Oban Gold Medal: 43% non-UK
The annual nail-biting decisions for the relatively small number of the world’s top-shelf solo pipers came to pass, with the Northern Meeting at Inverness, Scotland, and the Argyllshire Gathering of Oban, Scotland, each revealing who’s in and who’s out, who’s up and who’s not in the Highland Society of London Gold Medal and Silver Medal competitions.
Aspiring entrants have to submit an application for a limited number of spots, and a committee comprising representatives from various organizations debate the merits of each.
The Northern Meeting continues to limit Gold Medal entry to 25, and this year 10 (40 per cent) are from outside of the UK. The Silver Medal at Inverness has 28 contestants, with nine non-UK (32 per cent).
In the Argyllshire Gathering, 12 of the 28 competitors (43 per cent) in the Gold Medal, but only 28 per cent (eight of 28) in the Silver Medal reside outside of the UK. The 43 per cent in the Gold Medal is believed to be the largest percentage of “overseas” contestants in a major UK solo event in piping history. In a departure from previous years, there are no pipers on reserve for either Oban event. Organizers did not provide a reason.
Of note, 2009 Northern Meeting Gold Medallist Glenn Brown of Glasgow reportedly did not get his entry in by the deadline for the Oban Gold Medal, but is entered for the Inverness Clasp. Northern Meeting Silver Medallist Jenny Hazzard has decided to stop competing in piobaireachd contests.
Alex Gandy of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Ed McIlwaine of Vancouver were accepted to the Oban Gold Medal despite not having won the Silver Medal. Each piper has gained considerable success in significant piobaireachd competitions for many years. Neither was accepted to the Northern Meeting Gold Medal, however, though McIlwaine is on the Inverness reserve list.
The Argyllshire Gathering will be Wednesday, August 23rd, and Thursday, August 24th. The Northern Meeting will be on Thursday, August 31st, and Friday, September 1st.
The competitions will be the first where new stringent rules prohibiting teachers from judging their pupils.
Those marked with an asterisk (*) have been added to the event for the first time. Those with two a diamond symbol (♦) have won the Highland Society of London Gold Medal at the other event. The lists are in alphabetical order by last name.