Ten Years After: The World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow, August 2011 – Part 1

FMM celebrate moments after the announcement of their 7th Worlds title

There won’t be a Worlds this summer for the second year in a row. The international pipe band community is in need of a fix, a reminder of the excitement, the adrenaline and maybe the disappointment of the biggest day in the pipe band calendar.

PP staff have trawled the archives for pictures and comment from the Championship from ten years ago, the place Glasgow Green. How times fly. Here is an interview winning P/M, Richard Parkes, gave our editor Robert Wallace that memorable day. It was Richard’s seventh success. He spoke fresh from his band’s victory parade:

RW: ‘That’s the fifth title now Richard, a fantastic achievement’

RP ‘It’s the seventh actually’

RW: ‘Apologies, a terrific achievement. In most people eyes you were the clear winners today’

RP ‘That’s good to know. It is hard for us to tell. We do what we can do.’

RW: ‘Over both disciplines most people had you first, and that’s not to take anything away from the other bands. How did you feel it went yourself.’



RP: ‘We were very pleased with both performances. There’s 26 pipers so some people will have slight issues here and there but overall within the band perspective we were all very, very happy.’

RW: ‘Your achievement is all the more remarkable in that you are split over two centres as it were, Glasgow and Belfast.’

RP: ‘I think that actually helps us because you get 13 players in each side so rather than 26 pipers playing together we each have 13 so you get more time.’

RW: ‘So you can hammer 13 and Alastair [Dunn] can hammer 13.’


Check out first slide show from the Worlds 2011. Do you feature? If so let us know!

RP: ‘Yes, that’s it; I think that is the way it works.’

RW: ‘Your drummers did well today.’

RP: ‘Yes, they did really well’ [FM’s drum corps won the Medley selection prize for drumming].

RW: ‘A lot of other bands seem to have set their pipes sharp anticipating cold in the morning. As a result they were a bit high. You didn’t seem to have that problem.’

RP: ‘We purposely set our pipes a little bit flatter this year because I think the pitch has been getting too high. It gives you a broader sound. We weren’t concerned with the weather. We knew we would have a good solid sound no matter what.’

RW: ‘The drone sound that you had was the best we have ever heard you with. Is there anything different that you have done this year?’

RP: ‘No nothing different, though I think the fact that we are a bit flatter as well enhances the drone sound.’

RW: ‘It was interesting to see that you have slotted in a new strathspey John Roy Stewart. I don’t think I’ve heard a band playing it before.’

RP: ‘No, we played it before in a medley but this was the first time in a March, Strathspey and Reel competition.’

PB: ‘One thing I noticed today was that a lot of bands in their medleys had gone back to older tunes; we didn’t seem to get the sort of contrived pieces any more. Your medley was full of good, traditional tunes, beautifully played on beautiful bagpipes.’


Second batch of 2011 pix…we’ve captioned what we can. Help us fill in the gaps; send an email!


RP: ‘Yes the tunes are very important and playing them well is what it is all about. I grew up with those tunes and although there are new tunes out there that are good, the traditional tunes are still the cut and dried pipe band pieces.’

RW: ‘Where do you get the constant drive from? You’ve been doing it for how long now?’

RP: ‘I’ve been Pipe Major now for 30 years. It was my anniversary in July this year. I still have the drive. It is a passion.’

RW: ‘When you see the celebration around us, that is its own reward I suppose.’

RP ‘Absolutely.’

RW: ‘You’ve been without the title for three years.’

RP: ‘Yes, three years in a row, but we were second each time and played well all three years. That’s what maybe spurred us on. There are a few new players in the band. Maybe that gave us that extra drive and got a bit more from me as well.’

RW: ‘Where can you take this band now?’

RP: ‘That’s four out of five [championships] so far so we will have a go for the grand slam. If we don’t get it I’ll be happy to have won the Worlds; it’s always the main one to get.’ [FM went on to complete a clean sweep of all major championships when they took the Cowal title at the end of August 2011.]

RW: ‘And you’ll be back next year?’

RP: ‘We’ll be back next year.’

RW: ‘With you at the helm?’

RP: ‘Yes, with me at the helm.’ 

  • Richard is still ‘at the helm’ and is celebrating 40 years leading this legendary pipe band. Stay tuned for the second part of our retrospective on the 2011 Worlds. If anyone has a recording of FMM’s winning performances in 2011 please send on.

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