Piping Live! to have physical – albeit reduced – audiences / Bellows mag to be fully digitised / A new look for Vale as Highland Nights return

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In-person tickets are among the audience options for this year’s Piping Live! festival.

The National Piping Centre (NPC) has taken the latest official advice on the Coronavirus and is able to have a reduced audience for its concerts and shows during the nine-day festival. Online ticket options remain.

The ticketed in-person concerts will be seated and socially distanced. The venue will undergo extensive cleaning and on-going COVID safety checks, with enhanced hygiene measures in place in strict adherence to Scottish Government guidelines. Scotland is to move to level zero of Covid restrictions as of next week.

Bagpipe.News will bring you the full Piping Live! line-up tomorrow. It will include details on regular flagship festival elements, the Silver Chanter (this year will be the 55th), the Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Competition, the Masters Solo Piping Competition, the Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition and more.

We understand a non-competitive mini-pipe band show will replace the popular International Pipe Band Quartet Competition. Inveraray & District, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and Johnstone are expected to feature in this.

The educational element of the festival, Learn @ Live! is also expected to go ahead and will include a series of workshops and master classes from the likes of Roddy MacLeod MBE, Colin MacLellan, John Mulhearn and more.

Piping Live! – now in its 18th year – takes place from August 7-15.

A reduced programme was held completely online last year.

In response to a few enquiries from readers keen to access the entire Piping Times, Piping Today and International Piper archive, we can confirm that the British Library is in a position to be able to proceed with the project in the coming weeks. It is hoped that the project will be completed towards the end of this year. Watch this space.

As part of the project, Piping and Dancing magazine, a short lived pre-war publication has been added to the project. The NPC would like to contact whomever believes they are the copyright holders of the title. The magazine was published by a Mr Hunter of Ardrossan in Ayrshire. If you believe you are the copyright please contact us.

Meanwhile, the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society has begun the process of making a fully searchable digital archive of its biannual journal, Common Stock. The journal has documented the history of the bellows piping revival and the organisation itself.

Committee member, Adam Sanderson says the aim is to make the archive fully searchable going back to the first edition of the journal in 1983.

Adam said: “Currently, our archive only goes back to 2010. Editions of Common Stock can be accessed via the LBPS website but they are not fully searchable. We are conscious of the value of this archive to pipers and piping historians.

“We’ve trialled the first few issues and they read very well on modern devices. The project will take a while to complete. We’ve also been discussing adding audio files from our archive.”

The LBPS is credited with the revival of Scotland’s bellows-blown bagpipes and their associated musical repertoires.

With many pipe bands gradually resuming physical band practices, Scotland’s Vale of Atholl is no exception. The band, though, has now gone a step further.

The Vale’s Highland Night shows were established in the late 1960s in the organisation’s home town, Pitlochry. Over the years, many pipe bands from around the world have ‘guested’ at the show, such as Robert Malcolm Memorial, Brisbane Boys’ College, the Transvaal Scottish, Mildura Pipe Band, St. Andrews Caledonian of Tasmania and many more

In a town that owes its very existence to tourism, the Vale’s shows have been popular with visitors to Pitlochry and the surrounding area. The Scottish-themed shows, which usually take place on Monday nights between May and September, did not take place last year to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year, it looked like they would not take place in 2021.

However, with the virus situation improving and restrictions been eased, the organisation has planned a series of shows last until the end of August. The first show took place on Monday night. A spokesman told Bagpipe.News: “Everyone in the organisation was looking forward to Monday night. We actually couldn’t wait for it to come round! We knew from speaking with some of the local accommodation providers that they had healthy bookings from July onwards so we were determined to get out and have a blow.

“It was a great evening. We implemented all the official guidelines regarding he virus. We were a little concerned when heavy rain came down an hour before the show started but it proved to be a brief downpour.”

Members of the Vale of Atholl at the Recreation Ground in Pitlochry on Monday evening.

As our photograph indicates, Monday’s Highland Night also saw the debut of the organisation’s new uniform. With a nod to its roots, the Vale has returned to the Murray of Atholl tartan. The band had worn the Muted MacNaughton tartan since 1988 after to a sponsorship deal.

The Vale also hopes to once again add a Novice Juvenile band to its set up. Currently, it has a Grade 3 band and a Grade 4 band. In the late 1980s-early 2000s it had a Juvenile band and a Novice Juvenile band. Its Grade 1 band folded in 2019.