August 31, 2010

Rules and format set for Las Vegas event

The policies, rules and format of the pipe band competitions at the April 2011 Las Vegas Invitational Championships have been determined, and they confirm that the event will feature, among other initiatives, a “Concert Event” for Grade 1 bands. The Grade 1 and Grade 2 band competitions, including traditional medley and MSR events, will be performed in concert formation on a stage, while the lower grades will compete on a more familiar grass field.

The Concert Event will comprise a 12-to-15-minute “free form medley,” according the contest rules, in which bands can pretty much do what they wish, provided all content is delivered by those on the band’s roster. According to the rules, “This event can be started in a manner of the band’s choosing. Players may start and stop their instruments at any time and more than one time during the performance. Bands are free to construct the Free Form Medley for this special event in any manner the band considers musically pleasing while maintaining a predominantly Celtic Idiom. Bands may also incorporate instruments other than traditional pipes and drums, but such instruments can be played only by pipers and drummers registered with the band.”

The rules for the Timed Medley do not specifically state whether instruments can or can’t be stopped during the performance. Several bands in North America have already experimented with mid-performance starts and stops in their medleys, as well as unconventional introductions. According to the rules, Grade 3, 4 and 5 band must start their medleys with two three-paced rolls.

The criteria for “Timed Medley,” MSR and March Medley competitions adopt well established criteria from North American pipe band associations, although the medleys for Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands take on seven- and six-minute maximums. The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario allows bands in these grades to extend medleys an additional minute.

The competition requires bands to submit rosters at least 30 days before the event, and transfers of personnel are not permitted after that date. The event requires each band to carry a validated roster list at the contest and “shall be available for inspection by the Invitational Championships representative(s). No person shall be allowed to play with a band in the Las Vegas Invitational Championships who is not shown as a registered member on the roster validated by the Games Registrar for that band.”

As reported earlier, judges for the event can’t be active playing members or “regular instructors” of any competing band in Grade 1, 2, 3, or 4. The event defines a regular instructor as one who “provides a trend of instructional sessions that would be considered to be the most significant influence on the musicality, technique, tone or ensemble of the band’s resulting performances for any band competing in the Las Vegas Invitational Championships.”

The event also disallows judges “involved in the manufacture of instruments used by pipe bands,” or who has an immediate relative (“parents, siblings, children, spouse, or common-law partner”) in a competing band.

The contest will provide expanded judging panels of three piping, two drumming and two ensemble judges for MSRs and Timed Medleys, while the Concert Event “will consist of an odd number of adjudicators, with a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 23.” Assessments will be by ranking, and five prizes will be awarded in each event in each grade.

There is no mention of a consultation period for judges, as is the case with the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.

The rules also stress that, at the massed bands, “alcohol on the field is expressly prohibited.”


  1. The big draw to this event was the international crowd. Per the first article: Harrington added that several hundred-thousand dollars” will be awarded in travel money for pipe bands

  2. REALLY!!! Who put this together? I heard that bands from overseas are being flown in like FMM to help promote the contest. Is the venue going to pay to ship over their djembes and roto toms as well? Hopefully this doesn’t turn into Scotland meets the badly played African drum land again like some other concerts. Good luck to everyone 🙂

  3. It would seem the Las Vegas organizers are giving the bands a generous amount of free reign here both in regards to accompniment and a very generous time allotment. I believe they are really hoping for bands to show the depth and breadth of their musicality here. Cheers, Pitboss

  4. As an employee of the Las Vegas International Celtic Festival who is putting on the Pipe Band Championship, I would just like to correct Mr. Baughman. Field Marshal Montgomery, nor any other overseas band will be flown in by our event. The invitations for grade 1 and 2 bands were sent out in the beginning of August to North American bands only.

  5. The name of the entire event (tattoo, games, pipe band championship) is called the Las Vegas International Celtic Festival. The pipe band portion is called the Las Vegas Invitational Pipe Band Championship.

  6. There’s a little pipe band festival every year on Glasgow green and it is truly an international event however last I heard nobody was putting up major dollars/pounds/euros to bring in over seas bands. So lets let Vegas soar or fall on their own doings and save the sniping until we actually see what emerges>

  7. It could be possible that the St. Patrick’s Battalion Pipes & Drums from Mexico could be invited which would add to making this invitational event international. I would rather see the bands from America compete and have travel/expense money go towards them in this first year.



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