Doug MacRae has been confirmed as the new Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band of Toronto, following the resignation of founding P-M Bill Livingstone after almost 30 years in the role.
MacRae has been a member of the band for 12 years, and, according to band spokesman, Todd Henwood, is “very committed to the new role.” MacRae is also a Professional-grade solo piper with numerous successes on the Ontario circuit, among them the 2010 Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal in August of this year.
“We are anxious to get back to business and with Doug, we are confident that the legacy of the 78th [Frasers] will be preserved,” Henwood said. “We have heard from many players who want to come aboard and contribute to the future successes of the band and we expect that with the news of Doug taking the reins, the membership will continue to grow.”
“Bill has left a legacy of himself and the band – his shoes will be difficult to fill,” MacRae said. “It is an honour to take the role after Bill knowing the years of dedication and success he has achieved with the 78th Frasers.
“Fortunately, after Bill’s stepping down, the majority of members have stayed on board and several young talents have joined. The goal is to maintain the reputation of the 78th Frasers being a forward thinking group: essentially playing fresh music well. New players are signing on to be part of a new generation of the 78th Frasers and want very much to be part of the growth. We have welcomed back some members from previous years, too, who are in line with everything this band represents. The band will continue to head in a direction that creates and performs innovative music with the intention of competitive success as a result.”
MacRae said that the band has already altered its MSR repertoire, and that a new medley is in development, as well as new material for concerts and recordings.
Lead-Drummer Drew Duthart maintains his position as Lead-Drummer and “stands behind Doug as the new pipe-major.”
“Drew and I have known each other for many years and share the same visions,” MacRae added. “We have already met several times to discuss our goals to progress and how we will achieve them.”
7, is the second pipe-major in the band’s history. The 78th Fraser Highlanders were founded in 1981 by Livingstone as a succession from the Grade 1 General Motors Pipe Band. The 78th Frasers are known for being the first non-Scottish band to win a World Pipe Band Championship, in 1987, and for their often trend-setting medleys, compositions and arrangements.
Livingstone, 67, has said that he will stay with the band as a “back rank piper.” Vacationing in Europe, he could not be reached immediately for comment.
While the band has had success at the World’s in the last decade, it was often out of the prize-list and finished tenth in the Grade 1 Final at this year’s event. The band has won a record 13 North American Championships, and finished third at Maxville in 2010.