Nicol - Brown Amateur Invitational

We’re back!

The 40th Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational Contest was held at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville, Maryland, co-sponsored for the first time with the Institute of Musical Traditions. The weekend began with a judges’ recital on Friday evening, October 6, a rare opportunity to listen to performances from two of the world’s premier pipers and authorities on pipe music. The contest and awards ceremony followed on Saturday, October 7, 2023.

2023 Facebook photo album

Save Friday and Saturday, October 11–12, 2024 for next year’s concert and competition! The Nicol-Brown Contest is held annually on the Saturday before Columbus Day / Canadian Thanksgiving.

Judges’ Recital

Friday, October 6, 2023
Doors open at 7:00 pm for a 7:30 concert.
St. Mark Presbyterian Church
10701 Old Georgetown Road
Rockville, Maryland

FREE ADMISSION (!) with donations accepted
for the benefit of the Nicol-Brown.

The 2023 Nicol-Brown Judges
Dr. Jack Taylor (Aboyne, Scotland)
Nick Hudson (Houston, Texas)


Jack Taylor

Jack Taylor was a student of Bob Brown and Bob Nicol, and is now one of the world’s leading authorities on Piobaireachd, and yet one of the kindest people on earth. He was taught piping in school in St Andrews, Scotland, by Bert Barron, before going to medical school in Aberdeen. He started Piobaireachd around age 14, and always says he is still learning. He won the Gold Medal in Inverness in 1973 and the Silver Chanter in 1984. Jack 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 current secretary of a revived Aberdeen Piping Society. In 2017, Jack Taylor and Patrick Molard produced the collection, Pipers Meeting: New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd, putting 45 tunes from Colin Campbell’s Manuscript (Nether Lorn Canntaireachd) into staff notation, most for the first time. Jack amused himself during lockdown by recording some of these tunes and posting them onto social media.


Nick Hudson

Nick Hudson teaches piping at St. Thomas’ Episcopal School in Houston and plays with the Grade 1 St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band. Nick began playing in Maryland with the Rockville High School Pipe Band, and then the City of Washington Pipe Band. We're pleased to welcome him back for this homecoming concert. Nick holds a BFA in Music Performance from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied under Jimmy McIntosh and Alasdair Gillies. Nick has won dozens of solo piping prizes, including the Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting in Inverness in 2022, one of the elite accomplishments in the piping world. After winning the Gold Medal, Nick was invited to compete in the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Championship in Blair Atholl, Scotland.


Amy Garson

With great regret, Amy Garson has had to postpone her trip to judge the Nicol-Brown while she recovers from covid. She is terribly disappointed not to be able to hear this year’s talented competitors in person, but is looking forward to making the trip next year.

Formerly a highland dancer, Amy Garson has been a consistent prize winner in solo bagpipe competitions in North America and Scotland. She won the Silver Medal for Piobaireachd in Inverness, Scotland at her first appearance in 1981, and has qualified and placed several times in the Gold Medal Competitions at both Oban and Inverness. In 1988, she was the overall champion at the Colonial Highland Gathering in Fairhill, Maryland and received a coveted invitation to play at the prestigious Glenfiddich (formerly Grant’s) Championship. In 1989, Amy won the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada). In the 1980s and 1990s she was very much a pioneer for women’s piping. Now retired after a career in law, Amy continues to pipe for pleasure, solo competition, and Highland Dancing contests in addition to judging piping events across North America.


The 2023 Nicol-Brown Competition

Saturday, October 7, 2023
St. Mark Presbyterian Church
10701 Old Georgetown Road
Rockville, Maryland

9:30 am to 7:00 pm

More info

FREE ADMISSION (!) with donations accepted
for the benefit of the Nicol-Brown.

Ten of the finest Amateur pipers from across North America earned invitations this season to play in an elite solo competition consisting of 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.

View a pdf of the 2023 program.


Donations to the Nicol-Brown are always welcome.

The Trophies

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

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