Pipers to pit wits against the Wheel of Fortune at Danderhall on Sunday

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The City of Edinburgh Pipe Band has announced a line-up of top musicians who will take the floor at the legendary Pipe Major’s Wheel of Fortune competition. The innovative and popular event will be held on Sunday coming, April 21, 2024 at Danderhall Miners Club in Midlothian.

Eight top pipers have agreed to pit their wits against the Wheel of Fortune:

  • Cameron Drummond
  • Ben Duncan
  • Craig Muirhead
  • John Mulhearn
  • Angus Nicolson
  • Ciaren Ross
  • Craig Sutherland
  • Callum Wynd

•Last year’s winner Cameron Drummond with organisers Debbie Reilly and Tracy Ann Miller.

Pipers must spin a golden chanter on the Wheel of Fortune to determine the types of tune they will play. The approach brings chance and excitement to the event and raises the stakes for the pipers who are willing to meet the challenge presented by the Wheel.

Dr Gary West – the voice of piping – will compere the event.  Dr West hosts the popular podcast Enjoy Your Piping.

Looking ahead to the competition, band secretary Paul White said: “We really appreciate the support of the pipers who have agreed to join us this year. Cameron Drummond will make a welcome return after winning the competition in 2023, while three pipers – Craig Muirhead, Ciaren Ross and Callum Wynd – will make their Wheel of Fortune debuts.

“The Wheel of Fortune is a key event on our calendar. The format of our competition and the relaxed atmosphere at our event have proved popular with our audience and with the many pipers who have joined us over the years.

“I encourage piping enthusiasts to turn out in force to hear eight great musicians. We are all in for a treat.”

The City of Edinburgh band was formed in 1947 and was originally known as Woolmet and Danderhall. The band took its name from the Woolmet Colliery and the Midlothian village, where the band practices to this day.

Entry to the competition is £15.00 on the door for people aged 16 and over and £7.50 for people under 16.  The competition begins at 12.00 noon.

Regular updates on the event are available on the band’s Facebook page.

How the competition works

Each competitor plays two sets of tunes – a March, Strathspey, and Reel (MSR) of their choice and a selection of tunes determined by the Wheel of Fortune.

Four of the five tune categories in the Wheel selection are determined by competitors spinning the Golden Chanter on arrival at the competition. The final category of tune is determined by a member of the audience spinning the Golden Chanter as competitors take the floor.

The Wheel of Fortune tune categories are:

  • Allan MacDonald tune
  • Donald McLeod tune
  • Female name tune
  • Gaelic or Irish slow air
  • Gordon Duncan tune
  • G.S. McLennan tune
  • Hornpipe
  • Own composition
  • Pibroch (Ground)
  • Polka
  • Two Irish jigs
  • Two Irish reels

Each competitor has a Joker which they can play to deselect a category of tune on the Wheel of Fortune. Competitors can play the Joker at any time, but only once. When a category of tune is deselected, the Golden Chanter will be spun again to provide an alternative.

The tune categories selected by the Wheel can be played in any order, but they must be combined to form one continuous medley.

Each competitor can add a maximum of three tunes of their choice to those selected by the Wheel. These tunes can also be played in any order but must form part of the continuous medley.

The competition has three judges. Two of the judges are respected for their ability, experience, and dedication to piping, while the third judge is the audience.

All competitors are invited to tell a joke at the end of their performance, with the best joke determined by an audience vote.

Many of the top names in piping have pitted their wits against the Wheel of Fortune over the years. Former winners include:

  • Chris Armstrong (2007)
  • Ben Duncan (2017)
  • Brian Lamond (2006 and 2015)
  • Stuart Liddell (2008, 2009, 2013)
  • Douglas Murray (2014, 2016)
  • Gordon Walker (2011, 2012)
  • The most recent winner of the Wheel of Fortune is Cameron Drummond.