Published: May 23, 2020

Northern Meeting not opting for online; Argyllshire Gathering still scheduled

The Northern Meeting, the world’s most influential non-invitational solo piping competition, is sticking to its plan not to hold the event in 2020, despite a rise in solo contests held online.

“We did consider this briefly, but formed the opinion that an online competition wouldn’t be appropriate for competitions of this level of importance,” said Alan Forbes, piping convenor for the Inverness, Scotland-based competition. “Others I have spoken to since have agreed – sponsors, funders, the Competing Pipers Association. It’s good to see other competitions going ahead online, though, as valuable experience in case we need to consider again in future.”

The Northern Meeting’s marquee events include the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal; the Clasp; and the Silver Star Former Winners March, Strathspey & Reel; as well as the Silver Medal and top-level light music contests.

With the Gold and Silver Medal events limited to a select few 25 pipers, and the Clasp and Silver Star restricted to elite players who qualify by merit of winning other competitions, the relatively small contests possibly more feasibly run online.

All three of the events are qualifiers for the Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championship in Blair Atholl, Scotland, still scheduled for October 17th. The Glenfiddich is limited to only 10 pipers. With cancelled qualifying competitions, if the competition would have to come up with different criteria to earn an invitation, should it go ahead.

Meanwhile, the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban, Scotland – the companion event to the Northern Meeting – is also still scheduled to be held August 26-27, perhaps holding out as long as possible before it announces a decision.

All Northern Meeting events are held indoors at Eden Court Theatre, the Argyllshire Gathering’s Wednesday piobaireachd, and Former Winners MSR contests take place at indoor venues throughout the town. The balance of light music events occur outside on Thursday as part of a traditional Highland games.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown in most parts of the world, several scheduled and new solo piping competitions have been reinvented or created, run either by live-stream or submitted video performances. Almost all of the online contests have originated from North America.

So far, no online pipe band competitions have been announced or held. The RSPBA’s World Solo Drumming Championships in Glasgow remain scheduled for October 24th.

The last time when the Northern Meeting piping competitions were not held was 1945, the final year that the event took a hiatus due to World War II.

 


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