THE 'Piper of the Year' invitational solo event, organised by the N.I. Piping Society will be held on Saturday October 11 at the Adair Arms Hotel, Ballymena
Now in its 30th year, the Northern Ireland Piping Society was formed in 1978 by a group of piping enthusiasts who were concerned about the standard of individual piping in Northern Ireland.
At that time there were only three or four competing senior soloists and the standard was such that some of the better junior competitors would have been capable of winning the senior events.
The NIPS took the decision to create an open competition which would enable both senior and junior players to compete against each other for the title of 'Piper of the Year.'
The first competition took place in October 1978 at Tullymore House Hotel in Broughshane. The adjudicator was P/M Brian McCrea of the Royal Highland Fusiliers. Brian was later to become Queen's Piper. It was intended to promote three competitions each year with the Piper of the Year being decided by the aggregate placing achieved over the three events.
Competitors were asked to perform a 15 minute recital and only one tuning break was permitted during the performance. This was intended to encourage pipers to prepare their instrument to a standard beyond that produced in Northern Ireland at that time. The second leg of the competition was adjudicated by Tom Speirs from Edinburgh and the last leg by P/M Jimmy MacGreggor from Perthshire. The overall winner of the first Piper of the Year 1978/79 went to P/M Norman Dodds MBE. The competition was held at Tullymore House for almost 20 years but, due to development was forced to seek alternative premises. The competition then moved to Dromore and then to the Carngrove Hotel in Portadown. Finally the event moved hack to Ballymena in the Adair Arms Hotel.
Since moving from Tullymore House the competition format also changed. Now there is only one event' to decide the Piper of the Year and the players are asked to perform only one march, strathspey and reel from a submitted list of three. There is also a Piobaireachd event within the competition.
Players are invited on merit. Pipers who have attained senior status, and are currently competing are invited along with prizewinning junior and intermediate pipers. There is no barrier separating junior and senior players-they are expected to compete on even terms. Adjudicators for this year's Piper of the Year are Torn Spiers and lain Spiers from Edinburgh.
This year's classes for learning to play the pipes and drums, organised by the Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School commenced last Saturday and will run through to March 2009 at all centres Tuition is given in both practical and theory of music to Advanced level, and examinations will take place in December and March of every year.
The centres are Laurelhill Community College (contact 92 628591); University of Ulster Londonderry (contact 07895620337); and Erne Integrated College Enniskillen (contact 07533979404). For further information contact the School on 92 628591 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Belvoir Parish Drum Majors class will be commencing again on Saturday October 4 in the Belvoir Parish Church Hall at 2pm.
The Piping and Drumming certificate Level 2 will also be taught for anyone interested. Please contact Secretary Ronnie Davidson on 9029 8837 for further details. The class in under the instruction of Drum Major Kathleen Smyth.