One of the most illustrious competitions on the piping circuit has been cancelled for 2021, with a virtual all-star recital being organised in its place.
The PM Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition, held annually in Stornoway, would normally be the highlight of the year for the Lewis and Harris Piping Society.
For nearly three decades the society has held the competition at the start of April in the legendary musician’s home town, with their current main sponsors being the Point and Sandwick Trust.
The competition is held to commemorate PM Donald MacLeod who was born in Stornoway in 1916 and became one of the most famous pipers in the world.
Each year, eight of the best pipers in the world – based on competition success over the year – are invited to Stornoway to play a selection of Donald MacLeod tunes, together with some of their own choice, in front of a panel of expert judges and a discerning audience.
Society chairman Dr John Smith said: “Sadly, the famous Donald MacLeod competition is not going to happen this year, any more than it happened last year.
“The first lockdown was imposed last year just a few weeks before the due date, and although the more optimistic forecasters were predicting, back at the start of the vaccination programme, that the country would open up by Easter, it now looks as if that will not happen until summer.
“So the next time that Donald MacLeod tunes, played by some of the best pipers in the world, will enthral a live audience in the Caladh Hotel in Stornoway is likely to be April 2022.
“In the meantime, the piping society is in the process of planning a virtual PM Donald MacLeod tribute concert.
“We have invited a selection of pipers – from our list of those who would ordinarily be considered for invitation to the competition – to submit a short video of themselves playing a selection of tunes, including some Donald MacLeod compositions.
“The recordings, to be 10 to 15 minutes long, will be collated by Reefnet and posted on the Society Facebook page on April 2 at 7pm. At least it will be something to try and compensate for the total deprivation of the long dark tunnel that we are currently in.”