May 25, 2022

Piping Live! celebrates a return to in-person events with jam-packed festival

The Pipe-Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge, the International Quartet Competition, the Silver Chanter, the Masters Solo Piping Competition, Pipe Idol . . . the list goes on as Piping Live! is set to return in full form both in-person and virtually August 6-14 from Glasgow.

Funded by Glasgow Life, EventScotland and the William Grant Foundation, and run by the National Piping Centre, Artistic Director Finlay MacDonald said in a statement, “We are delighted to be returning to our full program of in-person events for 2022. We are looking forward to welcoming back pipers and drummers from across the globe with a line-up of new events and festival favourites. We are also really pleased to be able to offer a livestream of so many events as we know there are still many who can’t make it to Glasgow for this incredible week of music.”

Indeed, non-UK in-person attendance at the festival is sure to be far less than the normal piping- and drumming-mad throng that descends on Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championship, providing a ready-made audience. Because of travel uncertainties, only a handful of pipe band from North America and continental Europe plan to attend.

The World’s might be smaller, but the program for Piping Live! is every bit as big:

RURA with composers Ellie McLaren (fiddle, far left) and Anna Scott (piper far right) will headline Piping Live! in August. [Photo Jamie Simpson]
RURA at the Old Fruitmarket with the multi award-winning folk band RURA, alongside multi-instrumentalist Ross Ainslie and winner of the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award and 2016 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk award, Brìghde Chaimbeul, make up the “headline event.”

The Pipe-Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge returns with Scotland’s Callum Beaumont, Finlay Johnston, Sarah Muir and Angus MacColl and Canada’s Matt MacIsaac performing/competing in the competition that was the spark for the festival back in the 1990s.

The International Quartet Competition will pit six Grade 1 quartets against each other in the most nail-biting, squeaky-bummed, nerve-racking competition there. One slip and that’s that. So far, Simon Fraser University of Vancouver and Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia of Scotland have committed to the event.

“We’re a Case the Bunch of Us” will see the great Highland piper and composer Allan MacDonald bring music from his collections The First Hundred and The Second Hundred, with a hand-picked band of Iain MacFarlane, Finlay MacDonald and Ali Hutton and Uilleann piper Leonard Barry. The all-woman Celtic folk group Biera is also on the bill.

The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland will mark its twentieth birthday at Glasgow’s City Halls with a performance of the 10 compositions created for the band’s Emerging Composers project.

The Silver Chanter invitational piobaireachd competition returns for a 56th year and is going back to its original home, the Isle of Skye, after a few years in Glasgow. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the university of Gaelic language and culture, is the new venue, and the event will be livestreamed.

The Masters Solo Piping Competition returns again to the National Piping Centre, showcasing the cream of the available crop for both in-person and livestream audiences. Contestants haven’t been revealed but we’re certain to see all the Scottish stalwarts, a few newcomers and hopefully Jack Lee, over with SFU.

Pipe Idol will roll along with four events each weekday of the festival, narrowing 16 pipers into a four-player final livestreamed at the NPC.

The Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition is now part of Piping Live! with the event, modelled after the late virtuoso’s favourite competition in Lorient, requiring three pipers to compete in Scottish, Irish and Breton music. The event will be offered via ticketed livestream.

The Fred Morrison Trio and the famed Uilleann piper Paddy Keenan will close the festival in-person and livestreamed.

There are masses of other events, including nonstop performances at the constantly throbbing Street Café, pipe bands performing and practicing in and around the National Piping Centre.

The festival carried on with a limited number of events in 2020 and 2021, reaching a wider livestreamed audience.

Tickets for both in-person and virtual events are available at





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