Published: January 31, 2012

L&B Police Celtic Connections concert content a look forward through the past

As one of the pipe band world’s oldest franchises, the Lothian & Borders Police have more than a century of tradition to look back upon, and the band’s January 28th concert at Celtic Connections will pay homage to that legacy through a very modern lens.

New L&B Pipe-Major Neil Hall said that despite his recent heavy travel schedule, which prevented him from revealing plans earlier, the band is primed and ready to unveil a score of creative material.

“[The band is] excited about the forthcoming concert at Celtic Connections,” Hall said, and added that the concert will include a reflection piece on Pipe-Major Donald Shaw Ramsey, who led the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band in the 1950s, taking it to World Championship victories in 1950 and ’54.

Hall said that the concert will culminate with a new suite composed by Ben Duncan, a young piper in the band, based around the Roderick Campbell-penned 2/4 march, “Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band,” one of the great tunes in the piping repertory. While looking at the past, much of the content is built around or by young players in the band, including a three-piper “tag-team” string of solo jigs.

While Lothian & Borders Police represent one of the strongest traditions in pipe band history, the band will share concert billing with the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band, one of the least traditional and newest definitions of a “pipe band.” Spirit of Scotland forms has formed only on occasion since 2008, while the Edinburgh City / Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band has remained a constant since 1882.

Neil Hall revealed that those attending the noon-time concert can also look forward to Ian and Alec Duncan performing a Gordon Duncan composition. Ian Duncan preceded Hall as pipe-major after a two-year stint in charge.

Much of the band’s material is arranged by Stuart Cassells, the former member of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, known for his creative adaptations of pipe music. Lothian & Borders Police will be complemented in parts by a quartet of Celtic folk musicians at the show.

The concert comes at a time when a bill for a single Scottish police force has been tabled for a proposed “Scottish Police Authority.” It is not known how such an amalgamation of the country’s eight police forces would impact Scotland’s police bands, which include four in Grade 1: Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police, Lothian & Borders Police and Strathclyde Police. The Central Scotland Police, Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary and Northern Constabulary sponsor bands in Grade 3, Grade 2 and Grade 4, respectively, while the Tayside Police do not. The Grade 1 Tayside Police Pipe Band dissolved in 2010 and the force then discontinued the sponsorship.

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