Crieff Highland Gathering has confirmed that there will be no competitive piping at this year’s games. However, in an interview with pipingpress.com, the solo piping convenor, Mr Graham Taylor, voiced his intention, given support, of restoring the solo competitions in 2016.
He also confirmed that the intention of the games committee was to have full day of ‘non-competitive’ piping at the Sunday, 16th August 2015 event. A number of duty pipe bands had already been signed up to perform during the afternoon and to take part in various parades. Mr Taylor also said that he would be very keen to have some sort of quality solo piping event, but not a competition. He said he was open to ideas and these could take the form of an outdoor recital and talk on ceol mor and/or ceol beag, both of which had been regular features of the games for over 100 years.
Crieff Highland Gathering has come under increased pressure since their decision to abandon all 2015 piping competitions, not least from this magazine. The decision was taken, Mr Taylor stated, shortly after last year’s gathering at which, he said, entry had fallen to ’11 or 12′ in the seniors and three in the juniors, with only one piper making an appearance in this category.
Mr Taylor said: ‘Ironically this year past was a bit better than 2012 and 13, but there is no doubt that our solo piping entries are way down – from the mid-20s for senior ceol mor, and sometimes nearer 30 for the light music. It all stems from when the World Pipe Band Championships became a two-day event and partially clashed with us. We began noticing a decline over the last two or three years. We used to get the likes of Jori Chisholm from the US and pipers from Brittany playing. Now they don’t appear, presumably because they are tied up with the Worlds or travelling home.
‘The cost of setting up and administering the contest, feeding, watering and paying the judges, all became too much. So the decision was taken, with a heavy heart, not to go ahead with this year’s competition. I had to, sadly, agree with my colleagues on the Crieff board. I had to bow to their wishes. I say with a heavy heart because I love piobaireachd and I love solo piping. I am sorry things had to be this way. I am an amateur piper myself and always enjoyed listening to the ceol mor and appreciated the depth to this music.
‘For this year we are still keen to have pipes sounding all day and I know that a significant number of bands have been hired on a paying engagement basis to play during the afternoon and for our parade. I am also keen to invite solo pipers to come along to put on some sort of show, a recital or something like that. I am open to ideas and there will be a purse available.
‘We might have a piping tent where visitors can hear good players playing a wide variety of music and talking about and describing the tunes they are performing. We would pay good pipers to do this for us. A preference would be given to pipers who had supported Crieff in the past and those with a good name and reputation.
‘We might offer complimentary tickets for judges from previous years so that we have a good representation on the day from the piping community. In closing, I want to say that my intention is definitely to restore the solo piping competition in 2016. I will be writing to the Competing Pipers Association about this. We will work hard to make this happen, but in return we do need the support from the piping community.’
Anyone wishing to contact Mr Taylor with piping ideas for this year’s Crieff Games should call him on 07973 223389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Games website home page reads: ‘A very warm welcome to Crieff Highland Gathering – this year to be held on Sunday 16th August 2015. Whether new or a returning visitor to our games, competitor, sponsor or one of our many supportive trade stand owners we look forward to seeing you on and trust this website will lead you to all the information needed to make your visit to Crieff Highland Gathering an exciting and memorable one.
‘Since 1870 as one of Scotland’s longest running Games, Crieff is particularly fortunate to have a wonderful bespoke Games field (The Market Park) with its natural amphitheatre adding to the amazing atmosphere in this great and very traditional highland gathering. In addition to the great spectacle of the pipers athletes, dancers and those amazing heavy weight competitors, we in Crieff, have also added a wide range of new and amazing attractions to help make your visit on the 16th of August truly memorable. ‘This year we have decided to build on the success of last year’s music marquee and are very pleased to announce an even bigger, better and brilliant gathering of local and national musicians who will perform for you. Our headline act, this year, is the amazing Scottish traditional band SKERRYVORE. Another first for Crieff’s 2015 Games will be the 1 mile Kilt run through the streets of town and down to the Games field which promises to bring wonderful colour and great competition to the start of the day. The sight and sound of the massed piped bands marching, past the Square in Crieff and down to the Games field will also deliver an impressive start to what will, all in all, be another day to be remembered at The Crieff Highland Gathering. For further detail on Crieff Highland Gathering follow the link to the visitor’s pages.
‘A message from Chairman of the 2015 Crieff Highland Games, Colin Crawford: ‘On behalf of the Directors of Crieff Highland Gathering, and the people of Crieff I invite you to join us all on the 16th of August for a fantastic day of Scottish highland games, music, and dance. In being there you will become part of a great tradition lasting over the past 145 years where people have gathered in the ancient town of Crieff to celebrate Scotland’s traditions, both old and new.’