The following is a guest blog, from someone who, unlike me, was there.
The 2009 Hawkes Bay Highland Games were held under blue and windless skies. The conditions provided none of the usual excuses for poor performances.
The Clasp event held high promise. A field of 9 competitors was the largest for some time with a selection of tunes which, while testing, couldn’t be described as taxing. Brendan Eade (pictured first on the left) was the deserving winner of the event with a fine and technically excellent rendition of The Unjust Incarceration on a well tuned bagpipe.
Iain Robertson was placed second playing The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute.The third place getter, George Mason, played The McRaes’ March. Fourth place getter Nigel Foster, taking the notion of the Easter resurrection to his own solo bagpiping career, with his first tune at Hastings for ’20 odd’ years, provided a solid and enjoyable ‘Big Spree’. Well done that man.
Alastair Munro and his company Dyechem deserve special mention for their very generous sponsorship of the Clasp Competition. Despite the disappointments of some of this year’s performances, the Comunn na Piobiareachd Clasp remains the premier Piobaireachd competition in New Zealand.
Saturday’s competitions gave one of the Clasp performers a chance of redemption, which he seized with both hands on the chanter. Jamie Hawke was the well deserved winner of the New Zealand Championship Under 21 Piobaireachd with a fine rendition of The Lament for the Viscount of Dundee. Second was Callum Gilchrist with The Flame of Wrath.
In more recent history the Comunn na Piobaireachd Gold Medal has become something of an international event with two of the past 10 winners hailing from abroad. 2009 has brought a further international winner in the form of Ian Lyons (pictured above middle), currently based in Australia. Ian played the McKays’ Banner for a deserved first prize and the Comunn na Piobaireachd Gold Medal. Second prize went to Gary Stewart playing Nameless (Hiharan Dro o Dro), third prize to Scott Kennedy playing The King’s Taxes and fourth prize to Kevin Sinclair with The Piper’s Warning to His Master.
By all accounts, however, the standout event at the Games was the Comunn na Piobaireachd Silver Medal competition. The judges expressed their pleasure at the universally high standard for this event. The first prize and the Comunn na Piobaireachd Silver Medal winner was William Rowe (pictured above right) playing The Munros’ Salute. As the winner of the Silver Medal William Rowe also received the Comunn na Piobaireachd Special Prize, being the complete volumes of the Binneas if Borreraig Collection. Bruce Cawood is thanked for his generous sponsorship of the Silver Medal and the Special Prize. Second was Terry Genet playing The Flame of Wrath. Third prize was awarded to Andrew Broadbent and fourth to Simon Fraser.