In a move that is certain to rock the competitive piping and drumming world, the Grade 1 Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band of Vancouver has “ceased competitive operations.”
Pipe-Major David Hilder shared the news with pipes|drums approximately an hour before making the information public to followers of the band.
In a statement, Hilder said that the decision to conclude operations was hastened due to the end of the band’s 10-year sponsorship by the Dowco Group of companies, a Canadian structural steel consulting organization.
“As many of you are aware, the cost of running a competitive grade one pipe band is extremely expensive,” Hilder said. “Due to Dowco Triumph Street’s global setting, the groundwork of this organization is massive. We have been blessed to have had the Dowco Group of companies as our corporate sponsor for 10 years. With the conclusion of this 10 year contract, the Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band will not be unable to move forward financially.”
In an attempt to maintain a higher standard, the band for the last few years had been using a more creative model, with half or more of its members based in the UK, including its lead-drummer, Gary Corkin.
Dowco Triumph Street’s international membership made competing with a full complement of players at competitions difficult in its home Pacific Northwest. The managed to compete at only a few local events in 2018, opting instead to travel only to the United Kingdom Championships in Belfast and the World Championships.
The unofficial leader of the band’s Scottish-based pipers, Gary Nimmo, this week was appointed pipe-major of the Grade 2 Royal Burgh of Stirling.
“I want to thank my current leadership team for their passion and dedication with running a successful international organization,” Hilder said. “I would also like to thank all current and past members for everything during their tenure with the band. It is the membership of any band where the legacy is formed and we are very proud of the Dowco Triumph Street legacy.”
Triumph Street is one of the most successful and longest-running top-grade bands in North America, with roots that began in the 1970s.
After considerable success in the ’70s and ’80s, including winning the World Pipe Band Drumming Championships in 1979, the band slipped back several grades in the late-1980s. The group was catapulted back to Grade 2 in 2007 after members of the Grade 2 Robert Malcolm Memorial, led by Hilder, broke away from the Simon Fraser University organization to join forces with the lower-grade Triumph Street.
After creating the remodeled Grade 2 Triumph Street, the band won the grade at the North American Championships in 2007, ushering the band’s move to Grade 1. Triumph Street qualified for the Grade 1 Final at the World Championships nine consecutive times, including this past season. The band finished twelfth out of 12 bands in the event.
The group recorded a studio album, With Purpose, and appeared in several high profile concerts over the years.
“Thank you to all of our supporters over the years, it has been our pleasure making music for all to hear,” Hilder concluded.
Dowco Triumph Street suspending competitive status leaves North America with only four active Grade 1 bands: the 78th Fraser Highlanders, the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), Simon Fraser University and the Toronto Police. The Grade 2 World’s-winning City of Dunedin of Florida is widely expected to be promoted to Grade 1 this off-season.
Hilder said that his own future plans are as yet not decided.