Piobaireachd Composing Contest Revived for Lockdown Offers First Prize of £500

Time to harness the creative thoughts and banish the lockdown blues with a new piobaireachd. Piping Press is once more partnering the Shasta Piping Society in the US and Canada’s Burley Bagpipe Co. in promoting their composing competition 2020.

Judges for the contest will be Piping Press Editor and Piobaireachd Society President Robert Wallace, South African piobaireachd expert Chris Terry and New Zealand’s double Gold Medallist Greg Wilson.

Steve Rooklidge, the man behind the initiative and host of the popular internet radio show ‘Piping Hour’, has re-introduced it to help focus pipers’ collective endeavours during the virus pandemic.

Adjudicator Chris Terry

Said Steve: ‘Since there will be a lot of bored pipers out there, I thought it worthwhile to revive the piobaireachd composing contest for 2020. The deadline for tunes is August 1. We are looking forward to receiving a fine selection of entries as we have done in the past.

‘As before we have attracted an international panel of judges. Each will select his favourites independently and submit his choices to myself.’

Judge Greg Wilson is pictured here at the Northern Meeting with his prize-winning son Campbell

Get full info on the contest here. The piobaireachd submissions must be original to the composer(s), of any style, and cannot have been published before. Prize awards for the top three tunes will be £500/£250/£100. Submissions must be received by August 1, 2020, and winners will be announced on Piping Press in September, 2020. Other rules:

  1. The musical score must be submitted as a PDF file, labelled as ‘SPS Contest’, with no indication of the composer’s identity or composition name on the file. The score must be generated by computer in a recognizable arrangement format (Piobaireachd Society, Binneas, McIntosh, CC). Hand-written scores or written notations on the score are not accepted.
  2. Submissions must also include an audio electronic file (e.g.MP3) of the composition played on pipes or practice chanter (not necessarily by the composer), with no voice or identifying markers. Name the audio file: ‘SPS contest’.
  3. Composers will retain all copyright, but must agree to grant the sponsors free right to publish the score in a music collection and use a recording of the arrangement for the winning announcement and to advertise future competitions.
  4. Composers must have the ability to receive monetary awards from the sponsors by paypal account, or be willing to waive prize payment or donate in their name to an approved charity that accepts payment.
  5. All decisions made by the representatives of the sponsors are final. Entries to be emailed to shastapipingsociety@gmail.com NOT Piping Press.


Judging: Piobaireachd score and audio entries will be catalogued, provided individual identification, and sent under blind cover to the panel of judges. Results of the competition will be announced to each of the composers during September, 2020, and announced to the public on PipingPress.com and the Shasta Piping Society website shortly thereafter. Awards will be distributed within 30 days of the winner’s announcement by PayPal payment.

Steve Rooklidge, Shasta Piping Society,  Cottonwood CA started playing snare drums in a pipe band in 1976, and played until he went to university.  Leaving it throughout his engineering career, he started piping in 2013 and has since dipped his hand back into drumming.  He started the Shasta Piping Society with the intention of forming a charitable trust but instead opted simply to gather a few friends together to try unusual ways of getting pipes into the hands of interested kids and to foster composition and playing of new piobaireachd music. 

Philanthropic projects include this ceol mor composing contest with Burley Bagpipes here on Piping Press, funding prize pipe awards for amateur competitions, donating to Highland games in need of help and school bands needing instruments, hands-on projects such as blackwood conservation in Tanzania and construction of the new path to the Iolaire monument, and so far has awarded eight sets of renovated pipes to young students in need of instruments. 

The efforts were financed initially by seed money from the Rooklidge Family Trust and now rely on the 10% sales profit of vintage pipes restored by Burley Bagpipes sold at the SPS webpage and other donations by family and friends of the cause.  Funds are not solicited or accepted from the public, and it is through the gracious assistance from tutors, scholarship recipients, and organizations like Piping Press and others that make all the difference.

Graham Burley – The Burley Bagpipe Company, Naramata BC has been piping for 47 years and making pipes for 20 years. During his piping career, he accumulated a modest collection of prizes in all levels of solo piping, and also has performed in a couple of celtic folk bands, where in addition to playing highland pipes, he played penny whistles and provided backing vocals. Graham has composed a handful of pipe tunes and loves working on competition pipe band medley arrangements. 

Graham started to learn pipe making 20 years ago, while working through his machinist apprenticeship under his father’s guidance, and has since made and sold close to 100 sets of custom hand-turned pipes.  His customers play in all levels of band and solo piping. Graham has recently been developing Scottish smallpipes and Irish uilleann pipes to add to his product offering available through his website.

  • Although the ceol mor composing contest is restricted to over 21s, Piping Press is accepting new piobaireachd as part of its Lockdown Challenge. So if you are a young piper anxious to make your mark as a composer let us have your works. They’ll be published on PP with a good prize for the winner. Send an audio of the ground along with a PDF of the tune to pipingpress@gmail.com.

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