August 31, 1999

Northern Meeting seen as World Solo Championships for pipers

The pipe band world has the official World Pipe Band Championships, and the closest thing solo piping scene has to a true world championship is the Northern Meeting at Inverness. This year’s contest will again be held at the sumptuous Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

The Highland Society of London Gold Medal and the Silver Medal – both piobaireachd events – will be held on Wednesday, September 8th, while the Clasp (reserved for winners of the Gold Medal at Inverness) and Silver Star March, Strathspey & Reel take place on Thursday the 9th.

For each of the piobaireachd contests, the Piobaireachd Society sets a list of tunes from which competitors must submit four and play one. Players do not know which tune they have to play until the player immediately preceding them takes the stage.

The Former Winners MSR is generally considered the most exciting piping competition in the world. The nerve-racking event has been won an unprecedented nine times by Alasdair Gillies, who now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but who is originally from Ullapool and served for many years with the Queen’s Own Highlanders.

Gillies has a good chance again to take this year’s Silver Star, although Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, threw down a significant challenge at Oban’s Argyllshire Gathering on August 26 by winning that event’s Former Winners MSR.

As with every Northern Meeting, additional excitement surrounds the Gold Medal, in which the winner of the Gold Medal at Oban vies for “The Double” by winning also at Inverness. John Cairns of London, Ontario, won the Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal.

The rare Double has not been achieved since 1970 when Andrew Wright of Paisley, Scotland, pulled off the feat.


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