Category Archives: Solo Piping

Kinloch Rannoch Games

Only four senior and two junior pipers. Wet and blustery day all events judged by Ian Duncan.

1. Graham Drummond, Bathgate
2. Graham Mulholland, Birnam
3. Iain MacDonald, Regina
4. Barbara MacDonald, Regina

Strathspey & Reel:
1. Graham Drummond
2. Graham Mulholland
3. Iain MacDonald
4. Barbara MacDonald

1. Graham Drummond
2. Graham Mulholland
3. Iain MacDonald
4. Barbara MacDonald

Slow Air/Piobaireachd Ground:
1. Graham Mulholland
2. Graham Drummond
3. Barbara MacDonald
4. Iain MacDonal

1. Archie McNab
2. Duncan MacDonald

Strathspey & Reel
1. Duncan MacDonald
2. Archie McNab

1. Duncan MacDonald
2. Archie McNab

Glenfinnan Games Results

Terrible conditions at the most picturesque setting for a Highland games. Despite the flooding the games went ahead as usual a credit to the organisers.

1 Jori Chisholm
2 Peter McCallister
3 Calum Brown

1 Jori Chisholm
2 Xavier Boderiou
3 Jonathon Simpson

Strathspey & Reel
1 Jonathon Simpson
2 Jori Chisholm
3 Calum Brown

Judges: I MacFadyen, M McRae

Lochaber Gathering Results (further update with more comment)

Lochaber Gathering was held today in a cool, damp Fort William. Pipers and judges were glad of the indoor facility at the Nevis Centre. There were good entries in all events except in the juniors. 

In the programme notes Piping Convenor Allan MacColl commented: ‘…On a less positive note the seriously depleted number of junior competitors from the Highlands is worrying. Locally, other than two highly talented entrants, no Lochaber players seem willing to compete as soloists. This is a drastic change from the halcyon days when Lochaber pipers competed and won an ample share of the top prizes. I commend the entrants from other parts of Scotland and from overseas who appear, despite their long journeys.’

Some pipers also  managed to travel the 12 miles west for a tune at the Glenfinnan Highland Gathering which coincided with Lochaber. Conditions there were atrocious with heavy rain and wind. Sponsors of the Lochaber Gathering are the Cameron MacKintosh Foundation, the Moidart Trust, Mr Robin Fleming Esq., The Highland Council, BSW Timber and McCallum Bagpipes. The picture above shows all the first prizewinners.

P/A Piobaireachd (12 played)
1 Derek Midgley, Park Piob. No2
2 Allan Russell, Earl of Seaforth’s Salute
3 Nick Hudson, Rory MacLoude’s Lament
4 Innes Smith, King’s Taxes
Judges: J Banks, R Wallace

Piobaireachd winners Steven Leask and Derek Midgley. Steven received the silver Lochaber axe brooch and Derek the gold

P/A March
1 Ben Duncan
2 Gordon McCready
3 Alan Russell
4 Steven Leask
Judges: J Banks, B Donaldson

1 Gordon McCready
2 Allan Russell
3 Mike Fitzhenry
4 Steven Leask
Judges: J Banks, B Donaldson

Senior adjudicators on duty at Lochaber, the highly respected James Banks MBE and P/M Barry Donaldson

B Piob
1 Steven Leask
2 John Dew
3 Duncan Beattie
4 Ben Duncan
Judges: A Forbes, N Mulvie

1 Matt Pantaleoni
2 Ross Miller
3 Sandy Cameron
4 Peter McCalister
Judge: R Wallace

1 Gordon McCready
2 Steven Leask
3 Andrew Donlon
4 Ross Miller
Judges: J Banks, B Donaldson

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U-18 Piob
1 Finlay Cameron 2 Hamish Drennan 3 Martin MacRae

U-18 MSR
1 Finlay Cameron 2 Finlay Frame 3 Hamish Drennan

U-18 H&J
1 Finlay Cameron 2 Finlay Frame 3 Hamish Drennan

U-15 Piob
1 Luke Kennedy 2 Brodie Watson-Massey 3 Andrew Ferguson

U-15 MSR
1 Brodie Watson-Massey 2 Ruaridh Brown 3 Luke Kennedy

U-15 Jig
1 Brodie Watson-Massey 2 Luke Kennedy 3 Andrew Ferguson

Judge for all junior events: Euan MacCrimmon

Of the P/A Piobaireachd Robert Wallace writes: Derek Midgley gave us a smooth, professional rendition on a steady bagpipe with perfect technique. Close on his heels came Allan Russell who could have done more with the third ground of his tune but who finished in fine style with exemplary control of the cadences. Nick Hudson was a wee bit laboured with the third variation of his tune but impressed otherwise. Innes Smith needs to smooth out Variation 1 and doubling of his ‘Taxes’ but a very good instrument and enjoyable otherwise. Knocking on the prizewinners’ door were Jonathan Greenlees who had, like Derek, a smooth, professional delivery of Dro o Dro, but three missed crunluaths and an open hiharin had to be taken into consideration; fine pipe. Along with Jonathan came Gordon McCready who started very well but who had some stiffness in bars 5 & 6 of Beloved Scotland, a stiffness that is easily sorted with a glide to the end of phrase. Gordon also lacked control in the crunluath doubling but another fine instrument (even better in the light music). Of the others Peter McCalister played well enough but the thin pipe was lost in the Nevis Centre cavern and variation 1 of Lord Lovat was too light on its feet; Mike Fitzhenry phrased some passages of Beloved Scotland in two bars when they should be single; great hands; James McHattie had an off-day with the pipe; Sandy Cameron was too long with the connecting notes in Lady MacDonald – Kilberry pauses don’t need to be uniform in length and here the second should be shorter than the first; Sandy’s high G was a little flat too; Greig Canning, fresh from Inveraray’s success at the Worlds, had a much better pipe than the last time I heard him solo (Highlands and Islands) but he didn’t quite capture the music in Norman MacLeod’s Lament and the endings were not as the composer made them and clearly indicates in his score. Ed McIllwaine from Vancouver had a quality pipe and a good first line of the Vaunting. He then played a wrong note and stopped. Such a pity; jet lag can do all sorts of things to your brain and the judges encouraged him not to be discouraged.

P/A March winner Ben Duncan of the Army School of Piping with the magnificent Lochaber Medal for marches. This solid gold prize is retained by the winner. Ben won this award for the second year running
Gordon McCready, winner of the Strathspey & Reel and the Hornpipe & jig

Of the ‘B’ Piobaireachd, adjudicator Alan Forbes, Chairman of the Piobaireachd Society’s Music Committee, writes: Twenty competitors took part and, as might be expected, there was considerable variability amongst performances.   Several entrants for the Silver Medal at Oban and Inverness were competing, as were a couple for the MacGregor Memorial competition at Oban.   Bagpipes were giving problems, especially in the morning, possibly due to the coolish conditions in the competiton hall.

First prize went to Steven Leask who played the Battle of Bealach nam Brog effortlessly on an excellent pipe – a confident, professional performance which would have stood up well at a higher level.   In second place was John Dew, playing the long and challenging Colin Roy MacKenzie’s Lament.  This is one of John’s tunes for the MacGregor Memorial competition at the Argyllshire Gathering and he demonstrated good preparation both of the tune and the instrument.   Duncan Beattie took third place with a musical performance of Lament for the Iolaire and fourth was Ben Duncan with a nicely presented MacSwan of Roaig, again on a good pipe.

Other good performances came from Calum Wynd, another MacGregor contender, and Rebecca Tierney.   Surprisingly, not all of the Silver Medal entrants submitted the set tunes for this competition – one would have thought this an ideal opportunity to play them in competitive conditions.   One who did was Andrew Donlon from the USA who played Hail to My Country.   His pipe was powerful and a rather harsh crow on high A detracted a bit from a nicely phrased tune.  

Turning to the ‘B’ MSR the editor writes: Matt Pantaleoni of St Louis, Missouri, was a clear winner here with the best pipe I have heard from him in two years. On first, Matt’s performance of John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist, Cabar Feidh and Cecily Ross had the controlled touches that reminded me of his erstwhile teacher, the great Alasdair Gillies. Ross Miller played very well too but didn’t quite match Matt in the expression stakes; Sandy Cameron had a fine instrument, a fine march and a fine strathspey. He then plunged headlong into Broadford Bay and this lack of control almost cost him his prize. Peter McCalister was clean, controlled and competent and well deserved fourth, the pipe sounding bolder in the smaller room but perhaps the reeds had taken on some moisture and opened up more. Of the others and aside from the usual slips, it would be safe to say there was a lack of understanding of the basic MSR idioms: steady tempi, correct rhythm, phrasing, and clear technique. Some of the pipes were poor too.

Festival Interceltique Piping Results

The annual Festival Interceltique took place last week in Brittany, France, with a big piping representation. There were also contests for piobaireachd, the MacCrimmon trophy (Breton, Scots and Irish music) and for bagads (Breton pipe bands). The picture shows Lorient President Lisardo Lombardia and the winner of the gaita trophy Jaime Alvarez Fernandez with Fred Morrison winner of the MacCrimmon Trophy for the ninth time.

Here is the full list of results:

Nineteenth International Piobaireachd Competition
1 Andrew Carlisle, (N Ireland) Nameless, Hiharin dro o dro
2 Alexis Meunier, (Brittany Lament for MacSwan of Roaig
3 Stuart Easton (NZ), Roderick MacDonald’s Salute
4 Ben McClamrock (USA), Hail to My Country
5 Ross Miller (Scotland), Tulloch Ard

Others who played were Fred Morrison (Scotland), Callum Moffat (Scotland), Lincoln Hilton (USA), Andrew Wilson (N Ireland) and Scott Wallace (Australia)

MacCrimmon Trophy
1 Fred Morrison (ninth success in this competition)
2 Andrew Carlisle
3 Cedric LeBozec
4 Stuart Easton
5 Lincoln Hilton
6 Graham Harris

Under 20 Championship
1 Matthieu Le Compagnon
2 Alban Guerin
3 Tristan Jarry
4 Loeiz Guillo
5 Malo Le Gall
11 played


Grade 1 Bagadou
1 Bagad Cap Caval
2 Bagad Kemper
3 Kevrenn Alre
4 Bagad Vannes
5 Bagad Ronsed Mor

Piping judges: J Wilson R Worrall.

PP Editor’s Blog: Highland Band Success/ Glasgow Police/ ‘Crunluath’/ Solo Judging

What an incredible success at last week’s Worlds  for our juvenile pipe bands in the Highland & Islands area. Step forward Niall Stewart (Lochalsh Juniors Novice B World Champions), Niall Matheson (RACPADS Novice A World Champions), Angus MacColl (Oban High School Novice B runners-up), Donald Ban out in Benbecula (Sgoil Lionacleit, 6th in Nov. B)  and all the other terrific instructors doing such great work in the north and west. This success shows what happens when the right people are in the right jobs. 

As we head to Fort William tomorrow we reflect on the lack of involvement (and success) of the Lochaber High School band and its pipers and drummers. What is wrong there? There are no junior entries for tomorrow’s contest as far as I can see yet this is a contest on their doorstep and worthy of their support.

Gail Laird from one of the successful bands at the Worlds, Ross & Cromarty Pipes & Drums School (RACPADS), has sent this: ‘Ross and Cromarty Pipes and Drums School were ecstatic to be crowned World Champions of the Novice Juvenile A grade at Glasgow Green last weekend. The competition was stiff but Pipe Major Niall Matheson was full of praise for his young band members. He said: `What an end to an impressive season of achievements! First as European champions in Forres, first Drum Corps in Dumbarton at the Scottish and now WORLD Champions. I couldn`t be prouder of all the band’. Their new drum sergeant, John Wetherston, has breathed new life into the drum corps with impressive results in three major championships.’ (See picture top)

The worry continues over the Glasgow Police Pipe Band. I hear that they no longer get ANY money from Police Scotland. Whilst the band may not be riding as high as it once did, let us not forget that it is one of the top 12 in the World and when on parade is a great asset to the force. The band plays well, is always very smart and is held in high regard by the people of west-central Scotland. Are the brass hats listening?

This picture was taken at the Scottish Championships at Dumbarton though I did not notice a queue of anxious P/Ms and L/Ds

Cailean is retiring

Word is that Cailean Maclean is retiring from his position as presenter of the Gaelic piping programme ‘Crunluath’ to concentrate on his first love, photography. Interviews for his successor are being conducted as I write with an announcement in the autumn. Cailean with his no-nonsense, matter-of-fact style will be hard to replace. No doubt the new individual will have to tick all the BBC’s ‘metro man’ boxes (if it is to be a man) but I hope the successful candidate will have the talent that makes this a secondary concern. Anyway, a huge thanks to Cailean for his many years of fine coverage, even if I only understood a smattering of what he said.

All those who think the draconian rules on judges and pupils a good thing should heed the words of cricket legend Ritchie Benaud...

‘It is one of the quaint things about cricket these days that an umpire like Simon Taufel, recognised as being the best in cricket, is unable to umpire in test matches where the Australians are playing. When they brought in the concept of ‘neutral’ umpires I found the idea insulting to umpires like Taufel, suggesting that they would be biased towards their own country….’

The Solo Piping Judges Association insults its own members by endorsing these rules.

Lochaber Gathering Draw Published

The draw for Saturday’s contest in Fort William has now been published online. Over 50 pipers, juniors and senior, have entered. The picture shows last year’s champion pipers Ben Duncan, Gordon Walker and Callum Beaumont.

Piobaireached P/A

Hall A:  08:30

  1. Michael Fitzhenry, Paisley
  2. Innes Smith, Glasgow
  3. Jonathon Greenlees, Glasgow
  4. Alan Russell, Kelty
  5. Peter MacAlister, Dunblane
  6. Ben Duncan, Edinburgh
  7. Euan MacCrimmon, Inverness
  8. Callum Beaumont, Linlithgow
  9. James MacHattie, Canada
  10. Derek Midgley, USA
  11. Gordon MacCready, Glasgow
  12. Michael Elder, Auchtermuchty
  13. Sandy Cameron, Roy Bridge
  14. Nick Hudson, USA
  15. Greig Canning, Edinburgh
  16. Ed McIllwaine, Vancuver

Piobaireachd B/C (Group 1)

Hall B:  08:30

  1. Jamie Elder, Auchtermuchty
  2. Matt Pantaleoni, USA
  3. Eireann MacKay, Burrelton
  4. Bruce MacDonald, Portree
  5. Ursa Beckford, USA
  6. Ross Miller, Glasgow
  7. Donald C. Stewart, Stewarton
  8. Mary Wallace, USA
  9. Duncan Beattie, Linlithgow
  10. Calum Wynd, Dunblane
  11. Andrew Bell, Catrine

Piobaireachd B/C (Group 2)

Hall B: 08:30

  1. Dan Nevans, Airdrie
  2. Craig Martin, Glasgow
  3. Archie Drennan, Drumnadrochit
  4. Steven Leask, Glasgow
  5. Dan Lyden, USA
  6. William Rowe, New Zealand
  7. Rebecca Tierney, Strathaven
  8. Andrew Donlan, USA
  9. Charles MacDonald, Inverness
  10. John Dew, Crieff


Hall A:  14:00

  1. Ben Duncan, Edinburgh
  2. Gordon MacCready, Glasgow
  3. Peter MacAlister, Dunblane
  4. Callum Beaumont, Linlithgow
  5. James MacHattie, Canada
  6. Alan Russell, Kelty
  7. Greig Canning, Edinburgh
  8. Michael Elder, Auchtermuchty
  9. Michael Fitzhenry, Paisley
  10. Innes Smith, Glasgow
  11. Derek Midgley, USA
  12. Euan MacCrimmon, Inverness
  13. Nick Hudson, USA


Hall B: 14:00

  1. Matt Pantaleoni, USA
  2. Jamie Elder, Auchtermuchty
  3. Rebecca Tierney, Strathaven
  4. Craig Martin, Glasgow
  5. William Rowe, New Zealand
  6. Dan Lyden, USA
  7. Steven Leask, Glasgow
  8. Archie Drennan, Drumnadrochit
  9. Andrew Donlan, USA
  10. Dan Nevans, Airdrie
  11. John Dew, Crieff
  12. Andrew Bell, Catrine
  13. Calum Wynd, Dunblane
  14. Duncan Beattie, Linlithgow
  15. Mary Wallace, USA
  16. Donald C. Stewart, Stewarton
  17. Ross Miller, Glasgow
  18. Ursa Beckford, USA
  19. Bruce MacDonald, Portree
  20. Eireann MacKay, Burrelton
  21. Charles MacDonald, Inverness
  22. Greig Canning, Edinburgh
  23. Sandy Cameron, Roy Bridge• Get the remainder of the draw here.

Skye Gathering 2017: Dunvegan Medal Critique

A few free days before the Worlds allowed an escape to the wonderful Isle of Skye and an opportunity to listen to some top class piobaireachd, writes the Editor. Portree was sunny and pleasant when I arrived, though the venue, the Skye Gathering Hall, cool. I missed the first two tunes in the Dunvegan Medal but was fortunate to hear the winning performance by Ian K MacDonald from Toronto. No better tune ever won this award than his Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon.

I have heard many a dull plod through this masterpiece by pipers you would think would know better. Not so with Ian K, last year’s double Gold Medallist. Here was someone who fully understood the structure and momentum required to bring out the best in it. The bagpipe was resonant and strong and did not waver in 20 minutes, I kid you not. The only fault I could find was a slight inconsistency in the connecting notes in the T&C singlings. Ian’s first place must have been a very easy decision for the judges to make. He is pictured top on his way to yet more glory.

Runner-up Nick Hudson reflects well in the Gathering Hall mirror

In second we had Nick Hudson now of Texas. Nick’s pipe was high pitched and not exactly locked on low A – but stayed there. His MacLeod of Colbeck was adroitly handled but he dragged the cadences in Variation 1 and lost the song here. Clean technique for a good finish.