Published: July 31, 2009

By the right, quick, blast-off: Hamilton Police sends recording to space station

With two Canadian astronauts aboard the International Space Station for the first time in history, all three bands of the Hamilton Police Pipe Band organization combined to record a rendition of “The Maple Leaf Forever,” which will be transmitted to outer-space around 3 pm ET on July 24.
 
The transmission will take several hours to reach the astronauts, but will continue to transmit theoretically forever in space.
 
The project came about because band member Kevin Shortt is President of the Canadian Space Society, a national non-profit organization made up of professionals and enthusiasts devoted to Canadian space exploration and technology development. Shortt, a regular commentator on space issues with the media, suggested the pipe band wake-up call to the Canadian Space Agency and NASA, and the project was subsequently approved.
 
The launch of space shuttle Endeavour and mission STS-127 included Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, who joined Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk, a member of the team currently manning the International Space Station.
 
“The Space Shuttle recording was certainly a unique project,” said Pete Aumonier, Pipe-Major of the Hamilton Police Grade 2 band. “It was also fun to involve all our members, from the most novice to the most senior.”
 
Kevin Shortt said, “The thought occurred to me for the band to record a tune and have it played for the astronauts. Given the significance of this mission to Canadians, it only seemed appropriate that the tune be ‘The Maple Leaf Forever,’ as it is a tune that resonates with all Canadians and is a popular tune played by pipe bands at various official occasions.
 
“The signal that carries this file does not simply stop at the space station but rather carries on into the infinite depths of space for anyone out there that may be listening!”
 
The organization’s Grade 2 band, which has so far been undefeated in its home Ontario circuit in 2009, will travel to Northern Ireland and Scotland to compete following the North American Championships on August 1st at Maxville, Ontario. The band says it has more than 100 members in its Grade 2, Grade 4, and Grade 5 bands and in its teaching program, headed by Don Forgan.
 
The Grade 2 band will perform at Piping Live! in Glasgow the week before the World Pipe Band Championships, and plans to record a CD for release in the latter part of 2009.

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