The piping season and all its kilts are in full swing and now preparations are well in hand for the prestigious Northern Meeting piping competition, to be held in Inverness between 6 and 8 September.
One of the world’s greatest piping events, the Northern Meeting is this year introducing additional events as a stepping stone towards the establishment in the longer term of an international festival of piping in the Highland Capital. The new journey on the road to a world-class musical extravaganza begins on Saturday September 1, running for seven days, in conjunction with the Northern Meeting.
The 2012 Northern Meeting Piping Festival will open with a bang, with a stellar line up hosted by BBC Radio nan Gàidheal’s Morag MacDonald. World famous local piper Duncan MacGillivray (formerly of the Battlefield Band) will open the evening, followed by another group of well-known local musicians including The Inverness Fiddlers who will give a selection of pipe tunes their own treatment.
The final part of the evening will mark the debut visit to Inverness of Irish band Réalta, who won the prestigious ‘Danny Kyle Award’ at Celtic Connections 2012. This Belfast based musical group bring with them the intricate melodies and driving rhythms that make Irish music so loved throughout the world. While Conor and Aaron pursue the melody on dual uilleann pipes, whistles and flute, Deirdre explores the harmony and rhythms within the tunes through a dynamic accompaniment onguitar. Their fourth member is Micky McClusky as special guest on Bouzouki. They take a lively yet respectful approach to traditional music and have firmly established themselves on the Irish music scene.
Arguably the highlight of the festival will be a celebration of the Scottish Highland Pipes by Seudan - Calum MacCrimmon, Angus MacKenzie, Fin Moore and Angus Nicolson. “The sound of the 18th Century” will come alive through replica pipes played in the original key of A, modelled on a 1785 set in Inverness Museum, and made by Fin Moore’s father Hamish. The four members of Seudan will play a medley of wonderful tunes in concert at Culloden Academy on Tuesday, September 4.
Other events establishing the new festival include Concerts at Eden Court’s One Touch Theatre, guided Historical Walks led by historian, linguist and place-name specialist Roddie MacLean; In Ca-Hoots! Shows and Sessions at Hootananny in Inverness and Pipe Band Displays in Falcon Square at 7.00pm on the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th. This will culminate with massed pipe bands on Saturday 8th at 2.30pm.
In between the Highland Dancing Displays and Kilt-Up! Try-On Sessions at Duncan Chisholm & Sons, there will be a string of ceilidhs and the festival will draw to a close on Sunday, September 9 with a traditional Kirking of the Council when the festival will join with the Blas Festival in a celebration of Highland music and culture. A joint service of Thanksgiving will be held at St Andrew’s Cathedral.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the prestigious Junior Solo Piping Competitions held at the Northern Meeting will this year be on Saturday 8th September and will, for the first time, be open to all applicants. In the past, these competitions have been restricted to competitors from the Highland counties of Scotland but the Northern Meeting will now hold a junior competition which is of a similar standing to its senior competitions by making it open to all.
There will be Piobaireachd and March, Strathspey and Reel competitions for two under 15s and under 18s, at Eden Court Theatre. There will be a wide range of attractive trophies and prizes, including silver mounted practice chanters for the winners of the under 18 competitions.