George Balderose of the Balmoral School writes: Kayleigh Johnstone of Aurora, Ontario was the overall piping winner of the annual Balmoral Classic piping contest held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last weekend. Remarkably, her brother, Colin won the George Sherriff contest held in Ontario that same evening.
As well as the trophies, Kayleigh won a set of blackwood MacRae Bagpipes donated by McCallum Bagpipes.
The weekend began on Friday evening with a gathering featuring short recital by the piping judges followed by music by Bagad New York who played for a Breton dance.
The competitions on the Saturday were held in Frick Fine Arts Auditorium of the University of Pittsburgh. Pipers were required to submit two MSR medleys and two Piobaireachd, one of each to be selected by the judges for the contest. Drummers were required to submit one MSR medley and one Hornpipe and Jig medley. Twelve pipers from six US states plus Ontario and Scotland, and three drummers from Ohio and Maryland competed in the double event contests.
Prizes for 2nd to 5th place pipers included a blackwood chanter donated by MacLellan Bagpipes, a blackwood border chanter donated by Burgess Bagpipes, a set of kitchen pipes donated by Scotts Highland Services, and additional prizes donated by Celtic Croft, Pipers Hut, Duncan’s Highland Supply, Robert Felsburg, The Balmoral School, Jim McGillivray, and Temple Records.
Piobaireachd – Kayleigh Johnstone (Old Men of the Shells); 2. Duncan Winters, Grand Junction, Colorado (Too Long in this Condition); 3. Sebastian Benedetto, Cape Neddick, Maine (The Bicker); 4. Alexandra Knox, Woodbine, Maryland (Lament for the Viscount of Dundee); 5. Gemma Briggs, Clearwater, Florida (Melbank’ s Salute).
MSR – 1. Kayleigh Johnstone (Margret Anne MacLeod, Lady Loudon, The Grey Bob); 2. Robert Dunn Jr (Kantara to El Arish, Macbeth’ s Strathspey, Cockerel in the Creel); 3. Duncan Winters (John MacDonald of Glencoe, John Roy Stewart, Sandy Cameron); 4. Sebastian Benedetto (Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque, Maggie Cameron, Brown Haired Maid); 5. Alexandra Knox (The 93rd at Modder River, Lady Loudon, Arnish Light).
Overall – 1. Kayleigh Johnstone; 2. Duncan Winters; 3. Sebastian Benedetto; 4. Robert Dunn Jr.; 5. Alexandra Knox.
Judges: Ian Duncan, Bruce Gandy and Lezlie Webster.
After the Saturday contest, we moved to Carnegie Lecture hall where there was an evening award ceremony followed by a fabulous concert with Eabhal from Scotland to an audience of approximately 500 that also featured dancers from the Thompson School of Highland Dance and Burke-Conroy School of Irish Dance. At the start of the second concert set Kayleigh Johnstone played her winning MSR, and Nicholas Moore accompanied by Ben Elliott played his winning Hornpipe and Jig.
The weekend event finished on Sunday morning with a free Piobaireachd workshop with Ian Duncan from Perthshire, Scotland.
The event was made possible by grants from the Sage Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Laurel Foundation, The Pittsburgh Firefighters Memorial Pipe Band, The Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipe Band, the St. Andrews Society of Pittsburgh, and many individual donations. The Saturday evening event also featured a 50/50 raffle.
Many thanks to the 2019 Balmoral Classic contestants, judges, musicians, sponsors, donors, the Balmoral staff, and the many volunteers who helped to make the 13th Balmoral Classic a noteworthy success.
• George Balderose founded the Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming in 1979.