Virginia Tattoo Participating Bands/ 2017 Silver Medal Tunes

This Saturday, April 29, 2017, the Virginia International Tattoo hosts the second annual Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship on Scope Plaza in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. In the past the contest has featured Scottish Grade 1 bands Inveraray and Fife Police. This year UK representation comes from the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards (pictured). Director of Piping for the contest is Andrew Carlisle of Field Marshal Montgomery.

The press release reads: The competition, which coincides with the Tattoo performance weekend, will feature a total of ten bands, three in Grade 2 and seven in Grade 3. Grade 2 bands entered: City of Dunedin (Dunedin, Florida), MacMillan Pipe Band (Washington, DC), Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band (Worcester, Massachusetts).

Grade 3 bands entered include: 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes and Drums (British Army, United Kingdom), Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Fredericton Society of Saint Andrew Pipe Band (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums (Austin, Texas), St. Thomas Episcopal School Pipe Band (Houston, Texas), Ulster Scottish Pipe Band (Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania), Wake & District Public Safety Pipes and Drums (Raleigh, North Carolina).

Bands will compete from 12 to 6pm on Scope Plaza, followed by a massed bands performance and presentation of awards. In case of inclement weather, the competition will be held inside Scope Arena. There is a March, Strathspey and Reel competition and a Medley Selection competition for both Grade Two and Grade Three.

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The Grade Three MSR competition will commence at 12pm followed by the Grade Three Medley. For Grade Two, the Medley will be first, followed by the MSR as a request by the three pipe majors, as this is the format for the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships for bands that are fortunate enough to qualify for the final.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the aggregate winners in each grade:  Grade 2: 1st $2,500 (£2,000 approx.), 2nd $1,000 (£800), 3rd $500 (£380); Grade 3: 1st $2,000 (£1,500), 2nd $800 (£600), 3rd $400 (£300). The event will also include an Open Drum Fanfare Competition with a single $1,000 (£800) prize. Participating bands were also given travel stipends to help assist with the costs of travelling to Norfolk.

The spectacular Virginia Tattoo in Scope Arena, Norfolk

‘I am thrilled to see a contest like this happening within our borders,’ remarked Dan Cole, President of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. ‘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. For 2017, we again have a highly qualified panel of international adjudicators representing six world pipe band associations and spanning three continents.’

The Virginia International Tattoo runs from April 27-30 at Scope Arena. International pipe bands scheduled to perform include Australia’s Scotch College Adelaide Pipe Band, the Canadian Forces Base Trenton 8 Wing Pipes and Drums, New Zealand’s Christchurch City Pipe Band and the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.Tickets for the Virginia International Tattoo are still available at A video of the massed bands and awards from last year:

Entrance to the 2017 Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship is free of charge to the public. Tickets for the Virginia International Tattoo are still available at

Budding Silver Medallists will be interested in a new post from the Piobaireachd Society concerning Donald MacLeod tunes set for this year’s Silver Medal and intimating that recordings from expert pipers Finlay Johnston (Cronin Padruig Seamus), William McCallum (Roderick MacDonald’s Salute), Angus MacColl (Lament for John Morrison of Assynt House) and Iain Speirs (Lament for the Iolaire) are now available on the Society website

Anyone who’s not yet a member of the Society should join now!

Lessons on the other tunes in the 2017 Silver Medal list are available from PP Editor Robert Wallace. These tunes are all taken from the Society’s most recent book, Book 16, but appear in other out of print source collections too. The tunes are Hail to My Country, Rev. Dr Norman McLeod’s Lament, the Sword’s Lament and Lord Berisdale’s Salute. All four have been recorded in full on the practice chanter and give guidance on how the tunes might be played. The student can play along with the recording and get an idea of how to link the phrases and variations. Use the drop down arrow to select your tune(s).

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