The event that many credit with sparking the idea for a week-long festival of piping and drumming during the week preceding the World Pipe Band Championships, the Lord Todd Bar Recital Challenge, is expanding to five pipers, this year adding two players who will participate in the event for the first time.
Andrew Bonar of Vancouver and Niall Stewart of Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, are joining Todd Bar regulars Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl and Gordon Walker at the event, which is again scheduled for the Thursday night at the University of Strathclyde’s Lord Todd Bar.
With the expansion to five contestants, the playing time for each has been reduced to a 20-25 minute performances, down from the previous maximum of 45 minutes for a four-piper event. Performers must still include the urlar of a piobaireachd and a march, strathspey & reel but, aside from those, are free to play what they wish. The event is judged by a secret ballot of judges in the audiences hand-picked by co-organizer Willie McCallum.
Liddell, MacColl and Walker are each former winners of the event – MacColl five times, including last year’s contest.
Bonar and Stewart are both elite solo pipers. Niall Stewart has won the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal and appearances at the Glenfiddich Championships, and Bonar, who only recently returned to compete in Scotland, gained the Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting in 2010 and has won almost everything there is to gain in North American solo piping.
Each piper is paid a fee for their participation, and the winner will receive a specially made McCallum pipe chanter with an engraved silver sole.
The recital/challenge is one of the hottest tickets during the week, and McCallum said that tickets will remain £10 each. The event this year will be on the same night as the recently announced concert at the Glasgow SECC by Simon Fraser University, St. Laurence O’Toole, Lomond & Clyde, Celtic Spirit and Bob Worrall, an event priced at £18.50.
“We recognize the Piping Live! week is an expensive week with the number of events taking place,” McCallum said, “and we think this gives excellent value, given that we have several of the best solo players in the world, including the past three Glenfiddich Champions.”
“Niall and Andrew are both excellent light music players and very much making a name for themselves in the competitive circuit and have done for a number of years,” McCallum continued. “Andrew has a formidable record in the BC Knockout championship and last year won the Silver Medal and is ideally suited to our recital, and we felt he is an excellent addition to our event. Niall was invited to play last year and had more important events to consider (his daughter was born last year). We are delighted both players are able to play this year and they will be strong contenders to win.”
Tickets to the Todd Bar event are available in advance online.
It is not known whether Bonar will perform in both the SECC concert with his band, SFU, and the Lord Todd Recital Challenge.