Published: 25/08/2011 11:51 - Updated: 25/08/2011 12:34

Notthern Meeting piping challenge is a family affair

Written byBy Laurence Ford

Murray and Faye Henderson
Murray and Faye Henderson

A FATHER versus daughter confrontation will be one of the intriguing battles at the "Piping Olympics" next month.

Piper Faye Henderson (19) faces up to her father Murray (58) at the Northern Meeting Competition, held annually in Inverness – the piping world’s top contest.

In 1975, Murray Henderson, a young New Zealander, won the coveted Gold Medal for pibroch and went on to win piping’s ultimate accolade, the Gold Clasp, the following year.

Now Faye is hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps – but she’ll have to beat him first.

Kirriemuir-based Murray has won the Gold Clasp six times over the last 35 years, most recently in 2005, and hopes to win for a seventh time this year.

He said: "I’m very proud of Faye. She’s worked hard to achieve such a high standard in her piping – but even so, I won’t be holding back at this year’s competition."

No other piper competing today has won as many Gold Clasps as Murray, so the stage is set for a thrilling contest on September 1 at Eden Court Theatre.

Held in Inverness since 1841, the Northern Meeting is the oldest musical competition in the world. It’s dedicated to Scotland’s unique form of theme and variations played solely on the Highland Bagpipe, known as piobaireachd or pibroch.

Only Gold Medal winners can enter the Northern Meeting, so the entrants represent the cream of international piping.

Contestants will travel from as far afield as South Africa, Canada, the USA, and New Zealand, though most of the 100-strong entry come from Scotland itself.

There is also a junior competition which this year will be free to enter for all school-age pipers.

There will also be an entirely new feature which is bound to make a mark when selected young contestants will busk on the streets of Inverness. The winner will be the one who rakes in the most cash.

Pibroch is Scotland’s unique contribution to the world’s traditional music. Although different kinds of bagpipe are found in many countries, the ancient music of piobaireachd is only found in Scotland, and nothing resembling it has been found in any other piping tradition.

Winning a top prize for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting demands perfection and is a true test of technique and skill.

Piping is at the heart of Scotland’s identity and the Northern Meeting plays a key part in promoting this rich musical heritage among Scots, and friends of Scotland, across the world.

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