After 29 years at the helm of one of the world’s most famous pipe bands, Bill Livingstone has stepped down as Pip-Major of the 78th Fraser Highlanders. Livingstone made the surprise announcement to his band on August 25th after careful considerations over the last year.
His successor is not yet known, but it is thought that it could be any one of several pipers, including Sean McKeown, Doug MacRae or Bill Weir, as well as possibly others. According to Livingstone, his desire is to stay with the band as “a bank-rank player,” but he says that he will leave that to the band to decide.
He said that the drum section and the band membership as a whole are intact, and the Lead-Drummer Drew Duthart has received the news with understanding and acceptance.
“It just feels right, natural and normal,” Livingstone said. He compared the decision to step down as pipe-major to when he decided to stop competing as a soloist.
At age 68, Livingstone has played a significant role in shaping the pipe band world. Of his most famous achievements with the 78th Fraser Highlanders were the band’s 1987 World Championship victory and the band’s landmark Live In Ireland recording that same year – events that are seen by many as seminal in changing the complexion of pipe bands as a whole. Live In Ireland is considered by many to be the greatest pipe band recording yet made.
Before creating the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Livingstone was Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 General Motors Pipe Band, and before that was with the City of Toronto Pipe Band. He was one of the first serious North American solo competitors to go to Scotland, and one of the first non-Scots to gain the Highland Society of London Gold Medal.
Under Livingstone, the 78th Fraser Highlanders have travelled to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships for 27 consecutive years, first making the trip in 1983. After failing to qualify in 2009, in 2010 the band successfully made it to the Grade 1 Final, and finished tenth overall at the World’s.
Livingstone holds the distinction of being the only person in history to have led a Grade 1 band to a World Championship and to have won a Clasp for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting -the two pinnacles of pipe band and solo competitive success, respectively.
Under Livingstone’s tenure as Pipe-Major of the 78th Fraser Highlanders, the band has won 13 North American Championships.
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