Solo piping returns to Crieff

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Solo piping competitions will feature at this year’s Crieff Highland Gathering after an eight-year absence.

Organisers say the response from the solo piping world has been so positive that the open competitions for ceòl mòr and light music had to be capped and the deadline closed early to accommodate the large entry. Entries have been received from pipers based in Scotland, Canada, USA, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.

Stuart Samson MBE, Jimmy Banks MBE, Ron Clark and Euan Anderson will be the judges and three members of the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society will act as stewards.

Ed Neigh on the boards at Crieff in 1978.

Crieff Highland Gathering is a long established Highland games, having first taken place in 1870. This year it takes place on Sunday, August 21 at the usual venue in the town’s Market Park.

Michelle Stewart, Solo Piping Convenor, said: “We’re delighted to bring solo-piping back to Crieff. The games often falls the day after the World Pipe Band Championships, but we are fortunate this year’s date is a week later, on the 21st.

“The timing also suits pipers who may be intending to compete at the Argyllshire Gathering a few days later.”

Local businessman, Stephen Leckie will be the chieftain. Leckie is chairman of Crieff Hydro Hotel. Local estate agents, Irving Geddes is sponsoring the solo piping.

A parade of mostly Perthshire, Fife and Stirlingshire-based pipe bands commences just before 11:00am. The Brisbane Boys’ College Pipe Band from Australia is guesting at the parade. At 4.00pm the Red Hot Chilli Pipers will entertain attendees.

•Crieff, 2012. The Light Music took place in front of the red/orange wooden judges’ tent in the background.

In 2015 the Crieff committee decided to suspend solo piping due to a decline in the numbers of pipers entering, which itself was a direct consequence of Glasgow Life and the RSPBA’s decision to persist with a two-day World Pipe Band Championships. With many leading solo pipers also playing in Grade 1 bands, many complained they were simply too exhausted after two days of intense competition with their bands to make the journey to Crieff to compete in the solos.

Local piper, Mark Stewart composed a tune in 2020 to mark what would’ve been the 150th year of Crieff Highland Gathering. Like every other global pipe band event that year, it fell victim to the ‘lockdown’ caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The tune was published on Bagpipe.news and can be found here.