By The Editor
With the World Pipe band Championships over for another year the international piping focus switches from bands to solos and in particular to today’s Argyllshire Gathering at Oban.
The Gathering is one of the two main piping competitions in the world; only next week’s Northern Meeting in Inverness rivals it in importance in the solo piper’s calendar. (Tickets for the NM are now on sale here.)
Contests over two days will decide the winners of the Gold Medal for piobaireachd presented by the Highland Society of London, the Senior Piobaireachd title for former winners of the medal (currently held by Stuart Liddell – yes, him again!), the Silver Medal for prospective gold medallists and the MacGregor Memorial for pipers under 22.
Twenty-four play in the Gold, 22 in the Senior, 25 in the Silver and 30 in the MacGregor. The competitions all begin at 9am today the first two in the Corran Halls. Check the programme for other venues. First results are expected circa 4.30pm and we will get them to you as soon as we can. The various orders of play can be accessed here. The lists may not include late withdrawals.
Piping Convenor Torquil Telfer said: ‘We are once more delighted with the quality and quantity of the entries for the Gathering. We look forward to hearing the best pipers in the world competing for our prestigious prizes. The intermediate MacGregor Memorial Piobaireachd has competitors from all parts, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland ….. and Yorkshire! It could even be considered a world piobaireachd championship for that age group.
‘I hope all piobaireachd competitors, including those in the MacGregor, will join the Gold Medal winner for the march to the games on Thursday. It is a unique tradition of the AG and I know it is appreciated by the new Medallist. The Stewards of the Gathering and our President, His Grace the Duke of Argyll will of course be in attendance.’
Get a feel for the march to the games with this video showing 2016 Gold Medallist Ian K MacDonald and pipers leading the stewards and the crowd to the games park:
Mr Telfer also outlined changes to games day. As an experiment the field adjacent to the main park will be utilised for the ‘A’ and ‘B’ ceol beag. This will reduce greatly the interference from loudspeakers and starting guns. There will be two specified final tuning areas, though not covered. New judges tents have also been procured. The Army School of Piping have provided four piping stewards who will be on duty at the games.
The Intermediate MSR for the P/M RG Hardie Memorial Trophy and local piping will be held in front of the Members’ Enclosure.
The switch in playing platforms may detract from the traditional atmosphere of the Gathering and so the impact of the change will be assessed before a commitment is made to the arrangements for 2020.
Here is how Mossfield Park will be set up:
Playing requirements have also changed. Following representations from the Competing Pipers’ Association short leets have been discontinued and entrants in the ‘A’ March will play two tunes straight through from a list of six submitted. In the ‘B’ March it’s one march from six submitted.
In the ‘A’ Strathspey & Reel pipers will play each tune selected from their six twice through. In the ‘B’s it’s once through.