April 10, 2024

Association Leadership Spotlight: Derek Midgley, Competing Pipers’ Association President

Derek Midgley was elected president of the Competing Pipers’ Association in 2020, becoming the first non-resident of Scotland to hold the post. Last year, he was elected to another three-year term, overseeing the important union of competitive solo pipers with several other elected officials and active committees.

Unlike most of the world, the UK does not have an association that sanctions and manages all or even most competitions. The CPA’s primary role is to manage the grading of solo pipers 18 and older who want to compete in what would usually be graded as “Open” or “Professional” levels.

Adult solo pipers who consider themselves amateurs – or Grade 1, Grade 2, etc. levels elsewhere – can join and compete in the Competitions League for Amateur Solo Pipers (CLASP) events. The CPA and CLASP don’t overlap.

Angus MacPhee (right) receives the CPA Leage Table Championship trophy for most aggregate points in 2023 across all designated UK events.

The CPA was started in 1976 when entry to the major non-former winners’ events at the Northern Meeting at Inverness and Oban’s Argyllshire Gathering was unrestricted. Nearly 70 pipers competed in the Highland Society of London Gold Medal contests, running for 14 hours with exhausted judges and stewards going past midnight.

Something had to be done, so the CPA was formed. The organization started a grading system, breaking pipers into A and B levels. The CPA also introduced and sponsored the Silver Medal piobaireachd competitions to alleviate demand for the Gold Medals and level the playing field.

Over the years, a C-grade was introduced, and a few years ago, under Midgley’s watch, a new Bronze Medal piobaireachd contest was created to reduce entries to the Silver Medal.

Awarding the first-ever CPA Bronze Medal to Luke Kennedy, 2023.

To those who have grown up with North America’s solo competition structure, the Scottish way of doing things can be confusing. Unlike in most of the world, events that hold solo contests in the morning and bands in the afternoon are rare. Though most solo pipers also play with a band, the two worlds are essentially separate.

Glenn Brown was the first Canadian-born president of the CPA, and now Derek Midgley also provides insights from his North American experience and knowledge. He is the first leader of the CPA to reside outside of the UK.

Midgley is from Tinton Falls, New Jersey. He began piping at 12, taught by the famous George Bell, of Parlin, New Jersey. Midgley receives instruction now from Roddy MacLeod.

Among his many prizes are the Silver Medal and B March at the Northern Meeting, and prizes in the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medals and A-Grade light music events at both Oban and Inverness. He’s won the A-Grade MSR, Hornpipe & Jig, and Piobaireachd at the Scottish Piping Society of London’s competitions, the Dunvegan Medal and Open 2/4 and 6/8 Marches at Skye, the Lochaber Axe for Senior Piobaireachd at Fort William, and the light music at the Royal Highland Gathering.

Midgley’s won a raft of events in North America, including the Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal and Bar, the Metro Cup Piobaireachd, the United States Piping Foundation Piobaireachd four times, and the USPF overall in 2022. He’s been a member of Grade 1 bands City of Washington, Toronto Police, and ScottishPower, and is currently a member of St. Thomas Alumni.

He serves on the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association’s adjudication panel and currently chairs its Metro Branch.

As part of pipes|drums’ ongoing Association Leadership series, we caught up with Derek Midgley for a quick conversation:

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more installments in our Association Leadership series.






Forgotten Password?