Category Archives: Results

Review: The 2017 British Pipe Band Championships Grade 1 Performances

By Robert Wallace
One of the first rules of journalism is ‘be there’ and if you want to give a detailed and accurate, albeit subjective, account of an important pipe band contest then that is exactly what you have to do.

No amount of social media chatter, summary sheet perusal or YouTube re-runs is in any way a substitute to actually positioning yourself at a suitable coign of vantage and listening and watching the whole contest from start to finish first hand.

At the British Pipe Band Championships on Saturday it was fairly easy to get close to the action and that is what I did. The Grade 1 contest began at 2.15pm and ended near to 5pm. It was cold to begin with but warmed up as the afternoon wore on. Despite others in the crowd talking throughout some of the performances (how annoying is that?) I was able to get a pretty good impression of the playing.

The grade could be split between those who had the chance of a prize and those who didn’t. Two grades would have been ideal from the 16 bands forward. Grades 1A and 1B anyone? I had InverarayFMM, and SLoT vying for top spot with the first named my preference.

A super fifth place finish for Fife Police’s L/D Mick O’Neil and P/M Douglas Murray
Both British Columbia bands were disappointing and I was surprised Dowco placed above SFU. The cold may have been a factor for both bands but they have been coming to chilly Jockoland for many years and should know what to expect. The three newcomers to the grade, PSNI, Buchan Peterson and Johnstone all acquitted themselves well in their new surroundings. They will get better.



The fare was March, Strathspey and Reel, the discipline which truly exposes the technical and musical ability of a band. It may not be as popular with the crowd as the Medley, but be under no illusion about  where the real test of a band’s prowess lies. The discipline suffers in attraction because of the frequency with which we hear the same tunes, nothing else.

A closer look now at the playing……There was a hushed silence as Inveraray and P/M Stuart Liddell, last on, approached the arena. The air of expectation was almost palpable; we were not disappointed. The first few bars showed we had a solid sound with the breadth in the top hand that every band needs. I was slightly taken aback at the lack of phrasing in places in the Links of Forth but the band really came onto a game with their strathspey The Bob of Fettercairn (who knows what a ‘Bob’ is; a dance?) and the reel, Charlie’s Welcome.

One of the star players in the Inveraray line-up is P/Sgt. Alasdair Henderson
Not the most attractive setting of this tune but handled brilliantly by  P/M Liddell and his pipe corps. And what a corps! With pipers such as Finlay Johnston, Calum Beaumont, Greig Canning and Alasdair Henderson in the ranks he can’t have much teaching to do. I heard later that one piper did not get away – not something obvious from where I was standing. If true, the judges, who can now swap such information, were right to keep it in perspective.

Inveraray were deserved winners though the summaries showed only a one point gap to second placed Field Marshal. Full marks to P/M Parkes for selecting an unusual march in Braes of Badenoch (a march better handled than Inveraray’s ‘Links’) but after that FMM seemed to sink into a slough of despond and there was a distinct lack of panache about the strathspey and reel Blair Drummond and Pretty Marion. Maybe it was the cold. FM were third on when conditions were decidedly inhospitable. They displayed a fine quality of fingering throughout discernible even though bass and tenor work was surprisingly heavy-handed at times.

A number of new judges were on training stints at Paisley, amongst them the former Boghall P/M, Ross Walker
Shotts were placed third. They played beautifully with perfectly judged tempi and quality handwork excepting the tachums in the Smith of Chilliechassie which were very clipped. To my ear the chanters were pitched overly high. This really thinned down the top hand and this seemed to be emphasised by their powerful, rich, drone tone. Maybe the band played too much before going on. Everything else is in place for Shotts. More breadth in the top hand and they may have been challenging for top spot, their playing was that good.

St Laurence O’Toole, fourth, had no such chanter worries and tune presentation was top drawer too. I particularly liked the lift and expression in the Shepherd’s Crook especially the way they controlled the run downs beginning with the F to double E at the end of the parts. Maybe they rushed into the reel but it soon settled down. Did the drones drift towards the end or was that a band playing in the nearby Grade 2 arena that I was hearing? This is the advantage the judges have over the critic in the crowd.

One of the greatest drummers of all time, Jim Kilpatrick, spotted in the crowd at the Grade 1 arena
Fife Police, fifth, were big and bold with their work. Going for the jugular from the off, this band showed they were serious about winning. If they faltered then they were not going die wondering. The fact is that they did not falter and were worthy of their fifth prize, perhaps their highest ever placing in a major championship. The only negative for me was a shrillness in the top hand of the chanters. Again it may have been caused by overblowing before the performance. It will be a problem easily solved for a professional reedmaker like P/M Douglas Murray,

I thought the sixth placed band, Scottish Power, had one of the best sounds of the day and well done to them for playing Roderick Campbell’s Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band as their march. Looking at the programme they have ditched the Royal Scottish Pipers Society for 2017; smart move. I thought them a little nervous in the ECPPB however and the phrasing suffered. Like Inveraray, they settled down in the strathspey and reel, and here their precise fingerwork shone through – but are the extra birls in the last part of Loch Carron really necessary? A fine band who can look forward to the other majors with relish.

Of the others, it surely can’t be long before Boghall, unplaced here, start making the list again. I, and others nearby, were impressed with their playing. I thought I heard an early E and again the chanters were high pitched. The BC bands I have already mentioned. SFU did not have the cutting edge sound we associate with them, though the playing was steady if rather uninspiring. Dowco were equally lacking in spirit and the drones drifted quite badly. PSNI had a rock like tone but the unison got ragged the more their set progressed – serious potential in this band. Ravara and Bleary tried hard, had a good initial sound, but everything seemed to regress thereafter with some sloppy playing (particularly from Bleary) in the reels.

Dowco Triumph Street will have better days
Johnstone started well with a bold tone but some pipers were struggling with the technical difficulties of Brigadier Cheape, Tulloch Castle and John Morrison, Assynt House; P/M Bowes slowed the tempo of the reel to help them but that won’t do in G1. Glasgow Police had good, Grade 1 tempi throughout but again it seemed as though some pipers just couldn’t manage the challenge of the Young MacGregor, never mind Blair Drummond and the Smith of Chilliechassie. Vale of Atholl might like to look at the bass and tenor stuff going on in their strathspey; I found it distracting and not in keeping with the complexities of Dora MacLeod. One piper not away. Solid sound, best for a couple of years.

Overall a good, if not great, standard of play affected early on by snell winds and the exposed situation at St James. Aircraft taking off are a minor aural distraction – but a distraction nevertheless. A move to the nearby King George V Playing Fields in Renfrew, as hinted at by RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill, might not be a bad idea.
Well done to all those bands who ventured into new territory with seldom heard tunes.

• Keep checking Piping Press for our report on Grade 2. Check the dates of the remaining majors here. Check all band summary sheets from the British here. Inveraray Pipe Major Stuart Liddell is pictured top with the winners trophy courtesy Peter Hazzard RSPBA.


2017 Robert Burns Festival, Camperdown Solo Competition, Victoria, Australia

Results of the Victorian Pipers Association 2017 Robert Burns Festival Competition held  on Saturday, May 20, at Mercy College, Camperdown. In the photograph are (l – r): Cameron Ely, Jason Craig, Craig Sked, Jono Quay.
A Grade
Piobaireachd
1. Cameron Ely, The Big Spree
2. Jonathan Quay, Lady MacDonald’s Lament
3. Craig Sked, Lord Lovat’s Lament
Judge: Jason Craig
2/4 March
1. Craig Sked
2. Katherine Belcher
3. Jonathan Quay
Judge: Chris Cloete, Donald Blair
Strathspey/Reel
1. Craig Sked
2. Katherine Belcher
3. Jonathan Quay
Judge: Chris Cloete, Donald Blair
6/8 March
1. Craig Sked
2. Katherine Belcher
3. Jonathan Quay
Judge: Chris Cloete, Donald Blair
B Grade
Piobaireachd
1. Joshua Chandler
2. Robert Wilkinson
Judge: Jason Craig
2/4 March
1. Joshua Chandler
2. Robert Wilkinson
3. Simon Gibson
Judge: Chris Cloete, Craig Sked
Strathspey/Reel
1. Joshua Chandler
2. Simon Gibson
3. Robert Wilkinson
Judge: Chris Cloete, Craig Sked

South Africans Chris Cloete and Craig Sked
Jigs (8 parts)
1. Joshua Chandler
2. Simon Gibson
3. Stacey Riches
Judge: Chris Cloete, Craig Sked
C Grade
Piobaireachd
1. Stacey Riches
2. Imogen Williams
3. Liam Stapleton
Judge: Jason Craig
2/4 March
1. Liam Stapleton
2. Erin Russell
3. Tristan King
Judge: Chris Cloete, Simon Gibson
Strathspey/Reel
1. Liam Stapleton
2. Tristan King
3. Erin Russell
Judge: Chris Cloete, Simon Gibson
6/8 March
1. Tristan King
2. Dan Whelan
3. Erin Russell
Judge: Chris Cloete, Simon Gibson



D Grade
Piobaireachd
1. Jimmy Smith
Judge: Katherine Belcher
2/4 March
1. Jimmy Smith
2. Emma Stapleton
3. Eva Ryan
Judge: Jason Craig, Will Sincock
Strathspey/Reel
1. Emma Stapleton
2. Amy Ryan
3. Roger Sinclair
Judge: Jason Craig, Will Sincock
6/8 March
1. Roger Sinclair
2. Amy Ryan
3. Faith Ryan
Judge: Jason Craig, Will Sincock
Novice Grade
Piobaireachd
1. Jasmine Hofen
2. Zeb Lyons
3. Eva Ryan
Judge: Jonathan Quay
2/4 March
1. Rosie Ryan
2. Zeb Lyons
3. Jasmine Hofen
Judge: Jonathan Quay, Will Sincock
Strathspey/Reel
1. Courtney Lee
2. Max McCulloch
3. Zahli Clarke
Judge: Jonathan Quay , Will Sincock


Gordon Castle Solo Piping Results

Windy and a bit cold at Gordon Castle, ancient seat of the Clan Gordon, in Banffshire, today. Seven seniors. Good standard. Overall winner Gordon McCready is pictured above.

Open Piobaireachd
1. Gordon McCready – Lord Lovat’s Lament
2. Eddie Gaul – Lament for the Viscount of Dundee.
3. Calum Brown – Earl of Seaforth’s Salute
4. Alan Clark – MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart
5. Michael Laing – Lament for the Only Son.
Judges: James Hamilton, Jack Taylor

March
1. Gordon McCready
2. Calum Brown
3. Eddie Gaul
4. Alan Clark
5. John MacDonald

S+R
1. Calum Brown
2. John MacDonald
3. Gordon McCready
4. Alan Clark
5. Eddie Gaul
Judge: Duncan Watson

Junior Under 18
Piobaireachd
1. Jamie MacRae
2. Angus MacKay Robertson
3. Tom Spencer
4. Angus Duffy
Judges: James Hamilton, Jack Taylor

March
1. Jamie MacRae
2. Angus Duffy
3. Angus Mackay Robertson
4. Tom Spencer
5. Ross Abbott
6. Kirsty MacIntosh

S+R
1. Jamie MacRae
2. Angus Duffy
3. Angus Mackay Robertson
Judge: Duncan Watson


Inveraray Win First Major of the Season

A damp and cool St James Playing Fields at Paisley west of Glasgow was the venue today for the British Pipe Band Championships, the first major championship of the season.

The chill weather affected  the bands who were on early in Grade 1, the best performances coming later on.  The winners were the holders of the title, Inveraray. They are pictured up top in the in the circle today. They pushed Field Marshal Montgomery into second; third went to Shotts, fourth to St Laurence O’Toole, fifth to Fife Police and sixth to Scottish Power.

There was a distinct lack of a local audience, even though admission was free, few families venturing out on what started out as a bleak day on the exposed flats adjacent to Glasgow Airport.

In Grade 1 there were good showings from Boghall, PSNI and the other two newly promoted bands, Buchan Peterson and Johnstone, both acquitted themselves well in the top grade.



The G1 drumming went to St Laurence O’Toole pictured here rehearsing before their performance with Leading Drummer Stephen Creighton centre stage: 

In the hotly contested Grade 2 contest, Lomond & Clyde  emerged as champions with Glasgow Skye runners-up and Manorcunningham from Eire taking the drumming. Other results:

Novice B Champions: Lochalsh Juniors; Drumming: Bucksburn
Novice A Champions: Dollar Academy; Drumming: Dollar Academy
4B Champions:
Lisnamulligan; Drumming: Lisnamulligan
4A Champions:
Denny & Dunipace; Drumming: Kinross
Juvenile Champions: 
Dollar Academy; Drumming: George Watson’s 
3B Champions:
Royal Burgh of Annan; Drumming: Quinn Memorial
3A 
Champions: 2622 Squadron RAF; Drumming: 2622 Squadron 

Get all results summary sheets here. Stay tuned to Piping Press for comment from the British Pipe Band Championships from our editor Robert Wallace, who listened to the whole of the Grade 1 contest and from MacStig our special correspondent who did the same in Grade 2. Read the pre-contest interview with RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill here.


Build Up to the British – A Preview of the Grade 2 Pipe Band Championship

We continue our build up to Saturday’s first major pipe band championship of the season, the British at the St James Playing Fields, Paisley. Here our Special Correspondent takes a look at one of the most competitive grades, Grade 2.

A field of 16 will kick off the first major of the season for the Grade 2 prize. With four of the big guns of the most recent few seasons (Bleary, PSNI, Johnstone and Buchan) all finding their newly promoted feet in the Grade 1 contest, the new order will unfold as the new Grade 2 champions and top six emerge.

This is a grade with strength and depth and watched closely abroad  too, with a handful of overseas bands likely to pitch up at Glasgow Green in August, throwing their glengarries in the ring. That day in August promises much and will be a Qualifier followed by a final. Remember, the March Strathspey and Reel is drawn at the line (in the final) from two entered, and the bands have the Medley qualifier. This British Championship will be a Medley (4-6mins) for Grade 2.  Judges slated are Messrs Wark, Stevenson, Coils and Turner. The grade kicks off at 2pm.

After missing the 2016 season Manorcunningham Pipe Band were recipients of a funding package (€8k) under the Music Capital Scheme in the Republic of Ireland.  Good to see that they are back in business and out this year with P/M Carson.

Manorcunningham on parade at the Worlds

Grampian Police step off next and will have higher finishes in their sights after narrowly missing the Worlds’ final in 2016. Debutants City of London, led by P/M Iain Westgate, will be given a warm welcome at their first Major having only previously played at the Jim McGinn Memorial indoor contest. Watch out for a new take on the march Lord Alexander Kennedy perhaps.

Some might think that this is now Mackenzie Caledonian‘s time. With three big guns cleared out and up to Grade 1, the Grade 2 field opens up and the Mac Cals should have a solid season. We are used to their musicality. Glasgow Skye Association (pictured top) will wheel up to the line next. A much loved band and promoter of the pre-Worlds concert, the early chatter is that the showing at Gourock last Sunday indicated that this is the band to watch in 2017 with a strong pipe corps and well-led drummers oozing experience. A possible head to head of Glasgow Skye v Lomond & Clyde in the season ahead, perhaps?