Category Archives: Blog

PP Ed’s Blog: SPJA Withdrawal/ Uist & Barra/ Scottish Schools/ Lisnamulligan

I shouldn’t have thought my withdrawal from the Solo Piping Judges Association of any great interest, far less newsworthy.

However the new SPJA chairman decided to make the matter public. He sent a circular to all members telling them about it then a press notice to the Competing Pipers’ Association, pipes/drums, Piping Press and the Piping Times. He did so without agreement with myself.

I was subsequently contacted by Andrew Berthoff of pipes/drums web magazine in Canada who asked for an explanation. I gave him the following which he duly published: ‘I had hoped that this information would have been kept private within the SPJA and it has been released into the public domain without my permission.

‘I have withdrawn from the Association at this juncture on a matter of principle following my attention being drawn to an issue the full facts of which became known to me only last week. For the moment I continue as an independent senior solo piping adjudicator for both ceol mor and ceol beag should competition promoters wish to call on my services in the future.’



Andrew Berthoff’s website is not a regular port of call for me but yesterday I looked in to check on the story he was running. He is wrong in saying that I had faced three complaints from the SPJA. Over the past four years there have been six and all from disgruntled competitors, two saying I was a crook and four disagreeing with my writings. Two complaints were dismissed, three upheld, no action taken, and the other left hanging. It shows what can happen when organisations cozy up to those on the other side of the fence. The previous SPJA chairman was so keen to please that he actually encouraged complaints from competitors and changed the rules to fit.

One other item in Andrew’s story caught my eye, that of Roderick MacLeod’s withdrawal from the 2017 Uist & Barra competition, ‘allegedly’ as Andrew says, because I was judging. Roderick, Principal at the National Piping Centre, has got himself into a right pickle over this. He’s now privately asserting that he pulled out for medical reasons (a sore arm I’m told) and recently gave lengthy details to a retired policemen, let’s call him Inspector Clueless of Gayfield, to help prove his case to the SPJA.

True to form, Clueless swallowed his yarn hook, line and chanter, but nothing of consequence happened and the story continues to do the rounds. The way to knock inaccuracies and misconceptions in the press on the head is to ask for a correction/apology. I would be more than happy to print one from Roderick. Until that happens pipes/drums and Piping Press are entitled to continue with their view of events as commonly understood and ‘Sore-arm-gate’ will continue to annoy and amuse.


SSPDT: The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is a national charity that supports piping and drumming tuition programmes in state schools, and the formation of schools pipe bands. The Trust is interested in advancing the quality of pipes and drums teaching and learning in schools, and in supporting career progression opportunities for pipers and drummers.

The Trust is offering a paid internship for a piper from January to September 2018. The role will be tailored individually and will offer opportunities to teach in schools, to develop pipe band programmes and to advance personal instrumental skills. The intern will also have the option to gain experience of charity administration. Full details can be found on https://www.sspdt.org.uk/about/work-with-us/


Northern Ireland correspondent John Kelly has sent this: Lisnamulligan Pipe Band (pictured top) held a ‘Celebratory Dinner’ on Saturday 18th November. After not competing in pipe band contests since August 2012, the Grade 4B band made a welcome return to the competition arena in May 2017.  Under the direction of their new Pipe Major Dylan Walker and their new Drum Sergeant Alan Kerr, the band has had a very successful season and their achievements during the year are as follows:
Champion of Champions at the World Championships at Glasgow (they are the first RSPBANI pipe band in over 15 years to achieve this in grade 4b).
1st  British Champions at Paisley, Scotland
1st  Lisburn & Castlereagh Championships at Moira

Guests at the Lisnamulligan dinner

2nd North West Championships at Portrush.
3rd  World Championships at Glasgow
3rd All-Ireland Championships at Lurgan
4th UK Championships at Stormont
1st  Best Bass Section at the Lisburn & Castlereagh Championships
1st  British Drum Corps Champions at Paisley, Scotland
3rd RSPBA Champion of Champions Drum Corps
3rd Scottish Championships at Dumbarton, Scotland
4th UK Championships at Stormont
5th All-Ireland Championships at Lurgan
5th World Championships at Glasgow


My Tune for P/M Richard Parkes of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band

A couple of weeks ago the editor mentioned on his blog a new piobaireachd that had been composed by piper, adjudicator and professional reedmaker Donald MacPhee. The tune commemorates the remarkable achievements of P/M Richard Parkes of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band and here Donald gives us the background to his composition…..
By Donald MacPhee

Many thanks for your kind thoughts on the tune. The story behind it: I was a piper in Field Marshal Montgomery during the 2011 season when FM won the Grand Slam.

At the end of that season the band had a celebration at a Christmas/end of year band get together in Northern Ireland. Richard had become the first Pipe Major to lead a band to two Grand Slams (1993 & 2011), an achievement that I was privileged to be a part of.

Whilst at the workbench in March 2012 this melody came to me and I quickly picked up the practice chanter and let the fingers go. I thought it sounded a nice tune so got my personal voice recorder out and played about 90% of the ground and had it at least to where I could develop it further and, more importantly, put pencil to stave.

Donald on FMM duty at the Worlds 

I finished off the tune that night and after some work confirmed that I hadn’t plagiarized another tune. The naming of it was quite simple. There is a recording on Facebook name Kitty Coenen a video recorded it at a school I did in Germany a couple of years ago that has over 16.5k views. It is a nice recording of the tune.

When you hear the tune it’s definitely a salute. Putting two and two together, I called it Salute to P/M Richard Parkes MBE commemorating the only P/M to win two Grand Slams. This was quickly overtaken: in 2013 Richard became the only P/M to win three Grand Slams. I was a member of that band also.



I retired from competing in pipe bands at the end of 2014 and moved into full-time pipe band adjudication. As a side note, when requests came in for manuscripts of the tune mid-2015, I made a note at the bottom of the manuscript that Richard, through the 2014 season and as of April 2015, had achieved 10 World titles, 13 Champion of Champion titles, 58 major championships and three Grand Slams.


Donald plays his tune:

He has since added to that and from the fmmpb.com website has to date 11 World titles, 14 Champion of Champions titles and 63 major Championships. I had nine great seasons with FM winning six World titles, eight Champion of Champions, 33 major championships and two Grand Slams.

My endeavour now is the RSPBA Adjudicators panel of which I am the piping representative on the Adjudicators Panel Management Board. Integrity and impartiality are what I would like the pipe band community and competitors within the RSPBA and throughout the world to remember me by for the duration of my adjudication years.Download a PDF hereSalute to P:M Richard Parkes

More about Donald: Donald MacPhee is an American who moved to Scotland in 1997 from Florida. A reed maker for over 20 years. Donald  has achieved the pinnacle of success at both the solo and pipe band scene. He was Gold Medallist at the Northern Meeting in 2005.

Donald holds Graduate and Senior Teacher’s Certificates with the Institute of Piping. He has his Advanced and Teacher’s Certificate with the RSPBA. A fully qualified RSPBA Adjudicator and a solo adjudicator on the CPA list of Active Competitive Adjudicators, Donald is also a PDQB Assessor for the RSPBA and now a member of their Adjudicator Panel.

He lives in Alexandria west of Glasgow with his wife Christine a former World Champion Highland dancer and now a much sought after teacher and adjudicator in her own field. Donald’s website reads: ‘Donald has been piping for dancing for nearly 35 years. Taught piping by his father Alexander ‘Sandy’ MacPhee. From a very early age Donald’s dad encouraged him to pipe for his sisters (Diane MacPhee Krugh and Donna Cusack [wife of the famous piper Mike Cusack, Texas] in their dance classes. Before long Donald was piping all over the world at dancing competitions and championships. In 1995 Donald brought out his first piping for dancing CD called  ‘The Competitive Highland Dancer’s Champion’s Choice’ a favourite of many dancers and teachers the world over. It was in this idiom where he met and married Miss Christine Lacey a former six-time World Champion.’


PP Ed’s Blog: Inveraray PB/ BB Exhibition/ Pipers’ Persuasion/ Judges Poll/ Jubilee March

I hear Inveraray Pipe Band are to pipe in the New Year on BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay television show. It caps off a great year for the band after they were crowned World Champions on Glasgow Green last August.

Add to that the fact that P/Sgt Alasdair Henderson won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting and Leading Drummer Steven McWhirter the World Solos and you can see that the band has something to celebrate come the bells welcoming in 2018. Hearty congratulations to them. Here’s Steven winning the drumming with a little help from Callum Beaumont, another Inveraray champion piper:


Still in Argyll, Allan Hamilton tells me that he has completed video interviews with I’ray P/M Stuart Liddell and Angus MacColl, the latest in the Pipers Persuasion series. The videos will go live possibly at the end of the month; watch PP for notification. This series has become increasingly important as time takes its toll. Thanks to Allan we have interviews with recently deceased luminaries such as Lt Col David Murray.

I met Allan at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow yesterday to do a voiceover and film for him on the exhibition celebrating the founding of the Boys Brigade in Glasgow in 1883 by Sir William Smith. In a remarkable coincidence a woman, Mrs Irene McClue, was there from Melbourne, Australia. She  overheard me talking about the 214 BB company, Gordon Park Church and our minister the Rev. Harry Thompson. Mrs McClue rightly interrupted to tell us that that was the company her husband, David McClue, formerly of 1237, Dumbarton Road, Whiteinch, Glasgow, and now living near to Melbourne Australia, formerly a BB bugler, had belonged to as a youngster in the 1950s.

Allan kept on filming as she talked of his friendship with Joe Noble the well known drumming judge, and other bits from her time in Glasgow pre-emigration and how the BB was thriving in Australia. I was able to tell her of the 214 ex-members association and asked her to ask her husband to make a short video message for our annual dinner next March. Allan has it all on film and will be making it available once the editing is complete. Serendipitous or what.



Considerable response to my article on judges and when they should retire – and to the accompanying poll. Please let us have your thoughts:


Iain Duncan (pictured), former archivist for the RSPBA, has kindly forwarded this: Taking the opportunity of going through more storage boxes of which I’d forgotten their contents, I came across this curio (attached). It’s an original cutting from the Daily Record and Mail (presumably the forerunner of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail) of Monday, 6th May 1935.  It looks like there was more newspaper interest in piping back in those days, certainly enough to promote a tune composing competition.  Some interesting gracing and inconsistencies in the notation and it’s surprising that whoever adjudicated the entries did not even sort things out for the composer. I’ve checked my big tune index and there is no sign of it ever having been followed up. Anyway, hope you find it of some interest.

Very interesting Iain and I see what you mean about the gracing – look at the way the grips and taorluaths were presented as recently as the 1930s (if that is recent). It was these inconsistencies that P/M Willie Ross standardised in his famous collection and all pipe music written today now follows the P/M Ross pattern.

Would that the Daily Record still showed some interest in piping other than children at the Worlds wearing glengarries and licking ice cream and visiting footballers trying to blow sets of plastic pipes. Along with tripods, lenses etc., these used to be standard photographic equipment for the tabloids and probably still are.


New South Wales Solo Piping & Drumming Championships

The 2017 New South Wales Solo Piping and Drumming Championships were held at the wonderful location of Scots College, Sydney on Sunday 19th November 2017. On the day, the NSWPBA also presented the first annual trophies for the newly initiated yearly aggregate championships.

These results are taken from the aggregate results of four contests held throughout the year and will hopefully encourage competitors to support multiple events and improve their playing by keeping up their standard across the entire season.

NSW STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
A Grade Piobaireachd
1st JASON CRAIG   (pictured)
2nd AINSLEY HART
3rd DENNIS BROWNING

A Grade March, Strathspey & Reel
1st JASON CRAIG
2nd DENNIS BROWNING
3rd AINSLEY HART

A Grade Hornpipe & Jig
1st AINSLEY HART
2nd ADAM HARVEY
3rd JASON CRAIG

A Grade March 6/8
1st ADAM HARVEY
2nd JASON CRAIG
3rd DENNIS BROWNING

B Grade Piobaireachd
1st BEDE PATTERSON
2nd SAM CREED
3rd STEPHEN ROSS



B Grade 2/4 March
1st SAM CREED
2nd BEDE PATTERSON
3rd SCOTT NELSON

B Grade Strathspey & Reel
1st SAM CREED
2nd BEDE PATTERSON
3rd ADAM EARL

B Grade Hornpipe & Jig
1st JIM STUART
2nd ALASDAIR CAVENEY
3rd BEDE PATTERSON

C Grade Piobaireachd
1st BEDE PATTERSON
2nd KIM TICEHURST
3rd JAMES TAN

C Grade 2/4 March
1st AIDAN BESTWICK
2nd JACK IRVING
3rd CAMPBELL DUFF

C Grade Strathspey & Reel
1st BEDE PATTERSON
2nd AIDAN BESTWICK
3rd MATT LIM

D Grade Piobaireachd
1st JAKE EVANS
2nd SEBASTIAN TURNER
3rd LIAM NICHOLSON

D Grade Air
1st HAMISH BELL
2nd JACOB CAESAR
3rd JAMES  TAN

D Grade 2/4 March
1st JACOB CAESAR
2nd RICHARD LOWRY
3rd MAGNUS LAHRA

AGGREGATE STATE CUP 2017 –  CHAMPIONS

Piping
A- DENNIS BROWNING
B- SAM CREED
C- BEDE PATTERSON
D- JAMES TAN

Snare
A- CHRIS JOHNSTONE
B- HARRY JONES
C- WILL CARRIGAN
D- VIRUNA TENNAKOON

Tenor
D – BEN CRAWFORD
C- ISABELLE PLUNKET
A – ALEX HUNT

Bass
D – JACKSON THURKETTLE
C- CLAIR ADAMSON
A – MICHAEL SMITH


Alistair Bevan, British Columbia, Wins Top Canadian Amateur Contest

Bob Worrall reports: The 22nd George Sherriff Memorial Invitational wrapped up on Saturday night (Nov 18).  A great day all round with terrific performances from the 10 competitors. 

Further details are on the contest website:  www.georgesherriffinvitational.com . The Overall Champion was Alistair Bevan. Alistair [main picture above] is the son of SFU P/M Alan Bevan, the noted double Gold Medallist. There were three different winners in the individual events so prizes were spread around quite nicely.

Champions both….Alan Bevan with son Alistair

The players at this year’s contest were:
ALISTAIR BEVAN – British Columbia
TORI KILLORAN – British Columbia
ALASDAIR MARTIN – Arizona
MARK MCCLENNAN – Ontario
BEN MONTROSS – Vermont


CHARLES MORRIS – California
GAVIN MACKAY – Ontario
CHRISTIAN RHOADS – Missouri
CALEB THIBODEAU – Ontario
LAUREANO THOMAS-SANCHEZ – Ohio

The adjudicators were: Ian K. MacDonald (Ontario), Ann Gray (Alberta), and Brian Switalla (New Zealand).