In what will be seen as a welcome taste of normality, the two major solo piping competitions in the world have announced that they are now accepting entries for next year’s competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting.
The AG is at Oban on August 25 and 26 and the NM at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on September 2 and 3. The last two dates represent a return to their usual date for the Meetings. Had the competition gone ahead this year they would have been held before the Argyllshire for the first time in their history.
Both sets of competitions are predicated on there being a satisfactory public health situation come late summer, but organisers did not want to delay matters until they had the go-ahead from the authorities.
Many arrangements have to be made in hiring venues and judges and time must also be given to allow pipers to make their travel arrangements. Up to a third of contestants at the two big gatherings come from overseas.
Eligibility for the contest will be based on the annulled 2020 events, but pipers should be aware that no final decision will be taken before the end of March once all applications have been received and the joint eligibility committee has had a chance to consider them.
The AG website states: ‘Successful applicants will be contacted by email by the end of March 2021, and will then be asked to pay the £40 Entrance Fee (where appropriate) and submit their selection of tunes.’
The NM website states: ‘To apply for eligibilty to enter the Northern Meeting Piping Competition complete the registration form below. Your application will be assessed and if approved, you will receive a username and password to access the entry forms. Your application will be considered by the Joint Committee and you will be informed which competitions you are eligible for.’
Torquil Telfer of the AG said: ‘We understand that it will be difficult to decide whether to enter or not in these abnormal times when the future is so uncertain. The decision as to who will be accepted will be made a the Joint Meeting which will be held as normal towards the end of February. We understand that CPA gradings will be on similar lines as 2020. The Piobaireachd Society has also confirmed the retention of the 2020 set tunes.’
As before, entries will be limited to circa. 25 in the Gold Medal and circa. 30 in the Silver. There are also some restrictions on light music events. The Piobaireachd Society has confirmed that its recommended tunes for 2020 will be carried over into 2021.
There has been a suggestion, no more than that, that the Argyllshire Gathering piobaireachd competitions could be held outside if indoor piping is still banned come late August.
This year’s cancellations of the big two contests was the first time since WW2 that they had not been held.