Nicol - Brown Amateur Invitational

The 2020 Nicol-Brown Judges in Concert by Video!

Friday, October 9, 2020 at 7:00 pm Eastern Time
The Judges: Jack Taylor, Patrick Molard, Sarah Muir, and Matt MacIsaac


The judges for the 2020 Nicol-Brown

Save the date! Host a watch party online!

The concert premier will be livestreamed
at 7:00 pm EDT on Friday, October 9 on the
Nicol-Brown Facebook page, thanks to our four judges, and our production team of Andrew Douglas and Eric Ouellette, who have all volunteered their time.


Watch this space after the concert for a link to watch on Youtube, so that our friends in different time zones will not be left out.

The concert will be hosted by the Nicol-Brown committee as a benefit for the continuing mission of encouraging amateur piping.

Donations to the Nicol-Brown are always welcome.

Please also consider a donation to the National Piping Centre, who hosted Sarah Muir’s recording session for the Nicol-Brown.


Join us for an exceptional evening of music by Jack Taylor from Aboyne, Scotland; Patrick Molard, from Maël-Carhaix, Brittany; Sarah Muir from Glasgow, Scotland; and Matt MacIsaac, from Cape Breton and Ontario.

Matt MacIsaac is an extraordinary musician, recording artist, and solo piper. His concerts and recordings have included bagpipes, whistles, banjo, guitar, and percussion—as a solo artist, or with Natalie MacMaster or other Celtic groups. Matt’s solo piping achievements include winning the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) in 2019 and the Highland Society of London Silver Medal at Oban in 1998. Matt is a piping instructor for the St. Andrews College Pipe Band in Aurora, Ontario.

Sarah Muir is from Campbeltown, Argyll and currently lives in Glasgow. She began piping at the age of 10 under the instruction of Ian McKerral, and later received tuition from Jim Henderson, Stuart Samson, Glenn Brown and currently, Willie McCallum. She played with Kintyre Schools Pipe Band during her time in high school, then joined Inveraray and District for 2010–12, and Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia for the 2013–17 seasons. She graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2013 with a BA (Honors) in Scottish Music - Piping and is currently employed by Fife Council as an Instrumental Bagpipe Instructor. Sarah’s solo piping prizes include 1st in the MSR at the 2020 Uist & Barra Invitational Competition; 1st in the Premier grade MSR and A grade piobaireachd at the 2019 Captain John MacLellan Memorial competition; 1st in the A grade Marches at the 2019 Argyllshire Gathering; and winner of the Dunvegan Medal at the 2019 Skye Highland Gathering.

Born in Saint-Malo in North Brittany, Patrick Molard started playing the pipes at the age of 14 in his local bagad. His first Piobaireachd instructors were Jakez Pincet, Robert U. Brown, and Robert B. Nicol. In the early 1970s, Patrick was involved in the revival of Breton music and culture, initiated by the celebrated Alan Stivell. He became a professional musician, touring Europe with different groups, and conducting research in his own country, collecting material from singers and biniou and bombarde players. Patrick won the coveted international MacAllan trophy (now MacCrimmon trophy) in Lorient in 1980, 1981, and 1982. He also won the title of Champion of Brittany for bombarde and biniou playing three times, along with his friends Youenn Le Bihan and Yves Berthou. Patrick has been involved in the making of more than 50 albums, and has recorded six albums under his own name. Having retired from his permanent job as a music teacher at the Music School of Carhaix, he frequently leads seminars and workshops both in Brittany and abroad, notably Galicia and Asturias in Northern Spain. In 2017, Patrick published a book of tunes called Pipers Meeting, with the help of his friend, Jack Taylor, who did the work of transcription in staff notation from Patrick’s singing of the vocables of tunes from the Nether Lorn manuscript by Colin Campbell.

Jack Taylor was taught piping in school in St Andrews, Scotland, by Bert Barron, and later while a medical student in Aberdeen by R. B. Nicol and R. U. Brown. He started piobaireachd around age 14, and is still learning. He won the Gold Medal in Inverness in 1973 and the Silver Chanter in 1984. He played with Buchan Pipe Band as part of their Grade 2 World’s winning team in 2010. He is past president of the Piobaireachd Society, and, in collaboration with Patrick Molard produced the collection, Pipers Meeting: New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd, in 2017. This puts 45 tunes from Colin Campbell’s Manuscript (Nether Lorn Canntaireachd) onto the stave, most for the first time. He has amused himself during lockdown by putting some of these onto social media. He sees pupils on the screen regularly.


The Trophies

The Nicol-Brown Contest and Master Class are made possible by donations from the EUSPBA and other generous sponsors and volunteers. We love our donors!

The 2020 Nicol-Brown Contest

Saturday, October 10, 2020
This year’s contest will be judged from video submissions for the protection of our judges, competitors, and audience members. Results will be announced live on our Facebook page at noon Eastern Time on October 10, and links to videos of the winning performances will be posted on our results page.


Piobaireachd Judges for the 2020 Nicol-Brown Contest:
Jack Taylor from Aboyne, Scotland
Patrick Molard from Maël-Carhaix, Brittany

Light Music Judges for the 2020 Nicol-Brown Contest:
Sarah Muir from Glasgow, Scotland
Matt MacIsaac from Nova Scotia and Ontario, Canada


The finest Amateur pipers from across North America have earned invitations to play in an elite solo contest with three events: 6/8 Marches, Piobaireachd and MSR. The contest is dedicated annually to the memory of Robert U. Brown and Robert B. Nicol, the Masters of Piobaireachd.

The 2020 program will be posted here. In the meantime, last year’s program is available for your summer reading.


The 2020 Results will be posted here on October 10.


For more information about the Nicol-Brown, contact Barb McCarthy:
tel: 518-321-5597

Zoom Master Classes

Saturday, October 10, 2020


1:00 pm Eastern Time: Piobaireachd Master Class with Jack Taylor and Patrick Molard


2:00 pm Eastern Time: Light Music Master Class with Sarah Muir and Matt MacIsaac


Watch this space for details about registering to join the Zoom Master Classes as an observer. Admission is free, thanks to sponsorship by the EUSPBA. Donations to the Nicol-Brown are always welcome.


What is a Master Class?

Doesn’t this sound like a good way to learn?

Nicol-Brown competitors will be given the privilege of receiving Piobaireachd instruction from Jack Taylor and Patrick Molard, and Light Music instruction from Sarah Muir and Matt MacIsaac. Pipers at all levels are invited to attend the Master Classes as observers, and learn from the suggestions given to each competitor. Topics will include musical expression, technique, and improving performances toward the professional level.

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