Profile

Roddy MacLeod, MBE, is one of the most distinguished and widely accomplished pipers of his generation, and one of Highland piping’s most profoundly influential identities.

Photo by Derek Maxwell Photography. Post Silver Chanter at Dunvegan Castle, Skye.

With the mentoring of his long time teacher – the late Duncan Johnstone, he developed into a top class solo piper.

As a soloist, Roddy MacLeod won his first Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1986, then the Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal in 1988.

He has won the Glenfiddich Piping Championship five times, winning the MSR three times and the piobaireachd event a record ten times, the Silver Chanter seven times, the Northern Meeting Clasp on two occasions, Bi-centenary medal (1988) and Former Winners MSR, the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering twice and the Former Winner MSR twice. At the Scottish Piping Society of London Championship he has won the Bratach Gorm eight times, the Gillies Cup Open Piobaireachd nine times, the Former Winners London Medallion MSR five times and the Overall Championship eight times. He continues to be a dynamic and exceptionally successful competitor. He is internationally esteemed as a teacher, adjudicator and recitalist and, for more than 20 years, his warm, strong-sounding 100 year-old Lawrie pipes have given immense pleasure to audiences around the world.

In addition to his solo piping, he developed his interest in pipe bands from a young age and played with the Red Hackle and British Caledonian Airways Pipe Bands, the last of which became the ScottishPower Pipe Band. In 1995, Roddy MacLeod became its Pipe Major and, over the next decade, led it to over 45 Grade 1 Championship prizes including the Cowal Championships and All Ireland Championships.

In 2008, Roddy was involved in the formation of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band which brought together a group of elite solo pipers and drummers for one week. The band with Roddy as its Pipe Major played in Grade 1 at the World Pipe Band Championship and qualified for the final. A movie called “On the Day” was made documenting the band’s preparations and performances.

Deeply loyal to piping’s traditions, Roddy MacLeod also has been potently engaged with innovation and development. As Principal of The National Piping Centre from 1996 -2020 he was a prominent driving force behind such highly significant initiatives as the development of the BA (Scottish Music – Piping), degree programme, the establishment of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and the formation of the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board. He was the founder of CLASP and co-founder of Piping Live!, Glasgow International Piping Festival.

He has so far been responsible for the production and editing of three influential teaching books, the National Piping Centre’s Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book and its Piobaireachd Tutor Book as well as the Transition to Bagpipes book. In addition, during his 24 year tenure he was editor of two magazines – “Piping Today” and following the integration of the College of Piping – the “Piping Times”. He also founded the online news service Bagpipe.news.

In 2003, he was made a Member of the British Empire in recognition of his services to piping and, in 2004, was awarded the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Music.

In 2012 Roddy was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Awards Hall of Fame

In 2019 he was honoured by the City of Glasgow and awarded the Lord Provost’s award for services to music.

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