History of the Event
In recognition of the continuing development of piping standards in North America, Donald F. Lindsay and students from Williams College in Massachusetts established the First Annual Williams College Amateur Invitational Piobaireachd, where the Nicol-Brown Chalice was first presented on April 2, 1982. This special event was dedicated to Robert Brown and Robert Nicol (The Bobs of Balmoral) who shared a deep and abiding enthusiasm for Piobaireachd. It was out of their affiliation with John MacDonald of Inverness that their life-long commitment to the teaching and perpetuation of Ceol Mor grew. As musicians and as world citizens, their lives remain an inspiration to pipers everywhere. It is upon the shoulders of these great teachers and Piobaireachd authorities that today's pipers and instructors stand.
Modeled after Scotland's Oban and Inverness competitions, the Olympics of Piping, the Nicol-Brown Invitational provides enthusiastic top amateur pipers with a prestigious competition which sets a standard by which to judge their piping and a goal to direct their hours of practice. Piobaireachd, classical pipe music, does not always get a fair hearing due to the length, difficulty and intricacy of the tunes, but this invitational contest has become a respected place to play and listen to Piobaireachd in the United States. In order to encourage Piobaireachd of the highest standards, only top amateur Piobaireachd players from across the North American continent have been invited to compete. All competitors must be ranked at the top amateur level for both Piobaireachd and Light Music by their home associations.
The Nicol-Brown has pioneered the way for elite invitational events for amateur pipers. Many former competitors and their family members return to volunteer their time to continue the traditions of the Nicol-Brown—a testimony to the influence that the contest has had on the lives of so many pipers.