PP Ed’s Blog: Concert formation/ PP New Look/ Band MSRs/ Gairloch Junior Festival


Well done to Chicago Highland Games and the Mid West Pipe Band Association for continuing with their successful concert formation at their recent contest. Everyone’s a winner with this, especially the audience and the judges. The Ross Bandstand (above) in Edinburgh yesterday had the same option for bands. 

Boghall won G1 as expected with Skye second. G2 went to George Watson’s juvenile band (how good is this grade?) with Boghall and Wallacestone second and third. Judges were Gordon Laurie, Tom Brown, Ian Lawson and Jennifer Hutcheon. Get the full results here.


We are working hard on a new look for Piping Press. The recent and on-going glitches have been caused by the magazine outgrowing its host. There are thousands of readers every day and hundreds of articles and the system we set up when we started in 2014 simply can’t cope. We are currently moving everything over to new servers and looking at freshening up the look. Will take a few weeks given the size of the operation but will be worth it in the end. Follow us on Twitter (click the graphic above) or Facebook or sign up for email notification to avoid any issues when accessing the world’s best piping magazine – no spin, no subscription.



Reader Ian Forbes has written re the problem of band MSRs:
Hi Robert, I have a simple solution to the repetitive MSR problem with bands that you and others have been highlighting for years.

Let me say firstly that I am a strong believer in the MSR discipline being a true test of a band’s ability, and it would be a shame if this were to disappear.  However something needs to be done to avoid an empty arena in the Worlds MSR final.  It would be too draconian to ban certain tunes, or impose a set list.  The solution is easy – Grade 1 bands  continue to submit 2 MSRs, but let the judges choose the one that is played, rather than drawing a number.  In support of this proposition are the following:

  1. This is no different to the solo circuit where the judges choose the MSR
  2. This would allow the judges prevent LAK/Susan MacLeod/ Mrs MacPherson being played endlessly
  3. Where a band has made an effort to learn an unusual set, the judges could specifically select it, rather than the current lottery system (in which a band may not ever play its new MSR)
  4. In the worlds competition, let each band play its own choice in the Friday qualification (to showcase its expertise), but revert to judges choice in the Saturday grand final.

I cannot see any disadvantages in this approach, assuming the integrity of all the judges, and it may even incentivise bands to learn some of the great but less well heard MSRs.


The 2018 Gairloch Young Pipers Festival will be held in the spectacular Inverewe Gardens, a new venue for the competition. The date is Sept 29 and entries close September 3. The contest’s aim is to ‘encourage Under 18 pipers, from  Primary upwards,  to participate in friendly and relaxing competitions’.

Chairman Dr Ian Blake said, ‘This year the Iain Dall MacKay Young Pipers will demonstrate  their skill in the spectacular setting of Osgood Mackenzie’s gardens overlooking Loch Ewe. For the first time The Festival will be held in partnership with Inverewe NTS. Not only will it be an exciting setting for the competitors but it will provide visitors to the gardens on Saturday 29th September with a unique opportunity to hear some of the most gifted young inheritors of our much cherished Highland heritage.’

 The Festival commemorates Iain ‘Dall’ MacAoidh (1656-1754) piper to Mackenzie of Gairloch, blind from the age of seven as the result of smallpox, the legendary ‘Blind Piper’.

There are eight Classes and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, prizes are offered for 1-7
Competition 1      Primary pupils March on practice chanter
Competition 2     Secondary pupils March on practice chanter
Competition 3     Novice march on bagpipes – pupils playing bagpipes for less than 1 year
Competition 4   U15 Piobaireachd
Competition 5   U15 March, Strathspey and Reel
Competition 6   U18 Piobaireachd
Competition 7   U18 March, Strathspey and Reel
Competition 8   Ishbel MacAskill Memorial Prize, Open U18 Original Composition for Pipes or Fiddle £100

• More details here.


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