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The full suite of programmed activity for Glasgow’s Piping Live! festival has been unveiled, with a number of in-person shows confirmed to go ahead as part of the nine-day event.

The ticketed concerts will be seated and socially distanced. The venue will undergo extensive cleaning and ongoing COVID-safety checks, with enhanced hygiene measures in place in strict adherence to government guidelines. Tickets for both online and in-person shows start at £5, up to £17.50, while online festival passes are now available for £65.

Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping, is the world’s largest bagpipe festival. Now in its 18th year, the world’s biggest piping festival has taken a hybrid approach for 2021, combining performances at The National Piping Centre’s Glasgow HQ alongside a rich programme of online concerts.

• To view the complete programme and to buy tickets.

The programme is packed with world-class performances, music sessions, recitals, competitions, book launches and workshops. In-person concerts include the majority of evening shows including the iconic 55th Annual Silver Chanter competition on Saturday, August 7. The six leading players invited to play at this black tie event are:

Jack Lee, winner of the 2019 Silver Chanter. Photo: Derek Maxwell.

Stuart Liddell (2020 Silver Chanter winner)
Iain Speirs
Finlay Johnston
Glenn Brown
Callum Beaumont
Angus MacColl

The popular Lunchtime Recital Series returns with performances from Angus Nicolson, Dr Angus MacDonald, James MacKenzie and Fred Morrison, while sessions from emerging talent will take place on four afternoons involving Bradley Parker, Dougal McKiggan, Alastair MacLean and Malin Lewis, in collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Piobaireachd of the Day recitals, sponsored by the Piobaireachd Society, will see Dr. Jack Taylor, Robert Wallace, Capt. Stuart Samson and William Geddes perform and discuss interpretation and delivery of the music.

Evening performances from the Lowland & Borders Pipers’ Society (LBPS) on Sunday, August 8, and the multi-instrumental duo of Mairearad Green & Anna Massie and Scottish supergroup Mànran on Monday, August 9, will be available to watch in person for a lucky limited number. During its show, the LBPS will pay tribute to one of its early members and one of bellows piping’s key players in the revival of the instrument, Ian MacDonald (Neilston). It will also mark in music the 250th anniversary of the birth of author Walter Scott.

A Scottish Pipe Band Showcase, featuring a combination of quartets and pipe and drum duos from five Grade 1 pipe bands, will take place on Tuesday, August 10. While the Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Piping Competition, will see five top soloists perform a medley of their favourite tunes in a 25-minute set on Thursday, August 12.

The Masters Solo Piping Competition will take place throughout the day on Wednesday, August 11 in front of audiences in Glasgow and streamed globally. This prestigious competition is the qualifying event for the Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championships and will see some of the top soloists in the world compete.

Finlay Johnston.

Folkie Friday, supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund, will see the TRYST pipers premiere five brand-new pieces of music to in-person and online audiences. Kinnaris Quintet, who draw on an array of Irish, Scottish and bluegrass influences, will join TRYST for Friday’s festivities. Finishing the nine-day festival in style on Sunday, August 15 will be traditional music trio Hecla and neo-trad trio Project Smok.

There is also a raft of exclusive, online-only content through the week. On Sunday, August 8 a showcase from piping students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will feature sets from each year group, with an emphasis on music sourced from different era’s in the history of piping.


On Monday, August 9 learners will have the opportunity to play along at home with a Come & Try Pipes online session, while four book launches – including NPC teacher Dan Nevans’ soon-to-be-published Piobireachd is for Everyone – will also be available to watch online.

Sessions will be back on the menu thanks to Karafolkie. Curated by Jenn Butterworth, these lively pre-recorded sessions will give people the chance to play along with some of the best musicians on the Scottish music scene. Ross Ainslie and Adam Sutherland will kick off on Monday, followed up by a session from Bradley Parker and Brainna Wilson on Tuesday. Thursday will be one to remember from Finlay MacDonald and Marie Fielding.

Piping Live! prides itself on being at the centre of the international piping community and year on year it extends a hand of musical friendship to artists and audiences across the world. The line-up for this year’s international showcases will include exclusive performances from Brittany multi-instrumentalist Enora Morice, acclaimed Canadian piper Matt MacIsaac, the inimitable Irish trio of Mick O’Brien, Emer Mayock and Aoife Ní Bhriain and Estonia’s Torupilli Jussi Trio.

On Saturday, August 15 the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s pre-recorded event will demonstrate the exciting and novel ways in which this young group has adapted their practice over the past year.

Bradley Parker with the Gordon Duncan Memorial trophy.
Bradley Parker in 2019 with the Gordon Duncan Memorial trophy.

The festival will close in spectacular style with the internationally renowned Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition on Sunday, August 15. This unique event continues to celebrate the late-great Gordon’s links to Scotland, Ireland and Brittany and for the first time this year will be extended to a piper from the rest of the world. Ross Ainslie of Scotland, Scott Wallace of Northern Ireland, Xavier Boderiou of Brittany and Lincoln Hilton of Australia will each play sets of Scottish, Irish and Breton music. They will be judged by an international panel.

The festival’s Street Café will move inside for 2021, giving concert goers the chance to sample some great Scottish food and drink, while an outdoor bar will allow people to drop in for a drink.

The educational element of the festival, Learn @ Live! will host a series of workshops and masterclasses through the week, with sessions from the likes of Roddy MacLeod, Colin MacLellan, John Mulhearn and Andrea Gobbi, Donald MacPhee and more.

• Watch the trailer for this year’s festival:


Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!, said: “This year we’ve adapted and innovated, responding to the world around us to ensure we can continue to provide a platform for the world’s best pipers and musicians. We will also welcome audiences at home and around the globe online to enjoy this year’s Piping Live!.

“We have a fantastic mix of entertainment, performances, competitions, sessions, book launches, learning opportunities and international collaborations on offer over the nine days and it will be a joy to bring this to life safely. Thanks to everyone who continues to support Piping Live! – our supporters, the musicians we work with and our loyal audiences – we can’t wait to see you all either in person or online this August.”

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “For many people, starved of watching music performances in person for so long, the programme for Piping Live offers them the chance to get back to enjoying something they love. The opportunity to hear live performances in Glasgow or experience the events virtually offers piping fans the best of both worlds. The quality of the festival programme is a strong reminder of why Glasgow is the place to enjoy piping in August and I expect will be hugely appreciated and enjoyed in the venues and online.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting Piping Live!, a key part of Scotland’s annual portfolio of events. The confirmation of in-person shows adds to the already fantastic programme of world-class performances, competitions and workshops on offer over the nine days of the festival.

“Events are an important part of our communities by providing us with great entertainment as well as bringing social and economic change, so it is great to see live events starting to take place as restrictions continue to ease.”

Annually welcoming over 30,000 attendees to Glasgow, organisers of Piping Live! hope the festival’s hybrid offering will appeal to the international audience they would usually see attending the festival will giving some people closer to open the chance to experience live piping music again. Online shows will be available to view for one week after they are first streamed.

• To view the complete programme and to buy tickets.

Piping Live! was first held in 2004 and is a project run by the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland. It is funded through EventScotland, Glasgow Life and the William Grant Foundation.