Updated: Glenfiddich safe for 2016 as sponsorship reconfirmed
They are the biggest sponsors of piping-related events worldwide by far, and the Scottish distiller William Grant & Sons, owners of the Glenfiddich brand, confirmed that the company will continue to sponsor the Glenfiddich Piping Championships for 2016 and beyond.
The sponsorship formally is by the William Grant Foundation, an arm of the company “established to support communities and good causes in Scotland through charitable grants and donations.”
Rumours had floated among the piping world that the William Grant Foundation’s commitment to the Glenfiddich Championships and other events could be in jeopardy, as the foundation – like any responsible organization would – was assessing its investments.
The Foundation contributed about £2 million to various causes in 2016, including the Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival, the Senior Piobaireachd competition at the Argyllshire Gathering, the Silver Chanter and the Captain John MacLellan Memorial Medal. The Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championship is the only sponsored piping event that directly applies the brand name.
Along with the confirmation that the foundation would support the 2016 Glenfiddich Piping Championship, it was announced that sponsorship of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship, also held at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl, Scotland, the day after the piping championship, would not continue after this year. All former champions of the fiddle championship are being invited to perform at the final contest on October 30th.
“In relation to music, we aim to help connect more people to Scotland’s arts and heritage, and to support initiatives that promote, develop and enrich Scotland’s contemporary cultural identity,” said Chief Executive of the William Grant Foundation, Nick Addington, in a statement. “Whilst we feel that the Glenfiddich Piping Championship continues to be well supported and acclaimed within the piping world as the premier competition for solo piping, we feel that the resources currently dedicated to organizing the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship could support Scottish music, including fiddle playing more effectively through grant-making to other organizations.”
The 2016 Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship will be held on October 29th. Competitors are invited based on results of premier piping contests designated as qualifying events, such as the Highland Society of London Gold Medals, the Northern Meeting Clasp, the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering, the Masters Solo Piping and the two former winners MSR competitions at the major gatherings.
Pipers who have already qualified for the 2016 event, pending confirmation, include Alasdair Henderson (Argyllshire Gathering Former Winners MSR), Stuart Liddell (Argyllshire Gathering Senior Piobaireachd), Angus MacColl (2015 Glenfiddich champion), Ian K. MacDonald (Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal) and Roddy MacLeod (London Bratach Gorm).
The competition has run since 1974, originally sponsored by William Grant & Sons and directly by Sandy Grant Gordon, the director of the family-run company. It was referred to as the “Grant’s Championship” until it moved to the current Glenfiddich name. The William Grant & Sons Foundation was started in 2014 by the family shareholders of William Grant & Sons.
When asked about the future of the Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship, Addington said, “The Foundation is committed to providing long-term support for this event and there isn’t a time-limit on this. The intention is to enable it to be sustained for as long as it serves a meaningful role in helping to perpetuate and encourage the enjoyment of solo piping and funding is expected to continue on a rolling basis. Beyond the perpetuation of that event, the Foundation’s approach to supporting piping is likely to evolve. For instance, this year it has begun working in partnership with the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust to fund a program of tuition in pipes and drums in schools local to William Grant & Sons’ distillery in Girvan in South Ayrshire. For the time being, however, the Foundation will continue to offer support to the other annual piping events that have been sponsored under the Glenfiddich banner. Support for next year’s Piping Live! festival has already been agreed and the Foundation will be liaising with organizers of the other regional events about plans for 2017 and beyond.”
pipes|drums published an interview with Sandy Grant Gordon in January of this year in which he discusses his personal commitment and passion for piping and his intention to keep supporting piping-related events in Scotland.