2016 Fall Gathering a great start for the MPS

The inaugural Fall Gathering of the Montana Piper’s Society is officially in the history books, and everyone seemed to have a great time learning new things, socializing with other pipers from around the state, and even getting up on stage (and yes, it really was a full stage) for the competition.

The recital and competition stage at the Great Falls Scottish Rite.
The recital and competition stage at the Great Falls Scottish Rite.

The event was held at the Great Falls Scottish Rite, and the building’s main auditorium, numerous smaller rooms, and dining hall provided the perfect location for this type of event.

The workshop attendees hard at work.

The six hour workshop covered basic rudiments; how to approach a new tune,
including a plan to aid in memorization; turning problem areas into exercises; and then a complete work through of the Glasgow Police Pipers jig.

Determining if everyone’s drones were set properly.

We also spent some time reviewing the ground of a piobaireachd, and discussed the various piobaireachd specific embellishments and how to properly play them.


A little practice up on the stage.

The workshop ended on the pipes with a discussion on drone reed optimization and then a review of everyone’s pipes to determine if they were any areas that could be adjusted to make them more efficient. Those that found issues were then assisted with getting them adjusted.

Tom Campbell on the stage during the recital.
Tom Campbell on the stage during the recital.

After a break for diner, the group returned for the evening recital. Although there hadn’t been any advertising to the general public, a number of  family and friends attended, and in the end, 30 people were in the audience. The attendees were treated to over an hour of all types of pipe music performed by Ross Barker, Rob Lynn, Jesse Callender, and Tom Campbell.

The evening’s ceilidh saw numerous small pipes, shuttle pipes, whistles, and even a bodhran come out to provide music while others enjoyed light refreshments, beverages of choice, and lively conversation. Everyone was having so much fun, it seems no one remembered to take any pictures.

John Anevski in the final tuning area.

Sunday morning came way to early, but the competitors for the solo piping competition were still up and ready to play on the stage. The competition was held in the same hall as the recital, and the other players and a few family and friends made up a small audience to enjoy each person’s best effort and cheer them on.


Tony Wall playing in the march competition.


Tim Stoddard playing his slow air.

In the end, Kelly Foster ended up sweeping the grade 4 events, followed by Maureen Wallace with two seconds, and John Anevski with two thirds and a second. Maureen played up to grade 3 piobaireachd, and despite some mechanical difficulties with her blowpipe flapper value, she still managed to get through the full tune.  Also playing in the grade 4 events were Tony Wall and Frank Leftwich. Tim Stoddard played in the grade 5 slow air competition, and Jesse Callender played in the grade 1 MSR and Piobaireachd.

The awards!
The awards!
A happy group of competitors!
A happy group of competitors! And no, we didn’t all have sun burns, just forgot to shut off the red spotlights

With the award ceremony complete, a number of participants had to get on the road, but those that could stayed for a short meeting to discuss the future of the MPS.

Although things can always be improved, this far exceeded our expectations, and was a great start to what we hope will become an annual event.