Published: March 31, 2012

Northern Meeting opens doors on the Saturday to all kids

The Northern Meeting at Inverness, Scotland – considered by most to be the crucible of solo piping – is opening its doors to solo pipers younger than 18, with a new slate of competitions on the Saturday following the two days of “senior” events at Eden Court Theatre. This year’s junior competitions will be held on September 8th, and “open to all applicants.”

The Northern Meeting throughout its history has limited entry to its prestigious junior competitions to those from the designated Highland region of Scotland, with Piobaireachd and MSR events the age categories of Under-15 and Under-18. The contests are strictly “amateur,” with no prize money awarded.

Whereas most other countries do not delineate by age, Scotland’s solo piping competitions generally adhere to a straightforward age-defined system. Once a piper turns 18 he or she must compete in the “Senior” category and those younger than 1 must compete in the “Juniors,” except at a handful of Competition League of Amateur Solo Pipers (CLASP) contests.

It is not known whether non-Scottish pipers younger than the age of 18 who are graded Professional or Open by their associations will be allowed to compete in the Inverness Junior events.

“We have felt for a year or two now that we would like to raise the status of the competitions by making them open, thereby attracting young pipers from elsewhere in the UK and, hopefully, also from overseas,” said Alan Forbes, Northern Meeting Piping Competitions Convener.     “Over a period, we would hope that it will enjoy the same standing as a junior competition that the senior competitions enjoy.  Moving them to Saturday means that they will not be on a school day and also gives more space at the senior competitions the two days before.”

Forbes said that moving all Junior events to a third day also frees time to fit in heats for the Silver Medal competition, which will be implemented for the first time in 2012, and said that numbers for the Junior contests will be limited, depending on entries, and would likely be decided based on the applicant’s competitive record, “in order to maintain as high a standard as possible.”

Forbes said that the move complements the Northern Meeting’s attempt to make the competitions more appealing to a wider audience. In 2011 a busking competition was held in the streets of Inverness, as well as a Gaelic lecture and a ceilidh, and this year a “mini-festival” will be run during the week of the piping competitions in an attempt “to appeal to tourists and  local people not connected directly with piping.”

Applications for the Northern Meeting Junior competitions need to be received before June 30.

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