RSPBA Announce Qualifiers for Tomorrow’s G1 Final (updated with pix and comment)

Twelve bands have made it through to tomorrow’s final in the World Pipe Band Championships Grade 1 competition. After a full day of playing sometimes in rain and always with a cold wind, two sets of four judges settled on the following names. They are:

St Laurence O’Toole
Simon Fraser
Fife Police
78th Frasers
Vale of Atholl
Field Marshal
Scottish Power
Dowco Triumph Street

This is the order in which they will compete tomorrow. Others who played but who didn’t make it through: Canterbury Caledonia NZ, NZ Police, Manawatu, PSNI, Buchan Peterson, Glasgow Skye, Glasgow Police, Denny & Dunipace, Lomond & Clyde, Bagad Cap Caval. These bands all receive free entry tickets for Saturday.

Tomorrow’s contest begins at 10.00am.

The Editor writes: It was a particularly chilly, dreich day at Glasgow Green which was almost guaranteed given the beautiful weather we enjoyed during May, June and July. It had an effect on the bands no question with many of them suffering tonally – flat, flat, flat. Others hiked the pitch to compensate and lost the top hand in the process. Strangely, the fingering seemed unaffected – testament to the hard work that has obviously gone into preparing for the big day.

I heard all of the performances in the Grade 1 arena except Johnstone, the first band on. This meant I heard 10 MSRs and eleven Medleys. Hearing only 50% of each discipline, and the fact that the bands must play again tomorrow, precludes my giving any order of preference. I will say that to me, stone wall certainties to go through were, Field Marshal Montgomery, SLOT, Scottish Power, Inveraray, 78th Fraser Highlanders, Shotts, Fife Police, Boghall and SFU. The other three places could have gone to any of Lomond & Clyde, Dowco, Vale of Atholl, PSNI, Canterbury Caledonia. As it was Johnstone, the Vale and Dowco got the shout and well done to them.

Arena 1 judges Ross Walker, Jim Baxter and Harry Stevenson

The judges in Arena 1 deserve praise for maintaining the same position for each band (more or less), thus giving each an equal hearing. It was bit like Orion’s bow, piping judge top and bottom, ensemble a little to the west of them (depending on how you face), and the drumming judge behind the drummers. If we must persist with the pipe band presentation from the 1930s, the circle, then perhaps this is the best and fairest way adjudicators should form up.

inveraray wisely played in capes, the only band to do so

A few other comments: Inveraray were the only band to play in capes – a wise move given the cold I felt. Bagad Cap Caval did very well in their MSR, just a bit more understanding of the phrasing idioms and they could well have qualified. The 78th Frasers showed that Grade 1 piping is not dead in Ontario. This band can play, have no doubt about that. Their complex opening medley tune and its execution blew me away. The band is pictured top.

Manawatu disappointed. The poorest I have heard them at the Worlds. They just didn’t have the sound. Their compatriots Canterbury Caledonia played very smoothly I thought, and I was surprised they didn’t make it through. Ditto Lomond & Clyde. This is a G1 band make no mistake. Glasgow Police continue to worry me; the pipe major not getting away in the MSR didn’t help. Former P/M Ross Walker must have been delighted to hear the high end performance of his old band Boghall. With a higher pitch tomorrow Dowco could do even better.

Judge Ross Walker must have admired the playing of his old band

The big beasts were outstanding. You know who I am talking about. Get out tomorrow to hear the fight to the death. If today was anything to go by the standard will be stratospheric. In closing, a word for the crowd today. RSPBA Chairman John Hughes reckoned it at about 6,000. I think it was higher than that, perhaps closer to 10,000. Whatever, well done to all those who got out there and showed their support for what the late Tommy Millar called the greatest sound in the world.

The large crowd listening to the Medley qualifier

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3 thoughts on “RSPBA Announce Qualifiers for Tomorrow’s G1 Final (updated with pix and comment)

  1. I whole heartedly agree with these sentiments. The bands who fail to qualify by rite could play off for a place on the final in the morning. That would push the start time for the final back about one and a half hours. That would then mean a finish at the more traditional end time, rather than having the grade 2 following the grade 1. The public want a climax to the competition, not ending in a whisper that few people are interested in watching. Last year should have old the RSPBA that.

  2. I have never been to the Glasgow Green Competition, but follow it on the media. It is clear that bands from overseas put a great deal of effort and expense into coming to Glasgow for the competition and of course those from the home countries also make the effort. It does seem a shame that the band participants who have not qualified are sidelined and their reward are just free tickets to watch those who have qualified. Doubtless the judges will have got their decisions correct, but those pipe bands in grade 1 even at lower level of the grade are good outfits and most of us have never played at such a level of pipe bands. I feel for them and in the wider context of piping they are in a way doing a service for piping and drumming in the places/communities that they hail from. They are of course supporters of the RSPBA throughout the rest of the year. For such effort perhaps the RSPBA should give greater thought to accommodate the bands early in the main competition day and the winner then to qualify for the final along with the main finalists. It would certainly give purpose to such effort and expense. Maybe it is too much for the RSPBA to arrange such a huge operation? There must be a better way than dumping the bands as appears to be taking place.

  3. Congrats to the 12 bands who made it. I sympathise with the 3 NZ bands who were together in the tougher heat, had to compete against each other, have spent £100,000s to get to Glasgow, and will not be playing at all tomorrow (Saturday). I fully endorse the editor’s previously suggested scenario of a “best of the non-qualifiers” competition on Saturday (no prize necessary, and using for example retired judges, simply to congratulate the bands who maybe failed to qualify by 1 or 2 points)

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