December 31, 2011

The year in news: the Top 10 pipes|drums stories of 2011

There is a piping life after Pipe-Major stardom: two legends of pipe band leadership, Bill Livingstone and Robert Mathieson, demonstrated that you can still stay in the game after stepping down as pipe-major of a World Championship-winning band. Livingstone joined cross-town rivals Toronto Police, while Mathieson was welcomed across the world into the ranks of Simon Fraser University. Rather than drifting out to judging pasture, continuing to play is the new “retirement.”

pipes|drums in the palm of your hand: the launch of p|d Mobile marked another milestone for the publication, the first to reach readers and viewers with a mobile version.

A significant contest goes parochial: the United States Piping Foundation announced that its annual contest would heretofore be available only to competitors from North America. The decision came shortly after the event was eliminated as a qualifier event for the Glenfiddich Championship and was seen by many as a tit-for-tat response.

Edinburgh continues its surge: the launch of the Captain John A. MacLellan Medal not only paid deserved homage to one of piping history’s most important figures, but it was just the latest addition to a richer offering in the decades near-dormant Edinburgh piping scene. The annual competition will serve to remind us of the huge contribution that the late Captain made over his 70 years.

Youth comes to the fore: the appointment of 23-year-old Alex Gandy as Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Band was big news on its own, especially after the impressive 10-year term of Roderick MacLean, but, perhaps more importantly served to remind us that leading a top band – once a rite of passage only for those with decades of experience – is now an opportunity for the very young.


  1. Excellent summary. Ending with a reminder of the good byes we had to say to the great characters and friends we share the love of the music with, puts it all in perspective. How lucky we are to love the pipes and share the music and our lives with such wonderful folk!



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