Ken Stewart reports…….The annual Northern Ireland Piper of the Year competition took place on Saturday 14th October 2017 in the Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena.
This is an invitation only competition and is promoted by the Northern Ireland Piping Society. Competitors are invited to play on merit and must have competed in both MSR and Piobaireachd competitions in Ireland during the current year.
The Piobaireachd event took place in the afternoon and each competitor was asked to play a tune of their own choice.
In the evening each player has to submit three competition Marches, Strathspeys and Reels in addition to one Hornpipe and Jig. This is an open competition so both Senior and Junior pipers compete against each other for the overall award of Piper of the Year. The only concession for junior players is that they have to submit only two MSRs. The Piper of the Year is Kris Coyle who is pictured above.
Writing on Facebook Kris said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be crown NI Piper of the Year. A great event which thankfully was well attended. Congratulations to all the other prize winners, the standard in my opinion was superb yesterday. Lastly a word of thanks to the organisers for what was a very enjoyable day out and for hosting Northern Ireland’s premier solo event.
Runner up for the overall award this year was junior player Ryan Cupples-Menendes. This young man is only 16 years old and made a great impression on both adjudicators with his performances throughout the competition.
The adjudicator for the Piobaireachd competition was Angus MacColl and he was joined by David Caldwell for the MSR and Hornpipe & Jig.
It is expected that the adjudicator provides a short recital at the end of the competition and Angus gave an outstanding display on a beautiful instrument.
Results for the event are as follows:
1st William Rowe, Lament for Hugh
2nd Kris Coyle, Lament for the Viscount of Dundee
3rd John McElmurray, Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute
1st Kris Coyle
2nd Ryan Cupples-Menendes
3rd Ashley McMichael
4th Kevin Rogers
Hornpipe & Jig:
1st Kris Coyle
2nd Ryan Cupples-Menendes
The Northern Ireland Piper of the Year contest takes place in the Adair Arms Hotel, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, tomorrow. The piobaireachd starts at 12 noon and the MSR at 7pm. All are welcome. Judges are Angus MacColl and David Caldwell and the hosts Kenny Stewart and Chris Stewart.
In the PP archive picture above a youthful Angus is photographed through the window performing at the now unfortunately defunct John MacFadyen Memorial Trust Lecture. The lecture was a showpiece event and used to be held every spring in the historic surroundings of Stirling Castle.
Also in the picture are that year’s lecturer, history professor Allan MacInnes, Trust Chairman, the late Alasdair Milne, and Trust Secretary Neil Fraser, Head of BBC Radio Scotland from 1987 -1992 and a leading Gaelic activist. I think this must have been in the late 80s but perhaps someone can give me a more accurate date. Read about Alasdair, former Director General of the BBC, here.
More up to date, here are last year’s winners at the NI Piper of the Year:
Stay tuned for results when we get them.
From Piper Press of May 1999: ‘The Scottish Pipers Association proved once again that open piping competitions are not impossible to run if they are properly graded and organised. Their 1999 event was an object lesson in how to carry this difficult task off. The contest began at 10am and finished at 6.30pm. There were 58 pipers entered, 36 in the ‘B’ grade piobaireachd. The number of young professionals recently out of the amateur ranks who seized this opportunity of making their mark among the big boys was significant. Innes Smith took the ‘B’ Piobaireachd and March, and Simon McKerral the Strathspey and Reel.
‘Other notables among the ‘B’ list were Niall Stewart, Andrew Hall, Allan MacColl, James Johnston and John MacPhee. In the senior events William McCallum won the overall and the member’s trophy with Greg Wilson taking the Former Winners MSR and the Strathspey and Reel. Stuart Shedden continued his good form with second in the ‘A’ Piobaireachd, and Leslie Hutt must surely now be given his place in the Gold Medal list following his third prize.
‘Competition chairman was Dr Leslie Craig and the judges were Ronald Morrison, James Young, Donald MacPherson, Angus J MacLellan, Hugh MacInnes and Joe Henderson. Congratulations are due to Glasgow Academy for providing the SPA with premises free of charge, the Competing Pipers Association for helping with the stewarding and to the SPA themselves for continuing to provide an open platform for the aspiring professional.
‘A’ Piob: 1 William McCallum, Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy 2 Stuart Shedden, Lament for Captain MacDougall 3 Leslie Hutt, Rory McLoude’s Lament 4 Brian Donaldson, MacDougall’s Gathering Former Winners MSR: 1 Greg Wilson 2 Brian Donaldson 3 William McCallum March ‘A’: 1 Gordon Walker 2 Michael Gray 3 Peter Hunt S&R ‘A’: 1 Greg Wilson 2 Iain Speirs 3 Michael Gray ‘B’ Piob: 1 Innes Smith, Corrienessan’s Salute 2 Niall Stewart, Wee Spree 3 Andrew Hall, Donald of Laggan 4 Donald Campbell, The Groat March ‘B’: 1 Innes Smith 2 James Johnston 3 Allan MacColl 4 John MacPhee S&R ‘B’: 1 Simon McKerral 2 Allan MacColl 3 James Johnston 4 Innes Smith
All of the judges on the benches that day have now, sadly, passed on, but memory serves well. Donald MacPherson would quietly mention when his pupils were playing, and thus, rather than relegate himself to the lower contests, was able to give the top players the benefit of his expertise and knowledge – and the contest the status it deserved.
Pipe Bands Australia have confirmed the following as office bearers for the next two years:
President Chris Earl (re-elected unopposed)
Secretary Steve Patterson (re-elected unopposed)
Treasurer Tim Bodey (re-elected unopposed)
Committee: College representative Tony Bidgood (re-elected unopposed) and James Cowie
College principals Tony Bidgood (drill and dress), Dean Hall (drumming) and Jamie Forysth (rules and administration) were re-elected unopposed and Brett Tidswell was re-elected principal piping.
There is great work being done for piping and drumming by the South West Scotland Piping and Drumming Academy. Building on a tradition established by John Cowan, Walter Cowan (pictured instructing above), Alfie Geddes, Ian Clowe, Jim McConnachie and the late Tony MacDonald, the South West Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy is forging ahead with a programme of tuition which is sure to produce many top-level players if not champions in their own right. Here is the latest from the Academy Chairman Andrew McCartney:
We are now teaching in 10 schools throughout Dumfries and Galloway, plus we have an invitation to address pupils and parents at the new high school in Dalbeattie when it opens next month. This involves the school itself and four attached primary schools.
We have a working weekend planned for both pipers and drummers from Friday 12th until Sunday 14th January 2018, in conjunction with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. This will culminate with a concert in the local parish church in Kirkcudbright on the Sunday afternoon, and will feature the NYPBofS and some of our own young students.
The weekend will be mainly for residential students, but local students will be able to attend on a daily basis as accommodation is limited. The concert in Kirkcudbright on the Sunday will be open to anyone and admission will be free.
Our 2018 Summer School is scheduled to be held, once again, at SRUC Barony Campus near Dumfries from Sunday 8th until Friday 13th July. This is for both resident students and local students attending on a daily basis.
The South West of Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy Juvenile Competition for piping and drumming is scheduled to be held in Locharbriggs Primary School (venue to be confirmed) on Saturday 29th September 2018.
Monthly piobaireachd workshops are scheduled to re-commence later this month and will be held in the classrooms at Barfil Farm, Crocketford, by kind permission of Bob Lee and Maggie Gordon.
Any wannabe pipers or drummers are welcome to contact me on my mobile 07754 326746 or home telephone 01556 502722. Very many thanks for your help with all this.
The SWSPDA have negotiated free entry to the Glenfiddich Piping Championship for their students and are laying on a bus for the occasion. The blurb: ‘The Championships start in Blair Atholl at 10am on Saturday 28th October. A free bus will be provided, leaving from Dumfries at around 06:30! Time to be confirmed. Limited places – to register an interest, contact Helen Keron on email@example.com.’
SWSPDA’s purpose is straightforward. We aim to raise the standard of, to increase participation in, and to raise enthusiasm for piping and drumming in the South West of Scotland. We will work with pipe bands and schools and directly with individuals giving bagpipe lessons. We will draw on the entire piping and drumming community to find the best tuition for those in our region who wish to make their music the best it can be.
The kinds of things the music institute can do include organising tutoring workshops and our summer school, encouraging and supporting tuition in schools and arranging performances and events. In future, as funds allow, the Academy aims to provide financial assistance such as scholarships, bursaries and travel grants.
In addition, the Academy seeks to bring the region’s piping community together by providing a communications forum and network for pipers and drummers and pipe band leaders.
The SWSPDA as an organisation consists of a Strategic Board of all Trustees to which a Management Board reports. The Management Board is in charge of the day-to day running of the Academy and consists of the Chair, the Vice-Chair and the Leaders of each of five Working Groups – ‘Administration’, ‘Tutoring’, ‘Schools’, ‘Summer School’ and ‘Social Media’.
We regret to report the passing of P/M Robert Kilgour late of the Scots Guards. P/M Kilgour died at his home in Edinburgh.
Bob Kilgour was born in Edinburgh in 1924 and in 1940 he received a practice chanter for his birthday and started to learn piping thus, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. He joined the Scots Guards in 1944. He attained the rank of Pipe Major of the 2nd Battalion (1962) before leaving the Army in 1966. He moved to Denmark in the early 1970s and had a significant impact n the development of piping and pipe bands in that country before moving back to Scotland.
P/M Bernard Bouhadana of the Grade 2 Balagan band said: ‘I was very sad to hear that Bob had died. He was one of my important teachers. He made a huge contribution to piping in Denmark.’
Former Scots Guardsman Neil Clarke said: ‘Saddened today to learn of Bob Kilgour’s death. I never knew him in the Scots Guards, he was several generations before me. I did meet him a few times through the Scots Guards Pipers’ Branch and found him a true gent and very likeable man.
‘What’s perhaps amazing is that he outlived so many contemporaries who also thought of him as an ‘old guy’
Well done Bob, privilege to have met you.’
Hear about Bob’s life in his own words on this excerpt from the ‘Noting the Tradition’ series on the Piping Centre’s website.
Noah Morrissette of the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy: Hello, I hope everyone has had an outstanding summer and competition season…unless you’re in South Florida. Competition season in Florida takes place during the winter and spring months.
The South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy is five full days of world-class pipe and drum instruction. In the past we have had the academy run from Wednesday to Sunday. This has worked, but we find ourselves overlapping with Highland Games somewhere in the state. This year we are trying a new format: Monday – Friday! I know, pioneers, right?
Our academy will take place February 26th to March 2nd, the week prior to the South Florida Highland Games in Fort Lauderdale. This academy has grown from day one, and has sold out the last 2 years. This year we are looking to keep the school the same size, and planning on selling out yet again. The cost of the school this year is $450 prior to January 1st, and the price will go to $500 on January 1st. As always this includes lunches, beverages, and evening entertainment. This year, we will also include an embroidered polo shirt in the cost of the class. Registration is now open!
From the PP photographic archive comes this historic shot:
Can anyone guess the names, the occasion and the approximate year? Star prize to the first correct answer.