A snapshot of the new Grade 1 season
multiple World Solo Champion Barry Wilson. Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong is already in his tenth year leading the band, so he’s an established veteran in the role. But the Power has seen a few departures from and additions to its pipe section, so they might well be the most interesting elite band to watch.
“I am looking forward with great anticipation to my first competitive season with ScottishPower,” Jørgensen commented. “I have been pleased with the work ethic of the drummers over the winter preparations and we have taken significant strides forward. The public will this year be listening to a ScottishPower band with an entirely new musical direction at the back end.”
For his part, Armstrong said, “It’s been a hard winter’s work which has produced some very positive results, and I’m very much looking forward to getting the band out there to let the piping public hear the these results. Jake has brought some new and exciting ideas to the table that I’m sure will be welcomed by fans of the band.”
Top bands are trying new pipe section gear at an increasing rate. Not so long ago top bands would adjust their set-up maybe once a decade; today they can make major changes almost every year. (pipes|drums conducted a comprehensive survey last fall of what the world’s Grade 1 bands’ pipe sections are playing, exclusively for subscribers.)
After dropping from the World’s top-six for the first time in more than two decades, Simon Fraser University has dropped its patented Sinclair chanter sound in favour of Shepherds – the same make that has brought Field Marshal so much success.
“This will bring their sound back into the ballpark that they’re known for,” said one insider with a Scottish Grade 1 band, who asked to remain anonymous. Under Second-year Pipe-Major Alan Bevan, the band is clearly rounding into a new identity, which will of course be seen and heard when the band takes the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall stage for the covetedf Pre-World’s concert in August.
Back in Scotland, Inveraray & District and Greater Glasgow Police Scotland are apparently playing cane drone reeds throughout their pipe sections. There will be some pressure on Glasgow Police Pipe-Major Duncan Nicholson and Leading-Drummer Eric Ward to get the band into the World’s prize-list, after finishing just out in 2014.
“Depending on the experience of the players in the band, this could go well . . . or not so well,” the same insider commented about the two bands’ move to cane.
The return to natural reeds and bags continues, as bands look for that elusive edge to gain that essential positive hair-split in their favour.
Hopping back over the pond, the Toronto Police have switched to G1 chanters under new Pipe-Major Sean McKeown, and the Ottawa Police won the first outdoor event in Ontario playing new RJM chanters made by Roddy MacLeod – the first major band to . . .