World Pipe Band Championships 2015

In the end it took an Irishman to bring the Worlds title back to Scotland and in doing so P/M Ryan Canning’s achievement must rank among the very highest in pipe band history, writes Robert Wallace.

Three years ago he inherited a  Shotts and Dykehead band that was mid to bottom end of the Grade 1 table – luck, or lack of it, was not involved, they were that poor. With the full support of Leading Drummer Jim Kilpatrick, band Chairman Sandy Bell and committee members such as Ewan McAllister, P/M Canning set about rebuilding his pipe corps, re-fashioning the band’s music, restoring the sound the band had always been famous for.

Last year they began nibbling at the bottom of the top six and this year they were regular top three contenders. They were there on merit, nothing less. Here are a couple of comments I made about the band earlier in the season.

After the Europeans at Forres: ‘Shotts are getting ever closer however. I would not like to bet against them lifting a major this year – and remember Jim Kilpatrick’s corps are the reigning World Champions. If Shotts do take either the Scottish or the Worlds it will be thoroughly deserved. And if they don’t, watch them go in 2016….’

After the Scottish at Dumbarton I said they were ‘lurking, ready to pounce’. Well they certainly pounced yesterday and all congratulations to P/M Canning, L/D Kilpatrick and all the band’s pipers, drummers and backroom staff. I cannot remember when a band took the Worlds without having won a season’s major beforehand (SFU excluded, someone has pointed out). Well it happened in 2015 and Shotts’ win ended a ten-year drought for Scotland. The last home winners were the same band in 2005 under P/M Robert Mathieson.
Here’s the band on its victory parade yesterday:

 

The day began with a cold wind blowing in from the west but the rain stayed off for the most part. 50,000 people were not deterred by the draughty conditions and Glasgow Green heaved as it has seldom heaved before, especially when the sun came out later in the day. 240 bands competed (a quarter from overseas), 10,000 pipers, drummers and drum majors. And here’s a statistic that will gladden the heart: 40% of all those taking part were under 21. The future’s bright; the future’s tartan.

There was huge interest on the Twittersphere with the RSPBA’s feed receiving 70,000 ‘impressions’, if that’s the right word, BEFORE lunch alone. Amazing.

Once more the Association ran an impeccable operation with the 350+ performances, judged, recorded and summarised by their brilliant band of unpaid volunteers, their skilled adjudicators and their genial administrators. The BBC streamed the whole day over the internet, though there was disappointment that the Novice and Juvenile contests couldn’t be broadcast. This was because of the need for parental consent forms, the Corporation’s lawyers had ruled. I don’t know how this can be overcome for next year; it is certainly a huge job for someone if the kids are to appear ‘on the telly’ as it were.

It was pleasing to see that this year the Grade 1 arena had been cleared of all  unecessary individuals leaving the sward to the bands, the officials and judges, and the lone BBC cameraman. I’ll have more on the performances later.

After a long day of competition, the March Past began with all bands getting their moment of exposure to the world’s media in front of the presentation dais; a long job for the announcers. Once in position they were asked to play the traditional Salute to the Chieftain. To give you a flavour of the atmosphere, here’s a recording with the voice of RSPBA Vice-Charman John Hughes:

Now if you are a piper, drummer or drum-major why would you not want to be there? The Worlds will be at Glasgow for the next six years at least – fast becoming its spiritual home – so if you’ve never been, get it on your bucket list now. It really is that special, even without a prize, just to be part of the day will live in the memory.

  • Stay tuned to Piping Press for detailed analysis and more from the Worlds. See the up to date list of Worlds winners here.

 

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