June 30, 2011

Lorient latest to move away from March, Strathspey & Reel

The prestigious MacCrimmon Trophy at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Lorient, Brittany, is the latest piping competition to opt out of staging the traditional March, Strathspey & Reel event, choosing instead to go with a freestyle medley.

The competition, now in its thirty-second year, has standardized the Scottish section to be more in line with the Irish and Breton components, which also call for a maximum-six-minute selection.

The MacCrimmon Trophy – sponsored for many years by Macallan Whisky – attracts competitors from around the world, each qualifying for the competition in regional competitions. Previous winners of the trophy include Gordon Duncan, Robert Mathieson and Fred Morrison.

According to organizer Loïc Denis, “A traditional MSR used to be played and will be replaced by a medley in Scottish music, just like for the Irish and Breton parts. Every piper is free to adapt the large repertoire of Scottish music, e.g., airs, marches, jigs, strathspeys, reels, etc.”

Overall prize money for the competitions is 4,400 euros – about £3,550 or $7,000.

In addition to the August 7th three-medley selection events that determine the winner of the MacCrimmon Trophy, there is a piobaireachd competition on August 3rd and a “Kitchen Music” contest on August 4th.

Robert Watt of Northern Ireland was the winner of the 2010 MacCrimmon Trophy.


  1. Just a wee comment to say that I won the first three editions of the MacAllan trophy ( now called MacCrimmon Trophy ) in 1980 , 1981 and 1982 , 2nd in 1983 , thank you for pointing this out . Patrick Molard , Brittany

  2. Well said Patrick, you definitely deserve recognition for this achievement. I remember the early days of this competition very well. I played in the Scottish qualifier in the Burns Bar, Falkirk finishing 4th behind Gordon Duncan, Malcolm Robertson and George McNeil – Erwan Ropars was one of the judges that day – I think it was 1981 but not sure.

  3. So, dropping the MSR is now seen as ‘progress’…? Wow. I wonder if Concertos are now passé and ‘old hat’ at piano contests…..? Having watched this fine event several times now, I would have to say that I found the MSR to be the most entertaining element. So, instead of variety and contrast between all the elements, they will now all be a bit more similar for the sake of levelling the playing field. Hopefully the savvy competitors will see the Scottish element as a chance to showcase the idiom (as we all wish refer to it as) rather than another excuse to unleash the ubiquitous 100mph ‘finger diarrhoea’.



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