November 30, 2007

UPDATED: Triumph Street awaiting grading recommendation

It’s nearly December and the Triumph Street Pipe Band of Vancouver is still awaiting word from the British Columbia Pipers Association (BCPA) about whether it will be officially upgraded to Grade 1 after a successful 2007 season.

While the BCPA’s grading committee addressed the status of its solo competitors in October, it decided not to make a recommendation on Triumph Street due to committee members feeling conflicted because of current involvement with rival bands. Four of the grading committee’s seven members allegedly abstained from voting, thus not enough votes could be cast to make a change.

“We would embrace the challenge to play in Grade 1,” said David Hilder, Triumph Street Pipe-Major, also a Director with the BCPA, as is the band’s Leading-Drummer, Andre Tessier.
A spokesperson for the BCPA had indicated in October that the organization was addressing the matter and anticipated that the issue would be resolved, but Hilder confirmed that he had not been informed of a decision. The BCPA will reportedly have a regularly scheduled directors’ meeting on December 1st to address the matter, among other issues.

Meanwhile, BCPA President Ed McIlwaine says Triumph Street – and all bands – should apply to change grades if that’s what they desire.

“Last October, the BCPA Grading Committee made a recommendation to not mandatorily re-grade any band but indicated that any band wanting to be assigned to a new grade should make an appeal,” McIlwaine said. “This recommendation was approved by the BCPA Board and was published on our website in early October. Therefore TSPB was not promoted and is currently a Grade 2 pipe band with the BCPA.

“The BCPA is in the process of implementing improvements to our band grading system by way of creating a separate expert committee for making recommendations regarding bands. However, any appeal regarding band gradings would, at this point, go directly to the BCPA Board and we would deal with any such appeal accordingly. No such appeal has been made through any channel.

“It is probable that the new band grading committee will be asked to reassess BCPA pipe bands from the 2007 season. In the meantime, any band wishing an immediate reassessment should make a request to the BCPA Board,” McIlwhaine concluded.

Triumph Street won the Grade 2 event at the North American Pipe Band Championships at Maxville, Ontario, in August, taking six of a possible eight first-place rankings from judges.

Triumph Street competing in the Grade 2 Medley event at the 2007 North American Championships.
The band enjoyed a windfall of players in fall 2006 after a tumultuous split from the Simon Fraser University organization in which the members competed with the Robert Malcolm II Pipe Band, which won the Grade 2 competition at the 2006 World Pipe Band Championships and was subsequently upgraded to Grade 1 by the RSPBA.

The SFU organization then requested that RMMII remain in Grade 2, citing the elevation of several key players to the Grade 1 band. SFU Pipe-Major Terry Lee provided his summary of the extraordinary events in a pipes|drums exclusive.

RMMII then dissolved, but the Maple Ridge Pipe Band was put in place to serve as the SFU organization’s Grade 2 feeder-band.

The move to Grade 1, of all of the grades, is considered by most experienced pipe band people as the most difficult to make successfully. Over the years there have been numerous instances of bands upgraded to Grade 1 that either dissolved or were relegated to Grade 2 within a year or so of the move.

Should Triumph Street be promoted to Grade 1, it would be the ninth Canadian band in the premier grade. There are nine Scottish Grade 1 bands.


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  1. Definitely will be a big move and I hope that they get their chance to do so this time round. With such a young, dedicated and talented group of individuals it’s really quite obviously not a case of if” they will make it

  2. Once again, we see the usual group of anonymous posters surfacing with their conspiracy theories. I was very amused to read one post that accused various Board and Committee members of cowardice — written by someone who apparently lacked the courage to reveal his/her own name! Get a life, guys. Does anyone honestly think that the BCPA (whose President does not even play in a band, whose Vice President is a member of TSPB and whose Board members include the P/M and L/D of TSPB) has an agenda” and wants to deny TSPB the chance to play grade 1? (I’m pretty sure the Freemasons aren’t behind this either.) The question that occurs to me

  3. Wow. I forgot what the off season was like. This is highly entertaining. Tell me when we get to the part where a mysterious stranger drops off an unmarked package marked Eyes Only” to the society

  4. Wit and sarcasm are very difficult to properly interpret in print and I feel that is where the writer went off the rails. He has (2) individuals who have made the valiant attempt to sugar coat these unfortunate circumstances on his behalf. This after the fact” support is truthfully honorable but it makes the situation appear to be even more ridiculous. It would have had more substance and possible acceptance had the writer made an attempt to further explain his intent and meaning rather than have someone else “stand up” for him. It’s not too late

  5. It’s hard to see how they wouldn’t be moved up. The RMM Worlds win of 2006 suggested the band was ready for the highest grade, and that seemed to be confirmed at Maxville this year, where their size and sound would have given a number of bands in the Maxville Grade 1 contest a run for their money. In his explanation-article, Terry Lee cited as a reason for the request to stay in Grade 2 the fact that the RMM organization did not have the intention or capacity of sustaining a long-term RMM1 band. Now that this core of players has moved out of the RMM organization and the playing quality has if anything, only improved, is there a reason to NOT upgrade them?

  6. The committee guys that felt it was inappropriate to vote due conflicts of interest should be congratulated on their integrity. I’m confused though, about the regrading and bands having to request to be regraded. Does this mean that no band will ever be regraded unless they request it? Or is it referring only to ‘interim’ regradings? I’m a little lost on that one.

  7. It looks like it’s getting earier to be promoted to Grade 1 these days. Not so long ago, you either had to win the Worlds (or come veryclose), have several Maxville wins or at least several strong seasons in Grade 2 before being promoted. No offense to the bands involved but the recent promotion and talk of promotion of Fredricton, Oran Mor and now Trimumph Street are looking more like an attempt to compete with the UK in number of Grade 1 bands as opposed to considering the quality of play in the grade. An occasional down-grading would certainly prove me wrong.

  8. As a former Vice Pres. and Board member of the BCPA for quite a few years I must suggest the following: A Board is elected to make decisions ,not to avoid them. It is expected that a Board member be able to detach themselves from their band politics and make decisions for the good of the Association as an individual, not as a member of any band, especially one that might find themselves competing against the new” band in the area of their usual competitions and where they are most often unchallenged. Let’s not try to hide the fact that SFU and Triumph St. have had a well publicized split. If a Board member is unable to make decisions of their own free will and their own conscience and common sense they should do the honourable –resign.”

  9. Where is the leadership in the BCPA? It seems to me that there are a lot of cowards calling the shots in that organization – hiding behind abstentions and manipulating process. If the people on the grading committee can’t make a decision, they need to resign, to make way for individuals more worthy of the task. This has not happened in a vacuum. Why is the president of the BCPA allowing this nonsense to continue…he should be stepping up to prove he is capable of running this organization, and if he can’t fix this situation he should be stepping down from this position. For goodness sake, this band has proven itself on every level referred to by previous posts – winning virtually all regional, national, and international contests consistently for the past several years. It’s time to put the politics aside and do the right thing!

  10. Unfortunately as usual things are seldom as they appear, especially as they appear in the Piper & Drummer publication. Sorry to be a pessimist, but the Gr 1&2 arena cannot be looked at through the lens of naivety. Perhaps there are strings being pulled from other organizations other than the BCPA? Or board members fear some sort of retribution from some influential individuals in that area. There are some powerful people within the pipe band world who don’t want to see this band reach Gr 1. As usual the political wheels are spinning away.

  11. You have maligned the readership for their personal viewpoints but failed to respond to the truth or lies contained in the P & D article. The abstentions are obviously the reason or cause that the B.C.P.A. is now in the process of implementing improvements i.e. seperate expert committee.” I’m not going to argue whether this is valid or not or even long overdue but the timing is amusing. The so called conspiracy theories that you mention has been brought about by blatant perception and the continual political power struggle to dominate. The remark with respect to Freemasonry was without doubt made in bad taste and had nothing whatsoever to do with this topic and is an insult to the piping and drumming fraternity and humanity.”

  12. In response to FM’s Crisitism. I will only touch on a part that I am familiar with, and that is the promotion of Fredericton. Not sure exactly why you are bringing them into this, but I am sure they were not promoted by the ACPBA because they want to help North America compete with the UK in the number of Grade 1 bands. I think it has to do with the fact that they won the Grade 2 North American Championships 5 times in the last 15 years or so (The last in 2006, the year they were promoted), and never placed out of the top 6 in the 20 years they were in grade 2. They also won either the MSR portion, or the Medley portion a number of times in the years where they didn’t take the overall prize. This according to the standards you mention, should have warrented them the upgrade the received last year. I certainly think they deserved it, and they proved it this year in Gr. 1. As for TSPB, they too deserve the upgrade, I heard them in Maxville and Montreal, and they are worthy of the Gr. 1 mark. I won’t however comment on Oran Mor, as I haven’t heard them in a number of years to give an opinion on the matter. I hope I cleared somethings up regarding the upgrade of Fredericton, which happened over a year ago.

  13. Nevertheless it is an opion, regardless of whether you agree with it or not Mr. Bevin. In fact I think thou doth protest too much! While he has an interesting way of deflecting the issue, it is not effective in the least. It is the people responsible for this problem – those who were unable to make a decision – that are being called to task, not the other innocent board members, or in fact the newly elected members of the board I take issue with.

  14. Wow i think they should move up, i heard them at maxville and the worlds previous, this band deserves to be moved up, why i dont understand is there such a circus going on about this? this is a pipe band society, i have to laugh at this seeing such emotion, does it really make a difference what grade they play?, if they play grade 2, they will win everything… again…its always fun to win……and if they move to grade one they will give some bands a run for ther money and make a challenging competition… either way whats the deal? now if its true Oran Mor has been upgraded to grade one?..mmmm T’CHA u know what? uh uh…. really not sure of they have the grade 1 capability

  15. Mr Bevan, I thought you were an educated man. I would have thought you had studied ethics. Maybe your law firm should put on a seminar for you. Some of your clients may be Masons, you never know who we are. To bring the Free-Masons into this topic is insulting. I think you owe us an apology.

  16. No really, I saw this movie, and it was based on a real YouTube that was posted by a piper who disappeared shortly after questioning his grading decision! Apparently, the BCPA has been infiltrated by the Scottish Rite boys [you know who we are], and they have this huge underground cavern below the Scottish Hall in Vancouver. It actually contains the secrets to the success of BC piping since the 1960s, and also an envelope with the left [bag arm] armpit hair of Patrick Og MacCrimmon [himself a noted wearer of the Mason’s Apron]. The real reason TSPB hasn’t been upgraded is that one of its former pipe majors looks too much like Woody Allen [does not meet membership criteria]. I think we need a new pipes|drums fiction contest! In truth, the whole BCPA grading thing seems more like a standard case of bad communication and poor management. Not sure why this is so hard for everybody? Aren’t they just like the RSPBA? ; ) Let’s all just extend our [secret] handshake and wait for the BC folks to sort this out!

  17. Seriously folks, I’m sure if all of you spent as much time practicing as you do worrying and getting upset about stuff like this they’d eventually put YOU in charge of the grading panels of associations to make the decisions. Until then, face the facts, live with it, and move on. As for the Oran Mor comments, how is this even relevant to the discussion?

  18. I agree that we shouldn’t lower ourselves to the level shown by Mr. Bevan. I don’t think an apology will be forthcoming, there’s probably a Gag” order already in place by the “Firm” in order to avoid any further embarrassment. The fact remains “Triumph Street” are full value and should be upgraded and deserve the opportunity to prove themselves in 2008.”

  19. For the information of those freemasons and others who are having trouble with Alan Bevan’s post, I suggest they aquaint themselves with the rhetorical devices of irony (particularly Socratic Irony) and the larger concept of satire. If they do, they will understand that the comment is not directed at them, but rather at conspiracy theorists, and is based on the premise that such allegations against Freemasons are as historically inaccurate and absurd as allegations of conspiracy directed at BC Pipers. For the record, one of your commentators did get it right – Alan is an erudite and highly educated man, and we at his law firm have no difficulty with his character, adherence to moral standards, or compliance with ethical standards. He’s not a bad piper, either.

  20. Now that we are into quoting titles of pipe tunes to express our thoughts —-consider the strathspey from p. 23 of the old Seaforth book: When you go to the hill take your gun”.”

  21. A very intelligent and talented piper who is a leading member of an avant-garde pipe band comments on a blog with wit and addresses the topic very directly. What happens? His character gets attacked even after another prominent member of his piping community stands up for him. Is it any wonder pipe bands discourage members from posting on the internet?

  22. First off, I would like to address numerous posts related to comments made by Alan Bevan (whom I know personally, and respect highly) in regards to Freemasonry — I did not find the comments offensive, nor did I get the impression that Alan intended his post to be interpreted in such a fashion. My father, grandfather, two of my great-grandfathers, and numerous uncles and cousins are Masons. Indeed, my great-uncle is a Past-Master of the Grand Lodge of BC and the Yukon. Even given such close familial connections to this organization, I did not take offense to Alan’s comments; in fact, I found his statement to be well-articulated, and thoughtful. I am not going to address Tom’s comments, as everyone who knows Tom (and many of those who don’t), know he has an axe to grind with the SFU organization. He is a direct business competitor of Terry Lee, and has demonstrated a consistent inability to purvey an unbiased opinion related to this organization. One question I would ask of Alan and those who have posted in regards to Triumph Street’s failure to submit an application for re-grading: did the BCPA Grading Committee or Executive make the new policy surrounding the re-grading of bands known to its membership? I also wonder if the BCPA did make this new policy known to member-bands, if they gave bands adequate notice that they should be applying for any desired re-grading before the re-grades were announced. I think we need to recognize that Triumph Street has really come a long way as an group since leaving the SFU Organization — they have dominated Grade 2 in the BCPA; they won the North American Championship in a clear and decisive fashion; and they have made serious moves towards a number of vital sponsorships of their band – all while continuing to build and grow as a unit. Should they be upgraded? That is up to people far more learned than myself to decide. However, there is no question in my mind that the leadership and membership of the TSPB should be lauded for their continued organizational development and continued pursuit of performance excellence.

  23. To Cumha N Leanbh Og I have read and re-read Alan’s post, and fail to see how any engllish speaking adult can not recognize the tone of that part of the post. I suppose some who enjoy trying to place them selves as victims could try to constrew the reference to freemasons as a slam, but I have difficulty with that too. I not only believe that Alan need not defend his post, but that your comment indicates either you have no sense of humour or you are taking a great life far to seriously. Back to the matter at hand When I read the article, I assumed those who abstained were members of the TSPB who are on the executive. If that were the case, I agree with the decision to abstain. I was hoping to get clarification on that in these coments but too many people are trying to find ways to be offended. The other question I had, was regardless of any possible change that would have required the band to apply for n upgrade, I would have tought that option would always be open to a band. However, since this was such a hot topic last year, It would seem automatic that the topic would come up in regrading discussions whether or not there was an appliction. After all, RMM2 apparently did not apply to be upgraded, yet they were. Why is it different for TSPB?

  24. To Cumha N Leanbh Og Wit is not hard to recognize if one has any to one’s name. Satire is not a synonym for sarcasm. (Synonyms are two different words with similar meanings, just in case you need that defined as well)



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