78th Fraser Highlanders Concert Remembered

live-in-ireland-logoOur main feature today is an article by Northern Ireland piper Kenny Stewart on the historic concert given by Bill Livingstone’s 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band in Ballymena, Ken’s home town, in 1987.

Ken tells us of the origins of the show, how it was organised and how the band impressed so many people with their playing only a few days before they lifted the World Champion crown, the first overseas band ever to do so.

The concert will be commemorated in a special evening at the Celtic Connections Festival on January 30th. The blurb reads:

‘Back in August 1987, Canada’s 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band performed what would come to be known as a landmark concert in Ballymena, Co. Antrim – just a few days before they became the first ever non-Scottish band to win the Grade 1 title at that year’s World Pipe Band Championships. Nearly three decades on, the recording of that concert, Live in Ireland ’87, remains one of the best-selling pipe-band albums ever, with its innovative repertoire – including Don Thompson’s ‘Journey to Skye’, the first ever musical suite composed for pipe band – establishing it as a pivotal milestone in its field. 

P/M Bill Livingstone in action with the Frasers
P/M Bill Livingstone in action with the Frasers
‘For this special celebratory concert, a dozen members of that legendary 1987 line-up are joined by other household names of the piping world, including Ryan Canning, Ian Duncan, Stuart Liddell, Steven McWhirter, Duncan Nicholson, Richard Parkes, Terry Tully and Ross Walker, while John Wilson and Bob Worrall will co-host the performance.’
Concert details:
  • Time – 1pm – 4pm
  • Cost – £14 to £17
  • Phone – 0141 353 8000
  • Book your tickets and select your seats online here

Read Ken Stewart’s article here. The picture up top shows the 78ths on stage, but this time in Motherwell Civic Centre, Lanarkshire, in 1994.


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