The Midwest Pipe Band Association has approved an upgrade request made by the City of Chicago Pipe Band to move to Grade 1. The band is now the fourth Grade 1 band based in the United States, joining City of Washington of Washington, DC: the LA Scots of Los Angeles; and Oran Mor of New York.
The decision was delivered to the band by MWPBA Music Board Chair Jim Sim. The upgrade follows a successful season in Grade 2 for the band, which won the grade at the North American Championships at Maxville and the Kincardine Scottish Festival in Ontario, as well as more regional events.
The Chicago area has long been a hotbed of piping and drumming talent, with the now defunct Midlothian Scottish the dominant pipe band for three decades, until its demise in 2009. Midlothian competed for a season in Grade 1 in the 1990s before settling back into Grade 2. City of Chicago has been the beneficiary of some Midlothian talent.
“We are very pleased to be able to perform at the premier level,” Lynch said. “Most of the band were either babies or for that matter or not even born, the last time a Grade 1 band was present in the Midwest over 25 years ago. It has been a humbling experience to help start this band seven years ago with our friends. This has been a wonderful journey and we will continue our work into the next grade. We look forward to the coming season and hope to see a number of Grade 1 bands returning to compete at Midwest games.”
The band also announced a sponsorship with Dunbar Bagpipes of St. Catharines, Ontario. About half of the band’s pipe section plays Dunbar drones, according to Lynch. The name of the band will not change.
“We are ecstatic to have the support of Dunbar Bagpipes,” Lynch commented. “The team at Dunbar makes an exceptional instrument, tailored perfectly to our needs, and we are pleased to have one of the best modern pipe makers backing us all the way.”
Lynch added that the band has no current plans to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships. “We would love to go, but we are simply not ready at the moment,” he said. “We believe in controlled growth and we are building for that day. Given the current economic climate we are staying in North American for now.”
He said that City of Chicago plans to compete in 2011 at the United States Championships in Alma, Michigan; the Chicago Highland Games; Kincardine and Maxville, adding that the cost of travel is the band’s biggest obstacle to more competitions.
Lynch said that City of Chicago is continuing to build its instruction program, “not only by teaching but with our commitment to fundamentals with our Grade 4 band. Just this year, in conjunction with the Irish American Heritage Center, we have started the Chicago Academy of Piping and Drumming. This allows us to be linked into one of the prominent cultural centers in the US.”
“The MWPBA Music Board approved the upgrade of City of Chicago to Grade 1 at our last meeting,” Sim said. “The band had a very successful season, and they are also adding a few new players to their roster for 2011 and the board felt the upgrade was warranted. The Midwest has not had a Grade 1 band since Midlothian played in Grade 1 for a few seasons many years ago. We as a board wish City of Chicago every success in 2011 and going forward.”