Lewis & Harris Piping Society to hold ‘virtual competition’ for ‘Long Island’ youngsters

Committee members and volunteers of the Le wis and Harris Piping Society.

The Lewis & Harris Piping Society is this month holding a virtual piping competition for the first time in its history – inviting entries from any players under the age of 18 anywhere in the Outer Hebrides, from the Butt to Barra. The Outer Hebrides are sometimes called the ‘Long Island’.

There is a varied selection of categories, from chanter beginners to piobaireachd on the pipes, to encourage every level of player to take part. Eight judges will be assessing the performances, which are to be submitted by June 19.

The judges are Iain Speirs, Glenn Brown, Finlay Johnston, Donald MacPhee, Sarah Muir, Callum Beaumont, Decker Forrest and Roddy MacLeod MBE — many of whom were due to perform at the prestigious invitational Pipe Major Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition earlier this year until it was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The competition is sponsored by community wind farm organisation, the Point and Sandwick Trust.

Ashley MacDonald, Piping Secretary of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “The reason we decided to have a virtual competition is to keep children motivated and give them something to aim towards. Most of our senior pupils would be on exam leave just now so it gives them a chance to concentrate on piping. All youngsters from primary to secondary are working extremely hard during these circumstances, so this competition will hopefully take their mind of any worries they may have and will allow them to relax and have some fun participating in a competition to keep them going.

“Usually at this time of year, most children would be preparing for competitions anyway. This will be a great practice tool for them and an opportunity for them to be heard by some of the best pipers in the world and as an added bonus receive any tips from them. This competition is open to those under the age of 18 from the Butt [of Lewis] to Barra.”

Callum Beaumont in November 2019 with tutors, young pipers and, on the right, Dr John Smith, chairman of The Lewis and Harris Piping Society.

Entries are to be submitted via The Lewis and Harris Piping Society website — address lhpsoc.com/competition — and by clicking on the orange button to ‘Enter the Competition’. 

To register, competitors should fill out the online entry form. They will then receive an email receipt with a competitor number and links for uploading performances. The recordings should be filmed on a mobile phone or video camera and each recording should begin by displaying a piece of paper with their name, competitor number and a competition code. 

Once the recording is complete, the video should be uploaded using the links sent by the Piping Society. Judges will then review the performances, using agreed criteria, and award prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. 

Categories are as follows: 

Chanter – Beginner; Novice and Advanced.

Piping – Primary Novice Pipes, 2/4 March Four Parts; Primary Novice Pipes Freestyle (any tune); Secondary Novice Pipes 2/4 March Four Parts; Secondary Novice Freestyle (any tune).

Under 16, all four-parted tunes or more – 2/4 March; Strathspey and Reel Four Parts; Jig; Hornpipe; Ceol Mor (Ground and First Variation); Freestyle (any tune).

Under 18, all four-parted tunes or more – March, Strathspey and Reel (break in the march if preferred); Hornpipe and Jig; Ceòl Mòr and Freestyle (any tune).

The rules are on the competition’s web page and competitors should ensure they read all the rules closely and in full.

For more information, email lhpipingsociety@gmail.com or contact Ashley MacDonald, Piping Secretary on 07919 101011. The Lewis & Harris Piping Society is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LewisPiping/