Ulster bands’ success toasted at Northern Ireland Assembly
When your country is the home of Field Marshal Montgomery, the idea of winning pipe bands could well become commonplace, but not so the Northern Ireland’s government which paid tribute to the success of its thriving piping and drumming scene at its assembly building in Stormont.
On January 22 members of many of the most successful Ulster bands gathered to be officially recognized by all political parties at an event hosted by Robin Swann MLA, along with several other MLA’s and representatives from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster Scots Agency and other organizations.
The Northern Ireland Branch of the made the most of the occasion to demonstrate to officials their work in promoting and advancing pipe band music in Northern Ireland.
”The worldwide success that has been achieved by RSPBANI bands in competition and sheer musicianship has been assisted greatly through working in partnerships with organizations such as the Arts Council, the Ulster Scots Agency and local councils,” said George Ussher, RSPBA president.
2012 was another typically successful year for bands from Northern Ireland, winning three grades at the World Championships, including Field Marshal Montgomery in Grade 1.
“The branch firmly believes that this success is built through the teaching that is delivered by member bands and facilitated through the RSPBANI School. This year the school had the highest number of students at the largest number of venues since the branch established its teaching facility back in 1980.”
After enjoying performances from three young pipers and drummers and a drum-major display,
Swann said, “I was honoured to host the event and the talent of young members on display shows the quality of teaching at the RSPBANI Branch School. The events organized by RSPBANI bring a huge economic benefit to Northern Ireland.”
With a population of about 1.8-million producing 72 RSPBANI-member bands, including nine in Grade 1 and Grade 2 alone, Northern Ireland likely has the highest density of competition pipe bands in the world.
The country hosts several contests each summer, and frequently is the site of RSPBA major championships. With the Cowal Highland Gathering voluntarily giving up championship status, Northern Ireland has been discussed as the site of an annual RSPBA major.