About halfway through judging the Intermediate Amateur Pibaireachd contest I thought to myself, What could be better than being paid to listen to good piping all day long? Even though it was like a windy late-autumn day, the solo piping I heard was impressive, and any one of four in that piobaireachd contest or the Professional Jig could have been placed first by another judge. What’s most impressive are the pipes. There’s hardly an instrument that goes substantially astray and doesn’t have a well-pitched and tuned chanter.
Allison MacDonald, first-on in the Intermediate Amateur Piobaireachd, played “The MacFarlanes’ Gathering” with nice style and with exceptionally good hands. Watch this name. If she sticks with it and gets good tuition, she’s going places.
The Grade 1 band contest was very good. The 78th Frasers were strong with 21 pipers, solid right-round the circle. What was great to hear was that all four bands were a significant improvement over 2005, particularly Peel Police and City of Washington. CoW had a very well-set sound and, if not for some unfortunate mistakes, may have finished higher. Even though I was on piping, I couldn’t help hearing the Toronto Police’s new snares, which, to my ear, seemed lively and nicely pitched.
If pipers and bands could play so well at the trying Georgetown conditions, 2006 should be a very good year in Ontario, with rising standards across the boards.