Argyllshire Gathering Goes YouTube for 2020 MacGregor Memorial

Ruaridh Brown, Dunblane, winner of the 2019 MacGregor and the Angus Nicol Memorial Silver Medal for Intermediate Piping Champion

The Argyllshire Gathering and the Highland Society of London have agreed that the first leg of this year’s MacGregor Memorial Piobaireachd contest for pipers aged under 22 will be conducted via online video submission.

The MacGregor is one of the most prestigious ceòl mòr contest in the world and always attracts an international field. The winner is usually guaranteed a place in the following year’s Silver Medal at Oban but that is not the case this year, the matter being decided by the adjudicators. Note: entries close June 30.

By Robert Wallace

The competition is sponsored by the Highland Society of London and managed by the Piping Committee of the Argyllshire Gathering. The winner is awarded the College of Piping Trophy and a cheque for £100.

Piping Convenor Torquil Telfer: ‘Against the background of the Covid 19 pandemic we believe it is important that the MacGregor Memorial Competition should go ahead this year nonetheless. It will give the young aspiring professional piper an event on which to focus his/her talent.

‘But this year’s format will be different in that the first round will be conducted online. We will have 30 pipers competing in two heats, four from each going through to the final where they will play a different tune chosen by the judges.

Oban memories…..2018 ‘A’ Grade Strathspey & Reel winner P/M Ben Duncan receives his AG Silver Medal from Torquil

‘Live streaming was considered unreliable and that is why we have gone for the online submission via YouTube.

‘Details, including closing dates for the initial stage of the competition, are set out below. Arrangements for the second stage will be published in due course.’

It is understood that adjudicators will take into account the vagaries of domestic recording when making their assessment. Bagpipe sound for one will be very difficult to assess with accuracy and this requires a slightly different approach than the norm for a piping contest.

One possibilty for the MacGregor final, where as stated a different tune will be required from the four submitted, would be to have the eight competitors playing in person in Oban but with only a small audience or a livestream audience.

Feel like some Oban nostalgia? Have a look…..

1 The competition is open to all pipers under 22 on the date of the competition, July 29. 
2 Those already entered need not re-apply. 
3 Numbers will be capped at 30.
4 Four tunes of the competitor’s own choice to be submitted. 
5 The decision on whether the winner automatically qualifies for the 2021 Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal rests with the judges.
6 Timeline:  Entries close June 30. Pipers will be notified shortly thereafter if they have been successful or not. Tunes must be submitted to the Piping Convenor by July 15. Tune selected for performance issued to competitors July 22. Performance must be submitted via YouTube link by July 29; late entries not accepted. 

The late Angus Nicol, the man responsible for starting the MacGregor competition, presents the trophy to the 2013 winner Sandy Cameron

7 Four pipers from each heat of 15 will go forward to a final. The date, time and format of this to be announced later. 
8 Dress as per Argyllshire Gathering rules. Read General Rules here.
9 Entry is free. Enter here.
10 The judges’ decisions are final. 
11 Prizes are as intimated.  
12 Further information from Piping Convenor Torquil Telfer on

3 thoughts on “Argyllshire Gathering Goes YouTube for 2020 MacGregor Memorial

  1. It would be nice if the EUSPBA could hold contests like this. Unfortunately I can’t make the cut. I’m 22. I’ll stick to traveling all over the US to compete in contests that are completely inconsistent and unreliable.

  2. Love the nostalgia Vimeo collection Rab. Well done! Can you advise the two tunes that accompanied the slide show (fiddle and box)?

    1. Thanks Craig. The first tune is the traditional Glenfinnan (there’s a setting by my old P/M Alex MacIvor in my Glasgow Collection) and the other tune is the Highland Brigade at Magerfontein by the incomparable P/M John MacLellan DCM to be found in the fairly new Argylls collection.RW

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