June 14, 2014

78th Frasers win Georgetown; Grade 2 Ottawa Police win Grade 1 piping, finish 2nd

The 78th Fraser Highlanders leave the Georgetown field with the Grade 1 trophy.

Georgetown, Ontario – June 14, 2014 – The 78th Fraser Highlanders hung on to win the Grade 1 competition on ensemble preference, but the big story of the day was the Grade 2 Ottawa Police Services finishing second in the Grade 1 event, taking two firsts in piping, and narrowly missing beating all three certified Grade 1 bands in the competition. Weather was warm and sunny in the afternoon, but chilly in the morning, temperatures struggling to get above 13 degrees until 11 am. Ian K. MacDonald was the Professional Piper of the Day, while Tyler Harris took the equivalent honour in the amateur category.

Full video coverage of the Grade 1 and Grade 2 pipe band events follows. Be sure to subscribe to the pipes|drums Magazine YouTube Video Channel to see our library of hundreds of piping, drumming and pipe band videos.

Grade 1 (MSR, four competed)
1st 78th Fraser Highlanders (2,2,2,1)
2nd Ottawa Police Services (1,1,3,2)
3rd Peel Regional Police (3,4,1,3)
4th Toronto Police (4,3,4,4)
Judges: Colin MacLellan, Reay Mackay (piping); Alan Savage (drumming); Bob Worrall (ensemble)

Grade 2 (medley, one played)
Ottawa Police Services

Grade 3
1st Paris/Port Dover
2nd Windsor Police
3rd Toronto Police
Drumming: Hamilton Police

Grade 4 (march medley, eight competed)
1st Rob Roy
2nd Lindsay
3rd Chatham Kent
4th Grand Celtic
Drumming: Rob Roy

Grade 5
1st Paris/Port Dover (Gr5)
2nd Hamilton Police (Gr5)
3rd Lindsay (Gr5)
Drumming: Hamilton Police

Professional Solo Piping
1st Ian K. MacDonald
2nd Andrew Hayes
3rd Andrew Berthoff
4th Ed Bush
5th Andrea Boyd
Judge: Colin MacLellan

1st Andrew Hayes
2nd Andrea Boyd
3rd Andrew Berthoff
4th Ian K. MacDonald
5th Jacob Dicker
Judge: John Elliott

Strathspey & Reel
1st Andrew Hayes
2nd Andrea Boyd
3rd Ian K. MacDonald
4th Jacob Dicker
5th Nick Hudson
Judge: Ken Eller

1st Ian K. MacDonald
2nd Doug MacRae
3rd Nick Hudson
4th Andrew Berthoff
5th Andrea Boyd
Judge: Ed Neigh


  1. (he real story here is the “standard” in Ontario. What does it say when a Gr2 band who didn’t make the qualifier at last year’s world’s shames all 3 Gr1 bands? I think it’s says at least 2 of those Gr1 bands probably belong in Gr2. ( and really, looks at Peel and Toronto Police’s overseas results over the past few years).
    I don’t believe Gr2 is “dead” in Ontario. – I think it is alive and well. We have just been mis labeling it as Gr1!

  2. Could it be that Ottawa police has a solid pipe core and has actually made great strides and is grade 1 ready? I don’t think Peel or Toronto Police are grade 2. Each of these bands has a very high grade 1 caliber pipe core. Having them win piping at Georgetown is only going to improve the quality of grade 1 in Ontario in my opinion and both these bands will prove this. It’s still early in the season.

  3. Misplaced idea inferring that OPPB is a middle-of-the-road Gr. 2 band merely because they didn’t qualify for finals last year. Missed attack in some of the worst conditions ever at the World’s cost them going through.

  4. With respect to the bands in question, is this piping result really a surprise to anyone?

    When was the last time a Gr1 band from the east coast of Canada even qualified for the world championship final in consecutive years, let alone placed in a final? If people are only waking up to this now, therein lies the problem.

  5. There are some negative comments on here, I agree Sandy.

    I trust mine is not seen that way, as that was not my objective. The reality is that the east coast bands are struggling for quality and, I would argue, relevance in the current Gr1 scene.

    The 78ths were once the vanguard for innovation and were followed by droves of people all over the globe. Me included, most certainly!

    Regularly placing at ‘the worlds’, recordings and sell-out concerts was de rigueur. Along with Strathclyde Police, this was the band that inspired me in the 80’s, and pushed me get to where I wanted to be with my piping. They turned a light on in my imagination. Sadly (for me), they now appear to be following the herd and, dare I say it, making up the numbers. They seem lost in the mix at the lower end of the grade, without an identity.

    I’m referring to the total package here. The chanters are dull and they sound generic. The drones are the same. There is no point of difference in the sound, like there once was. There is no discernable quality that once made this band easy to identify in the past. It was never a refined sound, more a brash, ‘rough and ready’ sound like their attitude was towards the music – i.e. just go for it! The analogy is they’ve gone from being a scarlet red Ferrari (fast, attractive, the envy of others, but also highly strung and on the edge) to now being a beige Fiat. They just appear lost, although I’ll assume they have clear plans and will rightly protest that they do. But I just don’t see or hear it. As an observer and one-time follower, there is nothing that captivates me anymore, and I say that not to be negative and critical, but to highlight that I don’t get drawn-in anymore. It’s just another band that has seemingly forgotten its heritage. Tell me I’m wrong, by all means, but that is an honest observation from a fan of 30-plus years. The first worlds I played at, I still remember seeing the 78ths in flesh for the first time after years of wearing out cassettes and vinyl some 10,000 miles away. The band I was with was a lot better at the time, and on the day, but seeing the 78ths was an almost surreal experience for me at the time. There they were, right before me after many years of listening to them.

    There needs to be some analysis of the set-up and material. Get that bustling playing style back in the band, where it would simply step off the line and unleash like it did in the late 80’s. Their 1985 Medley is a cracking example. The 78ths found greatness with the great tunes. That was the platform for the composers in residence to then flourish and give the band some signature tunes of its own. But the essence of that band was taking great traditional material and making it greater.

    Take risks with the set-up. It sounds like stability takes top-billing, at any cost. Sack the current set-up and get what will achieve the brightest and most vibrant sound possible. Get brighter chanters. Have a go at cane drone reeds here and there, or something that will at least brighten things up. Get on the sheepskin. Go for it. Learn from the stumbles, as opposed to sitting back with a ‘reliable’ set-up and thinking it will stand alongside what the top half of Gr1 is producing these days. Chase the ‘brilliance’ that the likes of the top 6 bands achieve with their sound and accept the accuracy might take a bit longer. I’m sure the talent is there to achieve great things.

  6. Wait and see what the next few months bring 😉 Time My Friend Time, Don’t judge a book after only reading the front page and let go of the past, because it has Passed.

    The Top 12 Pipe Bands at the worlds are all amazing bands and I believe Ontario will have a band(s) back up there in the very near future.

    Top 3 in the World, now that is a whole different beast.

  7. According to Sandy none of the judges have a right to comment on the bands. Been about 50 years for two of them since they was in a first grade band and only two I think ever played in one which finsihed in the top 6 ever.



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