Why don’t we have a World Concert Pipe Band Championship? Here’s an outline:
Each August the 12 finalists from the previous year’s Worlds come together at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow. Date is the Saturday after that year’s Worlds proper.
The bands have prepared a ten minute set of music.
To their pipe and drum corps they can add a maximum of any five instruments from mainstream music: maybe keyboard, drum kit, bass, lead guitar and (just to keep it celtic) the Breton bombarde. Or they can add singers/ chorus. (Who will forget SFU’s piobaireachd at their Worlds Week concert few years back.) The music starts as the bands chooses (synth wash always works for a low-key intro but some may go for the overture approach); they finish as they choose, hopefully with an amazing climax of sound and intricacy.
They play in concert formation of course, not the ridiculous circle, with judges ranged in front comfortably seated.
Judges are from the RSPBA, but with respected music critics drafted in: men or women with a solid music background but who have gone to the trouble of learning about the bagpipe and its modes and understand pipe bands and their percussion.
Parameters for adjudication: tone, technique, harmonisation, instrument compatibility, instrument balance, suitability of content. audience impact, enjoyment.
I can foresee logistical difficulties if there is not a slick on-off system as one band ends and the other prepares to come on stage, but with professional stage hands drafted in nothing insurmountable.
No dead air. Between performances keep the atmosphere alive with appropriate music on the auditorium’s sound system or via an MC who is forbidden to comment on the bands but who tells good, clean jokes.
Tickets at circa £25 a skull would fly out the door. Venues at the SECC start at halls with a 3,000 capacity right up to the 13,000 seater SSE Hydro. Start small and see where it goes.
All 12 bands receive a proportion of the takings scaled down from first where the winning band should earn nothing less than £5,000 but probably more. Decent fees for adjudicators too.
Would a WCPB Championship detract from Glasgow Green? Don’t think so. Would it take pipe bands to another level, open a new frontier: for sure. Would the public go for it? No doubt. Look at the viewing figures for the livestreaming of Grade 1 at the moment. Look at the audiences groups such as the Red Hot Chilli Pipers pull in.
There’s money to be made there folks and all it takes is a willing entrepreneur to pick it up and run with it. I don’t think there would be any problem at all in harnessing the bands. The top outfits are all seasoned hands at the concert stuff by now and there would be good money just for taking part.
No charge for all this from free to air Piping Press, just a gratis ad in the programme please.