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This year’s Piping Live! festival was launched today in Glasgow, Scotland. The festival will take place over nine days between August 7-15, 2021.

Like last year’s festival, this year’s programme will be online, in response to current Scottish Government COVID-19 guidelines. However, if restrictions allow by August, a live audience element may be introduced.

Pipers and a snare drummer from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland officially launched the festival this morning on the steps of the National Piping Centre’s headquarters in McPhater Street in the centre of Glasgow.

The festival kicks off, as it has done for the past few years, with the 55th Silver Chanter rectial/competition. The six pipers invited are Iain Speirs , Stuart Liddell (the 2020 winner), Finlay Johnston, Glenn Brown, Callum Beaumont and Angus MacColl.

Stuart Liddell, last year’s winner of the Silver Chanter. Photo: Derek Maxwell/Wm Grant Foundation.

The following evening, Sunday, August 8, sees the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society presents an evening concert entitled, ‘More Power to Your Elbow’. This show will include tributes to Iain MacDonald and Nigel Richard, who died recently and who played important roles in the revival of bellows piping. In this the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, the concert will also be a musical exploration of the music and ballads of the Scottish Borders. ‘More Power to Your Elbow’ will feature guest musicians including Fraser Fifield, Annie Grace, Stuart Letford, Dougie Pincock, Finlay MacDonald, Anna Massie and Gary West.

The International Quartet Competition will take place on Tuesday, August 10 and, if guidelines allow for group practice, this event will feature quartets from seven of the top Grade 1 pipe bands – Field Marshal Montgomery, Scottish Power, Inveraray and District, Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia, Glasgow Police, Johnstone and Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia. 

The Masters Solo Piping Competition will take place throughout the day on Wednesday, August 11. Some of competitive piping’s leading soloists will compete in this prestigious competition, which is a qualifying event for the Glenfiddich.

FMM’s winning quartet from the 2019 festival.

The Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Piping Competition returns on Thursday, August 12. The competition will see Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl, Callum Beaumont, Finlay Johnston and Sarah Muir perform a recital of their favourite tunes which must include a piobaireachd ground and an MSR.

View the full programme here

The educational element of the festival, Learn @ Live! will host a series of workshops across the nine days. These will be a mix of pre-recorded and live events. More details of these will be announced in the coming weeks and tickets will be sold separately.

A video of the festival launch can be seen here:

The ‘early bird’ ticket, which will allow viewers access to the full nine-days of entertainment, are available to buy now for £50. Tickets are available to buy on the website at www.pipinglive.co.uk

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!, said: “It’s been a tough year for all of us but we’re so excited to be bringing audiences at home and abroad as close to our normal offering of entertainment as we possibly can for this year’s festival. We’ve programmed nine days of top-class performances, competitions, sessions and so much more and we’re just delighted we’ll have the opportunity to showcase some of the world’s top pipers doing what they do best this summer.

“If restrictions allow, we’ll be inviting live audiences to be part of the festival this year too. We’ll do all we can to try and make this possible, whilst ensuring we are adhering to all government guidelines.”