The solo piping world is quickly becoming an invitational extravaganza. Seeing the results of the annual Dan Reid competition-recital-invitational-challenge reminds me that more and more events are not “open,” but available only to those fortunate enough to be asked to play.
There are still solo competition circuits that enable pipers to gain prizes and rise to the top. But increasingly these aren’t taken seriously. The conditions usually suck. The judging can be iffy. No one really pays much attention to those prizes any more, and, Lord knows, only friends and family want to listen to them.
Looking at the invitiaionals, many don’t have much criteria for invitation. A few, like the Glenfiddich (the granddaddy of them all), are very specific about who qualifies each year, so there is often quite a bit of variety.
But some, like the Dan Reid, seem to be at the whim of the organizers, who quite naturally want to put on the best event to attract the best audience with the least amount of headaches. Organizers want safe and sure performers – pipers who behave themselves, show up on time, and wear a pressed kilt.
Our best performance venues continue to move from competition to concert stages. Right now, we’re entering a hybrid state, where many events want the best of both. Who can blame them?