The 2021 Archie Kenneth Quaich winner was piper Gill Cairns from Malta. Gill was placed first by judges Iain Speirs and Euan Anderson for her playing of the Lament for John Morrison of Assynt House by P/M Donald MacLeod.
Other prizes went to
2 Colin MacKenzie, Corrienessan’s Salute
3 Giovanni Giulianini
4 Stuart Marshall
5 Andrea Jones
The results were announced a a small online ceremony open to all PS members on June 2.
Organiser Peter McCalister writes: For the first time this long-running contest was held online [May 22]. Last year we were lucky in holding the contest in February 2020 before the national lockdown in March. It was a slightly smaller contest than previous, partly due to the IT requirements, but we had 23 pipers on the day, from all around the world. For example, Gill Cairns was in Malta, Martin Lee Wey Vern was in Singapore and Stephen Anderson was playing outdoors in Tennessee. A lot of effort was made to attend in these difficult times – so thanks go to all the pipers, and to audience members and supporters.
The IT method used a Zoom meeting for the playing of each tune, which was thus played live in front of the steward – me – and the appreciative audience who were also spread widely from Scotland to Australia. However, each piper also had a second device on the day to video record the tune, as Zoom has no real method of transmitting the sound of the pipes adequately. This second device recording did not rely on internet technology, and thus a high quality video was made which then went up on YouTube for the judges to view later.
The advantage of the Zoom method was that the playing was live – as it would be on the day of a contest. Players got dressed up, prepared in advance for half an hour or so offline, then met with me on Zoom, to fine-tune drones etc., and play their tune. This really did put the pipers ‘on the boards’ – even though the whole situation was electronic. In a final turn of the screw, the piper was told, as he/she struck up, which tune to play of the two tunes submitted.
Players could arrive early and chat to me and the other competitors, using the Zoom chat function, which also mirrors a real contest, where the banter is part of the enjoyment. Although sometimes the Zoom reproduction of the music was less than perfect, the whole day went really well. I noted as I left the Zoom meeting at 4.30pm that pipers and the audience were still chatting, which again was a pleasure to see.