The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has denied the appeal to reinstate the Best Bass-Section awards at major RSPBA championships after the organization’s Music Board and National Council earlier in 2008 decided to drop the prizes. Among the Best Bass-Section awards was that traditionally presented at the World Pipe Band Championships, which is considered to be the ultimate prize for bass- and tenor-drummers.
The appeal included signatures of more than 700 of the world’s pipers and drummers via an online petition coordinated by Strathclyde Police Pipe Band tenor-drummer, Scott Currie.
After an inquiry by Currie to the RSPBA regarding the status of the appeal, Executive Officer Ian Embelton responded:
Dear Mr Currie
I presented your petition regarding re-introduction of Best Bass section awards at Major Championships to the National Council.
After careful consideration they have asked me to advise you that they fully endorse the Music Board’s original recommendation that no Bass prizes would be awarded at Major Championships.
Embelton has not yet responded to pipes|drums request for additional comment on the matter.
“I can’t think of any single topic in RSPBA history that brought together such a significant number of individual pipers and drummers to voice their opinion to the organization,” Currie said. “The membership has spoken, yet sadly, despite careful consideration, the RSPBA National Council has chosen not to listen.
“The Association’s decades-old outlook on bass sections is not consistent with what we see and hear in competitions today. The loss of the awards pays testament to that outlook. By ignoring the petition’s request to engage in dialogue over the future of what is without question, the most rapidly evolving discipline in our musical idiom, they have in my opinion backed away from a golden opportunity to align [the Association] with the present.”
The RSPBA’s Music Board originally cited time constraints at march-past awards ceremonies as the main reason for deleting the prizes.
Prominent tenor-drummer Tyler Fry of the House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band, said, “What we were asking for in the online petition was to open up further debate and discussion in terms of the process of reinstating the bass section prizes at all Major Championships in Scotland. I am disappointed that this has not happened; especially given the current time and effort many of these musicians – often young players – contribute to the pipe band movement and their respective pipe bands.’
Fry indicated that the effort to reinstate the Best Bass-Section awards would continue, the next step being encouraging introducing motions at RSPBA Branch meetings. The motions, if carried, would be voted on by the RSPBA’s membership at the Association’s annual general meeting in March 2009.
“I encourage all band representatives to speak to their respective drum corps this week to find out where they stand on the issue,” Fry said.
As means of deciding the 2008 world’s Best Bass-Section prize, pipes|drums conducted a people’s choice award via its online poll, and subsequently announced that the Simon Fraser University gained the honour.
“Bass sections and pipe bands will continue to evolve and increase in sophistication, which can only be recognized by the Association moving with the times. Closing the door in the face of change will not prevent it from happening,” Currie added.