This year’s Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE Memorial Piping Competition will be held behind closed doors at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow.
The eight pipers invited to take part – based on their wins on the competition circuit in the previous year – are Willie McCallum, Gordon McCready, Sarah Muir, Connor Sinclair, Iain Speirs, Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl and Niall Stewart. The performances will be broadcast online at a later date.
The presiguous invitation event, usually held at The Caladh Hotel in Stornoway, was originally due to be held on April 3 but was changed to November 27 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers, the Lewis and Harris Piping Society have also added a junior competition for the first time this year. This was also be held virtually and again broadcast online at a later date. The closing date for submissions is November 1.
Dr John Smith, chairman of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “In the current circumstances, we feel that we need to try and keep some semblance of routine by organising the only thing that we can possibly do, which is recording performances and broadcasting them on social media. We are aware that pipers at all levels will be missing the opportunity to perform both for the judges and the audiences and we know for a fact that the pipers who were invited to the Donald MacLeod competition are very sad that they will not be coming to Stornoway this year, because they always enjoy it.
“However, we feel that we have arrived at a reasonably practical solution which complies with the current regulations and we are grateful to The Piping Centre for its help and special thanks to its Director, Finlay MacDonald.
“We have negotiated with The Piping Centre to hire the main hall for the day and the pipers will attend in pairs at regular intervals and play their tunes in front of a panel of three professional judges sitting in the hall.
“… The Lewis and Harris Piping Society is very grateful that our main sponsor, Point and Sandwick Trust, is still going to fund us to the tune of £5,000 despite the fact the competition is not taking place in Stornoway and we have given a clear undertaking that the event will be back to normal next year, all things being equal. The next Donald MacLeod competition in Stornoway is planned for the April 2, 2021.
“…We always have a good attendance at the Donald MacLeod competition and we are pleased to be bringing some of Donald MacLeod’s music to piping fans in the area and worldwide.”
Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Norman Mackenzie: “It is disappointing that there will no live Donald MacLeod competition in Stornoway this year for a local audience to enjoy. However, these are not normal circumstances we are in and Point and Sandwick Trust felt it was important to support the piping society to enable them to keep the competition going, in whatever format they could.
“We want to do what we can to secure the competition, going forward, and give the pipers and piping fans something to look forward to and to keep them going. We hope, in particular, that the new junior event will be a source of great motivation and inspiration for our new generation of pipers in the islands. It’s great that these pipers will still have a competition to work towards and we all look forward to enjoying the online broadcasts towards the end of the year.”