Published: August 31, 2002

World’s Best Pipers Preparing for Argyllshire Gathering

About 60 of the world’s best solo pipers are preparing for the 131st annual Argyllshire Gathering at Oban, Scotland, the first of the two major gatherings on the world solo calendar.

The event will take place on Wednesday, August 21st, and Thursday, August 22nd.

The centrepiece events at the Argyllshire Gathering will be the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal and the Senior Piobaireachd competitions. The Gold Medal at Oban is the sister competition to the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting at Inverness, which will be September 4-5.

Each Gold Medal contest is limited to only 30 pipers, each of whom have to go through a rigourous process of competitive success before their entry is accepted. Winning the Silver Medal or a major piobaireachd event, or receiving a prize in a Gold Medal contest in the last several years, assures a piper of qualifying.

The Senior Piobaireachd is reserved for winners of one of the Gold Medals.

Entry to the Silver Medal competition, also held at Oban, is equally rigourous, with only about half of all entries being accepted. Getting out of the Silver Medal category can be extremely difficult, and several players who have had numerous non-first prizes in the event over the years are still playing in it.

The Former Winners March, Strathspey & Reel will be held on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday’s indoor piobaireachd contests are followed by the outdoor games on Thursday, where A and B grade light music contests are held, rain or shine.

The “March to the Games” on Thursday morning is one of the great traditions in piping. The new Gold Medallist takes the role of Pipe-Major, with the throng of solo pipers typically playing “The Argyllshire Gathering” upon reaching the games park.

For the first time ever, this year’s Argyllshire Gathering will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland. A program comprising highlight Gold Medal performances will be carried on “Pipeline” on Sunday, August 25th, via the radio and the Internet. The show will be archived for downloading from the Internet for a week after it’s first aired.

This year’s Argyllshire Gathering will also feature the return of Bill Livingstone of Whitby, Ontario, for the first time since 1983.

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