August 31, 2005

Northern Meeting to be Livingstone’s last solo contest

Bill Livingstone of Whitby, Ontario, will retire from solo competition after this year’s Northern Meeting at Aviemore, Scotland, ending the most successful competitive solo piping career ever by a North American.

Twice the winner of the Clasp at Inverness, both Highland Society of London Gold Medals, the Piobaireachd at the Glenfiddich Championships, most of the light music prizes at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting, the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada), and more than a dozen Bars to the Canadian Medal, Livingstone, 63, will turn his efforts to other piping projects, teaching, and judging.

“I have decided that it’s time,” Livingstone says. “The problem is that I love playing so much, and I really like the set tunes this year, that it’s hard to stop without a last go at the Clasp. It feels right to retire from competing now. It’s not a function of age, which I disregard as a matter of course, nor of having done it for far too long. I only started at age 27 so missed the first 10 or 15 years of competing that most pipers get at the front end.”

Livingstone has judged frequently in 2005, and continues to lead his pipe band, the 78th Fraser Highlanders, which gained a record thirteenth North American Championship on July 30 at Maxville, Ontario.

Livingstone stressed that he will remain pipe-major of the 78th Frasers.

Livingstone holds the distinction of being the only piper in history to have won the Clasp at Inverness and led a pipe band to a World Championship, which the 78th Fraser Highlanders won in 1987. He and Robert Hardie are the only pipe-majors to have won a World’s and a Highland Society of Gold Medal.

This spring Livingstone released the first four volumes of A Piobaireachd Diary, and the eight-volume compendium of his piobaireachd playing and discussions on the tunes. The project has received glowing reviews.

“A long career is a great thing for anyone to have, and I wouldn’t trade what I’ve been given for anything. But with A Piobaireachd Diary coming out, it just feels appropriate to step away,” Livingstone adds.


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