Category Archives: Piobaireachd

Another Successful Week in New England

The Editor writes: Another successful New England Pipe and Drum Academy has come to a close and I’d like to thank Tommy Johnston and Matt Pantaleoni for all their hard work during a rewarding week.

We didn’t have too many students to teach but those who did attended got the very best in piping and drumming instruction. Tommy’s reed making workshop was a real highlight and attracted a few outside visitors to the very pleasant surroundings of the Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Centre.

Tommy shows how it is done

It is run Episcopalian ladies and they know how to keep the likes of ourselves in order. They also feed us with the very best produce, some of it grown in their gardens at the centre situated in the Massachusetts woodlands north and east of Boston. We’ll be back next year, the object being to create a critical mass of well taught individuals who can go out and spread the word.

There are good teachers in New England make no mistake, but NEPADA provides the sort of immersion in piping and drumming which offers the unique benefits of joint music and making and learning. There is as much learned informally as there is formally.

Pipers are put through their paces

One of the lady pipers on the course Beverly Knapp is following in the footsteps of her grandfather in playing the pipes. Beverly has a snap of him in his uniform. His surname was Tyrie and he was from Forfar. Beverly is intrigued as to what British Army regiment it might represent. We think from the kilt and sporran that it is the Cameronians but this doesn’t chime with the Angus region. Any thoughts appreciated:

Our most promising piper was Jesse Fulton from Connecticut and drummer Patricia Edwards from New Hampshire. Jesse and Patricia are pictured below. Patricia received a set of drumsticks  and Jesse a practice chanter courtesy David Naill & Co.:

Patricia and Jesse

The dates for next year’s Academy are June 18 – 22.

Best wishes to Eric Ward wishing him a speedy recovery from his operation and also to Mike Nugent of the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy after his recent bout of ill health.

Aberdeen Games Results (pix added)

Duncan Watson reports: The  weather  was  warm and dry and was good for piping but the extraneous noise of a funfair was overpowering at times and would have made it difficult for pipers in tuning and concentrating on their tunes.  Is there an answer to this when funfairs and such activities provide an attraction?  There was a big crowd of spectators in attendance.

The results were as follows;

1 Faye Henderson (pictured), Park Piobaireachd No 2
2 Sgt Ben Duncan, Battle of Waternish
3 Allan Russell, Mary’s Praise
4 Bruce MacDonald, Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar
5 Calum Brown, The Bicker
Judges : Norman Matheson , Duncan Watson

1 Brighde Chaimbeul
2 Calum Brown
3 Sgt Ben Duncan
4 Allan Russell

5 Alan Clark

Strathspey and Reel
1 Calum Brown
2 Sgt Ben Duncan
3 Brighde  Chaimbeul
4 Allan Russell

5 Alan Clark
MSR judges: Stuart Samson and James Hamilton

Brighde Chaimbeul winner of the march

1 Allan Russell
2 Calum Brown
3 Brighde Chaibeul
4 Alan Clark
5 Ben Duncan
Judge for the Jig and the juniors: Archie Maclean

Under 18 competition comprised one piper and of course he was awarded all the first prizes, the total  which incidentally would have eclipsed some of the senior prize winners booty.

March, Strathspey and Reel/ Jig
1 Liam Brown

US Piping Foundation Results

Mike Rogers reports: Congratulations to all the participants in the 31st annual United States Piping Foundation Amateur and Professional Piping Championships, held in memory of founder Maclean Macleod on 17 Jun 2017, in the Amy DuPont Music Building at the University of Delaware, Newark, DE.

In the Amateur events there were 8 pipers from throughout North America, and 14 in the Professional events. The adjudicators for the Amateur Competitions were James Bell, Batesville, AR; and Paula Glendinning, Ashton, MD. Adjudicators for the Professional Piobaireachd were: William Livingstone, Whitby, Ontario; and Jack Tayler, Aboyne, Scotland. Adjudicators for the Professional MSR were: Scot Walker, Middlebury Center, PA; and James Wilson, Washington, DC.

The organisers are deeply indebted to the University of Delaware and to the gracious sponsors that make this event possible, including: Scottish Games Association of Delaware. Dunvegan Foundation of the Clan MacLeod Society, USA, St. Andrew’s Society of Baltimore, St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia, Lyon College,  Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming

Donald MacPherson Silver Quaich Amateur Piobaireachd Competition: Each competitor submitted four tunes of their own choice.
1. Ben Montross (Waterbury, VT), Lament for Captain MacDougall
2. Kenneth Garson (Ottawa, Ontario), Lament for the Iolaire
3. Stephen MacDonald (Winter Garden, FL), A Flame of Wrath for Patrick Caogach
4. Nels Yehnert (Richmond, VA), MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute
5. Colleen Poe (Pittsburgh, PA), MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart

The Seumas MacNeill Silver Quaich Amateur March, Strathspey, and Reel Competition: Each competitor submitted four of each type of tune, and played a set selected by the judges.

1. Nels Yehnert, The Knightswood Ceilidh, The Piper’s Bonnet, The Brown Haired Maid
2. Stephen MacDonald, Abercairney Highlanders, Tulloch Gorm, Cockerel in the Creel
3. Ben Montross, Duncan MacColl, Struan Robertson, Lt. Col. DJS Murray
4. Kenneth Garson, Donald MacLellan of Rothesay, Susan MacLeod, Broadford Bay
5. Jonathan McGregor (Clermont, FL), Miss Elspeth Campbell, John Roy Stewart, The Grey Bob

Overall Amateur results: The competitor with the highest point accumulation from the Piobaireachd and MS&R competitions receives the U.S.P.F. Silver Buckle and round trip airfare to Scotland and two weeks tuition at an approved venue in Scotland. The overall winner also received the USPF Silver Buckle. Scholarships were awarded to approved Piping Schools to overall rankings 2 through 5:

1. Ben Montross
2. Stephen MacDonald
3. Nels Yehnert
4. Kenneth Garson
5. Colleen Poe

The St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia Silver Quaich Professional Piobaireachd Competition: Each competitor submitted six tunes of their own choice. Prizes: 1st – $1000; 2nd – $800; 3rd – $600; 4th $400; & 5th – $200.

1. Nick Hudson (Houston, TX), Rory McLoude’s Lament
2. Derek Midgley (Tinton Falls, NJ), Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon
3. Andrew Carlisle (Pittsburgh, PA), The Park Piobaireachd No. 2
4. Ben McClamrock (Washington, DC), Scarce of Fishing
5. Bobby Durning (Peabody, MA), The Groat

The St. Andrew’s Society of Baltimore Silver Charger Professional March, Strathspey, & Reel Competition: Each competitor submitted six of each type of tune, and played a set twice through selected by the judges. Prizes: 1st – $1000; 2nd – $800; 3rd – $600; 4th $400; & 5th – $200.

1. Andrew Carlisle, Braes of Castle Grant, Inveraray Castle, Dr MacPhail’s Reel (pictured)
2. Ben McClamrock, MacLean of Pennycross, Dora MacLeod, Little Cascade
3. Alastair Murray, (Moon Township, PA) Dr. Ross, Dora MacLeod, Thompson’s Dirk
4. Andrew Hutton (Houghton, NY), MacLean of Pennycross, Piper’s Bonnet, Man from Glengarry
5. Derek Midgley, 74th’s Farewell to Edinburgh, MacBeth’s Strathspey, Dr. MacPhail’s Reel

Overall Professional Results: The competitor with the highest point accumulation from the Piobaireachd & MSR competitions receives the U.S.P.F. Silver Buckle. In addition to the prize monies noted above, the overall winner also receives trans-Atlantic airfare from the East Coast to Glasgow, Edinburgh, or London, UK, to compete at eligible senior competitions. In addition, the overall winner is also the North American qualifier for the MacCrimmon Trophy competition held at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient, Brittany, on 6 August 2017:

1. Andrew Carlisle 2. Ben McClamrock 3. Nick Hudson 4. Derek Midgley 5. Alastair Murray

Also competing in the Professional events but not in the prize list: Liz Cherry (Oakdale, PA), Amy Garson (Ottawa, Ontario), Teddy Krogh (Anchorage, AK), Dan Lyden (Timonium, MDAvens Ridgeway (Batesville, AR), Palmer Shonk (Pittsburgh, PA), and Peter Skae (Old Tappan, NJ).

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Piobaireachd by the Sea/ New England Pipe & Drum Academy Workshop

The organisers of the ‘Pibroch by the Sea’ event have announced a masterclass by Jimmy McIntosh and Herve Le Floc’h.

Other details: This will be the 13th year of the popular event held at the Breton seaside. Dates are September 16 and 17. The Saturday Masterclass begins at 9.30 and costs €30. Venue is the Ecole de mer Hériot – Port-Mer (direction camping municipal). Lunch included in fee. Cheques to Christian VILLEJIQUEL – 4, rue jean Savéant 35400 SAINT-MALO.

The picture above shows Breton piper Patrick Molard playing whilst afloat off St Malo. Check out this video of the 2016 gathering to get a flavour of the weekend:

On the Sunday the tunes begin at 9.30 and run to 6pm with a break for lunch. Email  for more info.

Pipers who took part in the 2015 ‘Piobaireachd by the Sea’ event

The New England Pipe & Drum Academy begins on Friday but Tommy and I have flown in a couple of days early to acclimatise and are enjoying the country and the weather down in Cape Cod.

Yesterday we took in the special John F Kennedy Centennial Exhibition in Hyannis near the family compound and summer retreat. No references to the bagpipe to report nor does the exhibition give the full Camelot story but worthwhile nevertheless. Our feature on the Black Watch playing on the White House lawn only days before tragedy in Dallas and subsequently at the great president’s funeral still draws a lot of readers. Check it out here.  

If you are in the area don’t forget Tommy’s workshop on Sunday. Details in this blurb: ‘Your pipe reeds should enhance your confidence and playing – not be a source of frustration.  It’s time to get this sorted! Come out to Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center in Newbury, MA (30 minutes north of Boston) for a 90-minute Pipe Reed Workshop for 7-9 p.m. on Sunday June 18 led by Tommy Johnston of Pipe Dreams Reeds (makers of Ezeedrone and Ezeepc reeds).’


Ardrossan Games Juniors – Updated with Pix

A successful day of junior piping in damp, blustery conditions with the young pipers coping well with the weather. The pictures are of the prizewinners.

15 & Under MSR
1 Luke Kennedy
2 Ross Connor
3 Hazel Whyte
4 Bobby Allen

15 & Under Piobaireachd Ground
1 Thomas Young
2 Christopher McCarten
3 Callum Norrington
4 Calum Penman

18 & Under Jig
1 Finlay Frame
2 Rebecca Paterson
3 Lewis Russell
4 Luke Kennedy

18 & Under MSR
1 Finlay Frame
2 Ross Connor
3 Lewis Russell
4 Luke Kennedy

18 & Under Piobaireachd
1 Lewis Russell
2 Finlay Frame
3 Ross Connor
4 Bobby Allen

Under 18 Aberfeldy Mod Results

This contest was held on June 10 in the Perthshire village. Champion Piper Bobby Allen is pictured with his trophies outside the venue, the Breadalbane Community Centre.

1 Bobby Allen
2 Archie McNab
3 Jamie MacRae.

1 Bobby Allen
2 Jamie MacRae
3 Archie McNab

Strathmore Games Results

Piobaireachd judges were Ronald Clark and Robert Barnes with James Hamilton and Gordon McLean on the ceol beag. The day was warm and mainly dry.

1 Allan Russell (pictured)
2 Alan Clark
3 Faye Henderson
4 Calum Brown
5 Peter McCalister

1 Ben Duncan
2 Allan Russell
3 Calum Brown
4 Alan Clark
5 Peter McCalister

1 Calum Brown
2 Ben Duncan
3 Allan Russell
4 Alan Clark
5 Calum Wynd

Outstanding Recital by Donald McBride Posted on PP Audio Archive

Featuring on the PP Audio Archive today is a recital given by leading piper Donald McBride in the Savoy Hotel, Kansas City, MO in March 2010. In it Donald displays all his mastery of timing and technique on a superb 1908 silver and ivory Lawrie bagpipe with a Hardie chanter (1975). 

Donald was taught originally by his father Willie Mc Bride, and played in his band, the Monktonhall, for many years. From 1972 until he emigrated to the United States in 1984, Donald went to Donald MacPherson for piobaireachd instruction. In the 1970s, he also played in the Muirhead & Sons pipe band under P/M Robert G. Hardie. When he returned to Scotland in 1996 until he moved to County Donegal in 2004, Donald took piobaireachd lessons from Andrew Wright. He has been placed 2nd twice and 3rd twice in the Gold Medals at the Northern Meeting and Argyllshire Gathering. He won the A Grade March at the Northern Meeting in 1982 and has been 2nd and 3rd in the Strathspey & Reel events at Oban and Inverness more times than he cares to remember. Presently he lives in Kansas City.

Editor Robert Wallace said: ‘A bit like the great Duncan Johnstone, Donald was an indifferent competitor never quite enjoying it the way his talent dictated he should.  He did notch up some significant prizes but these should never the only criteria we use when assessing a piper’s ability. You can be a great player and seldom have ventured on a competition board.

‘We are grateful that Donald  has now given permission for us to enjoy his superb playing via this recording. The piping is as good as anything you will hear on the boards today.’

Listen to the recital here.
Donald’s notes to the concert are as follows:

6/8 Marches to see where the drones will go! Brian Boru’s March/MacDonald, Lord of the Isles/Major Moir of Villeveque. The first march commemorates the march of the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, and his army to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, the object being to boot the Vikings out of Ireland. He and his army prevailed but poor Brian managed to get himself decapitated in the closing stages of the battle when some fleeing Vikings stumbled upon him in his tent where they caught him having a few premature victory cocktails! If nothing else the second tune is a reminder that the Clan Donald Lords of the Isles at one point owned about one third of Scotland, from their Earldom of Ross up in the far north, down through the western seaboard and islands and into their Irish possessions in what are now Counties Antrim, Tyrone, Derry and Donegal. I’m assuming the third march is to do with WWI since Villeveque is a town in Normandy and that’s where much of the senseless butchery took place between 1914 and 1918 in that most horrible of all wars. Amazing that beautiful music can come from such carnage.

Two-parted Strathspeys and Reels: Lady Victoria Ross/Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch/Duke of Gordon’s Birthday/Fiddler’s Joy/Forrest Lodge/Pigeon on the Gate/Daldowy’s Reel/Lady Monaghan’s/Skansen Reel/Traditional Irish Reel/Selma Reel. When pipers realised what treasures were in the fiddle music books that started appearing in the 18th and 19th centuries they must have thought they’d discovered the mother lode and these volumes were plundered mercilessly. These dance tunes are not of the same depth or complexity as most of the competition strathspeys and reels but are generally a lot more fun to play.

Slow Airs and Jigs: Muile nam Mhor Bheann/Smaointe (Mull of the Great High Mountains/Thoughts)/Jig of Slurs/An Fáinne Oir (The Gold Ring)/Catrin Williams’/Bessie Brown. First up here is the tune to Dugald MacPhail’s beautiful song of the same title. The first time I heard it played was by my brother Kenneth during a ferocious session in the West End Hotel in Edinburgh before he got sick and fell asleep under a table. Smaointe/Thoughts I got from the singer Deirbhile Ní Bhrolchain from the County Galway on the west coast of Ireland during a great night in the Lady Gregory Hotel in Gort. It took me seven days to complete the five-hour drive from Spanish Point in Clare to my house in Kilcar in County Donegal. It was pointed out to me in John Burke’s Armada Hotel in Spanish Point that the first two parts of the Jig of Slurs are actually from County Cork and I got this setting from the flute player Matt Molloy from Ballaghadereen in County Roscommon. The Gold Ring is one of the big Irish jigs. The Irish have ten parted reels and jigs which match I suppose our competition strathspeys and reels. Catrin Williams’ I composed myself for a friend who lives in London and which is published in Michael Grey’s book ‘Music for Everyone’, and Bessie Brown was composed by Captain D.R. MacLennan for the celebrated piper Bob Brown’s sister.

Competition March, Strathspey and Reels: Donald Cameron/Blair Drummond/John Morrison of Assynt House/Mrs. MacPherson of Inveran. If Angus MacKay had done nothing but publish his piobaireachd book in the 1830s he would have been granted piping immortality, but he also co-invented the competition march along with Hugh MacKay (no relation). The march is the traditional pipe band standard Donald Cameron. The strathspey, Blair Drummond, is a traditional tune that has stood the test of time, as have the two reels, composed respectively by Peter MacLeod of Partick and P/M G.S. McLennan. Someone once mentioned to me that he thought that Mrs MacPherson was the most perfect tune ever composed. It’s hard to argue with this.