Argyllshire Gathering Considering Alternative Competitions for 2020

The Argyllshire Gathering has confirmed that they will not be holding Gold or Silver Medal or light music piping competitions this year. Nor will there be Senior Piobaireachd or Former Winners’ MSR contests.

All events had been due to take place in Oban in six weeks time on August 26 & 27. The only competition which will go ahead is the online MacGregor Memorial Piobaireachd for young professional pipers.

However the Gathering is examining the possibility of holding invitational competitions for those eligible for their senior events. Invites would be limited to roughly ten players. The venue may be the Argyllshire Gathering Hall. It could be a live contest in front of judges. Dates being considered are late September or early October.

Argyll’s finest…. 2018 Oban and Inverness Champions, Angus MacColl and Stuart Liddell

Preference for places will be given to Argyll pipers who have a Gold Medal and/or the equivalent light music prizes. More information to follow. Final guidelines will depend on Government restrictions in force two months hence. There may have to be a livestream audience.

Thirty pipers have entered for the MacGregor Memorial piobaireachd. Tunes must be submitted by Wednesday (July 15). Selected tunes will be intimated to contestants on July 22. Performances must be posted on YouTube by July 29 and the judges’ deliberations will begin immediately thereafter with prizes to follow.



The decision on whether the winner qualifies for the 2021 Silver Medal, as is usually the case, is at the judges’ discretion.

AG Piping Steward Torquil Telfer spoke of the Gathering’s determination to do something for piping during a fallow year. ‘We have waited until the last possible moment before cancelling our traditional competitions,’ he said.

Iain Speirs playing at Oban last year

‘We do so with great reluctance and make no apology for holding back until all alternatives had been explored. We have listened to pipers who felt that the absence of overseas visitors could have diluted the importance of the competitions had we gone ahead using a different format than that used historically at the Gathering.

‘Ultimately we did not want to lessen the credibility of our world class events. By running the MacGregor I trust the piping world will see that we have been determined to do what we can for the aspiring professional piper.

‘Our thoughts are also turning to an invitational event for the senior players. Again it is all about doing something for piping in what has been a very trying summer.’



If the Oban events do go ahead then it would give some traditional piping for enthusiasts to savour this year. The Glenfiddich competition have already announced that they will be staging their contest on October 31 but with a livestream audience. It remains to be seen whether the London Championship, scheduled for November 7, will take place and if so in what format.

The Piobaireachd Society is hopeful that its St Cecilia’s Hall recital scheduled for November 29 will be able to go ahead.

  • Entry to the Argyllshire Gathering’s composing competition for a 2/4 march to mark their 150th Anniversary has closed. The result will be announced soon. There were 61 entries from all over the piping world. There is one prize for the winner: £1,000. The tune will be played at the march to the games in 2021.

2 thoughts on “Argyllshire Gathering Considering Alternative Competitions for 2020

  1. It is indeed an excellent book. I’ve been playing Kilmartin Glen for some 40 years since it was printed in the ‘Kilberry Letters‘, also edited by John Shone. However, in the earlier publication it is described as a March and I have always played it as a 6/8 March.

  2. Just to say I’ve taken delivery of John H Shone’s recent publication A Boys’ Brigade Collection of Bagpipe Music.
    What an inspired project. Congratulations to all concerned. We in the 1st Oban didn’t have a pipe band and had to content ourselves with blowing our brains out on a bugle. As an Argyll man I can’t wait to have a crack at the first tune in the book the slow air Kilmartin Glen.

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