Pitlochry Games composing competition / Sunday sessions at NPC / Neill Mulvie retires from judging


Pitlochry Highland Games, one of the oldest, is launching a composing competition to mark its 170th anniversary in 2022.

A spokesman said compositions will be accepted in any time signature but the tune must contain a minimum of four parts.

All entries will be judged anonymously by three independent judges who are synonymous with the world of piping. The composer of the winning tune will receive a £500 cash prize. The tune will be played at the 2022 event.

The closing date for submissions is April 30, 2022. Full details regarding entry, rules and terms and conditions can be found on the Pitlochry Highland Games website at www.pitlochryhighlandgames.co.uk

The judges’ bench at Pitlochry Highland Games in 1924. Major C. M. Usher is sitting, second from the right and John MacColl can be seen fourth from the right.

Held at the Recreation Ground in the town, Pitlochry Highland Games is a popular end-of-season games and always attracts a large and appreciative audience. The games are usually preceded with a pipe band parade down the town’s main road. There are competitions for pipe bands and solo pipers. It also holds a popular highland dancing competition.

A regular traditional music session will take place in The Pipers’ Tryst from this Sunday (19th).

The Pipers’ Tryst is the bar and restaurant of the National Piping Centre in the city centre of Glasgow.

The sessions will last from 3:00pm-6:00pm. Players of any traditional music instruments are welcome to participate or simply enjoy the music over a pint.

Ross Couper [pictured], the acclaimed Shetland fiddle player, will host the sessions. Ross was nominated for Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2015 Scots Trad Awards.

• For more information.

Neill Mulvie, the well-known solo-piping judge, is to retire from judging. The respected piper who lives in Stirlingshire, Scotland will also be stepping down as a committee member of the Solo Piping Judges’ Association at its forthcoming Annual General Meeting.

Neill, who is in his 70s, tells us he feels it is the right time to step down from judging professional competitions. He may still judge at some junior contests, however.

Neill grew up near London, England and his early piping tutors included Jim Caution and Pipe Major J. B. Robertson. He later went to James Campbell of Kilberry, Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, Duncan Johnstone and Andrew Wright for many years. He was, briefly, a member of Muirhead & Sons Pipe Band and played in Ian McLellan’s Strathclyde Police Pipe Band.

We are sure that all competing pipers will join us in wishing Neill a happy retirement from judging.

This weekend sees the return of more in-person piping competitions at outdoor highland games in Cobourg in Ontario and Harpenden in Hertfordshire, England.

Harpenden (on Sunday) has solo piping competitions for seniors, amateurs and juniors, while Cobourg will see pipe band and solo piping contests tomorrow (Saturday).

We wish all competitors well.

Still in Ontario, spare a thought for Peter Hummel of Fergus in Wellington County. Mr. Hummel, pictured below, has played his pipes every day for many months to express support for frontline workers and to cheer his neighbours during the pandemic … except for one neighbour who yells profanities and blasts an air horn every time Mr. Hummel plays outside.

The neighbour has also called the police on him on numerous occasions. Mr. Hummel says he has tried to talk with his neighbour but to no avail.

“If I could just have a conversation with this person,” he told his local newspaper last week. “I am open to a conversation. I am not open to profanities and belligerent things shouted across the fence.”

Mr. Hummel is not breaking any laws and has now placed a sign in his garden that reads, “Piping isn’t a crime”. He is selling copies of the signs for $20 as a fundraiser for a music-related charity.