Only Five Days Left to Enter for Major Solo Competitions at Oban and Inverness

1996 and the march to the games at Oban. The pipers are (l-r) John Don MacKenzie, Angus MacColl, Jack Lee, Alan Bevan, Iain Hurst and P/M Michael Gray

Entries for the major solo piping competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting close on January 31, we have been asked to point out. The dates for each of the contests are, respectively, August 25/26 and Sept 2/3.

Despite fears over pandemic cancellation, almost 80 pipers have signed up already. However this figure would normally be well over 100. Organisers are keen to stress that if pipers intend playing they should enter as soon as possible.

No entry fees (£50) will be taken until eligibility is confirmed and even then promoters will wait until the last minute in consideration of possible cancellation.

Winning pipers and officials at the 2018 Northern Meeting

Some pipers who paid in 2020 asked to have their monies held over till this year. Perhaps surprisingly there have already been multiple entries from overseas, even from countries courrently under severe travel restrictions. These include the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and mainland Europe.

The joint meeting on eligibility for the two competitions will be held at the end of February and successful pipers notified shortly thereafter. Figures for both Silver and Gold Medal will be circa 25 though there are always slight differences between Oban and Inverness, the former sometimes taking a few more entries for the Silver.

Enter for the Northern Meeting here. Enter for the Argyllshire Gathering here. Alan Forbes, Piping Convenor at the NM, said: ‘We are very much planning in the expectation that the NM can go ahead this year – dates are 2 and 3 September at Eden Court.

‘A good number of entries has been received – the deadline is 31 January- so it looks as if most of our potential competitors are also optimistic, at this stage at least. From here on we will continue to keep preparations on track until the COVID position for later in the year becomes clearer.’

Torquil Telfer, AG piping steward said: ‘We would encourage all those who hope to play at this year’s historic Gathering to enter as soon as possible. There are only a few days left.

2018….’A’ Grade Strathspey & Reel winner P/M Ben Duncan RSDG receives his AG Silver Medal from Mr Telfer

‘Considering the circumstances, we have had a good entry so far but we do not want anyone missing out because they believe we may not be able to go ahead. We will be holding our annual competitions if at all possible and we believe it is right at this stage to get all of our planning in place in the usual way.’

If there is a ban on indoor competitions, the Argyllshire Gathering still has the possibility of holding their events outside at the games field on the first day of the gathering. The MacGregor Memorial competition for young piobaireachd players will be going ahead regardless. It was held online in 2020 and this format will likely be repeated in 2021 if necessary.

2021 is a big year for the Argyllshire Gathering as it is its 150th Anniversary. A number of events have been planned in the run up to the games day and beyond. The Gathering has already commissioned a pipe tune to commemorate the anniversary. It is hoped it will be played by pipers on the march to the games field on August 26.

Argyllshire Gathering Senior Steward, Ms Helen Malcolm QC, donated the £1,000 first prize and decided to call the tune Dr Whittow’s Salute to the 150th Argyllshire Gathering. The late Dr Whittow had a strong connection with the Gathering.

The tune was the winning entry of former Scots Guards Pipe Major Iain Lowther. His tune was the unanimous choice of the judging panel comprising P/M James Banks MBE, Robert Wallace, President of the Piobaireachd Society and Editor of Piping Press, and John Wilson formerly Strathclyde Police. Download a copy here:

Listen to it being played by P/M Stuart Liddell here:

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