August 8, 2014
John Angus Smith and Andrew Hall split the top prizes at the SPSL Members Competition 2014, which took place at the London Welsh Centre on 22nd June.
John Angus Smith won the Open Piobaireachd with a wonderful rendition of Lament for the Only Son, with Andrew Hall and Allan Dunsmore taking second and third place respectively.
The same trio shared the prizes in the Open MSR, with Andrew Hall taking the top prize. John Angus came second prize, with Allan Dunsmore again taking third place.
John Angus Smith won the Open 6/8 March, while Allan Dunsmore had his chance to shine in the Open Jig, taking first place with a splendid run through The Handshaker.
The entry was strong and the three judges – guest judges Bill Wotherspoon and Glen Brown, alongside the SPSL’s Roddy Livingstone – were impressed with the overall standard of play, highlighting that piping continues to thrive in the South-East of England.
In the amateur grade, Len Durham won first prize in the Amateur Piobaireachd, playing Glengarry’s March. William Wardrope took the honours in the Amateur MSR and 6/8 March, playing Mrs MacDonald of Dunach, Dorrator Bridge and Lexie MacAskill in the former, and Jean Mauchline in the latter.
The amateur grade also provided me the chance to make my own competition debut, somewhat late in the day, but better late than never. Well, not quite. My real debut was premature and disastrous, somewhere to the north of Toronto in 1981. The members’ competition was my chance to face those demons more than 30 years later and put things right.
And facing those demons, glowering across at me from the other side of the judges table (sorry, Roddy), it turned out to be not quite as bad as I’d thought it would be. Could have been better, could have been a lot worse, with a silver in the Piobaireachd and a bronze in the MSR rounding off the day nicely.
In the Under-18 events, Kieran McAlea arrived just in the nick of time to sweep all prizes, playing an impressive set of King George V’s Army, Captain Colin Campbell and Lexie MacAskill in the MSR and Farewell to Port Askaig in the 6/8 March. Hunter Davis won the Under 15 Slow Air and 2/4 March events with Scot’s Whae Hae and Brown Haired Maiden.
Rolls were reversed in the evening, and it was the guest judges turn to take the stage for a recital, with the competing pipers retiring to the audience alongside other society members to enjoy a fantastic evening of piping.
Glenn Brown played a great set of tunes interspersed with piping anecdotes. He was followed by Bill Wotherspoon, whose set included a wonderful rendition of Maggie Cameron, a tune which I had made a slightly more hesitant attempt at earlier in the day.
A great day – and evening – was had by all!