December 31, 2009

Concert event could be part of Las Vegas competition

Organizers of the pipe band extravaganza planned for April 2011 in Las Vegas are tapping Grade 1 leaders to see how a free-form “Concert” competition would work, in addition to familiar MSR and Medley events.
The group has formed a music board comprising non-competing pipers and drummers from across North America to consider possibilities, ask bands for feedback and make a recommendation to the executive committee, which would then make an informed decision to pass to the event’s board of directors for final vote on how a Concert event might take shape, if at all.
According to Las Vegas organizer Jeff Mann of Salt Lake City, Utah, the competition is only in its “formative stages,” with a meeting in early-January to finalize the structure of the event. “The public announcement will be held during the Las Vegas Games . . . on the weekend of April 19, [2010],” Mann said.
The results of the three events would be combined to determine an aggregate prize. A preliminary concept of the Concert event considers a 12-to-15-minute time limit, allowing other instruments and performers in addition to pipes and drums. Some feedback from Grade 1 leaders has included the desire to ensure that all players of non-pipe band instruments be members of the band, whose regular instrument is either Highland pipes or pipe band drums.
Terry Lee, Pipe-Major of the 2009 World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, said, “I suppose Las Vegas wants their event to be special and good on them given the commitment they are rumoured to be making. Adding in a ‘free’ music event sounds interesting and reasonable.”
Lee said that his preference would be that “players of other instruments should be allowed, but should come from within the ranks of the band,” and that “a specified number of starts and stops should be allowed.”
The Las Vegas competition is being organized ostensibly by the Western United States Pipe Band Association, but with input from other North America-based pipe band associations, with a US$2-million backing from Las Vegas Events.
“Currently we are tentatively looking at Grade 1, 2, 3, and 4 bands are coming from North America,” Mann said.  “There is a possibility of additional Grade 1 bands coming from outside of North America.  That has yet to be determined.  Bands may request [to participate], however, this is an invitational.”


  1. The prospect of such a concert-styled contest is so appealing, taking competition in a new direction. The audience should certainly enjoy it. But from a judging perspective, the organizers might have to introduce a new format as well – perhaps something along the lines of the MAP program used by the RSPBA. MAP judges sit seminars to improve their skills in adjudicating outside” their own instrument



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