National Piping Centre tutor, Willie McCallum, extends his record of Glenfiddich wins

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Willie McCallum was named the overall champion of the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Championship. Tonight’s win marks a record ninth win for Willie, extending his record of having the most overall wins ever. 

•Willie McCallum, Glenfiddich Champion 2022. Photo: Derek Maxwell

Willie, originally from Campbeltown, went up against nine of the world’s greatest solo players at the renowned 49th annual competition at Blair Castle last night to claim the title. 

Callum Beaumont was runner-up and Fred Morrison was third overall, with Callum winning the Piobaireachd, and Willie winning the March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) competition.

•Callum Beaumont with Willie McCallum. Photo: Derek Maxwell

The 2022 Balvenie Medal Winner was Tom Brown. Tom was an inspirational piping tutor for generations of young people at Lochgelly High School. The Balvenie Medal was introduced the the Glenfiddich Piping Championship in 1985 and is awarded for “Services to Piping”.

•Balvenie Medal winner Tom Brown (left) with Greig Canning. Photo: Derek Maxwell

The competition played out in front of a live audience in Blair Castle’s Victorian ballroom and hundreds from around the world who watched the spectacle online.

Overall winner Willie McCallum said: “It’s such an honour to be taking home the Glenfiddich trophy. It was a fierce competition and everyone played their absolute best so it means a lot to have been named as the overall winner.”

The National Piping Centre’s Director of Piping, Finlay MacDonald, said: “It’s fantastic to be back at Blair Castle for the 49th annual Glenfiddich Championship. This is the pinnacle of solo piping competitions and all of this year’s competitors upheld their reputations as the best in the world. They all should all be extremely proud of themselves, it was incredible to watch them all perform in this magnificent venue.”

Competitors travelled from near and far to take part, including 2021 champion Jack Lee from British Columbia, Canada, Jamie Forrester from London, the USA’s Nick Hudson, Connor Sinclair from Crieff, and Fred Morrison from Renfrewshire.

The judges for the day were Murray Henderson, Dr. Angus MacDonald and Ronnie McShannon for the Piobaireachd section, and Ian Duncan, Cpt (Retd) Stuart Samson and John Wilson judged the March, Strathspey and Reel. Fear An Tighe (Master of Ceremonies) was Euan Anderson.

This year’s competitors were once again chosen from the list of qualifying events with Jack Lee the Overall Winner of the 2021 Glenfiddich Piping Championship, while Callum Beaumont was the overall winner at the SPSL Annual Competition and winner of the Piping Live! Masters Competition. Glenn Brown was the 2021 Bratach Gorm winner at the SPSL Annual Competition, and Jamie Forrester was the Argyllshire Gathering Highland Society of London Gold Medallist. 

•The 2022 Glenfiddich competitors from the left: Angus MacColl, Glenn Brown, Connor Sinclair, Jack Lee, Alex Gandy, Jamie Forrester, Fred Morrison, Callum Beaumont, Willie McCallum and Nick Hudson. Photo: Derek Maxwell

At the Northern Meeting, Alex Gandy was the Silver Star MSR winner, Nick Hudson was the Highland Society of London Gold Medallist, and Willie McCallum came second in the Silver Star Former Winners MSR. Angus D. MacColl was the winner of the Clasp at the Northern Meeting and winner of the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering, and Fred Morrison won second prize in the Northern Meeting Clasp. Connor Sinclair was the Argyllshire Gathering Former Winners MSR winner.

The Glenfiddich Piping Championship was established in 1974 to inspire the world’s finest exponents of Ceòl Mòr or Piobaireachd (the great music) and Ceòl Beag or light music (the little music). Run by The National Piping Centre, the world centre for excellence in bagpipe music, and funded through the William Grant Foundation, the event is held annually at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl, Perthshire.

The competition was topped off with a celebratory Pipers’ Ceilidh at the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry.