The 10-times World Champion Field Marshal Montgomery are providing another Grade 1 band with a leader, with long-time FMM piper Emmett Conway taking over the Pipe-Major role of the Grade 1 New Zealand Police.
The 22-year-old Conway replaces Iain Robertson, who willingly stepped down after eight seasons at the helm of the New Zealand Police. Robertson will stay with the band long-term, and also maintain the leadership role until Conway immigrates to New Zealand from Northern Ireland in January 2015.
Conway has played as a guest piper with New Zealand Police for the last two southern hemisphere outdoor seasons, so he is familiar with the band and the country. He joined Field Marshal Montgomery at the age of 16.
“When Iain offered me the position I had no hesitation in accepting,” Conway said. “Having been a guest player for the past two years I know the quality and calibre of players there are to push the band forward. The Pipe Band scene in New Zealand is strong and I will be looking forward to tapping into that talent to build a stronger pipe corps and band.”
Conway is the second FMM piper to seize a pipe-major role with a Grade 1 band, following Ryan Canning’s move to the pipe-majorship of Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia in 2012.
“After an extensive period of rebuilding and changes in the band I am very proud of the advancements the organization has made,” Robertson commented. “There are too many highlights to mention but bringing the band back to a point where we can once again resume competing at an international level was always the main goal and we have achieved that. I feel the time is right to hand over leadership to someone who will be able to take the band to the next level on the world stage.”
“I’m leaving behind many friends, however opportunities like this do not present themselves that often,” Conway continued. “I would like to thank Pipe-Major Richard Parkes for giving me the opportunity to play among such a talented group of players. I have learned so much under Richard’s musical leadership and I will always be extremely grateful for that. It has been a privilege and an honour to have played with Field Marshal Montgomery.”
Robertson said that as a result of no longer running the band he is looking forward to spending some more time with his family.
Robertson will lead the New Zealand Police likely for the last time at Palmerston North Square Day in December. Angus Crowe remains the band’s leading-drummer.
The New Zealand Police competed at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships last August, but did not qualify for the Grade 1 Final, finishing last in both events in their group.