December 28, 2022

A few of their favourite things: highlights of 2022 from a few of our greatest contributors

It was all back at it in 2022, as most of the piping and drumming world emerged from a two-year dormancy and remembering what normal used to be all about.

It was all strangely familiar, if a little or a lot smaller, with contests and events working pretty much like they always have. And perhaps that was by design, as we all welcomed a return to the before times.

The year was full of highlights for every one of us, punctuated by little things being a lot.

Like we did last year, we asked a few of our more recognizable personalities to contribute a few of their own most cherished and memorable moments of the year . . .


Field Marshal Montgomery Leading-Drummer Keith Orr, Belfast

It was great to see all the bands back doing their thing in 2022 with a full program of events for the first time since 2019.

I entered into the 2022 season knowing it might possibly be my last, but not 100% certain at that point, so I had a different mindset and wanted to look at things from a different perspective.

I wanted to fully appreciate what I was part of and enjoy and savour every minute of the major championships especially, as they are such a unique event to participate in.

I really enjoyed the full season in 2022, but especially the World’s.

It was great to experience Glasgow green this year with the weather being so warm it was like spending a week in Spain, but doing what you love best, I was in my element! I know that most pipers wouldn’t agree.

I set off for a week in Glasgow and didn’t even bring a coat, something probably never to be repeated.

It was great to experience Glasgow green this year with the weather being so warm it was like spending a week in Spain, but doing what you love best.

Then, obviously to win the World’s for a tenth time was a very special moment.

On a completely different note, after returning from the World’s, my eldest daughter, Leanne, announced that she was expecting and that Heather and myself were going to be grandparents for the first time.

This is something that we’re all very excited about and this will change our lives quite considerably.


Solo piping judge and association leader Euan Anderson, Edinburgh

I guess the constant piping highlight of the year was being back on the road listening to live piping and catching up with old friends.

The Eagle Pipers had a fabulous year with brilliant guest performers throughout the season, our trip to Balmoral to play for the Her Majesty the Queen, (just before her passing) and taking over the stewardship of the Captain John MacLellan Dinner-Recital.

I heard two first-class tunes in the Silver Medal at Inverness from Willie Rowe and Calum Brown – tunes that would have stood the test in the Gold Medal.

I was fortunate to be at Blair Castle to witness Willie McCallum’s remarkable ninth Glenfiddich Championship title.

However, probably the piping highlight of the year was watching the extraordinary professionalism and performance of all those who took part in the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth ll. The journey south from Balmoral to London, via St. Giles in Edinburgh, was 10 days of pageantry and excellence that was without fault. Scotland and the pipes were on the world stage and I could not have been prouder.

To all those involved, thank you.


2022 Argyllshire Gathering Highland Society of London Gold Medallist Jamie Forrester, Haddington, Scotland

Two-thousand-twenty-two has, for me, been an incredible, exhausting year and a real rollercoaster. We welcomed our third child in May (the day before my eldest’s birthday), all our COVID restrictions were removed here and our social and professional lives really felt the release. The enjoyment and success I’ve had with the pipes has been awesome.

It’s all come with harder times – hard work, inevitable periodic battles with pipes and music, a few hairy times with the children – but you can never expect smooth and plain sailing.

Three moments that stand out, in chronological order: my boss arriving on my doorstep in lieu of a surprise celebratory dinner at work in March, because I had COVID and couldn’t attend; welcoming Robin, our third child, in May and the joy both that I felt and that was etched on my wife’s face; and a series of events that took place after a certain performance in Oban in August, including a first experience at Blair Castle in October.


Solo piping star Liam Kernaghan, Wellington, New Zealand

Without doubt, stepping off the plane from New Zealand after two-and-a-half years being unable to travel and step into the Scottish summer season was the highlight of 2022.

From setting foot on Buchanan Street and immediately seeing old friends who I hadn’t been face-to-face with for years, through to hearing top quality performances in very Australasian conditions at the World’s, just being amongst it all was a real treat. You don’t really appreciate how much you miss something until you’re reunited with it again.

Simple things felt like a real privilege: sitting under a tree in the baking sun, listening to Field Marshal Montgomery on the Wednesday afternoon, grabbing a drink with some friends and then heading to the pre-World’s concert, sitting on trains and in cars traipsing across Scotland heading to games and playing tunes again with people from all over the world.

Simple things felt like a real privilege: sitting under a tree in the baking sun, listening to Field Marshal Montgomery on the Wednesday afternoon, grabbing a drink with some friends and then heading to the pre-World’s concert, sitting on trains and in cars traipsing across Scotland heading to games and playing tunes again with people from all over the world.

We’ve been lucky enough to have mostly uninterrupted competition seasons at home but nothing compares to the quality and standard you hear in Scotland. Topping off the trip and hearing my good mate Willie Rowe win the Northern Meeting Silver Medal with an outstanding “Lament for Hugh” was the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to be back into it next year.


Six-time World Championship-winning Simon Fraser University Pipe-Major and RSPBA judge Terry Lee, Burnaby, British Columbia

For me, getting back to live events and contests was huge. The heatwave in Scotland during World’s was nearly unbearable . . . and I came out with a case of COVID.

The Inveraray & District Pre-World’s “A Night in That Land” Concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was a magnificent memory, as was Richard Parkes finally breaking Iain MacLellan’s record for World Championship wins – a measure of sheer determination and utmost skill on display once again.

And Simon Fraser University Leading-Drummer Reid Maxwell’s ability to develop corps is unmatched. To still be able to do it at 60-plus is pretty incredible.


McCallum Bagpipes supremo and Glasgow Skye Association Pipe-Major Kenny MacLeod, Glasgow

I think the first thing that’s been great is the way things in most parts of the world have bounced back piping wise after COVID. I’ve been to a few places in the world and the crowds are back and hungry for piping and pipe bands. Unfortunately, I think the Scottish/UK scene is lagging well behind the other places I’ve visited. The numbers and audiences are down for some reason, nor sure why.

On a more personal note, I’m very proud to be part of the revival of the Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band. It’s a family band for me. My father started it, and my brother was a founding member, and I played in the band for 24 years, so, between us, we were in the band as players and pipe majors for 46 years. The band should never have gone off the road. It was very badly mismanaged at the end, so I’m glad to be part of getting it back to where it should be.\


Midwest Pipe Band Association President Jim Sim, Chicago

For me, the highlight was just getting back to almost-normal in 2022. I took just a moment at the Chicago Games to just stop and look around the field and see all of the pipers, drummers, and spectators – a sight I maybe did not appreciate enough before the pandemic.

I really enjoyed hearing all of the bands and players again. It is a huge part of my life. I also enjoyed getting back together with my fellow adjudicators and enjoying their company again. These things are all appreciated more now that they are back in my life.


Prominent teacher, piping and pipe band judge, and Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario Music Committee Chair Jim McGillivray, Aurora, Ontario

In 2022, I returned to the Northern Meeting in Inverness for the first time in several years. After two years of online pandemic piping the whole games season was exciting again, but Inverness topped it off for me. The standard of play and the sheer number of good players were overwhelming.

I adjudicated an outstanding Gold Medal of 25 players that had, I dare say, not a single note or drone out of tune. The B-Grade March, Strathspey & Reel threw 35 competitors at our bench (too many for a single event), and we heard an exceptional standard in a grade that never even existed in my day.

Post-pandemic, I saw this year the precariousness of our art-form, with a noticeable drop in entries in Ontario games from previous years. Ontario benefitted for 200 years from a massive flow of Scottish immigrants coming up the St. Lawrence River. That flow has slowed to a trickle and it appears we’re now on our own.

Piping and drumming remain strong in Ontario, but growth is in question. A time of reckoning may not be far away, and we need our young and energetic to step up and help guide this great ship that is our beloved hobby.


Former Eastern United States Pipe Band Association President Jim Dillahey, Charleston, South Carlolina

My favourite thing from 2022 was seeing my daughter, Isla, get the piping bug. It’s something that I think every piper or drummer hopes for their child – sharing your passion with them, going to the games and having them finally get to meet the other weekend warriors you have been talking about for years.

It is special and you can’t trade those memories for anything. She was the overall winner for her grade this year and I couldn’t be more proud.


What were some of your favourite moments of 2022?

A toast to an even better 2023!





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