Published: November 27, 2014

Invercargill on the L-D search again after Esler departs

The Grade 1 ILT City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band of New Zealand is looking for a leading-drummer once again after Russell Esler decided to return to Scotland, following only a year in the paid positon.

Pipe-Major Alasdair Mackenzie said that if his band finds the right person to fit into the role he hopes never to have to search again for a lead-tip.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for someone to do a bit of travelling, see the world, inspire youth, do what you love to do for a job and get paid for it,” Mackenzie said. “[New Zealand] is one of the most unreal locations in the world. It would give someone one hell of an opportunity.”

The band is only a year removed from settling on Esler, who emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand following a strong experience with the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band. Esler decided in the New Zealand spring to return to Glasgow and will rejoin ScottishPower under new leading-Drummer Jake Jørgensen, who himself joined the band about the same time following Barry Wilson’s retirement.

ILT City of Invercargill Scottish at the 2013 New Zealand Championships.

“My time in New Zealand was quite an experience,” Esler said. “It is an amazing country and I met some great people who I continue to keep in touch with. I was particularly encouraged with the drive and commitment of the young drummers who were either in the existing Grade 4 or 4B Invercargill Pipe Bands or in earlier stages of development in local schools. I very much enjoyed teaching them and could see that with further development, they would eventually reach Grade 1 standard. The Grade 4 Pipe Band did very well at the New Zealand Nationals in January and this was in no small part also due to the efforts of my predecessor Scott Birrell.”

The Invercargill band is operated with sponsorship from the Southland Piping and Drumming Development Trust.

“I became frustrated because my goals for the competitive side of Pipe Band Drumming seemed to be at odds with the goals of the Trust. Also, locally and indeed further afield, recruiting experienced drummers seemed impossible. However, with the right systems and procedures in place and a pool of drummers to draw upon at Grade 1 level, the potential for a great set up is there.”

Esler added that the band “would have benefited from several more drummers, rather than having to rely on ‘fly-ins’ from other countries at competition time. We did however experience some success at the New Zealand Nationals, coming second in drumming – quite an achievement considering it was the first year at Grade 1. The judges were particularly supportive in our efforts and it was inspiring to get positive feedback and encouragement from them.”

Mackenzie said that the band invites interested applicants for the teaching and leadership position.

“Being distant from family and friends is tough,” Mackenzie said. “[Esler] returned home for personal reasons and so the search again begins. It is however a unique and exciting opportunity for somebody as there aren’t too many jobs like this in the world. Queenstown is like no other place on the planet.”

Drummers interested in the SPDDT job and the leading-drummer position should contact SPPDT’s Allister Macgregor.

ILT is an Invercargill-based non-profit foundation that distributes grants to the community from the proceeds of gaming machines.

Following a number of years with ScottishPower, Mackenzie himself emigrated from Glasgow several years ago to take on the pipe-majorship of Invercargill.

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