Published: October 31, 2020

Stuart Liddell: 2020 Glenfiddich Champion

Stuart Liddell with the Glenfiddich Championship trophy. [Photo Derek Maxwell]
Blair Atholl, Scotland – October 30-31, 2020 – After a remarkable feat of perseverance and commitment to keeping the world’s greatest single solo piping event going, the Glenfiddich Championship was won by Stuart Liddell of Inveraray, Scotland, taking the overall prize with two seconds. It was his third time winning the competition, which has been held in the Great Hall of Blair Castle every year since 1974.

The competition was packaged into a streamed broadcast watched by nearly 700 enthusiasts from around the globe, each paying £15 for the privilege of hearing 10 of the world’s greatest exponents of the art.

Each piper gained an invitation by merit of either past wins of the overall Glenfiddich Championship or, in the cases of Bruce Gandy of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Connor Sinclair of Crieff, Scotland, their runner-up finish in recent Glenfiddichs. Only Callum Beaumont of Linlithgow, Scotland, and Finlay Johnston of Glasgow gained an invitation via usual qualifying contests. Beaumont won the Bratach Gorm and overall championship at the Scottish Piping Society of London’s November 2019 competitions, and Johnston was the winner of the previous year’s Glenfiddich Championship.

Gandy and Lee travelled from Canada to Scotland more than two weeks ago, quarantining in place before the event under Scotland’s strict measures for foreign visitors. They will each need to shelter in place for two weeks when they return to Canada, committing a month to the event.

Jack Lee with the Glenfiddich Piobaireachd trophy. [Photo Derek Maxwell]
Piobaireachd
1st Jack Lee, Surrey, British Columbia, “Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie”
2nd Stuart Liddell, “In Praise of Morag”
3rd Finlay Johnston, Glasgow, “Rory MacLeod’s Lament”
4th Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow, “The Battle of Aldearn” (#2)
5th Angus MacColl, Benderloch , Scotland, “The Unjust Incarceration”
Judges: Iain MacFadyen, Willie Morrison, Jack Taylor

MSR
1st Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland, “Angus Campbell’s Farewell to Stirling,” “Shepherd’s Crook,” “Bessie MacIntyre”
2nd Stuart Liddell, “The Duke of Roxburgh’s Farewell to Blackmount Forest,” “Catlodge,” “Drumlithie”
3rd Roddy MacLeod, “The Marchioness of Tullibardine,” “The Piper’s Bonnet,” “The Grey Bob”
4th Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, “Leaving Lunga,” “The Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “Stornoway Castle”
5th Iain Speirs, Edinburgh, “Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society,” “Tulloch Gorum,” “John McKechnie’s Big Reel”
Judges: Walter Cowan, Colin MacLellan, Ian McLellan

Glenfiddich MSR winner Willie McCallum. [Photo Derek Maxwell]
Also competing were Callum Beaumont of Linlithgow, Scotland, and Connor Sinclair of Crieff, Scotland.

The competition this year went ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic. Contestants, judges and administrators practiced careful social distancing, and there was no other in-person audience.

The contests and judging decisions actually happened on Friday, October 30th, and the recorded material was made into into a nearly 10 hour “live” show, complete with lunch breaks and time for judges’ deliberation.

The organizers elected not to award the Balvenie Medal for services to piping this year.

John Wilson was the host of the event, and Glasgow’s National Piping Centre provided the streaming platform through its website.

During the broadcast, the National Piping Centre made pleas for donations to ensure its survival as a charitable organization. The non-profit pipes|drums, which plows proceeds back into the publication and contributes anything left over to worthy piping and drumming causes, made a £100 donation during the event.

While viewers were waiting for the results to be announced, a tribute to Alex Duncan, a well known piper from nearby Pitlochry and a member of the Atholl Highlanders, was performed by his friend, John Dew. Dew played a piobaireachd composed by R.S. MacDonald in memory of Alex Duncan.

The Glenfiddich Championships are staged by the William Grant Foundation, the charitable arm of William Grant & Son Distillers, whose brands include Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

 


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