Inveraray & District Pipe Band (pictured above courtesy Piping @ Forres) were crowned European Pipe Band Champions today after winning the Grade 1 contest at Forres on Scotland’s Moray Coast. The result means that the Argyllshire outfit, under the renowned P/M Stuart Liddell, now move clear at the head of the Champions of Champions table with two majors to go. In a nice touch the Inveraray band played a tune dedicated to today’s Chieftain, Major General Seymour Monro, at the March Past.
Close on their heels are P/M Richard Parkes and Field Marshal Montgomery winners of the UK Championships in Belfast only two weeks ago and the current World Champions. Impressive showings again from Scottish Power who placed third and also from Boghall and Bathgate who made the top six for the first time this season in fifth.
The full result in Grade 1 was:
2 Field Marshal
3 Scottish Power
G1 bands had to play an MSR drawn at the line from two sets. MSR was the requirement when Inveraray won the first major of the season at Paisley.
In the other grades Glasgow Skye re-asserted themselves in Grade 2 pushing great rivals Lomond and Clyde into second. Glasgow Skye impressed all who heard them and also won the drumming.
1 Elgin & District
4 Isle of Skye
5 Venlo Cal. – Netherlands
6 Vale of Atholl
1 Ross & Cromarty Pipes & Drums School
2 Dollar Academy
3 George Watson’s
5 Oban High School
6 Stirling & District Schools
Drumming: Geo. Watson’s
1 Oban High School
2 Lochalsh Juniors
4 Queen Victoria School
5 North Lanarkshire Schools
6 MacKenzie Cal. Juv.
Drumming: Queen Victoria School
Best band on parade (dress & deportment) were Inveraray & District. Next major pipe band championship is the Scottish to be held at Dumbarton on July 29. Click on the links for full summaries and videos of the G2 and G4a contests courtesy of the RSPBA. Stay tuned to Piping Press for more from Forres.
The annual games were held in the picturesque Fife village of Ceres today with Ben Duncan emerging as Champion Piper though he tied on points with Ceol Mor winner Darach Urquhart. Conditions were blustery but with sunny periods throughout the afternoon. The above picture shows the village and field where these traditional games are held.
1 Darach Urquhart (pictured), Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay
2 Brian Mulhearn, Lament for Mary Macleod
3 Ben Duncan
4 Craig Martin
1 Ben Duncan
2 Darach Urquhart
3 Caitlin MacDonald
4 Craig Martin
1 Ben Duncan
2 Darach Urquhart
3 Craig Martin
4 Glyn Morris
From the Highland town of Forres, in Moray, and Grant Park, the European Pipe Band Championship is underway, writes our SpecialCorrespondent.
The running order has approaching 110 listed to play across all grades. The first band – Scottish Fire & Rescue Service Novice Juvenile B, steps off at 10am on the dot. In adjoining arenas, Grades 4A and B will be underway too. The top Juvenile bands are on early afternoon, with Grade 1 at 2.45pm.
A windy and grey day will provide some additional challenges, but no rain is forecast so far.
For those not here, there are several routes to see and hear what is going on. The RSPBA twitter feed @rspbahq is covering Grade 2 and 4a a little later with clips of each band expected on the Association’s YouTube channel. Read a preview of Grade 2 here.
Results will follow in the early evening here, and reports of the contest in due course. Last year Grade 1 went to St Laurence O’Toole (pictured top) who had a full five point margin over Field Marshal who only scraped second by ensemble preference over Inveraray, the latter winning the drumming.
Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band have sent this: ‘We are pleased to announce the appointment of Calum Watson to the position of Pipe Sergeant of the Grade 1 band. He takes over from Alexander Scougall who will shortly be moving to the north of England to take up a promoted post with his current employer.
‘An accomplished solo player and bandsman, Calum Watson joined the Peoples Ford Boghall organisation from George Watson’s College. Under the tutelage of Pipe Major Iain Simpson, he enjoyed great success and went on to win three World Championships and two back to back ‘grand slams’ in the Juvenile grade.
‘He has had numerous solo successes including the overall B grade prize at the Cowal Gathering (in both 2015 and 2016) and the CPA overall winner for Piobaireachd in 2016.
‘On making the announcement, Pipe Major Ross Harvey said: ‘It is a very natural appointment to make Calum Pipe Sergeant. He is the complete package and he has the support of the entire band. Calum’s ear for tuning is first rate and his tune arrangements are already firmly in our repertoire. He brings a youthful energy to the band on already wise shoulders and I cannot wait to see the band develop further with Calum’s talents in the Pipe Sergeant’s seat.’
‘Calum said: ‘It is a huge honour to have been appointed as the band’s Pipe Sergeant. Ross has been a huge inspiration to me over the years, having been my first Pipe Major back in 2007. I am looking forward to working closely with Ross. The band is working extremely hard behind the scenes and I am certain it won’t be long before we are firmly back in the prize list.’
‘The band are looking forward to competing at the European Championships in Forres this weekend, where P/S Watson will take up his position for the first time. We would like to wish Alexander Scougall all the best with his new role, and look forward to him continuing to be an active member of the pipe corps.’
Big weekend of piping and bands in Brittany. Competitions in MSR, Breton music, piobaireachd, drumming:
Pauline Craib has reminded everyone that the closing date for entries for this summer’s Young Piper of the Year Competition is 30 June. The contest takes place at Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula, on July 20th at 9am. There are contests for chanter, novice piping, under 15, Under 18 and Adult under 30. Entry forms here. Some of the rules make interesting reading, writes the Editor:
Competitors must wear Highland Dress, including jacket when competing. Please note, this dress is optional for those competing in Open Chanter and Novice Piping competitions.
Junior competitors who have already competed in senior events for prize money in competitions elsewhere are thereby disqualified from entry to all junior events.
The judges are empowered to withhold all or any prizes offered if they unanimously agree that the standard of merit achieved by a competitor or competitors is inadequate.
In the event of an equality of points, the overall prizes shall be awarded to the competitor with the highest points in the relevant Ceòl Mòr Competition.
So no shirtsleeve order on Benbecula and well done to the organisers for instilling this dress sense in these young competitors. I think only the Northern Meeting now insists on this in the senior world – much to their credit. Withholding of prizes: have there been any occasions when such a rule could have been applied to the competitions at Inverness and Oban? I can’t think of any in the modern era but I am sure that in times past this would have been a sensible caveat. The picture up top is of the 2016 winners at the Young Piper.
The major pipe band championship wagon will again roll into the Highland town of Forres this Saturday for the Europeans, writes our Special Correspondent. Past events have been blessed with improving weather, big crowds and excellent facilities in and around Grant Park.
The local organisers really pull out the stops and bands have been welcomed into the bus park with hampers of goodies, visitors have enjoyed the food festival and craft beer in adjoining areas of the field, with many a side show going on to keep all ages occupied. In spite of that sterling effort, a number of bands tend to choose to opt out of this one and, in Grade 2, there are no Irish bands listed to play at all. Interestingly, last year saw bands from Australia and South Africa in other grades.
For those who don’t know, Forres, it is a former Royal Burgh in Morayshire, and a short stop from the upper extremities of the North Sea, accessed via Inverness or, to the east, Aberdeen. It is the site of Duncan’s Castle in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, and those three witches were on a moor, toiling and bubbling not far away. Talking of which, 13 bands are listed for the Grade 2 medley contest – assuming all play. See the draw here. Judges at the ready will be the experienced quartet of Messrs. Semple, Hunt, Mordaunt and Noble.
In the very first major of the season at Paisley, also a medley contest, we reported on the winning performance of Lomond & Clyde, and the close runner up, Glasgow Skye Association. Perhaps that one gives us the best steer of what to expect – they repeat their medley sets up north. However, as you all know, it is about delivery on the day and this is another day. We do expect those two to be the first names read out in the early evening. With no Manorcunningham present, winners of the drumming at Paisley, the rest of the slots will be filled by Scots bands and possibly one hailing from Denmark. We may even see City of London in the mix.
So on to the specific prospects: The vikings of Balagan, Denmark, get the grade started at 2.30pm, having missed the March Strathspey & Reel contest at Belfast. They will repeat their ‘Gathering’ medley and if you are watching and listening the grade, pay attention to their Mist Covered Mountains and transition to MacBeth’s Strathspey. If they can lock in and avoid any freelance piping, their drums should hold the ensemble together. They will be looking for a placing for sure.
City of Discovery, from Dundee, placed 6th in Belfast in their second year in the grade and demonstrated some good MSR discipline. In this Medley competition the band will have to crack on from the off. A musical medley including Bronnie’s Blue Brozzi usually gets feet tapping. The build from the Easy Club Reel, the Ale is Dear to the favourite the Highlandman Kissed His Mother will be the crux of the matter, and a decent execution there will assist for sure.
A tale of two cities indeed as the running order flits from Dundee to London, with the new kids on the block (albeit many in the band have been around it a few times), City of London up next. Paisley was a long time ago and they will take this one on afresh. Maybe less nerves than at their first outing, and an assured start and overall performance might well be the eyebrow raiser of the grade on Saturday. There were enough glimpses of something good to suggest this collective has it, so long as it all clicks into place on the day. No pressure then! From the off, their version of Lord Alexander Kennedy will perhaps be a bit ‘marmite’ – it has the ability to split views down the middle. One thing for sure though, it has to be perfectly executed. After Maguire’s Jig they will head into the slow air The Rose which has served other bands well in past years. One to watch.
Lomond & Clyde are two from two in the baseball vernacular of our American cousins. The band will be delighted with that, but also aware of the growing expectation and the pressure that leading the pack brings with it. The very best are the ones able to deal with that and use it positively to improve incrementally each time rather than rest on laurels. The leadership of this band will know what to do and not let the cart get ahead of the horses.
Mental attitude and concentration are key. They had the most musical of medleys at the first outing of the season with real Grade 1 style ‘transitions’ and reprises. From the Hole in the Soul start, which is a great tune, the musicality flows as the tempo ebbs and flows through the set. The haunting Chi Mi’n Gearmaradh is worth listening to alone, yet the set builds to a destination with cleverly joined up thinking, rather than just a few tunes hand knitted together. The drumming score differentials might just hold the balance in this contest.
If the Oban band shows, it will be the first of the year, so there may be a pause as the clock runs down. We hope they are in the circle though. MacKenzie Caledonian plays next, two third places showing their consistency so far this season. They appeared more at home in the March Strathspey and Reel contest in Belfast, with the ‘2’ scored in ensemble underscoring that. Their’s is a well put together set, with stand outs being the intro tune The Day the Co-op Flooded and the Video Kid. Steady as she goes will see them in the mix, risk taking would give them a shot to the top, but the downside of missing the mark completely. That isn’t the MacCals style. It’s one to enjoy.
Glasgow City was a no show in Belfast and should be up next in the Forres running order. Their medley showed solid composition in Paisley. We liked the Rory MacLeod jig then, but it wasn’t their day. They will be looking to crank it up this time out.
Dumbarton and District played Paisley but skipped Belfast. This reinstated band had a relatively assured performance of a very traditional medley last time out, and the shortest of the day. Immediate thoughts were that a higher risk rating would see them up the ranks but, the experienced pipe major knows what his band is capable of. It’s easy for commentators to suggest trying this or that of course. In any event, the grade has benefitted with the return of this band.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Services will undoubtedly get a strong welcome as most looking on will be grateful for the very services they represent. The band will be looking to improve again as they take to the field in this medley contest. I’m looking forward to hear the Sparky Cherry and Jamphlar’s Jig. This senior band will be watching their young Novice Juvenile B band, kicking off the whole day in that Grade at 10am.
Championship challengers, Glasgow Skye Association (pictured top), should start with Murdo Nicholson of Camusluinnie and into Gary Cheddy’s Jig. Also look out for Tommy Tully’s Air as a feature point in the set. Can the Skye go one better and take first place to add to this season’s two seconds? If you think the pressure is on Lomond & Clyde, just pause for thought for Skye. They have to break the pattern, otherwise it will be clear where the forward momentum resides. Make no mistake; this is a solid band with a good sound and high expectations. If their drumming kicks on, with no Manorcunningham present, the import of that score and probably the ensemble will make this a fascinating table to look at after the results.
Near locals from Aberdeenshire, Grampian Police, will make a welcome return to the contest, having missed Belfast. Their medley (Uphold the Right) was well received last time out and has the toe tapping Mrs MacLeod of Raasay, Dancing Feet and concluding with Bungee Jumper. We suspect they are aiming for a top 6, after their 10th at the British. Bucksburn & District will be back in the circle, also having missed Belfast. In Paisley they had a 6th and 1st in piping, so there is something to listen to here. It is a tight pipe corp and should not be overlooked. They might think the 12th in ensemble was harsh and this is the chance to open up and aim higher.
Isle of Islay will close out the grade at around 4.20pm, albeit the stewards will have it exactly right at 4.18pm. The sun shone for them at Paisley, skipped Belfast, and this is the second major run out of their medley which includes the Welsh Dragon, the Kesh Jig and The Fuddler. Any set with the Devil in the Kitchen is good for me.
That will be the grade and, we very much look forward to a great competition. The very best of fortune to each and every band playing on Saturday. The weather looks to be overcast and cloudy in the few days leading up to Saturday and the area looks prone to early morning showers on the day itself. Have capes at the ready and umbrella volunteers may be required alongside the growing tented village appearing contest by contest. That was the forecast on BBC TV ‘Countryfile’, which a farming friend swears by – often in a bad way. However, bring the sun cream, as what’s now known as ‘a Belfast’ (being sunburnt) is possible.
The RSPBA video camera team will be out in force again and the whole grade will be on YouTube fairly soon after. Watch out for updates on the @rspbahq Twitter feed during the day too – short clips of each band as they strike up. This has been a great service for those interested in the grade and, for those unable to be there on the day. The Grade 1 contest is well served with coverage by ‘Big Rab’ broadcasting live (the prize giving is always a good watch), DroneChorus adding his considerable expertise and excellent filming, and UlsterScot with his unique behind the scenes looks at tuning. As an aside, wasn’t the film footage of Inveraray and District’s chanter practice at Belfast simply fascinating?
So, for those of you traveling to Forres we wish you a safe journey. Stopping points in Pitlochry, Aviemore and elsewhere will be busy on the Saturday morning for those going early. Others may well be in the vicinity the night before for practice and some social time. Remember the average speed cameras on the main route from Dunblane roundabout. Drive safe, be careful and, have a great time at Grant Park in Forres. It’s a short drive to fish and chips in Aviemore on the way home! Along with several thousand others doing the same thing……
For those of you reading overseas and not attending this contest, we will have a report during next week and well before the mid season break and breather, ahead of that gap to the Scottish Championship on 29th July. From there it will crank up with contests piling in, including North Berwick (closing date for entries 2nd July, draw on 6th July) and, Bridge of Allan (closing date 23rd July – draw on 24th). Note that North Berwick has a Grade 2 Medley and combined Grade 1 & 2 March, Strathspey and Reel contest. Bridge of Allan is a Grade 2 Medley. Of course, playing up to Grade 1 (2x MSR with draw at line) is also an option. Over and out.
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.
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.
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.:
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.
The Andante snare drums — as well as two harnesses, soft-shell black cases, a backpack (containing a practice pad and drum sticks) and some personal items — were locked in the car trunk of a band member who had competed at the BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam Town Centre Park Saturday.
The band gathered that evening at another drummer’s home, near Terry Fox secondary, to celebrate its win with a barbecue meal. Afterward, the drummer got a ride home and left his vehicle and its contents in the driveway, where five more cars were parked.
It’s believed his car was broken into between 3:30 and 9:30 a.m.; however, none of the other cars was touched, homeowner Charlene Wallis told The Tri-City News Monday.
Wallis reported the incident to Coquitlam RCMP and, since then, has been scouring the neighbourhood as well as Craigslist and other online sites to see if the SFU-branded gear has turned up and is being illegally sold. She also has raised the alert with the school and Long & McQuade, which has a store nearby, while the Grade 1 band has posted about the loss on its Facebook page, showing images of the missing drums and equipment.
‘Hopefully, this is a hard sell,’ Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Mike McLaughlin said, ‘but typically, these are hard to trace as they have no serial numbers. This is a good reminder that when you leave your car, you take your valuables with you. Nothing should be inside.’
Rob Watt, a retired Mountie and the SFU pipe band secretary, said the band hopes to recover the specialized drums before it travels to the Kamloops and Skagit Valley competitions in the next few weeks. He said the band also has its eye on reclaiming the world title on the Glasgow Green Aug. 12 — an honour it has held six times since 1995.
Watt said the theft has serious ramifications if the instruments are not found in time as the drums are finely tuned; spare drums brought up from junior bands isn’t an option for the Glasgow championships. “For this to happen, it impacts the whole organization,” he said. “It’s very frustrating.”
• Coquitlam RCMP asks anyone who finds the drums in person or online to contact police at 604-945-1550, quoting file number CQ2017-18440.
Bleary & District Pipe Band report: ‘The band would like to pass on get well wishes to our leading drummer Eric Ward, who on Saturday during the March Past took unwell. Eric was taken to Craigavon hospital rapidly by St John’s Ambulance and after an operation yesterday he thankfully is well on the mend. The Ward family wish to thank everyone for their messages of support and well wishes.
‘Eric’s son Cameron will be taking the drum corp reins until Eric is well enough to hit the circle again.’