Dr Peter McCalister’s 2020 vision and a postcard from 2022


In the final ever edition of the Piping Today magazine published in May 2020, a wide range of people were asked to give their 2020 vision for piping going forward. They were all sent a list of questions and asked to choose one to answer in no more than 200 words.

The questions prompted a wide range of interesting and entertaining answers, and we will share them on bagpipe.news over the rest of this year. To give the writers a chance to update their thoughts, we have asked them to write us a short and snappy postcard from 2022, letting us know their plans for this year now that piping is opening up again and life getting back to some normality.

Dr Peter McCalister’s 2020 Vision

The aspect I would like to comment on is the “community of pipers” and the support we can give each other. 

I am mainly involved in the solo competing scene now, but I have been in bands too, and I have met many great people in all aspects of piping, without whom life would be so much less interesting. The amateur scene is probably the greatest advert for the above, as most pipers are amateurs (and rightly so). However when I became professional I was immediately struck by how friendly the competitors were, and how much we support each other through those dark days when everything seems to go wrong. 

There is another group of people in this community who receive little attention, and they are the conveners and organisers of contests. The Highland Games circuit is in danger of losing important contests due to the loss of these willing volunteers, whose names will be familiar to many (Sandy Spence, Jimmy MacGregor, Duncan MacDiarmid).  Luckily many Games have others stepping into the breach. However, we need to preserve the ethos that pipers like to get out and play, and to facilitate that someone needs to set up a place for it to happen. Having found these people, we need to support them, which sometimes means driving to Aberfeldy on a cold afternoon, and getting the pipes out. 

Piping has a great history – and I wouldn’t really change the present scene. Instead I would appeal to pipers to support it with all our might.

Peter’s postcard from 2022

I remember well how I felt in 2020 – and I hoped at point that the Highland Games season would survive and flourish. Glad to say that the scene is Scotland this year looks very healthy. A few Games have had to cancel or postpone til 2023, but we also have some other contests that have returned after a period without a solo event – such as Cupar and Crieff. Many pipers I have spoken to are desperate to get out and play, and the CPA are working hard to support them in developing a track record. Good luck to everyone who plays our glorious instrument.

Dr Peter McCalister

•Bill Livingstone’s 2020 vision and a postcard from 2022
•Keith Bowes Jnr’s 2020 vision and a postcard from 2022
•Jim McGillivray’s 2020 vision and a postcard from 2022