The world-renowned Piping Live! festival makes its highly anticipated return to Glasgow for its 20th edition this week, celebrating two decades at the heart of Scotland’s cultural calendar.
Running from Saturday 12 – Sunday 20 August, the milestone event promises to fill the streets of Glasgow with the sounds of piping for eight days, embracing tradition, innovation and cultural exchange while showcasing a diverse lineup of concerts, recitals, workshops, showcases and competitions.
Organisers at the National Piping Centre are all set for what will be a busy festival, with a number of events already sold out and anticipated attendances of around 30,000.
With free events making up around half of the Piping Live! programme, there are a huge number of opportunities for people to see some of the world’s best pipe music on Glasgow’s streets and in venues across the city. Tickets are still available to buy for a number of events, as the festival gears up to welcome pipers and piping fans from across the globe.
The magic of Scotland’s national instrument
Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!, said: “The team at the National Piping Centre has been working incredibly hard to ensure the 20th edition of Piping Live! is a resounding success. Despite the financial challenges within the sector, I am extremely proud of how we have come together to programme what is promising to be an incredible eight-day event packed with music, fun, culture and community.
“We would all like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has bought tickets and shown their support so far, and offer a warm welcome to piping enthusiasts and music lovers from across the globe who are making their way to the city this week. It’s not too late to get involved and embrace the magic of Scotland’s national instrument this summer.”
Piping Live! aims to create an inclusive and immersive experience for all attendees. From free events such as Gig in the Gallery, a series of daily recitals featuring international styles of bagpipes at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, to enchanting avant guard shows such as Ceol Nua, which will see Fraser Fifield, Graeme Stephen, and Estonian piper Caatlin Magi present new music that pushes the boundaries of traditional sounds, the festival offers something for everyone, promoting a sense of community and camaraderie that resonates with the spirit of Glasgow.
Also on this year’s bill is Canntaireachd, an exciting new collaboration between multi-award winning singers and pipers Kim Carnie (vocals), Kathleen MacInnes (vocals), Brìghde Chaimbeul (small pipes and bagpipes) and Ailis Sutherland (small pipes and bagpipes). The group are joining forces with the formidable collective Staran to celebrate and explore the relationship between piping and Gaelic song, breathing new life into centuries old songs, tunes and stories with new material woven throughout.
Exceptional musical performances
The festival’s flagship event, the Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge, will take place at the Strathclyde Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Five exceptional solo pipers, including Angus MacColl, Stuart Liddell, Sarah Muir, Callum Beaumont, and reigning 2022 champion Matt MacIsaac, will take the stage, and perform 25-minute medleys of their favourite tunes. This renowned competition is an annual sell-out success, and promises an unforgettable evening of exceptional musical performances.
The final day of Piping Live! will pay homage to the legendary Gordon Duncan through the internationally acclaimed Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition. Celebrating Gordon’s ties to Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany, this iconic event will feature one piper from each region performing sets of Scottish, Irish, and Breton music. The ultimate winner will be the piper who excels in all three musical styles, highlighting the diversity and richness of the Celtic piping heritage.
The festival’s sold out Closing Concert will round off the 20th edition with performances by some festival favourites, including the hugely talented multi-instrumentalists Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton, who have been involved with Piping Live! since its earliest days. The duo will perform a double header show with Uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson, who performed at the first Piping Live! festival, and guitarist Innes Watson. People can still catch the sell out show online via the Online Festival Pass, which includes around 30 hours of quality musical programming across the week.
Piping LIve!’s Street Café will be open to everyone from 10.15am on the festival’s Monday to Friday, with this year’s gatherings promising an exciting array of entertainment, from book signings with celebrated artist Malin Makes Music on Monday, to performances from emerging talent Tarran on Wednesday and multi-instrumentalists Kenneth I MacKenzie and Will Marshall on Friday.
The Learn@Live! workshop series will also return this year with three days dedicated to different piping traditions. Held at The National Piping Centre, and running from Tuesday 15 to Thursday 17 August, these sessions will provide attendees with valuable insights into various piping techniques and styles, enriching their overall understanding of various ancient art forms.
Tickets and more information on where and when each performance is happening are available at www.pipinglive.co.uk.
Piping Live! is a charity, donations to support its world-class programming into the future can be made at https://pipinglive.co.uk/pages/support-us.