St Laurence O’Toole Ready to Thrill North East Concert Audience/ Jimmy McIntosh Challenge Contest

St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, from Dublin, are in concert in Aberdeen on Saturday evening, April 27. Entitled ‘Inspired 2024’, the concert marks the return of this sort of gala occasion to north east Scotland, hosted, as before, by the local Bucksburn & District band.

SLOT are one of the World’s top outfits, and are generally recognised as an outstanding concert band noted for their innovative approach and inherent musicality.

The band take to the stage at the city’s famous Music Hall at 7.30pm. They are under the direction of P/M Alen Tully and L/D Stephen Creighton. Alen and Stephen recently celebrated significant solo success at the Ulster Solos and Ardmore Cup respectively.

P/M Tully said: ‘The build up to this concert has been exactly what the band needed this year. We felt that after the strong finish to last season performance wise (particularly in the Scottish at Dumbarton and the four good runs at the Worlds) that we really needed that extra drive at the start of the season to help us kick into gear with time to spare. This concert is exactly what the doctor ordered.

‘Having to get ourselves primed and ready to perform on a concert stage in front of 1300 enthusiasts in Aberdeen, and to follow that with three weeks intense focus on our competition sets, has been the best build up to a season we have had since 2019.

‘The band is as ambitious as we always have been, and we are keen to get back to seriously challenging for the top prizes in Grade 1.

‘We have seen that the concert has really catapulted our collective confidence and team spirit upwards. We can’t wait to get on the stage this Saturday, and also to get the 2024 season underway. We are ready for both!’

The Shindig trio will support the band. The trio includes local champion piper Calum Brown on pipes and keyboards, along with drums and guitar. Compere is Kevin MacDonald of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

Tickets priced £25 are available here.

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Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Challenge

Last weekend saw the tenth annual Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Challenge and Light Music Events take place in Davidson, North Carolina, writes Joyce McIntosh.

Eight entered; seven played. This event is sponsored by the Charlotte Stephenson family of Pittsburgh who established the event to honour Jimmy and to celebrate his passion for teaching the art of Scottish bagpipe music.  The top three winners in each event receive cash prizes, and a trophy is awarded for first prize. The piobaireachd winner’s name is engraved on a permanent trophy.

This year’s piobaireachd event was won by Nick Hudson, who played a flawless Big Spree on a beautiful bagpipe. Second prize was won by Ben McClamrock, playing  Clanranald’s Salute, and third prize went to Liz Cherry playing Lament for Donald Dughal MacKay.  

Pipers, judges and officials

Results for the light music events were as follows:
MSR: 1 Ryan Praskovich 2 Nick Hudson 3 Dan Lyden
Hornpipe/Jig: 1 Ryan Praskovich 2 Nick Hudson 3 Ben McClamrock

Judges were Amy Garson and John Bottomley for piobaireachd, and Ed Krintz and Brian Donaldson for light music.

The seven competitors traveled from seven different states to compete and there was a sizeable audience in each of the competition rooms. The audience included many who were competing the following day at the Loch Norman Highland Games. I’m pleased that these pipers came to listen and learn from professional players.

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