5 Questions: Concord piper wins national competition
Concord resident Campbell Webster drew upon his Scottish roots two weekends ago, delivering a bagpipe performance that made him the 2013 amateur piping national champion.
The 16-year-old placed first in the amateur division of the 27th annual United States Piping Foundation Amateur and Professional Piping Championships. Only the most accomplished pipers in North America were invited to the event, which was held June 15 at the University of Delaware. Seven contestants competed in the amateur division, and Webster won
after achieving the highest combined score in two piping competition categories.
Born in the United Kingdom to a piping couple, Webster’s life has been steeped in the Scottish piping tradition. He is a member of the Stuart Highlanders, a New England pipe band based in Wilmington, Mass. He said he spent hours practicing his skill every day in preparation for the competition, and the results caught him completely off-guard.
Webster spoke with the Monitor yesterday about his recent success.
How did you become involved in piping? Both my parents are pipers. My dad spent 25 years in the British Army and was pipe major of both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Scots Guards and was the personal piper to the Queen (Elizabeth of England). My mom is also a professional piper.
What do you enjoy about piping that led you to practice so intently and master the instrument? I like the challenge of competing at the top level, and the only way to win is to practice. Practice is something I do every day because it is something I enjoy. . . . It is something I have grown up with and has become my life. I have been told I have a natural talent for the instrument.
You played in two different competition categories in order to win first place overall – the Donald MacPherson Silver Quaich Amateur Piobaireachd Competition and the Seumas MacNeill Silver Quaich Amateur March, Strathspey and Reel Competition. How are these different? Piobaireachd is really the classical music of the bagpipe. It’s usually around 10-15 minutes long for one piece. I submitted four of those pieces and the judges picked one.
For the March, Strathspey, and Reel Competition, I have to submit four of each – four marches, four strathspeys and four reels. They tell me which ones they want me to play . . . and they can pick any march with any strathspey with any reel. Those are common tunes that are put together for solo competitions.
Were you surprised by the out come of the competition? Very. . . . I didn’t expect to get first, I was hoping for fourth.
What was your prize for placing first overall in the competition? It’s two weeks’ tuition, approximately $1,000, toward a piping school in Scotland, like The College of Piping . . . or The National Piping Centre. They’re the top piping schools in Scotland now. So I basically go over and play there.
I get to choose the school . . . and it’s really up to me when I decide I want to go over. I’m still working on it.
(Mel Flanagan can be reached at 369-3321 or