Updated: Ballycoan takes a pass on 2011 competition season
The Grade 1 Ballycoan Pipe Band of Northern Ireland has opted out of competing in 2011, citing “conflicting commitments of personnel and reduced resource levels.” In a statement to pipes|drums, the band said that it will instead commit the rest of the year to “regrouping and concentrating on the 2012 competition season.”
“I’m disappointed the band has had to take this step,” said Ballycoan Pipe-Major Alfie Rea, “but I feel there are long term benefits for the band which make it worthwhile. It has proven difficult to recruit quality players in the current climate and we have not been able to replace players lost to normal attrition.”
Rea said that the organization will focus on a junior program “to produce the next generation of players for the Grade 1 band.” He alluded to the success that other Grade 1 bands have had with feeder-band systems not only bolstering a top-grade band, but benefiting local communities.
A member of the band, when asked if existing members are free to play with other bands in 2011, said, “There is no restriction on members wanting to play with [other] bands in the interim.”
The band has made a call out to those currently not with a band who are might be interested in joining either Ballycoan’s Grade 1 band or to become part of its junior program to contact the organization through its website or by email.
Last summer the Grade 1 band announced that it would bring players from Australia to bolster its ranks, but did not ultimately use them. The band subsequently finished tenth in the Grade 1 Qualifier at the World Pipe Band Championships. Its highest finish at a 2010 major was ninth at the European Championships. In 2009 the band won the Grade 1 Qualifier at the World’s and finished twelfth in the Final.
It’s unfortunate that 20+ pipers is getting to be de riguer in Grade 1 … a band with 12 or 14, which was a good size not all that long ago, is seen as suffering from a numbers problem.
Quite right Chris, would not take much to get this band back on the field, There is still a full Drum Corps and a committed Pipe Corp of 12, just a few players would make a world of difference. Times are hard, players are finding the money to attend competitions and fuel costs are a challenge in itself. The Coan is not the only band to feel the pinch!