High notes . . . high notes . . . high notes . . . high notes
:: Okay, so we're still reflecting on what's just gone on in the season past, but already the dates and venues for most of next year's global majors have been confirmed. The UK Championships will take place in Belfast on June 11 followed by the European at Forres (June 25), the Scottish at Dumbarton (July 30) and the Worlds in Glasgow on August 12/13. While a location for the British Championships is still to be confirmed, the likely date will be either May 21 or 28.
:: The 2015 Gig'n the Bann, the 16th running of the cross community music and dance festival, continues this afternoon with a solo piping competition outdoors in Bank Square in Portglenone (if it rains it will switch to the Riverside Suite at the Wild Duck Inn) featuring a clutch of Ireland's finest young musicians. And then tonight sees one of the festival's highlights with an appearance of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who are making their third appearance at the gig. The Chillis have never been more in demand for their infectious style of feel good music. They have a pool of the very best musicians from Scotland and across the globe - many holding World Champion titles and all serious players with impressive credentials and qualifications.
:: Scot Finlay Johnston completed his set of Highland Society of London Gold Medals when he took the premier award - and a cheque for £500 - at the Northern Meeting in Inverness on Thursday with a beautifully controlled and perfectly fingered performance of 'Farewell to the Laird of Islay', pipping Canadian Ian K MacDonald. Some 25 pipers competed this year, and the top five was completed by Gordon McCready, William Geddes and Jamie Troy.
:: The Armagh Pipers Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, and plans are already under way to mark the occasion with a series of special events. The BBC will shortly begin to film a three-part documentary on the Pipers Club which will be shown at the end of 2016. A gala concert featuring club musicians who are performing on the professional circuit as well as the stars of today, is being planned. Pupils are also being invited to research and document the musical history of their families and put together an exhibition. And another project which will commence shortly will be to record on DVD the songs associated with this area.