Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Well, I’ve been back home for a week now from Scotland after this, my third trip to Scotland and I am taking a well deserved break to rest my arms for a while. What an experience! I have been ever so fortunate to now play at the Glenfiddich 7 times and it never ceases to amaze me each time. On the one hand, it is as stressful as it gets and this is driven by two main factors. 1st, the obvious prestige of the championship, but secondly, the way that you are treated is second to none and you just feel you have to do everything possible to perform your best for this knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. My wife, Beverley, came along once again which is very good for me and we had a wonderful stay with our god friends Roddy and Margaret MacLeod for the first couple of days. Their hospitality is always appreciated as it makes the trip seem more like home. On the Friday evening, we traveled up to the Pitlochry to the Athol Palace, the host hotel and that is where everyone gathers for the evening meal and our tunes are selected and given to us as we nervously chat over drink. This is one of the only contests where you are not likely to see a competitor out much after 11pm as it seems that everyone gets their tunes, and then scurries up to their rooms to have a last minute check over the music to make sure that we have all the right notes in order.
The next day starts with all the competitors gathered at Blair Athol Castle at 9am where we take a photo and then commence with the draw for order of play, a very fair way of doing it. This year luck was on my side as I was 8th on and 9 on respectively which was much better than playing first on in the Piob last year as the great hall tends to be cold still and it generally has adverse effects on the pipes.
This is not going to be a play by play of the event, you all know how the day went after that, it’s just to give you a little taste of the lead up and a forum for me to publicly thank Liz Maxwell and the whole Glenfiddich team for the outstanding job they do in making you feel both comfortable and very special. There is definitely nothing like this anywhere else. I would also be remiss not to publicly thank the United States Piping foundation who I represented this year and their funding for the trip, so thanks to Mac and all the gang there, see you next June.
There were several highlights during the weekend for me but for the big memory, I have to say this: When you are just trying to do your best to get through the events and hopefully play a nice tune and perhaps the greatest competitor ever, Donald MacPherson and his extremely knowledgeable wife Gwen actually come to you and tell you they really enjoyed your playing, well, to me, that’s what it’s all about and I felt very honored with that. I can only say here that if you ever get the chance to go to the Glenfiddich. Do not pass this up and do not pass up the evening dinner/celidh it will most likely be one of the great piping highlights of your life.