Northern Ireland News: Ravara Concert Review/ Richard Parkes Masterclass/ County Down Results

The Lagan Valley Island Centre in Lisburn City was packed to capacity on Saturday, April 27th, the audience eager to hear Ravara Pipe Band ‘Live in Concert’. Those who attended were not disappointed.

David Scott fulfilled the role of compere in his usual inimitable style. P/M Samuel Connolly’s band consisted of up to 22 pipers who were supported by D/S Matthew Shaw’s corps of 12 sides, six tenors and a bass.

By Gilbert Cromie, Northern Ireland Correspondent

A number of the sets were accompanied by musicians Gillian Corbett (fiddle), Jenny Grattan (piano),  William Laffin (low whistle), Ben McKeown (percussion) and Thomas Connolly (pipes), while dancers Sarah Graham and Lauren Montgomery joined the band for two sets.

The band settled in with a selection of 4/4 marches before going into a competition March, Strathspey & Reel. Throughout the evening their programme was interspersed with pieces paying tribute to stalwarts from the band’s past. They included 1990s leading drummer, the legendary Bobby Rea, former Band President Jack Crompton and more poignantly, the recently deceased Willie Connolly, a long time piper and  administrator, whose children and grandchildren are current band members.

The drum corps performed a salute in memory of Davy McKibben who was Matthew Shaw’s tutor when he started out with Upper Crossgare. Drum Majors Jason Price and the recently recruited Jamie Cupples showed off their mace talents to the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ theme.

I thought the band demonstrated the strength of the challenge they will present both locally and in the RSPBA Majors this competition season. That view was underlined when they played their Pachelbel’s Canon Medley set – truly outstanding. (The strength of their challenge was confirmed when they won Grade 2 at last Saturday’s UK Championships in Bangor.)

As the concert approached its close, the band marked Samuel Connolly’s 37 years as Pipe Major with video tributes from Tim Farrelly (St Joseph’s Clondalkin), David Caldwell (Eden), Andrew Carlisle (Pittsburgh) and Richard Parkes MBE. Presentations were made to Samuel and long term players Alan Barr, David Cleland, Roy Connolly and Terence Hanna.

The evening ended with the foot tapping tunes, Bob Cooper of Winnipeg and the Meeting of the Waters. It was a great success with Ravara demonstrating why they are top class entertainers both in the concert, competition and marching band scene. Excerpts of the band’s performance have been made available on their Facebook page. 

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County Down Indoor Results: The RSPBA NI Branch’s County Down Section held their Indoor Championship in Dromore High School on Saturday April 20th . This was the first running of this event for some year’s and it proved quite successful despite a number of late withdrawals. The results were: Grade 4B: 1st Moneygore (also Best Pipes), 2nd Altnaveigh Memorial (also Best Drums & Bass Section). 3rd Bready Ulster Scots. Grade 4A: 1st Irvine Memorial (also Best Pipes & Drum Corps), 2nd William Kerr Memorial (also Best Bass Section), 3rd Upper Crossgare. Grade 3B: 1st Drumlough (also Best Pipes, Drum Corps & Bass Section), Grade 3A: 1st Cullybackey (also Best Drums & Bass Section), 2nd Major Sinclair Memorial (also Best Pipes), 3rd Drumlough.  

Richard Masterclass: Ten current or aspiring Pipe Majors successfully completed the Ulster Scots Agency’s ‘Richard Parkes MBE Pipe Major Masterclass.’ At the end of two days of expert tuition, each participant received a certificate from Richard, the world’s most successful Pipe Major.

Those who took part and received certification are shown left to right in the above photograph. With Richard (far left), were William Wallace (Closkelt & Down Academy), Brian McMullan (Syerla) , Alyson McKnight (Thiepval Memorial), Craig Monahan (Tullylagan), Andrew Shilliday (Tullylagan), Jason Black (Clogher & Ballybriest), Marc Warnock (Tullylagan), Mark Smyth, David R Hanna MBE (Altnaveigh Memorial) and Kyle Duddy (Clogher).

The Ulster Scots Agency are to be congratulated on the promotion of this masterclass and well done to each of the students who participated. The best of luck to you all for the season ahead.

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