Pennycross. Really sprightly stuff from Chris, first on on a cold morning, and not a gracenote out of place. The other prizewinners were from the younger age group and all played very well too: Ross Conner, Cameron May and Bobby Allen. Their turn will come.

The Strathspey and Reel went to the flashing finger of Mike Fitzhenry – but it wasn’t all just flash. Mike gave us a superbly controlled set on a bold pipe with his mighty Blair Drummond the standout strathspey of the day. Jonathon Simpson of Boghall pushed Mike all the way however, though his pipe wasn’t just as well set. Filling out the places were Luke Kennedy, Cameron and Bobby again, and for the B Grade, Finlay Frame. Nice playing from all of these lads.

Mike and trophy

Tom and I completed our duties by lunchtime and after a snack I headed to the Open Piobaireachd which was just about to start. This was another enjoyable event with merit even in the tunes which didn’t make the prizes. The eclectic mix of tunes chosen by the judges from those submitted, was another notable feature which helped hold audience interest, everything from the Blind Piper to Ronald MacDonald of Morar to Gunn’s Salute.

From the piobaireachd it was on to the Former Winners’ MSR in the main auditorium. The competition was about half way completed. Each piper had to play two tunes of each. This is the same stipulation for this event at the Northern Meeting. It makes for entertaining listening but there is a requirement on the pipers’ side that tunes are matched well and work together. A couple of times we heard a semi rounded reel joined uncomfortably to a more pointed piece with the resultant rhythmical jolt at transition.

By late afternoon, the B Grade piobaireachd still had about an hour and a half to run and SPA President Logan Tannock wisely decided to go ahead with the main prize giving leaving the B Piob to finish nearer 7.30pm. In his address to the audience Logan thanked his sponsors, the Piobaireachd Society and the Competing Pipers, without whose support he said the competition could not have been staged. 

Another important revenue stream was the entry fees from the pipers. There must have been around 60 playing.

There were several notable absentees in the senior categories but there was a calendar clash with the Donald MacLeod competition in Stornoway. Hopefully next year that can be avoided. Credit to SPA officials and stewards for staging a full day of excellent pipe music. Results:

P/A/Open Piob (four tunes):
1 Cameron May, Earl of Antrim
2 Ben Duncan, Blue Ribbon
3 John Mulhearn, Gunn’s Salute
4 Sandy Cameron, Laird of Islay
5 Angus MacPhee, MacSwan of Roaig
Judges: J Taylor, W Wotherspoon

Cameron and trophies

Open, B Grade March (three tunes, previous winners excluded):
1 Callum Wynd, Kantara to El Arish
2 Chris McLeish, MacLean of Pennycross
3 Ross Conner
4 Cameron May
5 Bobby Allen

Open S&R (three tunes of each, previous winners excluded):
1 Mike Fitzhenry
2 Jonathon Simpson
3 Luke Kennedy
4 Cameron May
5 Bobby Allen

Open light music judges: T Johnstone, R Wallace

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B Piob (three tunes)
1 Brodie Watson-Massey
2 Callum Wynd
3 John MacDonald
4 Ashley McMichael
5 Dan Nevans
Judges: E Anderson, A Forbes

6/8 March (played during the warm up for the P/A Piobaireachd): Cameron May

MSR Former Winners:
1 William McCallum
2 Ben Duncan
3 Callum Wynd
Judges: R Barnes, P Hunt

C Grade Piob (three tunes)
1 Kyle Shead
2 James Frazer
3 Cameron O’Neill
4 Calum Dunbar
5 Walter Glendinning
Judges: R Livingstone, R MacShannon

C March (three tunes)
1 Scott MacAskill
2 James Frazer
3 Scott Garden
4 Andrew Pattison
5 Kyle Shead

C S&R (three tunes of each)
1 Scott MacAskill
2 James Frazer
3 Scott Garden
4 Ian Simpson
5 Kyle Shead
C grade light music judges: R Barnes, P Hunt

  1. Piobaireachd: Donald MacLeod Trophy. 3 prizes £100, £70, £40; 5 places; submit 4 tunes.
  2. March: Donald MacDougall Trophy. 3 prizes £80, £60, £30; 5 places. Previous winners excluded. Submit 4 tunes, one to be played.
  3. Strathspey & Reel: Duncan MacIntyre Trophy. 3 prizes £80, £60, £30; 5 places; previous winners excluded; submit 4 of each, one of each to be played.
  4. MSR for Former Winners of Events 2 or 3: Eachann Caimbeul Trophy. 3 prizes: £100, £70, £40; submit 4 of each, two of each to be played once over.
  5. 6/8 March: Duncan MacFadyen Memorial Trophy. One Prize of £50. Own choice 6/8 to be played during the tuning time for the Piobaireachd

B/C Contest Events: 

  1. B Piobaireachd: 3 prizes £80, £50, £30; 5 places; submit 3 tunes, one to be played.
  2. B March: 3 prizes £50, £30, £25; 5 places; submit 3 tunes, one to be played. 
  3. B Strathspey & Reel: 3 prizes: £50, £30, £25; 5 places; submit 3 of each, one of each to be played.
  1. C Piobaireachd: 3 prizes £70, £40, £20; 5 places; submit 3 tunes, one to be played.
  2. C March: 3 prizes £40, £25, £20; 5 places; submit 3 tunes, one to be played.
  3. C Strathspey & Reel: 3 prizes. £40, £25, £20; 5 places; submit 3 of each, one of each to be played.

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