January 31, 2006

78th Frasers giving North American Championships a miss

The 78th Fraser Highlanders will not defend their North American Championship title this year at the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville, Ontario, opting instead to attend the Bridge of Allan Highland Games in Scotland to prepare for the World Pipe Band Championships.

“Our principal goal is to regain the World’s, and we’ve set a track that we’re trying to keep to,” said Bill Livingstone, pipe-major of the 78th Frasers. “It’s just better to be in Scotland in time to prepare properly for the World’s. We did this last year and it helped us a lot.”

The North American Championships are scheduled to be on the same day as the Bridge of Allan Highland Games in Scotland, an event that last year attracted more than a dozen Grade 1 bands.

“Because of the positive impact [playing at Bridge of Allan in 2005] had, we want to do Bridge of Allan again,” Livingstone went on.

The 78th Frasers placed sixth at last year’s World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. The placing means that the band gets an automatic spot in the Grade 1 Final at the World’s, and will not have to go through the morning MSR Qualifying Round.

The World Pipe Band Championships have impacted band attendance at regional pipe band competitions around the world. In Ontario, the Fergus Highland Games, which usually coincides with the World’s date, has had only a few Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands attend over the years. In Scotland, non-RSPBA-Championship competitions usually attract only local Grade 1 bands and few if any from that grade’s established upper echelon.

The North American Championships are the world’s biggest piping and drumming event in terms of numbers of competitions and spectators.


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