Iain is from Edinburgh, Scotland and is the third generation of pipers in the Speirs family. Iain’s father is Tom Speirs, an Inverness Gold Medallist (1980) and Clasp (1983) winner. His grandfather, Jock Speirs, was Pipe Major in the London Scottish and of the Johnnie Walker’s Pipe Band. In the late 1980s, Iain came to a piping summer school in Ontario, where he first received instruction from Scott MacAulay. Iain, along with his brother Gregor, started coming over to The College of Piping summer schools in the early 1990’s. Iain was a member of The College of Piping Pipe Band which won the 1994 Grade 3 North American Championships. In 1995, Iain assumed the role of Pipe Major and led The College of Piping Pipe Band to a repeat win of the Grade 3 North American Championships. Iain’s major prizes include:
- The Northern Meeting Gold Medal (2007)
- The Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal (2002)
- The Silver Chanter (2003, 2004, 2005)
- The Bratach Gorm (2008)
- The Open Piobaireachd and overall championship at the Piping Society of London (2004)
- The MSR and overall championship at the Piping Society of London (2010)
- The Piobaireachd and Former Winners MSR at the SPA (2005)
- The Dunvegan Medal (1995)
- The Springbank Invitational Piobaireachd (2008)
- The Northern Meeting ‘A’ MSR (2009)
- The Masters Invitational MSR (2005).
Iain has also competed at the Glenfiddich Piping Championship on eight occasions.
Iain is a former member of both the Grade 1 Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band in Edinburgh and the now defunct Clan MacFarlane Pipe Band from St. Catharine’s, Ontario. IHe is currently a member of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band which was formed to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships in 2008.
Iain was taught originally by Jack D. Crichton and now receives tutoring from Donald MacPherson, MBE.
Iain works and resides in Edinburgh, Scotland with his wife Susanne whom he met in Summerside and their daughter, Annie and son, John.
Andrew was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario and his initial instruction came from his father, the late Pipe Major Patrick Hayes. He began studying with Scott MacAulay in 1986, and made regular visits to the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada for instruction during the first five years after it opened in 1990. In the years that followed, he also received guidance from P/M William Livingstone and Murray Henderson.
Highlights of Andrew’s impressive solo piping career include some of the most prestigious solo piping prizes in both North America and Scotland, including the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) and three bars to that Medal; the overall professional solo piping award at the North American Championships in Maxville; the overall professional solo piping award at the Cowal Highland Gathering in Scotland; the overall professional solo piping award at the Braemar Highland Gathering in Scotland; the overall award at the Livingstone Invitational; and the overall award at the Metro Cup Invitational. In 2010, Andrew won the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting in Inverness, Scotland.
In 2003, Andrew Hayes was admitted to the Bar of Ontario and began practicing law in Ottawa. He has played with the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders and the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Bands, winning a total of 4 North American Pipe Band Championships with these bands. He is currently the Pipe Major of the competition group of the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band.
Matt MacIsaac’s very first lessons took place in July 1990, at the first summer school held by The College of Piping. He entered solo competition less than a year later and for the next eight seasons he consistently placed at the top of his competing category, often the leader on aggregate season points across the Maritimes.
In 1997 – 1998, under the tutelage of Scott MacAulay at The College, Matt went to Scotland and won several prizes including the MacGregor Memorial in Oban and the Under 18 events at Cowal, the Silver Medal contests in Oban and Inverness the following year where he place first and second respectively, and the B grade Strathspey/Reel at Inverness.
In 1999, Matt took his music in a new direction by going on tour with Nova Scotia celtic group Cuillin. In 2001, he joined Natalie MacMaster’s band and toured with her for 8 years, playing pipes, whistle, flute, banjo, guitar and percussion. During that time he released a well-received solo album called “The Piping Album” in 2005.
Again switching directions, Matt joined the Canadian Forces as a musician in Spring 2009. He now lives in Winnipeg, has returned to competitive piping and is a Sgt with the Air Command Band.
Rob began piping at age 10 and was a student of the College’s founding director Scott MacAulay in the 1980s and 90s. After winning the North American Amateur Championship in 1986, Rob entered professional competition and captured major awards including the 1998 Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at Braemar, Scotland, and the 1997 North American Professional March, Strathspey and Reel Championship at Maxville Ontario, among other prizes at top contests.
A major focus of Rob’s piping career was extending the appeal of the bagpipe to new audiences. In 1999, he released “The Piper’s Legacy”, an album of orchestrated bagpipe music that earned a Juno nomination and achieved Gold Sales in Canada in 2002. He recorded three other popular albums of orchestrated bagpipe music and performed his music live in numerous venues throughout the 2000s. Rob was also a leader in the instructional arena, co-founding and co-directing with Jim McGillivray the Ontario School of Piping and Drumming, one of the top bagpipe summer schools in North America, and producing and co-authoring the Rhythmic Fingerwork instructional videos. Rob’s work with The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada included roles as a guest instructor, adjudicator, consultant and writer. In 2005, he authored, scored and was music director and co-producer of the inaugural production of Highland Storm at the College.
After eleven years as a full-time professional piper, Rob joined the branch of the Ontario Public Service that provides programs to support entrepreneurship. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.
John started piping at age eight and was one of the first Island-based students to enroll at The College where he was tutored by Scott MacAulay. John quickly reached the top of amateur piping, winning the 1997 and 1998 North American Amateur Piobaireachd Championship and the overall award at the 1997 Nicol-Brown Invitational Chalice. From 1998 to 1999, John moved to Edinburgh to study with Tom and Iain Speirs and play with the Scottish Power Pipe Band. John’s competitive record in Scotland included fifth in the 1998 Cowal Gathering Senior Piobaireachd against the world’s foremost players and second prize at the 1999 MacGregor Memorial Contest in Oban. Perhaps his most notable award during these years was the 1998 YTV Achievement Award for Young Canadian Instrumentalist of the Year. John was not only the first piper, but also the first Atlantic Canadian to win this award.
In 2001, John began playing full-time with Celtic fusion group Slainte Mhath and has since played over 300 shows in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators across North America and Europe. In 2002, the band released their second album, BA, which was signed by the independent label Maple Music. Slainte Mhath was nominated for three East Coast Music Award in 2003 and several awards abroad including a British Broascasting Corpotion Folk Award in 2002 – the second Canadian group ever to receive such a nomination. John continues to pursue his music while studying kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Rowan Manson hails from Christchurch, New Zealand. Rowan has been a long-standing member of the Canterbury Caledonia Grade 1 Pipe Band, based in Christchurch, NZ. Rowan’s mother and father have been active members of the New Zealand pipe band scene for many years which led to her taking the pipes at an early age.
In 2000, Scott MacAulay acted as the Principal Teacher of the Royal New Zealand Pipe Band Association’s Summer School where Rowan was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend The College of Piping in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.
Upon arriving in Summerside, Rowan took her first-ever lessons in piobaireachd, the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Some nine months later, Rowan placed first in her class in Piobaireachd at the North American Championships in Maxville, Ontario. Rowan has been a consistent prize winner on the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association competition circuit, dominating the senior amateur piping events. More recently, Rowan has graduated to the professional solo piping ranks and plays with the 78th Highlanders Pipe Band based at the Citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Michael is the descendant of a Scottish Loyalist family that came to Prince Edward Island in 1784 and established the community that still bears their name to this day. Family heritage was, in large part, responsible for Michael’s decision to pursue playing the pipes and by age 15, he was a member of Summerside’s Caledonia Pipe Band. When The College opened two and a half years later, the Caledonia Pipe Band became The College of Piping Pipe Band and Michael began studying under Scott MacAulay. An excellent player, Michael captured the North American Amateur Champion title in 1994 and was one of the first assistant piping instructors hired by The College as its programs expanded in the early years.
In 1995, Michael received a BA in Celtic Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. His strong academic standing earned him a full scholarship to Harvard University to study at the doctoral level in the Department of Celtic Languages and Literature. In 2001, Michael accepted a position in the Celtic Studies Department at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, as the first holder of the Ben Alder Chair in Celtic Studies. Michael continues to be a lecturer at St. Francis Xavier University. He finished working on his Doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in the spring of 2006.
Calvin Gallant was born and raised in Rustico, Prince Edward Island. He became a student of the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in 2003 at the age of eight, taking up highland snare drumming under the Doug and Debbie Hall Scholarship. Calvin would continue to study at the College of Piping for the next 10 years. He is thankful for the level of excellence the College offered, from highly skilled instructors such as Jeremy White and Chris Coleman, to a facility that provided a great environment to learn, play, and perform music.
From 2007-2012, Calvin was a member of the College of Piping Pipe Band, winning two North American Championships and competing twice at the World Pipe Band Championships with the band. He was also a cast member in the College of Piping’s own summer’s production “Highland Storm” for six consecutive years. Calvin also won a number of solo drumming awards, including the Grade one Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association Champion Supreme Drummer of the year in 2012.
Over the years, Calvin had the privilege to perform around the globe with multiple successful musicians/ensembles including Lennie Gallant, Accord’s D’Antan, Bagad Kemper, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin and Viscount Park Pipe Band, playing instruments which included guitar, percussion, vocals and piano.
In 2012, upon completion of high school, Calvin was offered a position with the Canadian Armed Forces as a musician. He now resides in Winnipeg, MB as a full time member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Band and volunteers with the City of Winnipeg Police Pipe Band.
Lacey Fischer started her highland dancing career at the College of Piping when she was seven, under the direction of Barb Brown York. Lacey enjoys both the competitive and performance aspects of highland dancing and has been privileged enough to have many opportunities to do both. She has represented her province of PEI four years in a row and travelled to three Interprovincial Canadian Championships in Antigonish, Calgary and St. John. In Antigonish, she represented PEI well by placing in her sword dance. This was one of the first times that PEI has placed in the Canadian Championships. She has also travelled to New Hampshire where under the direction of Jessica MacLeod Dent, she won her first Championship. She also won the Atlantic Championship in 2007. Lacey has always had a dream to dance at the World Highland Dancing Championships in Dunoon, Scotland. In 2008, she fulfilled this dream under the direction of Lindsay Munro-deLeeuw, when she competed in the qualifying round and along with 19 other dancers in her age group, advanced to the Finals. It was the first time that a highland dancer from PEI has qualified to dance in the Finals. She was also invited to dance at the Sadie Simpsons Scholarship Weekend for having a high score in her BATD exams. Lacey has also been in many performances. She found her love of performing at the summer evening concerts at the College which turned into performing in all of the productions of Highland Storm that the College has presented. She also had the privilege of travelling to Florida with the College in 2003 and was one of the highland dancers under the direction of Kendra Jones who performed on the Magic Kingdom stage. In her later years of dancing Lacey fulfilled another one of her dreams by becoming a certified Highland dancing instructor. She currently has her Members in BATD and had the opportunity to be one of the Highland Dancing Instructors at the College in 2008 and 2009. She hopes to be able to continue to teach in the future and to fulfill another dream of hers by one day performing in the Edinburgh Tattoo in Scotland.
Summerside’s own Patricia Murray began studying classical music in her elementary school years, and as a teenager, got her first exposure to Celtic music through The College. She was particularly drawn to the Scottish Gaelic song tradition, and, after a few years of study, became the featured vocalist of The College’s touring ensemble, performing at large scale venues such as Charlottetown’s Confederation Centre and Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.
In 1996, Patricia became the first Canadian ever to win the Silver Pendant Award-the highest award for learners of Gaelic song, presented annually at a prestigious competition held in Scotland. This astonishing achievement reinforced her determination to pursue Celtic vocal music as a career. Having just completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Music at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, Patricia enrolled in the Master’s of Celtic Studies program at the University of Toronto which she completed in 2000.
Patricia currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and works full-time as a touring musician and recording artist. She has been a regular performer at The College, has a busy touring schedule with bookings across North America and has released three solo CD’s, “Welcome To Prince Edward Island” ( 2005), “Primrose” (2001) and “Portraits” (1998). Patricia has been nominated for two East Coast Music Awards at the 2006 ECMA’s for her most recent album “Welcome To Prince Edward Island”. She appears on three volumes of The College’s “Ancestral Voices” CD series.