October 31, 2012

Iain Speirs wins 2012 Glenfiddich Championship

Blair Atholl, Scotland – October 27, 2012 – Iain Speirs of Edinburgh took home the overall prize at the 2012 Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Competition, held once again in a crowded Great Hall of Blair Castle, the home of the Duke of Atholl. It was the first time that Speirs won the award, gaining it with two second prizes and tying with Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, on aggregate points, but winning on Piobaireachd preference.

The event was the last competition for Murray Henderson of Kirriemuir, Scotland, who announced his second retirement. Henderson’s career has spanned more than 50 years, and he is the only piper in history to have won the Clasp at the Northern Meeting in four separate decades. Henderson had retired for several years before returning in the 2000s. The event was streamed live on the Internet for the first time, attracting at its most trafficked point as many as 800 viewers. Jackie Pincet of Brittany was awarded the Balvenie Medal for services to piping.

1st Jack Lee, Surrey, British Columbia, “Ronald MacDonald od Morar’s Lament”
2nd Iain Speirs, “MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament”
3rd Willie McCallum, “The Earl of Ross’s March”
4th Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland, “Lament for the Children”
5th Callum Beaumont, Bo’ness, Scotland, “The Unjust Incarceration”
Judges: Iain MacFadyen, Jim McGillivray, Willie Morrison

MSR (twice over)
1st Willie McCallum,  “Captain Campbell of Drum a Voisk,” “Dora MacLeod,” “John MacKechnie’s Big Reel”
2nd Iain Speirs, “The Duchess of Edinburgh,” “The Top of Craigvenow,” “The Grey Bob”
3rd Stuart Liddell, “Abercairney Highlanders,” “John Roy Stewart,” “The Smith of Chilliehassie”
4th Finlay Johnston, Glasgow, “Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque,” “Susan MacLeod,” “The Rejected Suitor”
5th Gordon Walker, Galston, Scotland, “Hugh Kennedy BSc,” “Tulloch Castle,” “Dr McPhail’s Reel”
Judges: Ian Duncan, Iain MacLellan, Iain Morrison

Also competing but not in the prizes were Murray Henderson; Euan MacCrimmon, Skye; and Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow.


  1. I first met Murray Henderson when he and Pat were living in the Wilmington Deleware area. He was playing at the Deleware Highland Games. I listened to his playing for the first time, and I thought What a wonderful player”. That evening

  2. I watched the contest live on line. It was a fabulous day, listening to some of the greatest solo pipers of our time. The quality of the broadcast was very good. And getting a little peek into The Great Hall of Blair Castle was quit something indeed.

  3. Not to detract from Iain’s win — which I could see was quite moving for him — but I was very pleased to be present during Murray’s final competitive performances. I first began listening to and admiring Murray’s playing back in the early 70s on BBC broadcasts before I’d ever taken my first trip to Scotland. Here it is nearly 40 years later and I was still listening to him! His collective competitive record since then is remarkable enough to declare him one of the most successful competitive pipers ever. I was proud to shake his hand and congratulate him on it in person this morning. I thought he might have gotten a more appreciative ovation after his MSR performance at Blair. Unfortunately, the pipers can get off the stage and out through the door pretty quickly or he almost certainly would have.

  4. Watching the Glenfiddich live checks another item off my bucket list”. I guess the Great Hall was pretty cold. Glad to be cozy curled up by the fireplace at home! Doc”

  5. Really enjoyed the live feed…some fantastic performances and the right result in the end…well to my untrained ear anyway. My thanks to the organisers for the oppurtunity to witness this brilliant competition.

  6. Good point re: Murray Henderson, Jim, and watching the live feed I felt the same way…..what an astonishing success overall, and what a great way to cap such an extraordinary career. The only time I was ever present at the Glenfiddich was 1981, Jack Lee’s first year there, and how outstanding to see him win the piobaireachd yesterday, and Willie the MSR. Outstanding pipers and piping right through the event, an amazing and well-deserved win for Iain Speirs, and huge thanks and congratulations to the National Piping Centre et al for making it available on the web.

  7. This was quite amazing being able to see this contest, I have always wanted to see this one. great job. I have never met Murray Henderson in person but did purchase a set of pipes from him (which are fantastic) and I had the opportunity to speak with him on the phone a few times. What impresses me the most is no matter what questions I had or advice I needed he took the time to explain things to me and help me every step along the way in regards to reed selection, techniques to use with set up etc. I wish I could have heard him play in more contests, I surely hope he continues teaching and playing recitals. Congrats to all the players there as well, just to be at this event is a really great accomplishment and I am sure you all worked very hard to get there. Steven Tripp

  8. Congratulations Iain well done . The Glenfiddich is a long way up from that contest back in Antigonish if you remember , in the cold with pouring rain in the very corner of the tent ……doing the chanter toss !! John Walsh

  9. Thanks. John, Bob Worrall reminded me of that a few years ago. I had completely forgotten about it and must have blanked it from my memory. There’s now not a contest goes by where I don’t worry about it! All the best, Iain.



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