Twenty-eighteen World Pipe Band Champions Field Marshal Montgomery have augmented their pipe section with the addition of a slew of new members, including current and former Grade 1 Toronto Police pipe-majors Sean McKeown and Ian K. MacDonald for the 2019 RSPBA competition season.
The band has also added three other notable members.
Peter MacGregor, from Ullapool, Scotland, is the former pipe-major of The the Highlanders 4 SCOTS Grade 2 military band, and is Pipe-Major of the Army School of Piping & Highland Drumming in Edinburgh. His solo career is successful, including prizes in the B-Grade light music events at the Northern Meeting and Argyllshire Gathering.
Jake Walker is a 19-year-old from Portavogie, Northern Ireland, coming off of eight years with Grade 1 Police Service of Northern Ireland, receiving his original grounding in Cleland Memorial. He’s already won both All-Ireland Championship and Ulster Champion solo piping titles.
Ben Gibson has joined Field Marshal Montgomery’s snare line, moving to the band from Grade 1 Police Service of Northern Ireland.
As well as bringing top-flight pipe band experience, MacDonald and McKeown are two of the world’s premier solo pipers, MacDonald having won both Highland Society of London Gold Medals in 2016, and McKeown placing second in the same events.
“I am delighted to welcome Jake, Peter, Sean, Ian K and Ben to the band,” said Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe-Major Richard Parkes. “They have been seamless fits to how we do things and will all help elevate our playing in 2019.”
Last fall, McKeown revealed that the Grade 1 Toronto Police will be taking a hiatus from competing in 2019, due mainly to the inability to source a lead-drummer who has the necessary combination of skills, leadership, continuity and reliability years into the future. He said that his competition schedule with Field Marshal Montgomery is not yet locked down, but it will include the World Championship in Glasgow August 16-17.
MacDonald is also the lead instructor of Grade 3 Ryan Russell Memorial, a training band within the Toronto Police organization, and was pipe-major of the Grade 1 Toronto Police for many years.
Parkes also confirmed that the new additions will be held to the legendary stringent playing protocol required of all members, without exception, including intense one-to-one practice sessions with him.
Field Marshal Montgomery reportedly has not lost any personnel, apart from the significant departure of Pipe-Sergeant Alistair Dunn after 21 years with the band. Long-time band member Matt Wilson was made the band’s new pipe-sergeant in September 2018.