Northern Meeting Underway in Highland Capital

2018 Former Winners’ MSR Champion Alex Gandy, Nova Scotia, with his trophy and Eden Court Theatre in the background

The second major solo piping competition in a week, the Northern Meeting, began in Inverness last night with a formal reception in the newly-refurbished Town House, writes the Editor. Today the action moves to the Eden Court Theatre on the banks of the River Ness where contests for Gold and Silver Medals, Gold Clasp, Former Winners’ and ‘A’ Grade MSR, and a full raft of ‘B’ grade light music and junior events will be held over two days.

Guests were welcomed to the reception by the Lord Provost Helen Carmichael, NM Chairman Seymour Monro and Piping Convenor Alan Forbes.

Last year’s NM Gold Medallist, Dr Peter McCalister, was asked to play a few tunes and he began with P/M Donald MacLeod’s 6/8, the Ross Battery:

After Peter’s performance guests and officials ventured outside to hear the Pipes and Drums of the Queen’s Own Highlanders Association, sounding as tuneful as ever.

At the conclusion of the evening Alan Forbes spoke to PP: ‘We have a lot of the competing pipers at our reception and I have been offering them all the best of luck. They all look very relaxed at the moment and that is probably justified because they will have done their preparation.

‘The standard is so high nowadays that that will show through for sure. There are about 100 pipers entered in the senior competitions and 35 in the juniors. I think about 35 – 40% of the senior competitors are from overseas so we have a wonderful international spread.

‘Pulling it together year after year is hard work of course but enjoyable. We have a very stable and able group of stewards and committee members and they make it all possible. Because of this experience the two days usually runs like clockwork which is great.

‘We have new sponsorship this year from the Clan Donald Lands Trust, the first time for many years. They were involved in a small way some time ago but they have now committed themselves to sponsoring our top piobaireachd event, the Clasp, for a good number of years into the future.

Alan Forbes, Northern Meeting Piping Convenor, in the magnificent Town House, Inverness

‘They have been very generous and are serious about piobaireachd at the highest level and have doubled the first prize money to £1,000 which demonstrates how serious they are about having pipers paid at a level which is commensurate with their skill and experience.

‘To encourage as many people as possible to come along to Eden Court we have free entry for juniors and also half day tickets just to see how that works. We may have those who want to hear some piping but are not necessarily aficionados who want to stay the whole day.

The Northern Meeting is truly international. Pictured in 2018, but competing again this year, are triple Clasp holder Greg Wilson from New Zealand and his prize-winning son Campbell

‘Hopefully we will attract curious tourists who will get a taste of quality piping at the highest level. We also have some stallholders showing their wares in the foyer of Eden Court Theatre for the first time for many years.

‘They are mostly people with piping or Scottish connections: bagpipemakers, tweed makers and things like that. Again that would be of interest to a wider group of people than simply the piping purist.

‘We start today at 8.30am for the Gold Medal going on until late this evening with the Former Winners’ MSR. We have the biggest entry ever for Clasp competition on Friday, 22, and no one has withdrawn which is quite unusual so that will be a long but hopefully very high quality competition.

‘The Northern Meeting is one of the main solo piping events in the world and the future looks very promising. We have been trying to broaden awareness of the competition because it is clearly one of the best, most popular and most historic competitions anywhere. So we are gradually trying to broaden our appeal in the wider world to get people coming here to hear the great competition that we have.

‘For those who can’t manage we have BBC Radio Scotland recording as usual so we expect we will feature on the ‘Pipeline’ programme over the next couple of weeks.’

  • Stay tuned to PP for results as we get them from 4pm this afternoon.

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