Lorient latest: NO bands / Oban’s new comp. for juniors / Samson book in print


With the COVID situation in France worsening, organisers of the annual Lorient Interceltic Festival say there will be no pipe bands or dancers this year.

Methill Pipe Band, Strathallan Pipe Band and Prince Charles Pipe Band (San Francisco) had been lined up to travel to Brittany to take part in this year’s festival. It is understood that their invitation will carry forward to 2022.

Methil Pipe Band taking part in the Grande Parade last year.
Methil Pipe Band taking part in Lorient’s ‘Grande Parade’ in 2019.

Currently, France’s government has imposed a six-week curfew from 19:00 to 06:00 across the country in response to a rise in cases. It has also suspended all flights to and from Brazil to curb the spread of a new variant found in the South American country. This variant is particularly virulent and partly to blame for a sharp increase in the country’s coronavirus death toll last month.

In early March, France recorded over 30,000 new cases of Covid-19 in one day although this has reduced. On Monday, for example, there were 8,536 new cases reported in the previous 24 hours. So far, the country has seen over 5,000,000 cases of the virus and almost 100,000 deaths.

Founded in 1971, the Lorient Interceltic Festival is the largest showcase of Celtic culture in the world. It takes place in the heart of the Breton town every August.

As part of its 150th anniversary, the Argyllshire Gathering is to inaugurate a new piping competition for young pipers.

The competition will be held on Saturday, October 2 in the chapel at Lochnell Castle, which is located six miles north of Oban. It is expected to be held in person.

Lochnell Castle.

The Argyllshire Gathering Intermediate Piping Championship is aimed at pipers aged 22 years and under and, for the first year, will be an invitational competition with a maximum of eight competitors. It will be held in two stages: a ceòl mòr competition (four tunes, own choice) followed by an MSR (four tunes of each, own choice).

Prize money will be £100, £75 and £50 for each competition with a further £200 going to the overall winner. Details will be forthcoming in due course.

Lochnell Castle is a large classical and baronial battlemented mansion of three and four storeys. It was built by the Campbells of Lochnell. The house was expanded by Sir Duncan Campbell, the seventh laird although it was bought by the Earl of Dundonald in 1912. It is used today mostly for weddings. Lochnell’s website stats that it has a ‘brownie’ (brùnaidh or gruagach in Gaelic) – a household spirit from Scottish folklore that is said to come out at night while the owners of the house are asleep and perform various chores and farming tasks – and “ghostly music has reportedly been heard here.”

Stuart Samson MBE is now offering his new collection, the Parkgrove Collection in a hard copy/paper version. The book was released in mid-January but was initially only available digitally.

Hot off the press.

Stuart says: “I’ve had many requests asking whether a physical book was in the pipeline and, although it was not my original intention to produce one, I have now gone down this line in order to accommodate those who prefer to have a hard copy.

“I am very pleased with the result and would say that it is something of a revelation to me that a high percentage of musicians seem to prefer a physical book. It would be interesting to get an overall view on this, in this digital age.”

The price is the same as the digital version – £20 + shipping – and the book is available form Stuart’s website: https://www.sdsamsonmusic.com/product/the-parkgrove-collection-physical-book/

A few weeks ago, Canadian Sean Somers’ published his collection Out West Collection as a hard copy.

A reminder that pipers worldwide are being encouraged to mark the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp tomorrow (Thursday, April 13). See our report from March 17 for more information on this.