Published: August 31, 2007

Stuart Liddell mighty big at Lord Todd Challenge

Anne Spalding reports

Glasgow – August 9, 2007 – Stuart Liddell was the winner tonight at the University of Strathclyde Piping Challenge at the Lord Todd Bar. This now well established concert of piping asks that each piper should play a 25-to-30-minute performance that should include a march, strathspey & reel and the ground of a piobaireachd.
Stuart Liddell lights up the stage at the University of Strathclyde Piping Challenge at the Lord Todd Bar. [Photo: A. Spalding]
Four pipers normally play, but tonight we had only three, Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland; Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland; and Alasdair Gillies, Pittsburgh. Also scheduled to play, but unable to at the last minute, was Gordon Walker, which was an obvious disappointment to the large crowd. Happily, this must have been one of the closest contests there has been in the Todd Bar as all three pipers gave us lively, entertaining sets on perfect bagpipes.

A feature of all the performances was the re-working of some well known tunes, Stuart turning “The Sheepwife” and “Troy’s Wedding” into hornpipes, Angus with a new hornpipe version of the “Liberton Polka” and Alasdair playing “Mrs. MacPherson of Inveran” in jig time. And I’m pretty sure I heard “The Piper of Dundee” somewhere in Alasdair’s performance! All this played with jaw dropping, fast fingerwork, keeping the audience very well amused.
Angust MacColl, Stuart Liddell and Alasdair Gillies form the world's greatest trio at the Lord Todd Piping Challenge. [Photo: A. Spalding]
During the interval a presentation was made to Bill Livingstone, marking the 25 years he has been Pipe-Major of the 78th Fraser Highlanders. He was presented with a very special bottle of Glenfiddich whisky that had been put to cask in 1982.

To fill in the time while the five mystery judges deliberated we were treated to Stuart, Angus and Alasdair taking the stage together and they produced a pretty faultless march, strathspey & reel followed by “Crossing the Minch” and “The Old Wife of the Mill Dust.” With the three pipers still on stage, Bob Worrall announced Stuart Liddell as the winner then asked him to “give us another tune,” which he did: “Blue Cloud” and “The Mason’s Apron.” Marvellous stuff.

All in all this was a hugely entertaining feast of piping, everything from simple 4/4 marches to piobaireachd. It is difficult to envisage another recital challenge being as good as this one.

Anne Spalding lives in Broughty Ferry, Scotland, and has a long list of solo piping accolades. A professional teacher of piping, she plays with the MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band of Dundee, and is Pipe-Major of that organization’s Novice Juvenile band.

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