Published: August 16, 2019

Friday World’s a slog morning, brighter afternoon for globe’s elite bands

Inveraray & District.

The first day of the Grade 1 competitions at the World Pipe Band Championships saw wet conditions for the morning MSR, with intermittent soaking rain making for a problematic day for the globe’s 15 best pipe bands. The afternoon medley contest saw mainly dry weather and overall higher quality performances.

Simon Fraser University.

Results from the competition were kept appropriately secret by the RSPBA, so as not to influence results from the mirrored day of events on Saturday. Rather than holding a qualifier event, which the association does only when there are 23 or more contestants, all four performances for all bands will count towards the final result.

Each band on the Friday chose the medley and the MSR that they played. They must perform their other selection and set on Saturday.

The format was chosen after the RSPBA surveyed bands, judges and “others” for their opinion on whether the Grade 1 contest should remain a two-day event or revert to a one-day competition.

Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia.

Judges for the Friday event: Medley: Alvis Kerr, Jim Wark (piping); Brian Martin (drumming); and John Moles (ensemble). MSR: Barry Donaldson, Ronnie McShannon (piping); Gordon Craig (drumming); and Jim Campbell (ensemble).

Despite charging £6 (£5 in advance) for enthusiasts and the thousands of members with the 182 bands competing on Saturday to get into the park, the event was offered free via a high quality live-stream broadcast. So, most in Glasgow appeared to watch from a warm and dry location to enjoy a superior perspective and listening experience making for a somewhat empty atmosphere for the MSR event. There appeared to be perhaps 200 people in the seated area for the MSR, but the stands were about two-thirds filled for the medley event held in far better weather.

The free live-stream cut out for several minutes in the middle of Police Service of Northern Ireland’s MSR and during the Glasgow Police’s medley, but was overall very well presented. Grade 1 arena emcee Fergus Muirhead often filled the time with with brief interviews with visiting listeners. “Hot” mics around the arena picked up ambient chatter that made for a confused broadcast between bands.

St. Laurence O’Toole

Interestingly, some pipe sections were relatively smaller than in years’ past, with several bands taking the field with only 16 players. The largest pipe sections were ScottishPower and the 78th Fraser Highlanders with 24.

The Friday competition indicated an ever-widening separation between the quality of the world’s top seven or eight bands and the rest.

The balance of the Grade 1 competition and all other grades will be held on Saturday. The forecast is for mainly sunny conditions with the chance of “fleeting showers,” and slightly cooler than Friday, winds gusting to 50 km/h in the afternoon.

With Inveraray & District and St. Laurence O’Toole each winning two of the previous four major championships, those bands or 2018 World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery or pre-World’s Concert performers ScottishPower are favoured by many to have a chance of lifting the 2019 World’s trophy Saturday evening.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more from the 2019 World Pipe Band Championships, including live tweeting from @pipesdrums during the Saturday Grade 1 events.

 

 


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