January 17, 2022

The pipes|drums Piobaireachd Panel – Part 1

A bright side of the pandemic is that it’s given piping pause to reflect on our music, and many consider that piobaireachd is the greatest and most important music we offer. It’s certainly unique.

With that, pipes|drums decided to assemble a panel of three of three of the world’s leaders in the art:

Colin MacLellan [Photo pipes|drums]
Edinburgh’s Colin MacLellan has won both Highland Society of London Gold Medals (Inverness 1982, Oban 1992), two Silver Chanters (1990, ’91) and a raft of other big prizes at the highest levels. He served as president of the Competing Pipers Association for nearly a decade in the 2000s, and is currently head of the Solo Piping Judges’ Association, which he co-founded in the 2010s as the UK’s first unified organization for adjudicators of piping contests. He’s in-demand worldwide as a teacher and judge of piping.

Derek Midgley [Photo pipes|drums]
Derek Midgley of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, is an active competitor at the Open/Professional level. He won the Silver Medal for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting in 2012, the Dunvegan Medal at Skye in 2016, and both the Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal and Bar to the Medal at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario, in 2018. He was elected president of the Competing Pipers Association in 2020.

Jack Taylor [Photo pipes|drums]
Originally from St. Andrew’s Scotland, and for many years a resident of Aboyne, Jack Taylor was a pupil of the famed Bob Brown and Bob Nicol for more than a decade, beginning when he was a medical student at the University of Aberdeen. He won the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1973 and was a regular prize-winner in the Clasp. During his 12-year tenure as president of the Piobaireachd Society, he ushered in a new era of openness and tolerance for a wider variety of perspectives on the music. He’s a sought-after teacher and adjudicator at competitions of the highest levels.

To be sure, there are any number of excellent choices for panellists to speak to the topic, but none better than these accomplished and intelligent folks to dig into the current state of piobaireachd as an art form, and where it will and should head in the future.

It’s an illuminating and important discussion that we’ll publish in three parts of around 15 minutes each. You are sure to have your mind opened to several new ideas as they consider where ceol mor is now and where it might be going.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of the pipes|drums Piobaireachd Panel with Colin MacLellan, Derek Midgley and Jack Taylor.



Derek Midgley first non-UK-resident CPA president
August 16, 2020

Derek Midgley wins Piobaireachd Society (Canada) double gold
August 3, 2018

New Jersey’s Midgley wins Dunvegan Medal
August 2, 2016

Take a piob break: Dr. Jack Taylor
April 13, 2020

Taylor confirms resignation from Piobaireachd Society presidency
February 21, 2019

10 Questions With . . . Dr. Jack Taylor
July 31, 2007

Colin MacLellan: the pipes|drums Interview – Part 1
November 1, 2009

Colin MacLellan: the pipes|drums Interview, Part 2
November 30, 2009

Colin MacLellan: the pipes|drums Interview, Part 3
December 31, 2009

Colin MacLellan: the pipes|drums Interview, Part 4
January 31, 2010

Colin MacLellan: the pipes|drums Interview, Part 5
February 28, 2010


  1. Would really like to hear informed opinions from the panellists in some detail as to what can make for a more colourful performance of ceol mor (as follow up to Jack’s observation that the playing has become more bland) and some elaboration of Colin’s remark about sameness of interpretations. These are critical observations.

    Perhaps, more to the point, for the sake of the artform how do you get judges to break out of their narrow views as to how piobaireachd should be played? Too often judges seem to be comfortable saying, “That’s not the way I was taught the tune”. As noted, they are the gatekeepers of what is acceptable and risk turning the playing of ceol mor into a military drill.



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