World’s best pipers gathering for PM Donald Macleod Competition 2016

editorial image

The sound of bagpipes will be reverberating through the Caladh Hotel in Stornoway on Friday, April 8 as eight of the best pipers in the world gather once again for the annual PM Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition in his birthplace.

Pipe Major Donald MacLeod was arguably one of the most famous pipers of the 20th century.

He was a skilled player winning all the major competitions in his time. He was a prolific composer of tunes and many of them, such as the Strathspey he composed for his daughter Susan MacLeod, are played the world over.

He published six collections of light music and a book of more than 20 piobaireachd tunes of his own composition.

He was also a highly regarded tutor and was invited all over the world to run Piping Schools and organise seminars.

He was born in Stornoway in 1916. He was initially taught to play the pipes by his father, and then in succession by John Morrison of Assynt House, the renowned PM Willie Ross, and for 25 years by the famous John MacDonald of Inverness, who was the ninth generation of teaching tradition that extended back to Donald Mor MacCrimmon and the beginning of Highland Classical Music in Skye in the 17th century.

He enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders in 1937 and his record in the Second World War is well documented in military history.

He was captured at St Valery, but while being force marched to a prisoner of war camp in Germany he managed to escape and was back in Fort George by Christmas 1940.

He was small of stature and modest by nature and in a radio interview many years later in reference to his experience he stated “the Germans were throwing away the wee ones”.

For more than 20 years now the Lewis and Harris Piping Society have organised an annual competition to commemorate the man and his music in his native town.

Eight of the current best pipers in the world, as judged by their success in competitions over the preceding year, are invited to play a selection of his compositions together with some tunes of their own choice before a panel of expert judges and a knowledgeable audience.

The competition is considered by the pipers to be one of the best on the professional circuit, and it usually attracts a sizeable audience from near and far.

The Society are extremely grateful for all the support that they receive to enable them to continue with this prestigious annual event.

Pictured is last year’s winner William McCallum being presented with the trophy.