Prairie Piping Invitational Event



Jim McGillivray
Aurora, ON

Jim McGillivray started piping in Kitchener, ON, and learned in local bands until he came under the influence of Ed Neigh, one of the pre-eminent pipers of that day, and pipe-major of the Guelph Pipe Band. Ed’s pipe band was forward thinking, and Ed himself a great student of piobaireachd. Jim also had summer schools with the great Scottish piper John MacFadyen, who influenced many in the Ontario scene.

From 1981 to 1991 Jim travelled regularly to compete in the Scottish solo scene, and he won the Inverness Gold Medal (1985), the Clasp at Inverness (1986), the Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal at Oban (1991) and the MSR at the Glenfiddich Championship (1986). He retired from solo competition after 1991, and has had a few pipe band adventures since, including the 78th Fraser Highlanders (1988-93) and The Spirit of Scotland (2008).

Since 1998 Jim has been teaching piping at St. Andrew’s College in Ontario, and he has built a career as an educator, publishing in various media (books, websites, audio & video) excellent materials for learning, playing and maintaining bagpipes. He runs McGillivray Piping, which specializes in vintage, unique and high-quality instruments and accessories, and he also runs, which is a library of pipe tunes for download.

Jim is an adjudicator with the PPBSO.


Andrea Boyd
Toronto, ON

Andrea Boyd - Competitor - Prairie Piping InvitationalAndrea Boyd was born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. From a family and community strongly steeped in piping tradition, she began piping at the age of nine and has received tuition from Scott Williams, John Walsh, Bruce Gandy, and Robert Wallace. Andrea played with the Antigonish Highland Society Pipe Band from 1994 – 2001; Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia from 2003-2006; St. Laurence O’‘Toole Pipe Band from 2006-2011; and Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band from 2013-2017. Andrea currently receives solo tuition from Willie McCallum. She counts the Rankin Family, Howie MacDonald, Paul K. MacNeil, Doug Boyd, The 78thFraser Highlanders, and Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band as formative musical influences. Her favourite pipers are Angus MacColl, Fred Morrison, Stuart Liddell, and Terry Tully.

Andrea’s piping achievements include winning the Young Piper of the Year, Benbecula, Western Isles in 2006; B March and B Strathspey & Reel at the Argyllshire Gathering in 2006; the Silver Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 2008 and the World Pipe Band Championships with St. Laurence O’Toole in 2010. In 2015, Andrea was named Professional Piper of the Day at the Georgetown and Glengarry Highland Games and she was placed 3rd in 2014 and 5th in 2016 in the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering. In 2017, she won the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) at the Glengarry Highland Games and was the overall winner of the A grade solo piping at Cowal Highland Gathering.

Sean McKeown
Toronto, ON

Sean started lessons with Gail Brown in 1993, and as a member of the Milton Optimist Jr band, won the 1994 Juvenile World Pipe Band Championships, and the 1997 Grade 3 World Pipe Band Championships. From there, he played with the Toronto Police Grade 1 Pipe Band, and the 78th Fraser Highlanders under Bill Livingstone, serving as Pipe Sergeant in each. During a hiatus from solo competition, Sean spent some time travelling with a Ceilidh band, called the Tartan Terrors, performing in Canada and the US, and recording a few albums. Sean also enjoyed performing live with artists from other genre’s, including Bryan Adams, and his brother, Kevin over the years.

In 2006, Sean returned to solo piping competition, with direction from Bill Livingstone, and picked up some prizes, including winning the Canadian Gold medal for piobaireachd, the Canadian Bar to the Gold Medal (Former winners) twice, the Silver Medal at Inverness, double second placings in the Gold Medal at Oban and Inverness, the Open Hornpipe Jig at Inverness, the Cameron Ghillies Championship at the Dr Dan Reid Memorial Invitational, and the Livingstone Invitational Championship.

The Live in Ireland Concerts in 2016 (Glasgow) and 2017 (Belfast) celebrated the iconic original concert and recording from the 78th Fraser’s in 1987, and brought together some of the most talented names in pipe bands, in which Sean was fortunate and incredibly grateful to be a part of.

In 2015, Sean became Pipe Major of the Toronto Police Pipe Band.

Sean is a Detective Constable with the Toronto Police, and a University of Toronto Graduate.

Raphael Mercier
Saskatoon, SK

Raphael started piping in Saskatoon with the 96th Highlanders, and played with the band there for a number of years, including a trip to Scotland where the band made the final of their Grade 4 contest at the World’s. Raphael joined the City of Regina Pipe Band in fall 2010, and has been a member of the band since that time, and competed and performed with the band at games in Canada and Scotland.

A prolific amateur prizewinner, Raph has won awards at games across Canada, including high-profile events such as the BC Pipers Annual Gathering and Maxville Highland Games, where he did very well in a strong class at the Grade 1 level. Since moving to professional piping, Raph has won prizes at Games across the prairie provinces, including a top-three finish in the Prairie Piping Invitational, and also won the “Audience Favourite” his first time in the event.

In 2017, Raph won many prizes in regional games, and later travelled throughout Scotland in the summer, where he featured in many prizes lists at top games, including a 2nd in piobaireachd at the Aboyne Gathering.

Raphael has an Engineering degree from the University of Saskatchewan, and is currently computer science.

Alex Rasmussen

Regina, SK

Alex Rasmussen.
Alex Rasmussen.

Alex started piping in Lumsden, and later joined the Fraser Pipe Band, where he played for a number of years. After a short stint in the grade 4 band, Alex joined the City of Regina Pipe Band in 1998, and has been a member ever since.

Over the years, Alex has performed with the band at contests and concerts in Canada, the USA and Scotland, and continues to be a contributor to the band on a number of levels.

After many years off for good behaviour, Alex jumped back into solos a couple of years back, and won a considerable number of prizes at the Grade 1 level at Highland games in this region and at Maxville Games in Ontario. He made his pro debut two-years ago at the Winnipeg Scottish Festival last year, where he was the overall winner of the light music.

Alex’s other musical pursuits include piano, guitar, reelpipes and uilleann pipes, and is a member of the Cape-Breton-inspired band “West of Mabou” which has just released its second recording. He is a teacher by profession.

Stewart Smith

Calgary, AB

Stewart Smith - Competitor - Prairie Piping Invitational
One might say that Stewart Smith was born to pipe. As a 3rd generation piper, Stewart is the youngest of three brothers to have played in the Alberta piping scene.

He is an accomplished player and has gained many top prizes at competitions throughout North America in solo and band competitions. After playing with the Alberta Caledonia Pipe Band from 1996-2007, Stewart was lucky enough to play with the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band when they won the World Pipe Band Championship in 2008. Stewart was the 2015 Prairie Piping Invitational Champion.

Stewart is also an accomplished uilleann piper and can be heard playing at various Irish music sessions around Calgary.

Stewart lives in Calgary with his wife and son.

Sean Somers
Calgary, AB

A consistent prize-winner in professional piping contests throughout North America, Sean is also a former winner of the Prairie Piping Invitational in 2013. As the pipe-major of the Grade 2 Rocky Mountain Pipe Band, the RMPB has established itself as one of the premier competitive bands in Western Canada under Sean’s leadership. Sean has led the RMPB to win the North American Pipe Band Championship (2017), the BC Indoor Annual Gathering (2017, 2018), many consecutive Alberta Provincial Championships, multiple Northern Canadian Championships, and many other top prizes at local Highland Games throughout Western Canada. With many appearances in the Grade 1 finals at the World Pipe Band Championships, he is also the former pipe-sergeant of the Grade 1 Alberta Caledonia Pipe Band, and former key member of The 78th Highlanders (Halifax) Pipe Band where he won both the Canadian and North American Championships in Grade 1. Sean spent his formative years with The City of Regina Pipe Band and credits his former teacher, P/M Iain MacDonald (Regina)and his wife Barb MacDonald as major influences on his piping career.

Sean is the former Principal Piping Instructor at the College of Piping (PEI), and has since continued to teach regularly at workshops and at summer schools. More recently, Sean has enjoyed opportunities to lecture and give recitals in addition to his teaching in both Canada and the United States.

An award-winning composer, Sean has been commissioned to write music to commemorate special events, and dozens of his tunes have been published in several contemporary collections of bagpipe music. His music has been played and recorded by some of the world’s best pipe bands.

Sean has been Chair of the Music and Judging Committee for the Alberta Society of Pipers and Drummers, Past President of the Saskatchewan Pipe Band Association and member of Music Initiatives Advisory Committee with the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations.

An accredited member of the Alberta Society of Pipers and Drummers adjudication panel, Sean has judged solo and band competitions throughout North America. Stops include British Columbia, the Canadian Prairies, the Maritimes in eastern Canada, as well as the Pacific Region, the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

Over the years, Sean has also been a contributor to pipes|drums, the world’s most popular magazine for pipers and drummers, with feature articles, reviews and opinion.

Sean has also assisted in the development of a bagpipe making business, which manufactured highland bagpipes, practice chanters and accessories.

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Sean is married with a young son and daughter. A civil servant in “real life”, he manages the Department of Transportation’s Communications team with The City of Calgary.