SPSL online competition / New album from Ross Ainslie

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The details for the Scottish Piping Society of London’s online solo piping competition are now available on its website.

The competition will include C Grade ((Piobaireachd and MSR) and Open Amateur categories as well as SPSL member events (Piobaireachd, March, Strathspey and Reel, and 6/8 March). There will be a specific prize in the Amateur competition for Best Overall SPSL Member.

The competition takes place on November 7, which is the original date the SPSL’s London competitions were scheduled for before the coronavirus impacted.

SPSL President, Michael Fitzhenry said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce that the entries for our first online competition are now open. Since taking the decision to remove the C Grade events from the Annual Competition, the SPSL Committee has been keen to provide competitive opportunities for this group of players, as well as Amateur players and SPSL Members, particularly those based in the south east [of England]. I’m hopeful that this online event provides a welcomed opportunity to the piping community.”

Prize money will be in line with CPA-sponsored games.


Multi-instrumentalist Ross Ainslie releases his fourth solo album next week. Entitled Vana – after a wellness retreat in India that the Perthshire-born piper visited last year – the album is on sale from Friday, October 30.

Vana follows Ainslie’s 2017 critically acclaimed album, Sanctuary, and draws influences from World Music. Renowned saxophonist, Paul Towndrow is featured on some tracks, giving a jazz feel to the recoridng. The album also features features Runrig guitar maestro, Malcolm Jones and Graeme Stephenon.

Piping legend, John Wilson is featured on one track, Wisdom in the Chaos. Ross met John while both were teaching in Germany on the National Piping Centre’s winter school in Homburg. They shared a few informal sessions where John sang piobaireachd and Ross accompanied on whistle.

John Wilson and Ross Ainslie teaching at a masterclass earlier this year in Homburg, Saarland, Germany.

Ross said: “Vana is the final product of a reflective journey towards self-preservation. I was beginning to feel burnt out with the pressures of touring so I decided that I had to take a step back to breath and evaluate what direction I wanted my life to go in.

“I took myself away to the Vana Wellness Retreat in India which really helped me take some time to reflect and take stock of the life I have lived and the one I want to enjoy in the future.

“I started this album when I returned from my trip and I have taken my time with its development, focusing on musical aspects that are most important to me and giving each track the time and attention I feel they deserve.”

Ross Ainslie is one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers, playing pipes, whistles and cittern. He is renowned for his highly acclaimed solo material, and as a skilled performer and prolific collaborator who performs regularly with bands Treacherous Orchestra (of which he is a founding member), Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Ali Hutton, Charlie McKerron, Tim Edey, Jarlath Henderson and India Alba.

Vana will be available to pre-order on September 25 at http://www.rossainslie.bandcamp.com/ Vana is released on Octobe 30 on Great White Records (GWR006CD).