Opening bell on Scottish season to ring at Dunbar and Gourock
It always seems both like a long, cold wait and an event that comes up on bands quickly, but the traditional opening of the UK outdoor pipe band season will again happen at Dunbar, Scotland, on Saturday, May 8th.
Of note in the competition are the debuts of two Grade 1 bands under their new leadership. The Lothian & Borders Police will make their first full-band competition foray with new Pipe-Major Ian Duncan, who assumed the top spot in September after the departure of David Barnes.
Torphichen & Bathgate, under new Pipe-Major Stuart Shedden, will also make its first full-band appearance. Shedden took over the band’s leadership after the resignation of Gordon Stafford in August 2009. Stafford now plays with the Lothian & Borders Police.
Interestingly, both bands will be competing with new chanters – each using versions of the popular McCallum band models. The Lothian & Borders Police are reportedly using McCallums customized to Ian Duncan’s specifications. The band had been playing Shepherd chanters under Barnes. Torphichen & Bathgate has dropped Bannatyne chanters in favour of McCallums.
Also changing chanters are House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead, which had been using Shepherd chanters for more almost 20 years. Sources have said that Shotts will use chanters designed by Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson, and made under his supervision. It is not known if the chanters will eventually be sold on the open market. The band trialed the chanters at the March Lomond & Clyde 10th Anniversary Invitational Competition in Glasgow, which Shotts won.
Dunbar will be followed on Sunday by the usual band competition at Gourock, noteworthy this year due to the full-band debut in Grade 1 by Inveraray & District. ScottishPower and Torphichen & Bathgate are the other Grade 1 bands entered, with seven Grade 2 bands challenging in the premier grade.