A record number of young people have signed up to participate in the world’s biggest week of piping, as it returns to Glasgow 13 – 19 August, with a third of the 800 performers at this year’s Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival and 40% of competitors in The World Pipe Band Championships under the age of 25.
The boost in participants comes during VisitScotland’s Year of Young People, which celebrates the very best of Scotland and 16-25-year olds living in the country through a year-long programme of cultural activities.
This year’s Piping Live! reflects the increase of young people participating in the festival, with a variety of up-and-coming piping talent set to perform, including Glasgow based Assynt, who celebrate the launch of their debut album during the festival, Iona Fyfe, Roo Geddes and Eriska performing alongside trad heavyweights such as Breabach, Anexo Lorenzo, Finlay MacDonald and Ross Ainslie.
The week-long celebration of pipe music culminates in the spectacular World Pipe Band Championships, which sees 8,000 pipers from all over the world battle it out to win the title of World Champions. This year, the majority the 214 bands entered are expected to field pipers and drummers under the age of 25. Around 1 in 6 entries are in the juvenile sections for the event.
Roddy MacLeod, Festival Director of Piping Live! said: “VisitScotland’s Year of Young People has seen more 16-25-year olds take an interest in Scotland’s cultural calendar, with piping in particular seeing a spike in the number of young people joining pipe bands or taking up piping as a hobby. Piping is an activity for all ages and it’s always great to see so many people, especially those under 25, travel from as far away as Canada and New Zealand to participate in Piping Live!. They’re the future of piping who will keep it alive for generations to come.
“Piping Live! always encourages young people to get involved in piping and join their local band. We offer free come and try sessions throughout the week of Piping Live! and one-to-one tuition at the National Piping Centre throughout the year. There’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved in pipe music, regardless of their age or skill level – everyone is welcome.”
Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “Learning to play pipes or drums and being part of a musical group, or pipe band, is still a huge part of the lives of young people, not just in Scotland but across the world. It’s a discipline that allows young people to demonstrate their creative expression; as well as equipping them to achieve other attainment goals. The valuable social aspect of being part of a musical group also helps builds global friendships and relationships that can last a lifetime. When you witness musicians performing at either the World Pipe Band Championships or Piping Live!, you’ll enjoy some incredible talent that’s been inspired by previous generations and that will, undoubtedly, go on to inspire generations to come.”
Ian Embelton, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association said: “Young pipers and drummers are the lifeblood of Pipe Bands around the world. Without them competitions like The World Pipe Band Championships simply wouldn’t be the incredible spectacle they are today. By joining a band they become better musicians, learning what it takes to play alongside the best in the world and to one day become champions themselves.”
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “The site and sound of the pipe band is a quintessential part of Scotland’s cultural identify and heritage, and both the World Pipe Band Championships and Piping Live! provide the perfect stage for the world’s best pipers and drummers to showcase their talents.
“EventScotland is proud to be long-term supporter of both events, which not only provide great entertainment as part of our annual calendar of events but also play a key role in helping drive Scotland’s visitor economy.”