This year’s Competition was a landmark in the history of the LBPS. It was held on the 30th anniversary of the meeting that was to lead to the founding of the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society some two years later. Here former Society president Jim Buchanan gives us his report on the day’s events.

Euan Whitmore plays border pipes before an engrossed audience in the Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh

I am delighted to have been asked to write a short review of this year’s competition, which is part of Edinburgh’s Ceilidh Culture (Edinburgh’s Traditional Arts Festival), because it gives me the chance to say publicly that I thought it was one of the best, if not the best that I’ve attended in twenty years.   All the essential aspects of a competition were present.  First, the organization was flawless and flowed with all the appearance of being effortless thanks to the hard work and experience of all the committee, particularly our Secretary, Judy, who so professionally deals with the paperwork of entries, certificates and the rest.  Second, the polished way our Chairman Martin acted as Master of Ceremonies, which was both calming and encouraging for all the competitors and added greatly to the overall enjoyment of the event.  Third, the high standard of the entrants who were imaginative, diverse and original in their choice of music, and lastly, the venue of ‘The Pleasance’, which was superb.  
We had as many competitors as the day and the venue could comfortably manage although the audience could have been greater.  Not only did our Chairman Martin take part in six of the classes, but also he was on the podium for three of them!  Owing to the foresight of our Secretary the Society was able to cope with the extraordinary fact that in no less than four of the classes there were joint firsts.  This unique result indicated the extremely high standards of playing, singing and general musicality that were on display and the difficulty of classifying overall excellence into the categories of 1st, 2nd and 3rd. It should also be mentioned that one competitor scored the highest marks ever to be awarded in the 28 years the competition has been held.  I ought to mention that a singular feature of this competition is that half the marks come from the audience and half from the judge.   The only fly in the ointment was the absence of entries in the Novice class.  This has happened before and will be a feature that I’m sure will be addressed by the LBPS Committee.
What of the music?  Please judge for yourselves by listening to the variety, quality and originality captured on the splendid recordings now on the website.  This is where you will also find a comment on Paul Robert’s winning contribution in the Open Lowland/Border class with the tune “Lancashire Pipes” aka ‘Hunting the Fox’ describing not only the music but also Paul’s comments on how he interpreted this composition from c.1640.  Paul was the winner of the Open class at our first competition in 1984 and it was great to have him back competing and winning this year. You can also hear the archived recording of his 1984 winning entry on our website.  An over-seas member of the Society wrote on 4th April “It’s wonderful to be able to hear Paul’s performance only two days after the event – worth the price of membership in itself”.
I’ve been back over past issues of Common Stock researching the comments of some of my predecessors on past Competitions and find that there have been frequent criticisms of “Highland” fingering and ‘excessive’ playing of Highland tunes, also the use or misuse of vibrato and slides and even of the lack of notes higher than can be got with usual fingering.  Let me say that I have no worries about any of these, especially the playing of ‘Highland’ tunes.  Regarding high notes, Paul included high Bs and a spine-tingling stratospheric harmonic B more that two octaves above middle C.  Thus he brought life and colour in his musical depiction of chasing the fox with sound effects never normally heard on the Lowland/Border pipe.  
May I further single out Paul Martin from Durham for his fine playing of ‘old style’ Border tunes on smallpipes and on a beautiful set of Lowland/Border pipes with a baritone drone.  Please do listen to his sets on the website. Of course, there were Highland tunes and Highland gracings to be heard, and why not; but there was none of the rather desperate rivalry of some Highland piping competitions.
Manuel Trucco once wrote in CS that apart from the Society being an undoubted force in the evolution of Scottish music, our real strength is in our two distinct and unique instruments, the Scottish smallpipe and the Lowland/ Border pipe.  The latter has evolved a long way in a remarkably few years to where it is now arguably at least equal to the smallpipe in Scotland, despite the fact that it will always be comparatively more difficult to make, to reed and to play.  This Competition was an admirable showcase for what our bellows blown pipes can achieve musically and will be a landmark in the development of the Society now in its 30th year.


Novice - Heriot & Allan Quaich    
No entries
Intermediate - Julian Goodacre Trophy
1. (joint 1st) Allan Sturrock - Mary Scot-The Flower of Yarrow/Richard the Rogue
    John Mitchell - Flett from Flotta /Wee Highland Laddie/ Shores of Loch Bee
3.    Lewis Thomson -  My Lodging is on the Cold Ground/ The Milky Bar Kid/ The Belle of Belfast City/ Aunt Jemima
Seasoned Pipers - Nigel Richards Trophy
1.     David Hannay - Sarah’s Song/ Fred Olson’s Birthday/
2.    Jim Buchanan - Singin’ in the rain/ Garbindar’n Polska/ Garbindar’n Wedding March
3. (Joint 3rd ) Henry Aitchison - Battle of the Somme/ Forest Lodge Reel
    David Stevenson - Frere Jacques/ Twinkle Twinkle/ Three Blind Mice
New Composition - London Trophy
1. (joint 1st)     Andrew S Montague (played by Rona Dawson) Corporal James Montague’s Farewell to the 7th Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders. 1967
Fin Moore - i
3.    George Greig - Andrew & Gertie – dear friends
Open Solo for Scottish Smallpipes - Colin Ross Trophy
1. (joint 1st) Fraser Yorston - Jim Tweedie's Sea Legs/ The Wise Maid/ The Fourth Floor/ Richard Dwyer's
    Euan Whitmore - Aspen Bank/ Stumpie/ Brendan Murphy/ The 4th Floor
3.    Paul Martin - Meggy’s Foot/ Lick the Ladle Sandy/ Holme’s Fancy
Duet for Pipes - Mains Castle Medal    
1. (joint 1st) George Greig & Martin Lowe - Rusty Gully/ Jocky said to Jenny
    Fin Moore & Lawrence Thomson - Richard Gone banana’s (Tully)/ London-derry Hornpipe
3.    Euan Whitmore & Henry Aitchison - La Baum/ Hills of Argyll/ MacPherson’s Lament
Pipe and Song Duet     
1.      Kirsten Anderson & Euan Whitmore - Keep on the Sunny Side
2.     Linda Thomson & Lawrence Thomson - Leezie Lindsay    
3.     Sadie Maskery & Martin Lowe - i   
Pipe and Song -  Jimmy Wilson Memorial Cup    
1.     Davie Robertson - i
2.     Martin Lowe -    The Gallowa’ Hills
3.     Pete Stewart -    The Grey Funnel Line
Duet for Pies and Other Instrument - Dunfermline Tassie
1.     Fin Moore & Ewan Macpherson - Mary's Fancy/ Donald MacGuggan's Rant/ The Four Courts    
2.     Euan Whitmore & Keith Westhead - Hector the hero/ The North Star/ New Year in Noosa/ Electric Pumpkin
3.    Martin Lowe & Pete Stewart - The Scotch March/ High Road to Linton (8 part Matt Seattle setting)
Open Solo for Lowland/Border Pipes - Hamish Moore Cup    
1.     Paul Roberts - Lancashire Pipes (aka The Hunting of the Fox)
2.     Paul Martin - Cut and Dry Dolly New Way/ The Lass and the Money are All my Own/ Old Wife of Coverdale
3.     Martin Lowe - Sarah's Song (Cunningham)/ Horsborough Castle/ The Water Babies (Tully)

Paul Martin plays his border pipe set


Winners of the 2011 competition classes gather for the photo call
(competition photos courtesy of Iain Wells)

One of the joint- first prizes in last year’s new composition class was Tiber Falzett. The music for his tune, unavailable last year, is included here, followed by the winners of this year’s competition

Joint First Prize 2010

Joint First Prize 2011

Joint First Prize 2011 played by Rona Dawson)

Third Prize 2011