TARTAN TALK: Alastair and Ryan target Pipe Idol success

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It will not only be Northern Ireland pipe bands and drum amjors going for gold in Glasgow this August – two of the province’s most promising solo pipers, Alastair Donaghy age 17 from Sixmilecross and Ryan Cupples-Menendez, age 14 from Newtownards will be competing in one of the most coveted competitions for up and coming piping talent, Pipe Idol, which takes place as part of Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival from 10-16 August. Pipe Idol has become one of the most popular events at Piping Live! and is celebrating its 10th year in 2015. Solo pipers under 21 from all over the world have taken part in the competition which involves four pipers taking part in a daily heat before the final on the Thursday night of the festival. Ryan is the youngest ever competitor and he and Alistair will be up against 14 other young pipers from Scotland, Australia, USA and Canada. Ryan, who started playing when he was just 8 years old, says he can’t wait to take part.

“The Pipe Idol event is fantastic for younger band members and gives us a real opportunity to show our skills. Piping Live! Is something our family looks forward to every year, but taking part in this year’s Pipe Idol event will make it extra special.”

Former winners of the competition have gone on to great careers in piping, including 
Keith Bowes from Scotland in 2006. He has gone on to play for Prince Charles, Rod Stewart, Paolo Nutini and on stage at the Glasgow Barrowlands with singer Amy MacDonald. Keith is one of Scotland’s up and coming pipers having played at music festivals in China, Mexico, Italy and America.

Roddy MacLeod, Festival Director of Piping Live! said: “Pipe Idol has become an real festival highlight and we’ve given some incredible piping talent a platform to showcase their skills over the last 10 years.

“Glasgow is so easy to access from Northern Ireland so come and join us for a week of concerts and fun and to cheer on Ryan and Alastair. Whether you are looking for a family trip, are a seasoned piping or traditional music fan – Piping Live! has something for you.”

The winner of Pipe Idol will receive a set of Fred Morrison Reelpipes. Fred Morrison is a household name in the world of piping, known for his prowess on the Great Highland Bagpipe but also for his highly successful career performing on stages across the globe on the Reelpipes, or Border pipes as they are also known.

Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival is the biggest festival of its kind in the world and the week-long celebrations will see over 200 events take place in various venues across the city from August 10 – 16. Together with The World Pipe Band Championships (Glasgow Green, 14th-15th August), they create the world’s biggest week of piping.

As well as Pipe Idol, Piping Live! boasts a diverse programme and is famed for its evening concerts, which not only showcase the best pipers and pipe bands from across the globe but also celebrate multi-instrument traditional musicians and bands including the Scott Wood Band, Finlay MacDonald and Chris Stout, Fred Morrison and Borja Baragano, who are all performing at this year’s festival.

The World Pipe Band Championships will return to the picturesque Glasgow Green on 14th-15th August, where the best pipers and drummers from across the world will congregate for the ultimate competition. ‘The Worlds’, as they are affectionately known, have been associated with Glasgow for more than 60 years and will see around 230 bands compete across the two days. It will be an exciting competition as Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band of Belfast will be fiercely defending their crown - having won the title the last four years in a row. The Grade 1 qualifiers take place on Friday 14th August with the full competition will being held on Saturday 15th August.

The Worlds offer a great family day out, with children under 5 gaining free entry, a special children’s zone, Highland Dancing, Highland Games and a variety of food and drink on offer.

Ian Embelton, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said: “The World Pipe Band Championships have always been a terrific mix of passionate competition and family fun, and this year looks to be better than ever. It’s a unique event and a terrific platform to celebrate the vast pipe band talent from across the world.

“We can’t wait to welcome music lovers and families back to the city to enjoy the sheer hard work all our participants go through to clinch the ultimate prize in pipe band music.”

Scott Taylor, Chief Executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Glasgow is home to an enviable, diverse and ever-growing programme of annual major events and festivals. Piping Live! and the World Pipe Band Championships are firmly at the heart of Glasgow’s cultural calendar every August, offering thousands of piping fans from across the UK and overseas the chance to experience a spectacular week of superb traditional Scottish music and culture. Moreover, both events generate significant economic benefit for the city and their continuing popularity reinforces Glasgow’s reputation for successfully hosting major international events.”