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The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) has set up a new cross-association working group.

The group, the International Liaison Group, is a sub group of the organisation’s Music Board and has been established in order to help improve communication between the member associations around the world and to provide a better understanding of each other.

The chairman of the sub-group is Music Board member, Alistair Duthie of Perthshire, Scotland. He told Bagpipe.News: “The idea is to meet periodically, probably two or three times per year, using videoconference software, so as to improve communications between us and the international associations and, hopefully, learn from examples of best practice.”

The sub group held its first meeting last weekend with 15 associations taking part, including those in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, the USA and Canada.

The RSPBA’s agm, the 90th, takes place this Saturday online.

This year’s Atholl Gathering looks set to take place online – although organisers say there remains an outside chance that it will be able to take place as normal. A decision will be taken after the next Scottish Government COVID-19 announcement on March 16 after which details about entry will be available.

Gordon McCready
Gordon McCready competing in the Premier/A Grade Piobaireachd at a hot and sunny Atholl Gathering in 2019.

If it takes place online, the usual grades will be catered for: A/P Open Piobaireachd, B and C Grade Piobaireachd plus light music. The Junior competitions will also be held online. Highland dress will be required to be worn by all competitors.

The format will require competitors to record themselves then upload their performances to YouTube with a private link then sent to the secretary who will them disseminate it to the judges. The format is very much like the way the National Piping Centre’s CLASP has been running its recent online competitions.

The Atholl Gathering takes place in at the end of May in the grounds of Blair Castle and is usually the first major outdoor solo-piping contest of the year. The William Grant Foundation sponsors the solo piping competitions.

The Up To The Line Pipe Band Podcast was launched last spring and has gradually gained a following. John Dew, one, of the team behind it, tells us a bit more:

“The Up To The Line Pipe Band Podcast is a podcast that looks at pipe bands and education within the piping world and aims to offer sound advice to those looking to improve their pipe band craft.

“The podcast comprises of Scotland based pipers and drummers currently in Grade 1 pipe bands, including Gary Nimmo, Scott Campbell, Stuart Peters, Stephen Russell and me.

“One feature episode released every first Friday of the month with an interview with artists in the pipe band world. Recently, we have had Steven McWhirter [Leading Drummer of Inveraray & District Pipe Band, the current World Champions], Matt Wilson and Scott Wallace [members of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band] all talking about their various specialisms. Our most recent podcast looked at women in piping and featured Anne Spalding, Faye  Henderson, Allyson Crowley-Duncan and Anne Smart.

“We also have a Patreon page to allow those who wish to support the podcast to get exclusive content, such as a weekly tune from me where I give a performance of a composition each week from various collections published in the last 20 or so years, at least one ten-minute tutorial, pipe band retail discounts, bonus content, bloopers plus access to older material.”

• Up To The Line Pipe Band Podcast.