The Celtic Connections festival kicks off next weekend in Glasgow and looking through the programme I could find dashed little of piping interest. The highlight will be the concert by Inveraray & District and Breton band Bagad Kemper at 12.30pm on Jan 28 (tickets £15). There is also a concert on Feb 3 featuring ‘Breabach’ a folk group that uses pipes but outside of that very little of the piob mhor is in evidence.
The Virginia Arts Festival have sent this: ‘We are pleased to announce that nine bands have already registered to compete in the 2017 Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship. The 2nd annual event will take place April 29 on Scope Plaza in Norfolk, Virginia, and is open to Grade 2 and Grade 3 pipe bands from around the world.
‘Grade 2 bands already registered to participate include City of Dunedin Pipe Band (Florida), MacMillan Pipe Band (Maryland), Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band (New York) and Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band (New York). Grade 3 bands registered include Dunedin High School Scottish Highlander Band (Florida), Pipes and Drums, 1st Battalion Scots Guards (UK), St. Thomas Episcopal School Pipe Band (Texas), Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums (Texas), Ulster Scottish Pipe Band (Pennsylvania) and Wake & District Public Safety Pipes and Drums (North Carolina). There are a limited number of travel stipends left to award though several bands are still in the process of registering.
‘The 2016 championship featured four Grade 1 bands, including Scotland’s Inveraray & District Pipe Band and Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band, who both went on to place in the coveted ‘top six’ at the World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow.
‘We were blown away by the success of last year’s event,’ said J. Scott Jackson, the general manager of the Virginia Arts Festival and Producer/Director of the Virginia International Tattoo. ‘We had world-class bands and great support from enthusiastic spectators. Most importantly, the bands had a positive experience, starting off their competitive season against strong competition and playing for outstanding judges.’
‘Andrew Carlisle, the director of piping at Carnegie Mellon University, and a longtime member of the World Champion Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in Northern Ireland, will return as the competition’s artistic director.
‘2016 attracted top bands, top judges and a large, energetic audience,’ Andrew said. ‘All the feedback from the bands, judges and audience was very positive—from the format to the venue to the judges to the short massed bands. We hope to continue to grow and make the event even bigger and better for 2017.’
‘While the 2017 American Pipe Band Championship will not feature Grade 1 bands, the format will stay the same, and Andrew Carlisle has promised ‘a solid panel of highly-qualified international adjudicators’, including judges from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. Each band will play twice—first in a March, Strathspey and Reel event and then in a Medley event. Cash prizes will be awarded to the aggregate winners in each grade:
‘Grade 2: $2,500, first place; $1,000, second place; $500, third place Grade 3: $2,000, first place; $800, second place; $400, third place The event will also include an Open Drum Fanfare Competition with a single $1,000 prize. The contest takes place in downtown Norfolk and Scope Arena will serve as a wet weather venue if the weather is inclement.’
John Weatherston is widely regarded as the ‘father of ensemble’ introducing new techniques and touches into bands which today seem commonplace. Under his leadership the Red Hackle band won the Intercontinental Championship in Toronto in the early 1970s and many other awards and also produced best-selling recordings featuring pipe band and organ. Whilst P/M of the 277 Argylls TA band John won the World Grade 1 Championship in Belfast in 1962.