Deadline Nears for Entries for the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting

Pipers have until January 31 to get their entries in for the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban and the Northern Meeting, Inverness, the two top events in world solo piping. After that date names will go forward to the joint selection committee late next month when the final places will be allocated. The committee comprises representatives from both contests, the Competing Pipers Association, judges and the Piobaireachd Society.

There are likely to be 25 spots in both Silver and Gold Medals, though in the past this has occasionally been extended slightly to accommodate borderline candidates.

It is understood that the Competing Pipers’ Association’s new scheme for selecting pipers for the Silver Medals has not been an unqualified success and is likely to be dropped or drastically re-vamped for 2020/21.

Under this scheme certain competitions were earmarked as qualifiers for the Silver Medal; but these qualifiers have been inconsistent in quality and numbers. At one event there were only four performances worthy of consideration for the first prize and the SM place. At others there were many more excellent pipers, particularly in Scotland, vying for the prized place. At another, Inveraray Games, the pipers were given their tune a week beforehand, a practice out of kilter with all other qualifiers.



This year for the first time in history the Northern Meeting will take place before the Argyllshire Gathering, the first on August 20/21 and the second on August 26/27th. The change has been forced on the NM organisers following booking difficulties at their venue, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness.

For solo pipers who play in bands it means an unprecedented run of events with the World Pipe Band Championships taking place in Glasgow on August 14/15th. Five days later it is off to Inverness and five days after that it is down to Oban.

The Argyllshire Gathering will launch their smart new website tomorrow. Pipers enter via the site, fee £40. When live the site will be accessible at http://www.pipingcompetition.com. Here is a preview of some of the pages:

The website blurb: ‘The 2020 Argyllshire Gathering Piping Competition takes place on Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 August 2020 in Oban, Argyll. With over 200 entries from accomplished pipers from countries throughout the world, it’s two days of piping excellence. 

‘The first day of events (26 August) sees the prestigious Piobaireachd – the Ceòl mór – competitions taking place at various indoor venues in Oban – the Senior Piobaireachd Competition, The Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal, The Highland Society of London’s MacGregor Memorial Competition for young pipers and The Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal competition. The ever-popular Former Winners’ March, Strathspey & Reel competition also takes place which is an outstanding concert of light music.


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‘On the second day (27 August) the focus turns to the Ceòl beag – light music – competitions at The Argyllshire Gathering’s Oban Games. Pipers from across Argyll, Scotland and the world compete outdoors in the March, Strathspey & Reel competitions and the Jigs competitions at Mossfield Park stadium. 

‘Members of the public are most welcome to come along and listen to these world class piping events at the Corran Halls and other indoor venues on Wednesday and at The Oban Games at Mossfield Stadium on Thursday. Entry fee payable on the day.’

The Northern Meeting website is already inviting pipers to register for consideration for a competition place. Here is the link.

The NM blurb: ‘The Northern Meeting Piping Competition has emerged as the pre-eminent and most prestigious piping competition in the world. The Gold Medal for the classical piobaireachd music and the Gold Clasp for former winners, are the most sought after achievements for any piper.  The honour attaching to such success attracts pipers from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Europe and throughout the British Isles.

‘Entry to the competition is restricted to those of the highest calibre and competition is intense. Only around 100 competitors are selected to take part in the various events. These include the classic Piobaireachd, March, Strathspey and Reel and Hornpipes and Jigs.  The competition also caters for younger players with numbers in the junior competition increasing to some 30-40, reflecting the expanding interest in schools.’


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5 thoughts on “Deadline Nears for Entries for the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting

  1. Is it not time that a full list of the successful applicants have been published, by the promoters, such as The Northern Meeting and Argyllshire Gathering. Individuals have learned if they have been accepted, but the overall picture has not been published, for some reason. I think by this time last year such lists were available. Is there some kind of embargo on the information. I will merely be a paying member of the audience.

  2. The places for Oban and Inverness 2020 are to be made up of silver medal players in the prize list last year, A- players, winners of the silver medal qualifying events and then the remaining league table places. This must have been calculated and published after the London competition.

    1. ‘This must have been calculated and published after the London competition,’
      This should maybe have read. ‘This should have been calculated and published after the completion of the London competition.’
      As it has seemingly happened, there has not been a calculated list published to advise the pipers who are probably hoping to participate in the Silver Medal Competitions. If the list is to be created by the eligibilty committee process as opposed to the apparently agreed qualification process, it could be well into February or March before the lists are published. Fortuneately for 2020 the Silver Medal tunes are of own choice. However with having to submit 6 tunes, preparation of tunes should be under way already. Individuals have to plan ahead and with the scheduled date of the Northern Meeting being brought forward as pointed out, it may impact on other activities and the hopefulls may have to probably in some cases negotiate time off work etc. With a published list forward planning may be made easier.

  3. From memory the qualification system was discussed at a meeting and agreed upon by the Oban and Inverness promoters. The meeting was apparently attended by representatives from what might be described as partner associations. Subsequently a few individuals made comments which can be revisited as the details were published. There were problems in the system which were foreseen, which are evident and have materialised. However pipers took part in the system in good faith attending designated qualifying competitions in the hope of qualifying with obvious success and failure. The winners of the designated competitions were to qualify for acceptance to the 2020 Silver Medal and those placed in the Silver Medal competitions were also regarded as being qualified. In addition others who were placed in the prize lists of the designated competitions gathered league points and with sufficient such points be considered for qualification. It is relatively easy to see who have qualified through the agreed system. There are pipers who did have success at competitions which were not designated as qualifying competitions and it must be a difficult pill to swallow, but the system which was agreed by the promoters and partner associations excludes them.
    Doubtless some pipers went to considerable expense and effort to attend qualification competitions.
    It seems that the promoters are now making reference to eligibilty committees in respect of the Silver Medal competitions. The qualification system agreed by the promoters and the partner associations was seemingly in effort to replace eligibilty committees. To change the goal posts at this stage on the face of it would be unfair to those pipers who have committed to the system for 2020.
    It should not be a surprise if pipers who have gathered league points having taken part and featured in those competitions to raise challenge in the event of pipers being included who have not featured in qualification prize lists, then being accepted by the promoters.
    Undoubtedly the obvious shortcomings in the system are easily identified and would be doubtful if such a system will be adopted for the 2021 Silver Medal competitions.
    It seems in the pursuit of fairness that the promoters should be tied to the system they agreed to. Had they doubted the efficacy of the published system, they should have informed the competing community.

  4. The Northern Meeting makes no mention of the Silver Medal qualifiers held over the past 12 months, instead staying “Competitors eligibility will be considered on the basis of (1) CPA grading if any (2) Track record and (3) any other information which the Committee considers relevant”.

    By the qualifier system, I am ineligible, but the Northern Meeting invites me to apply. We members haven’t heard from the CPA on this since December of 2018. A notice of eligibility/ineligibility would be elucidating.

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