April 27, 2016

Alasdair Gillies Memorial event coming to Piping Live!

Alasdair Gillies, 2008.

Logistical problems prevented the popular Lord Todd Solo Piping Recital Challenge from being held in the last two years, but pipes|drums has learned that a similar event will return in the form of the new “Pipe-Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge,” honouring the great solo piper who died suddenly in 2011 at the age of 47 at the height of his career.

The Gillies Memorial Recital-Challenge will harken to the familiar style of the Todd Bar Challenge, with four elite-level pipers invited to perform whatever they want, and, carrying on the Todd tradition, will have to include a full MSR and the ground of a piobaireachd, with the winner picked by a secret panel of judges within the audience.

The event will be held at the larger Strathclyde Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Thursday, August 11th, at 7:30 pm, with the contest/recital directly a part of the Piping Live! festival, tickets going on sale on April 30th at 9 am UK time for what is certain to be one of the hottest events of the festival.

Callum Beaumont, Alasdair Henderson, Stuart Liddell and Angus MacColl are confirmed to play. Gillies was a highly successful piobaireachd player and the winner of both Highland Society of London Gold Medals, but his greatest collective competitive achievement was certainly his 11 Silver Star Former Winners March, Strathspey & Reel prizes won at the Northern Meeting at Inverness.

“I’ve been working with [Piping Live! Director] Roddy MacLeod on this event for a few weeks and we have agreement from Alasdair’s family to name the event in his honour,” said organizer Willie McCallum. “Alasdair’s name will go down in the history books as one of the greatest players and a great inspiration to many pipers throughout the world. He is also remembered by many as a great friend, sporting competitor and always fun to be around. This year will mark five years since Alasdair died and we wanted him to be remembered with a suitable annual top quality piping event, which will help to keep the memory of his genius alive.”

The news was in sync with the overall announcement of headliners for this year’s Piping Live!, which include RURA, Anxo Lorenzo, Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. The August 8-14 festival kicked marked things with a projection of images directly onto the National Piping Centre.

Images projected on the National Piping Centre.

The images were collected from Piping Live!’s social media channels, asking followers to show “how piping has provided the soundtrack for so many of life’s big moments throughout history.”

The theme of Piping Live! 2016 is “Moments That Mattered,” highlighting that the Highland pipes can make an indelible impression on the lives of many, through its sound and music played at ceremonies and events of all manner – “making the instrument like no other” – as well as “celebrating the rich history and international diversity of the bagpipes.”

While the images were projected on the Piping Centre, a lone piper played a selection of the best-kent tunes in the Highland pipe repertory.

This year’s edition of Piping Live! marks the thirteenth annual staging of the world’s largest festival of piping. In 2015, an estimated 40,000 international listeners heard more than 5,000 pipers perform in more than 150 events across the city. The final weekend includes the World Pipe Band Championships, which are not officially part of Piping Live! but each event plays off of and mutually depends on the other for success.

In addition to the ticketed events at concert halls, Piping Live! will carry the familiar performances by pipe bands and solo pipers, many of which are offered free, throughout the week.

Band performances will take place in George Square and on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall. The annual Pipe Idol competition and fan favourite, the International Quartets competition will return to the festival, while the Pipers Market will be back in George Square, providing the best fresh and local food and drink from across Scotland.





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