Piping Live!

A world of piping and bagpipes: that is what Glasgow becomes for a week in August every year. It is when Piping Live! happens.

This year, things will be both different and the same, as festival organizers have plans in place to bring events online. If health and safety circumstances allow, there may be opportunities to attend in person in Glasgow also.

Whether taking part on line or in person, Piping Live! will be offering an excellent way to enjoy music, learning, culture, and good fun.

highland piper and two drummers piping live Glasgow

People from across the world can tune in to enjoy world class music from Saturday 7 August through Sunday 15 August. There will be plenty of piping, of course, but there will be other top class music on offer as well — more about that in a bit — and workshops, book launches, talks, and other events are in the plan.

Piping Live! 7th – 15th August 2021 from The National Piping Centre on Vimeo.

If you’re already convinced, here’s the link for ticket information. Read on below for highlights of what’s in plan.

You could be saying though: I don’t like bagpipes — or I don’t know anything about bagpipes . Why should I care?

There are many excellent reasons. Here are several to consider.

Piping Live is an opportunity to see both rising stars and the best of the best at the top of their musical game. You need not know about the music or the instruments to appreciate passion, drive, commitment and creativity — creativity within a tradition at that.

You will have many chances to hear piping and the pipes in ways you’ve not thought about, especially if you are thinking piping is not your thing.

To experience the classical style of Highland pipes, you will be able to sit in on The Silver Chanter event, which is a combination concert and competition, with six top pipers. Each ofthem has already won a gold medal, allowing them to play for this top honour.

From another part of the experience range, The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland will showcase the new learning and experimentation they’ve been working on as pandemic circumstances did not allow them to collaborate in person. There are bound to be surprises in store as the pipers share their music, which they recorded in iconic locations around Glasgow.

The festival organisers have, as ever, scheduled plenty of music to enjoy, whether you know your bass drone from your chanter or not.

Top Scottish folk band Mànran, who have won a number of awards for their creative approach to Scottish music, are sure to bring lively presence to the scene. Among other things that includes having both Highland pipes and Uilleann pipes, as well as accordion, electric guitar, Gaelic song, and more. in the band.

manran scottish band group picture

Listen out for the pipes (and see some fine North Coast 500 footage as well) in this song from Mànran.

In contrast to Highland pipes Uilleann pipes are those played with the elbow. There’s a whole concert devoted to that instrument on the schedule, too.

Mairearad Green plays the Highland pipes, and the accordion. Anna Massie’s instruments are guitar, banjo, and mandolin.

mairearad green anna massie scotland muscians

Both from the north of Scotland, they each play in a range of situations and have won top awards. When they play together, they create excitement with their creativity, along with warmth and welcome. Of late they have been adding in song as part of their sets, as well.

You can also hear Mairearad as part of the innovative group TRYST. Ten contemporary piper/composer/producers write new music in the traditional spirit of piping tradition. They were one of the most popular acts at this winter’s online Celtic Connections Festival with this creative approach to Scotland’s traditions.

Speaking of creative approaches to tradition: there’s the Kinnaris Quintet.

No pipes involved, Kinnaris comprises three fiddles (one of them a five string), mandolin, guitar, vocals, and the occasional stomping foot. The group draws on Scottish and Irish folk, Appalachian, and classical influences. The band formed in Glasgow’s vibrant music scene when Aileen Gobbi, Laura Wilkie, Fiona MacAskill, Laura Beth Salter, and Jenn Butterworth got together to jam and discovered that they got a lot of joy playing together. That, along with top class creativity in their musicianship, is what they share with listeners.

There is much more on the nine day schedule of Piping Live! including many more concerts as well as workshops, talks, book launches, and learning opportunities. There is music from Scotland, of course, and from Ireland, the Breton tradition in France, and other places as well.

Glasgow Life and Event Scotland have provided support for the event as organisers have moved things online.

scotland woman piper busker

Will the online viewers be as numerous as the 30,000 folk who have come to Piping Live! in person in the past? Will you be among them?

pipers relaxing on steps of National Piping Centre Glasgow

However you may choose to join, you will find that Piping Live! offers experiences of culture and heritage being passed on and celebrated first hand.

Traditional music of the pipes along with the work of musicians who are moving that tradition forward are markers of the heritage, history, and present day of the culture of Scotland – and of the world.


Photograph of piper Hazel Whyte and two drummers at launch announcement of Piping Live! and photograph of pipers relaxing on the steps of the National Piping Centre by Elaine Livingstone.

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