July 31, 2003

Post-World’s Associations Meeting Scheduled

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) has scheduled an International Pipe Band Conference to be held the day after the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. The meeting will take place at the Marriott Hotel, Argyle Street, Glasgow, and all recognized pipe band associations have been invited to send two representatives.

The RSPBA held a similar, but less formal, meeting last year on the day after the World’s, with scattered attendance. Some organizations reportedly had not been informed of the session.

On the agenda for this year’s meeting are issues surrounding grading, judges training, associations’ representation on the RSPBA committees, and a topic called “working together with the RSPBA.”

For North American associations, the agenda item “Establishing World Championship qualifying competitions in North America” is probably the most interesting. North American Grade 1 bands and others with a vested interest have debated the issue of making a competition — or even several contests — an event for bands to gain a berth in the final round of the World Championship.

Currently, so-called “overseas” bands pre-qualify for the World’s final by gaining a prize at the previous year’s World Championship. Thus, the 78th Fraser Highlanders and Simon Fraser University have received byes to the 2003 final.

The competition that immediately comes to mind as a World’s qualifier is the North American Pipe Band Championship at Maxville, Ontario, by far the most well-established and regularly well-attended event on the continent’s calendar. Maxville’s relatively remote location, however, makes travel to the event challenging, both geographically and financially, especially for the three Grade 1 bands based in the United States, City of Washington, Los Angeles Scots, and Prince Charles.

One insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “This meeting is a very positive step forward by the RSPBA. Ian Embelton {RSPBA executive officer] and George Ussher [RSPBA president] have identified serious issues, and clearly have the courage to tackle them head on. It makes sense for the RSPBA to do this if they want to continue to have the World’s be what it is today, since it’s really the [non-Scottish] bands that have made it the event it is. Those bands could just as easily walk away from it if something better or fairer came along.”


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