April 13, 2023

Captain John Medal players pinned down; tix now available

John MacLellan (left) going through a piobaireachd with the legendary violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, 1963.

The annual Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Memorial Dinner-Recital-Competition has confirmed the performers for this year’s event on Saturday August 26th, and for the first time in the 12-year history of the event an American will be in the mix.

2022 Northern Meeting Highland Society of London Gold Medallist Nick Hudson of Houston will join Finlay Johnston, Glasgow; Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland; and Edinburgh’s Iain Speirs for the grand black-tie gathering at the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel and Edinburgh’s city centre.

The pipers all gained an invitation based on 2022 achievements. Johnston was the winner of the Premier Grade piobaireachd at the 2022 Captain John MacLellan competition, a separate event run by the Army School of Piping; McCallum was 2022 Glenfiddich Champion; and Speirs returns as last year’s winner of the MacLellan Memorial Dinner-Recital.

Tickets are priced at £60 each and available via the Eagle Pipers’ Society, which took on the running of the event last year.

The dinner-recital-competition was launched in 2011 by the Captain John A. MacLellan Trust as a way to pay homage to the great piper and his music.

Traditionally, four invited recitalists are assigned a piobaireachd composed by or closely associated with MacLellan to perform at the black-tie dinner, with a single judge determining who gains the MacLellan Medal. Patricia Henderson will judge this year’s event.

The recital-competition has become one of the world’s premier solo piping events.  There’s no coincidence that the Captain John Medal has served to promote the playing of “modern” piobaireachds and those of MacLellan in particular. Among many other top prizes, his ceol mor compositions have been performed to win the 2019 Glenfiddich, first and second prizes at the Bratach Gorm in 2021, and the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 2022.

The Eagle Pipers Society was started originally in the 1970s but went dormant in 1985. The organization was resurrected in 2010 by several Edinburgh-based pipers, including Colin MacLellan. The society lists more than 100 members, about 40% of whom live outside of the UK.

This year’s Recital-Competition again falls between the Argyllshire Gathering and the Northern Meeting, enabling pipers visiting from abroad to take in the evening.

Speirs has won the competition a record four times.





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