Not often does a band have the honour of being moved up to Grade 1 two times by two different associations in the space of six months, but the Stuart Highlanders of Massachusetts are now the answer to a pipe band trivia question after the band’s home association officially upgraded them.
In May 2014 the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association upgraded the Stuart Highlanders without consulting the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association or the band itself. The group did not protest the move and competed at the World Pipe Band Championships in August in the premier grade, and placed ahead of several well-established Grade 1 bands.
The EUSPBA, however, kept the band in Grade 2 over the summer, waiting for due process to take place, and the official upgrade was announced as part of the association’s long list of band and solo changes.
As with the RSPBA upgrade, Stuart Highlanders Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway did not have advance notice of the move, though it was widely expected.
“I was very happy to hear the news myself,” Holdaway said. “The band is excited to be upgraded here at home, thus making our official grading consistent across all associations. On a personal note, I am so proud of the accomplishments of this organization and its members over the past several years. It is truly a testament to the dedication and vision of the membership.”
The band has made a rapid ascent since absorbing the remains of the Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band of New York in 2013.
Also moved up was the Dunedin Pipe Band of Dunedin, Florida, which will compete in Grade 2. Among other prizes, Dunedin won the Grade 3 competition at the 2014 North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario.
Pipe-Major Iain Donaldson commented, “I am delighted with the upgrade to Grade 2 and equally gratified with the City of Dunedin Band Members’ dedication and commitment to raise the standard of piping and drumming in Dunedin. It’s a tremendous reward to see and hear students develop their skills and perform within this organization. The pipe band is a definite attraction for pipers and drummers relocating. In the past two years we have been fortunate that five members have made Dunedin their new home.”
Donaldson added that Dunedin’s first contest in Grade 2 will be Dunedin Highland Games on March 28th, saying that the competition has received a few inquiries from other Grade 2 bands. The group also plans to compete at the 2015 North American Championships and other contests next year.
The EUSPBA also moved to Grade 3 the City of Chattanooga and Saffron United, and, to Grade 4, Cyril Scott, Thomas I Hall Memorial, Grandfather Mountain Highlanders, and the Mohawk Valley Frasers.