Thoughts on Vale and the Worlds Qualifier/ Entries for Inverness Music Festival

The Editor writes:
Following yesterday’s Vale news I wonder if there will be sufficient Grade 1 bands at the Worlds to justify the Friday Qualifier? Possibly not. 

We’ve recently had three bands downgraded from Grade 1: Denny & Dunipace Gleneagles, Buchan Peterson and Cap Caval.

I understand that no New Zealand bands will be coming over next year nor will Toronto Police – and we have already had the sad news of the demise of Vancouver’s Dowco Triumph Street.

As regards the overseas bands, we may now be seeing a consequence of a system whereby you can travel long distances, spending considerable amounts of cash, only to find out at 5pm on the Friday that you needn’t have bothered. You didn’t make it through.

Bands put a brave face on it – it’s tough medicine and they can take it. But apply any rational, reasonable thought to this situation, its effect on individuals and their families, and you see that, as far as G1 bands in North America and the Antipodes are concerned, it is unsustainable in the long term.

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I say again: we need a Grade 1B event for the Saturday for those bands that don’t make the top 12 – cruelly described by one wag last year as the ‘Friday failures’ –  or scrap the Qualifier altogether – as might have to happen next year.

Another point occurs: the best way for a band to sustain its future is to do a Boghall – grow your own talent. Once you start to rely on fly-ins and Skype/Facetime to sustain your operation you lose an element of control.

Management ‘grip’ is vital in any successful organisation. A pipe major gets that best when he is eyeballing his pipers and drum corps on a weekly basis.

To be fair to the Vale, the through-put system is one that has always worked for them – but that all changed with the import of a drum corps from Northern Ireland.

Mind you, how many pipe majors could turn down Adrian Hoy and his super corps? and the Vale’s loss is Lomond & Clyde’s gain.

Yet I hope it won’t be too long before the Vale’s Grade 1 band is back at the flags once more.

They have been a credit to the pipe band movement over many years and will be sorely missed next summer.

The Vale at the Worlds last August

Finally let us salute P/M Adrian Cramb and his 30+ years of service to the Vale of Atholl organisation. Adrian did a magnificent job in difficult circumstances culminating in leading the band to the Worlds final last August.

If not always in the lists, they were seldom below mid-table. The credit is his and he can now sit back and reflect on a job well done and a commitment appreciated by all who benefited from it.

• The Vale are pictured up top in 2014 with Adrian, far right, at the helm.


Les Hutt in Inverness has asked me to highlight the following:

Inverness Music Festival’s annual piping contest will take place at Eden Court on 2nd March 2019. Entries in recent years to the 15-18 categories have been sparse I would like to encourage any local tutors to put their pupils forward for all categories.

Details can be found at  with entries in by 7th December please.

Eric Allan, fiddler/composer/stalwart of Friends of Highland Music, Inverness Fiddlers and Balnain House is a prolific composer,  and his friend and fine musician, Ernie Brock from Tallahassee, Florida, have put some of his tunes into pipe settings. These now available for free download at his website

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Vale and the Worlds Qualifier/ Entries for Inverness Music Festival

  1. The Worlds Qualifier should be scrapped, regardless of the number of Grade 1 bands. It creates more problems than it solves. I am not surprised that no NZ bands are coming over in 2019 for the Worlds after the 2018 fiasco in which the 3 NZ bands were drawn in the same qualifying heat to fight for what was effectively one space in the final. Lets have an open field Grade 1 final. Personally I am in favour of all the G1 bands playing on both Friday and Saturday, playing both MSRs and Medleys over 2 days, with all performances counting to the overall result

  2. I don’t feel there is any need for a grade 1B at this time.
    It is a small grade as it is so just bin the Friday and let everyone compete on the Saturday as they did in the bad old days. I doubt if the Friday qualifier would be greatly missed by many first grade players or the public.

  3. Totally in agreeance with your views on Grade 1 as I am sure do most of the RSPBA’s voiceless members and your readers.
    The Rspba must get rid of their “Civies Saturday” which bands are resigned to should they not make it through “Farce on Friday”

    The very top bands are suffering too, playing at the Friday qualifier WILL have a detrimental effect on instruments after dodging puddles all day.
    Are the players fresh on the Saturday ready to give the performance of a lifetime……?
    The Rspba burying their heads in the sand is simply not good enough in this day and age.

    Pipe Bands have never been more popular or had such a high public profile.
    It is a pity that an event that brings Millions of pounds to the local economy, lines the pockets of Rspba already growing coffers, along with the BBC serves to continue to exploit the very musicians who make the event what it is
    All of our players from Novice to Grade 1 deserve better

    1. Dear Disgruntled, No one at the RSPBA lines his or her pockets; the Association is transparent in all its financial dealings. These are meticulously recorded in the AGM order papers, papers which are freely available to all bands. The current surplus will be used to pay for the refurbishment of HQ underway as I write.
      As regards the BBC, by covering the Worlds they are fulfilling their charter obligations as a public service broadcaster in Scotland. Making their programmes available worldwide – as they are not legally obliged to do – brings untold benefit and exposure to the pipe band movement. RW

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