13 Argyll pipe bands at the British Championships

Thirteen pipe bands from Argyll travelled to Bathgate on Saturday [25th May] for the British Pipe Band Championships – and were delighted to have a warm and sunny day on a park that was in surprisingly good condition. Only the week before, Bathgate had had to cancel its local Highland Games because of torrential rain.

Five of the bands finished in the prize lists, with Inveraray & District taking two of the five -  3rd in the Juvenile and 3rd in Grade 1. Kintyre Schools, familiar with finishing well, was 5th in the Juvenile, with Oban High School 6th. Mid Argyll came 6th in Grade 4B in its second year after returning to competitive playing.

Inveraray & District’s Drum Major, Liam Renton, also made the prize list, finishing fifth in the Adult Drum Majors award.

How the marking system works

Since these are competitions for pipe bands, piping is traditionally assessed by two judges, with one judge for drumming and one looking at the calibre of a band’s ensemble work.

Marks represent placings in each category, determined by the number of bands competing in the particular grade – so while first is always ’1′; last might be ’6′,  ’12′, 23′ or whatever.

The four category marks awarded to each band  – and given below – represent, in order:

  • the 1st Piping Judge’s placing;
  • the 2nd Piping Judges placing [and you will see that they can disagree, sometimes quite markedly];
  • the Drumming Judge’s placing;
  • the Ensemble Judges placing.

The four placings for each band are then totalled to arrive at the overall placings in the grade.

Where two or more bands achieve the same final mark, the band with the best mark for ensemble playing is given priority – a well judged point of discrimination. If two or more of the bands finishing with the same total have been given the same placing for their ensemble work, then they share the same overall placing.

Details of all the Argyll bands’ performances

Novice Juvenile – 21 bands competing

  • Dunoon Grammar School: 11, 10, 17, 12 – Placed 11th
  • Oban High School: 8, 19, 19, 11  – Placed 14th [Note difference in marks from the piping judges]
  • Mid Argyll: 18, 17, 21, 20 – Placed 21st

Mid Argyll got the same overall mark as the band place 20th, one above them – because that band had a better mark for ensemble playing, 16 as opposed to Mid Argyll’s 20.

 Grade 4B – 12 bands in final, 26 bands competing in this grade

  • Mid Argyll:  2, 5, 8, 10 – Placed 6th

Mid Argyll won their qualifying round with 1, 1, 9, 1, beating eventual overall winner, City of Newcastle into 2nd place; and beating the 3rd final placing, Williamwood, into 3rd. In the final, Mid Argyll had the same overall mark as the band paced one above them – but took sixth because of a lower mark for ensemble playing, 10 as opposed to 7.

Grade Juvenile – 8 bands competing

  • Inveraray & District: 4, 2, 3, 4 -  Placed 3rd
  • Kintyre Schools: 2, 4, 6, 5 – Placed 5th
  • Oban High School:  6, 5, 4, 6 – Placed 6th

 Grade 3A – 17 bands competing

  • Isle of Islay: 7, 5, 10, 12 -  Placed 8th
  • Rothesay & Dsitrict: 12, 11, 11, 17 -  Placed 14th
  • Cowal: 16, 16, 5, 16 – Placed 15th

 Grade 2 – 13 bands competing

  • Lomond & Clyde: 4, 4, 1, 2 -  Placed 2nd
  • Oban: 12, 9, 11, 8 – Placed 10th

A band with an Argyll interest, Lomond & Clyde is clearly one to watch. If they can go on to win Grade 2, the local authority area of Argyll and Bute would have two bands playing at Grade 1.

Grade 1 – the top rank, with 15 bands competing

  • Inveraray & District 2, 3, 5, 5 -  Placed 3rd

The Inveraray  band beating St Laurence O’Toole and Scottish Power into 4th and 5th place respectively. St Laurence O’Toole finished one behind Inveraray’s 4th place in the 2012 World Championships. But Scottish Power finished 2nd, dropping three places to 5th in this first major championship of the year. The other two bands placed above Inveraray in the 2012 Worlds, were the magisterial Field Marshall Montgomery band from Northern Ireland in 1st place – which it repeated on Saturday; and Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia, 3rd in the Worlds and 2nd on Saturday.

 News from the Inveraray & District band

Inveraray & District – a breathtaking success in storming its way to Grade 1 in what appears to be a record short  order, is very good at keeping us up to date on what they’re doing. This sort of information from any of th Argyll bands is well worth passing on for the insights it gives into the competitive world of Scotland’s signature instrument.

With the very sad loss last year of the Juvenile band’s Pipe Major Robert Stewart, this band was playing for the first time under the leadership of their new Pipe Major, Dave Rischmiller. They played their new 2013 Medley, in a sound musical performance which pleased everyone in the overall band team.

Dave Rischmiller is from the West Midlands but he has always loved piping and all things Scottish and is an excellent solo piper. He has friends in Strachur and has been holidaying there for many years. He is a famkiliar volunteer steward at Inveraray Games and teaches at the annual Strachur Piping School.

He worked as a police officer in the West Midlands Police Force and played in their pipe band. Recently retired (although he’s only about 50), he moved to Ardentinny, where he now lives.

Inveraray & District initially only liked to ask him to help Stuart Liddell, Kate Paton and Annie Grant with the teaching – but then persuaded him to take on the role of Pipe Major – in which he is already firmly established. They are delighted that he agreed, as this takes a lot of the pressure from Stuart Liddell who, following Robert Stewart’s death, had been leading out both bands.

The Grade 1 band competed later in the afternoon on Saturday, under their celebrated Pipe Major Stuart Liddell, playing their new March, Strathspey & Reel [Pipe Major J McWilliams; Bob of Fettercairn; MacAllister’s Dirk]. Again this band turned in a strong musical performance, with Stuart Liddell very pleased with its overall performance. [You can see and hear this new programme on You Tube here.]

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5 Responses to 13 Argyll pipe bands at the British Championships

  1. I was there on Saturday and it was fantastic to see 13 Argyll bands represented which made up 10% of the 130 bands there from all over Britain and Ireland .Special mention to the Novice Juvenile Band from Oban High School which came a creditable 14 out of 21 in their first ever outing .Some of these young folks only started on the Pipes last November .
    One wee point about the venue in Bathgate .A single bridge across a burn from the car park and muster areas was a serious accident waiting to happen With 3500 competitors plus the spectators coming in through this one point caused log jams and fairly quickly stewards had to introduce a traffic light system with no lights.At one point the police had to divert congesting groups back up to the High street I understand Bathgate is to be the venue for this competition for the next two years The installation of a second pontoon bridge would solve the problem .Needs to be done to avoid a serious accident .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • In checking out other people’s experience of this, Alastair – which echo your own, we have been told by a senior representative from one band that they saw the following statement today on the RSPBA [Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association] website:

      ‘ We would like to make it known, that we were made aware of the issue that existed with the bridge crossing between the bus park and the competition arenas and whilst nothing could be done to improve this on the day, we have already spoken with West Lothian Council and this will be rectified for our return to Bathgate in 2014. ‘
      Ian Embelton
      Chief Executive

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Yes there were amongst many of the people I spoke to on the day .The real issue you had were huge numbers of band members trying to get across to tuning areas with drums and pipes in time for their slots plus members of the public buying tickets right next to this one bridge access point as well and then trying to get across .What I cant understand is why was there no second pontoon bridge or the ticket purchase point located at the high street where people could access from a safer point.A teacher said to me this would not have passed a risk assessment at a school sports day

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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