The Competing Pipers Association was formed at the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, during the 1976 Northern Meeting. At this time, the volume of entries for events at the major meetings was very great, resulting in competitions such as the Gold Medal lasting twelve hours and more.
The first President was Jimmy McIntosh, and the philosophy which was established during his period in office continues to this day. The CPA has gone from strength to strength, striving continuously to promote the status of the competing piper. In Jimmy’s era, the CPA was a refreshing and much-needed initiative which established its members as having a degree of control over piping affairs.
Competing pipers took it upon themselves to form a body who would set up a self-grading system. The aim was to provide competition promoters with a professionally competent system of evaluation, which would result in only the best candidates being selected to play in these prestigious events. At this time, the concept of the 'Silver Medal' was instituted at the behest of the CPA, and this meant that another level of piobaireachd competition was established for promising pipers. Since then the Competing Pipers' Association has sponsored the CPA Silver Medal at The Northern Meeting. The Argyllshire Gathering adopted the same approach sponsoring a second Silver Medal annually at Oban - pipers can enter both events. Winning a Silver Medal entitles a piper to apply to play in subsequent Gold Medal competitions.
In the present era the CPA continues to be the competing piper’s voice and representative at discussions with organisations such as the major piping competitions, and the Solo Piping Judges Association (SPJA). An annual meeting of a committee called the Joint Committee for Solo Piping Competitions brings together the main bodies who have historically administered the affairs of solo piping competitions. The CPA is a key member of this Joint Committee and maintains an open channel of communication at all times between the CPA and the other major players involved with solo piping.
Since 1976, the competition system has come full circle, with applicants for the Silver Medal now greatly exceeding the number of available places. In 2009, the CPA convinced major competition organisers to run separate graded streams at A, B and C level to provide a competition infrastructure that will allow progressive development for new entrants to open competition, and for those pipers coming through from junior and amateur levels.
We represent the interests of pipers competing in Scotland and throughout the world at all levels. A generation of experts has come and gone since the CPA was formed. At the present day, the Association is more influential than ever - a situation which would sit extremely well with the original founders
The CPA publishes a comprehensive annual listing of piping competitions known as the Guide to the Games. This originated as a guide to competitions in Scotland, but since 2010 has been expanded to include the major overseas competitions. The Guide to the Games is available annually to all members.