The LBPS competition took place once again in the National Piping Centre in Glasgow on April 11th.

This year we were privileged to have Iain MacDonald and Annie Grace join our usual judges, Iain for the Open Solo for Smallpipes class, and Annie for the Singers classes, as well as the Overseas class. This latter was a re-introduction last year of a class which had formerly been dropped due to lack of entries; it was heartening to see that, after only two entries last year, this year it attracted as many entries as any other class and more than most. Which brings us to the unavoidable fact that this year’s event, whilst being its usual enjoyably informal self, was probably the least supported that I have attended over the past 20 years. Exactly what this means, and whether it is a sign of the times or merely a bigger blip than we have seen of late is something that needs a deal of consideration.
One reassuring factor was that for the first time for some years there was a competition for the Novice class, a class which has often in the past not attracted any entries. This is a welcome reflection of the introduction into the Society Teaching weekends of a group specially for beginners; both competitors had attended this year’s weekend.

LBPS Chair Judy Barker presenting John Kelly with the Dick Grindley Prize Pipes.

One new feature of the Novice class was the Prize pipes. These pipes were left to the Society in his will by former LBPS member Dick Grindley. The winner has the use of these pipes for a year and they will be available again for the winner of the Novice Class in 2016.Despite the lack of participants, the day was rounded-off in fine style with a surprise concert from a 12-piece big band in the local hostelry, to which at least 3 members of the Society who should know better were seen jiving. This was followed by a take-over of the Wee Curry House for a meal, some tunes and what I’m delighted to see seems to have become the essential rendering of Hamish Henderson’s ‘Freedom Come All Ye’.

Reflecting on this year’s reduced attendance, John Bushby offers some thoughts on the future of the LBPS Competition

As has been said elsewhere, this year’s competition turned out to be a fairly disappointing day in relation to the numbers of entrants, although there were two pipers entered in the Novice section!  The original tune section had, as always, the highest number (though only four this year). However there was originally only one entrant in the open Border piping section and it was left to yours truly and Pete Stewart to make up the numbers at the last minute.
For those that haven’t been to a competition, or are unable to attend, it’s not really that serious an event, rather a friendly get together and one of our two main events during the year.  
However, it got me thinking afterwards, about what actually is the point of the competition and why don’t we attract more competitors?  There are probably a wide range of reasons, though I believe we are not alone in having problems encouraging pipers to participate. Two years ago I attended the competition at Morpeth and there were so few entries in some classes that they could not be held. This year, I believe, due to a huge effort by Ian Stephenson, the competition saw numbers up. Ian had made sure there was a musical get together and session after the competition.  As someone said it will remain to be seen whether this is just a one off, and what will happen at Rothbury this summer.
Personally I do not like competitions as they don’t really prove anything and with judging it is just so subjective.   I remember a story told to me by  Eric Bogle, whose song ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ came third in a competition: “ Where are numbers one and two now?”  he said. His song went on to become a world wide hit! [And Matt Seattle’s Lindisfarne didn’t win either: Ed]
Having said that, I do like the LBPS competitions, but more, as I said earlier,  as a chance to meet up with friends and have a fun day out with a bit of piping thrown in.  For me, as a one time (a long time; I think I joined the Society about 1985-86) overseas member, having moved to the UK I thought how wonderful it was to be able to attend an event I had only ever read about during my many years as a member, never thinking I would end up on the committee!
In my opinion, there are a number of questions and issues that should be considered if we are to continue with the competition in its present format.  One of the biggest is how to attract more competitors or, as I would rather call them, participants? Another, where and when do we hold the competition? And how do we structure the day?
The second and third questions are probably the most easily answered, or at least to come up with ideas about them.
Would it be better to hold the competition as part of a bigger event? Ideally the LBPS would continue to organise it and run it under our banner, but tap into the general  event publicity machine? We could have a much larger market by using someone else’s publicity, and by having a ready made audience.   What about as part of the Border Gaitherin’ Festival?  
If we are going to keep the competition as it is, I would like to see perhaps some sort of recital midway through the day. It could be for 45 minutes or so, and feature possibly our judges, or we could bring in someone else.  If it was publicised and people knew XYZ were going to be there as part of the day it may encourage others to come and join in.  How about we also add a class for bellow pipes that are not Scottish smallpipes or Borderpipes?   That may encourage a wider range of interest.   Maybe, and this will come as a shock to many who know me (I have been converted – well just a bit), a class devoted to music from the Dixon manuscript.  Not sure how exactly this would work.  I do think repeating the same thing year in year out with no real change leads, as they say, to madness!
To lose the competition from the yearly LBPS programme would be a sad move, but I strongly feel that if we are to keep it going we need to re-invent it just a bit.

John Bushby

Stewart Gaudin and Bruce Kennedy give an impassioned winning performance

Callum Armstrong winning the Open Solo for Border Pipes

LBPS Competition 2015 Results    

SEASONED PIPERS - Nigel Richards Trophy
Judge: Stewart Gaudin    
1st Jock Agnew        The Stool of Repentance    
2nd David Hannay    The Mill / Corn Riggs    
3rd  Henry Aitchison    Horsburgh Castle (Ian Hardie) /Air Tune (March) com            posed by Liz Carroll
INTERMEDIATE - Julian Goodacre Trophy
Judge: Stewart Gaudin
1st Harry Gray        The Cradle Song/Jim Buchanan’s Halibut    
2nd Peter Duggan    My Lagan Love/Kelsae Brig/General MacDonald
NOVICE - Heriot & Allan Quaich
Judge:Hamish Moore
1st John C B Kelly    Ae Fond Kiss/Ye Banks & Braes of Bonnnie Doon    
2nd Caroline Barden    The Rowan Tree/The Mill, the Mill O’    NEW COMPOSITION - London Trophy
Judge: Gary West    
Joint 1st Callum Armstrong    White House Waltz
Joint 1st Hamish Moore    The Bow Tow
3rd George Greig    Judy’s Polka    
Judge: Iain MacDonald    
Joint 1st Stewart Gaudin    The Mill/The Ale Wife & her Barrells/Landlady Count the Lawin’/Wee Wullie Gray
Joint 1st Pete Stewart    Sherriffmuir/Wally as the Marquis Ran/Watty’s Away
3rd George Greig    Sunset on the Somme/O’Rourke’s/Four Courts

Judge: Iain MacInnes    
1st George Greig & Robert Low    Suo Gan/MacPherson’s Rant/Uist Reel      

PIPE AND SONG - Jimmy Wilson Memorial Cup
Judge: Annie Grace    1st Judy Barker    Hard Times    
2nd Jock Agnew    Salvtory Story    
-    -    
DUET FOR PIPES - Mains Castle Medal
Judge: Iain MacInnes
1st Pete Stewart & Callum Armstrong    Gigantic Green Monkey    
2nd Jock Agnew & David Hannay    Teviotside/Lindisfarne    
3rd George Greig & Robert Low        Mermaid’s Song/Reels    

Judge: Annie Grace
1st Stewart Gaudin & Bruce Kennedy    A Mans a Man    
2nd John Bushby & Caroline Bushy    Jock o’Hazeldean    
3rd George Greig & Judy Barker        MacPherson’s Lament    

Judge: Gary West    

1st Callum Armstrong    Gingling Geordie/Borderline    
2nd Pete Stewart        Kilt they coat Maggie/Saw ye not my Maggie/Crudds and Whey
3rd John Bushby        Caneries/Unknown/Jimmy Wards  

Judge: Annie Grace 
1st Geoff Jones    Lochaber no more/Cuckold came out of the Amrey/The Lads of     

2nd Bill Wakefield    Dorrington Lads    
3rd Bob Cameron    The Robin in the Holly/The Litchfield Lads    

Awarded by the Judges only for the greatest contribution to the performance of Lowland and Border music on the day of the competition    Callum Armstrong