pipes|drums’ guide to Piping Live! – spoiled for choice, the events that particularly caught our eye
Whether in-person or via online streaming, the Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival is the world’s biggest multi-day event specifically about the bagpipe.
For the last few years, the festival has had to be mainly or only online, but the 2022 rendition comes roaring back beginning this Sunday for eight solid days of all manner of concerts, recitals, workshops, and competitions.
Most bands with an eye to competing in Scotland are looking to 2023, so the festival’s in-person international audience is certain to be smaller. But if you’re not there in the flesh, you can still witness the fun and excitement by purchasing tickets for online broadcasts, beginning on Saturday, August 6th and continuing until Sunday, August 14th.
Here are just a few of the events that particularly caught our eye:
Monday, August 8th
The Masters Solo Piping Competition (Piobaireachd: 8:30 am GMT / 3:30 am ET. MSR: 5 pm GMT / 12 pm ET [approx.])
The best of the solo piping’s best compete for prizes and, for the overall winner, an invitation to the Glenfiddich in October. Piobaireachd and MSR events, with only the MSR live-streamed.
The Ross Miller Trio (1 pm GMT / 8 am ET)
One of the most creative and entertaining pipers in the world, Ross Miller of Linlithgow, Scotland, performs with Charlie Stewart and Craig Irving on the Street Cafe stage.
Tuesday, August 9th
Learn @ Live! Piobaireachd: An Introduction for Newcomers (11 am GMT / 6 am ET)
Ever wonder what this stuff is all about but afraid to ask? Gold Medallist Chris Armstrong takes the uninitiated through the big music of the Highland pipe.
Lunchtime recital: Matt MacIsaac (1 pm GMT / 8 am ET)
He doesn’t compete in solo competitions relatively often, but Matt MacIsaac of Aurora, Ontario, is a virtuoso of the Highland pipe and other instruments. Some have called him one of the five greatest all-round light music players in the world, and this recital at the National Piping Centre is sure to bear that out.
We’re a Case, the Bunch of Us! (7:30pm GMT / 2:30pm ET)
The great Allan MacDonald will be joined by Finlay MacDonald, Iain MacFarlane and Ali Hutton performing compositions from Allan MacDonald’s The First Hundred and The Second Hundred. Also performing is the Celtic group Beira.
International Quartet Competition (7:30pm GMT / 2:30pm ET)
If you enjoy pipe band piping or simply get off on a bunch of foursomes kack their kecks while trying not to put a finger or breath wrong, this is the event for you. Representatives who drew the short straws from the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Johnstone, People’s Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, ScottishPower, and Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia subject themselves to unmitigated musical torture, all for you. There’s a reason why they each get a bottle of Glenfiddich for winning.
Wednesday, August 10th
Piobaireachd at Piping Live! (11:30 am GMT / 6:30 am ET)
Two of solo competition piping’s best, Sandy Cameron of Fort William, Scotland, and Ben Duncan of Edinburgh will perform “The Rout of the Lowland Captain” and “The Blind Piper’s Obstinacy” and “Beloved Scotland” and “Lament for Mary MacLeod,” respectively.
Lunchtime Recital Series: Connor Sinclair (1 pm GMT / 8 am ET)
Connor Sinclair, one of the solo piping world’s finest young players, struts his stuff at the National Piping Centre. Sinclair lets his music do the talking.
Thursday, August 11th
Donald MacPherson: A Celebration (2:30 pm GMT / 9:30 am ET)
You youngins might not appreciate just how great Donald MacPherson was as a piper, so on the year he would have turned 100 three of his pupils – Douglas Murray, David Shedden, Iain Speirs and Stuart Shedden – will pay homage to his music in performances and video.
Argyll &Sutherland Highlanders Collection Volume 2 Launch (11 am GMT / 6 am ET)
The first volume is one of the greatest collections ever produced, and Volume 2 promises more of the same, with compositions by many of Argyllshire’s greatest. Meaty stuff.
Lunchtime Recital: Roddy MacLeod (2 pm GMT / 9 am ET)
The original head of the whole shebang – Piping Live! and the National Piping Centre – performs what is sure to be his very best and most favourite things, with that hallmark tinkling high A that everyone aspires to but never really seems to get.
Pipe Idol Grand Final (5:30 pm GMT / 12:30 pm ET)
The first four rounds showcased the world’s greatest young pipers, whittling things down to four finalists, one of whom will take the coveted title plus a set of Fred Morrison smallpipes. Several past winners have gone on to careers as professional pipers.
Pipe-Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge (7:30 GMT / 12:30 ET)
Get ready to rumble with five of the hottest-handed soloists there are: Callum Beaumont, Finlay Johnston, Angus MacColl, Matt MacIsaac, and Sarah Muir go hammer-and-tongs with the fast and furious, the MSRish and the ceol mor-esque. Historic in that this, the event that inspired the whole Piping Live! Concept features a woman contestant for the first time ever.
Friday, August 12th
RURA + Ross Ainslie and Brighde Chaimbeul (10:30 pm GMT / 5:30 pm ET)
Okay, most people have watched the first round of the Grade 1 events at the World Pipe Band Championship, but now you can crack open (another) pint to enjoy what is sure to be a stellar concert live from the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Ross Ainslie and Brighde Chaimbeul: we’re big fans, big fans.
Saturday, August 14th
Gordon Duncan Memorial Piping Competition (2:30 GMT / 9:30 am ET)
For those who don’t imbibe in bands, watch Angus Nicolson (Scotland), Bradley Parker (Ireland), Ladislas Klatka (Brittany) and Andrea Boyd (Canada) compete in Scottish, Irish and Breton music sections in an event that the late great Gordon Duncan loved and at which he excelled.
Closing Concert 2022 – Paddy Keenan and the Fred Morrison Trio (7:30 pm GMT / 2:30 pm ET)
Put it this way: Paddy Keenan was and is one of the great inspirations for a younger Fred Morrison, who needs no introduction. These two giants of Celtic folk music are guaranteed to demonstrate absolute wizardry on various pipes. A much-needed tonic after all those Glasgow Green “Clan MacRae”s and “Blair Drummond”s.
Those are our Piping Live! picks for the week. Online or in-person, we hope that you are able to take in at least a few of the dozens of terrific performances lined up across Glasgow!