Skirls aloud for Piping Live event

It's time for Glasgow to pipe up - as a piping ­jamboree heads to the city for a week.

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Piping Live will  attract an international line-up for more than 200 events
Piping Live will attract an international line-up for more than 200 events

Piping Live: The Glasgow International Piping Festival gets under way next Monday and will run through until Sunday, August 17, putting on more than 200 events, with workshops, concerts and, of course, the World Pipe Band Championships on Glasgow Green a week on Friday.

The international flavour of the bash has continued to grow in recent years, and while there won't be quite as many nations involved as at the Commonwealth Games, festival director Roddy MacLeod is delighted to see a number of countries put their own mark on the pipes.

"What's really great about Piping Live is that from the outset it's always been an international festival," he says.

"That element was always about bringing different types of piping to Scotland and the festival, not just our own Highland bagpipes. So we've got pipers from Macedonia, Austria, Spain, France and the Royal Air Force of Oman coming this year, among others.

"It's about having a broad mix from countries all around the world… I've been amazed since I started this job at the global nature of piping. You never get to a point where you've seen it all because there's so much out there."

That mix also comes through one of the festival's best events, the Pipe Idol contest that spotlights the best emerging talent in the piping world.

It runs from Monday to Thursday at the National Piping Centre's Street Café, and on the menu will be performers from across the world.

"With Pipe Idol it's a very international event, as it's pipers from around the world, so Scotland but also Canada, America and others," explains Roddy.

"It's not just young local talent but talent from around the world and that always gets a huge audience. Piping has never been so vibrant."

There is plenty of established talent appearing too. The annual International Quartet Competition will be at the Royal Concert Hall next Tuesday, Gaels & Gracenotes presents the most exciting Gaelic talent next Wednesday night and the Art School will host some new collaborations with Friday Night Folk on August 15.

Roddy reckons another collaboration might be the most eye-catching of all the shows, with Boreraig and Rakish Paddy at the New Athenaeum at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

"First up on the night will be Boreraig, by Calum MacCrimmon, who's in Breabach and is a fantastic piper," enthuses Roddy.

"It's a piece to reflect his own musical heritage, as Boreraig [on Skye] is the home of the MacCrimmon pipers.

"It's teamed with Rakish Paddy, from Ireland and that'll be performed by the Vallely (corr) brothers. Both of these pieces are audio-visual and will have accompanying imagery, and will be a bit different to what people will have seen before."

Something that's a bit different for the festival as a whole is that it's been unable to use George Square as a base this year, due to the aftermath of the Commonwealth Games. Instead they'll be down in the Merchant City, but Roddy's hopeful the positive vibes of the Games will carry over into the festival.

"We're delighted that the Commonwealth Games really showcased Glasgow to the world, and the city's never looked better," he says.

"Being able to have our event so close to that will only benefit that, and people who have come here for Piping Live over the years have always been very complimentary to us about the city, and the friendliness that runs through it."

The city has also benefited from Piping Live over the years, with around £20million having poured in as a result, while the bash itself has been able to attract more and more names as its profile grows. It's also been able to withstand the economic crisis that has hit so many music events hard.

"I think success is breeding success," he says.

"People are approaching us and asking if they could perform at it, which is one of the really pleasing outcomes at it. It seems to be attracting bigger audiences, we expect there will be around 50,000 people attending events this year.

"The economic downturn has definitely been a factor, especially when the whole world was in economic crisis. But last year there was an optimism there that people were emerging from that, and we'd hope that there will be a similar feel this year."

n Piping Live! takes place across Glasgow from August 11-17. Tickets and information are available from

Arts and Entertainment

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