January 31, 2012

pipes|drums’ 2011 New Year’s Honours

Piper of the Year


Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow let’s see . . . winner of the Glenfiddich Solo Championship, head of the National Piping Centre, Director of Piping Live! . . . Roddy MacLeod continued his leadership across so many levels of piping in terms of playing and contributing to the art that he was the popular choice as our 2011 Piper of the Year. Now well in to his fourth decade competing at the very highest level, MacLeod shows no sign of slowing down.

Panelists’ comments:

  • “Another Glenfiddich pips the rest, along with Piping Live! . . . and the National Piping Centre.”
  • “This is a hard choice, but I think Roddy’s ability to win solo events at the very top level, while still spearheading so much great organizational work at the NPC and the Piping Festival make him hard to beat in any year.”
  • “You have to admire his longevity.”
  • “He has it all!”

Also nominated (in alphabetical order):

Chris Armstrong, Airth, Scotland – the ScottishPower pipe-major of course showed great leadership skills in guiding the band to competitive success, but he also took the group to a triumphant Pre-World’s Concert and, for good measure, gained several of the biggest awards there are on the solo piping circuit. Player, teacher, composer, leader: Chris Armstrong had it going on in 2011.

Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland – the 2010 recipient of the both Piper of the Year and Solo Competition Piper of the Year awards, Stuart Liddell was a case study of consistency and focus in 2011, taking his Inveraray & District band to new heights, while continuing his masterful success in the solo category. Another great year from Liddell.

Richard Parkes, Belfast – as Pipe-Major of Field Marshal Montgomery, Richard Parkes celebrated his thirtieth year at the helm of the band in unforgettable style. He has secured himself, without doubt, as one of history’s five greatest pipe-majors, and he shows no sign of stopping. Next on his list of achievements: the record for most major championships won in a lifetime.

Bob Worrall, Burlington, Ontario – perhaps initially surprising to see a non-competitor nominated as Piper of the Year, but let’s take a look at a few of Worrall’s contributions to the art in 2011: host of concerts, broadcasts and recitals; organizer of the George Sherriff Memorial, one of the world’s major amateur solo competitions; instructor to bands and individuals all over the world; member of the committees for the Competing Pipers Association and the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario; an in-demand adjudicator . . . the list goes on.


  1. I’ll try that comment again, can’t you have a pipesdrums book of the year award (any book pipe/drum or pipe band related) and also a separate product award?

  2. While I can see this is rather novel and might interest some, I think it actually serves to do little else but highlight just how small the top of the pyramid is (and that our focus is always up there). With the very rare exception, it’s the ‘same olds’ year after year. Band of the year: FMM. How many ‘experts’ are required to deliberate and agree on that…? It would be better if the ‘panel’ had carte blanche to dissect the year that was and make some statements about what was good, bad or otherwise, and not restricted to the elite level. Some commentary about the grades around the globe – comparisons etc. Readers might benefit a bit more if the expert panel was engaged to express its views on the broader scene, not simply be polled or asked to recite results that we all know already.

  3. Thanks, @uilleannonlooker. If you look back at the awards over the years (see links at article end), you’ll see that some years there are enough books to warrant that. 2011 saw relatively few collections being released. @Lawrie – thanks for your, as usual, frank feedback. Similarly, you’ll see in past years it’s not so straightforward. I agree that a lively debate with a panel of experts on the good and the bad of the year would be fun and enlightening, but the awards are structured as such to make them relatively straightforward. Panelists did in fact mention people, bands, events and products that they thought merited nomination, and, interestingly, every band nominated had at least one vote, so the winner was not unanimous.



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