June 20, 2023

Next up: the European Championships in the Granite City

Inveraray & District marching off with the European Championship trophy at Inverness last year.

Two weeks ago, Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, with new Leading-Drummer Kerr McQuillan, won the UK Championship at Lurgan, Northern Ireland, and Field Marshal Montgomery took the drumming prize under their new Leading-Drummer Gareth McLees.

On June 24th, Inveraray & District will defend its 2022 title at the second of four RSPBA major competitions with the European Championships at Duthie Park in Aberdeen, Scotland. “The Granite City” has hosted numerous championships over the years, including staging the World’s several times before the event in 1983 found a seemingly permanent home in Glasgow.

Aberdeen signed on to stage the European Championships after Inverness concluded its deal with the RSPBA following holding the event for several years in either Inverness or the nearby town of Forres.

On June 10th, Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia shook up the piping and drumming world with their UK Championship win, the first major victory by the band since winning both the Cowal and European Championships in 2012. The 2023 UK was the thirteenth major title in the band’s Grade 1 history.

Since then, Boghall has been on a roll at smaller events, this past weekend winning the aggregate by MSR preference and the drumming in both Medley and MSR at the Edinburgh Highland Games. The band’s percussion section under McQuillan has won four of the five events the band has competed in, also taking the drumming prize at small competitions at Gourock and Dollar.

Field Marshal Montgomery had a successful outing on June 3rd at the Mid-Ulster Championship in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, besting St. Laurence O’Toole and Closkelt.

Once again, there are 10 bands entered for the Grade 1 competition, which calls for only one March, Strathspey & Reel to be submitted, but for the first time in RSPBA history, each tune type must be no more than four parts. The move is apparently an attempt by the association to prop up smaller tunes that may have been largely unheard over the last half-century.

Judging Grade 1 will be Maurice Rhodes and Tom Brown on piping, drumming adjudicator Brian Martin and Terry Lee making the multi-flight 7,000-kilometre journey to Aberdeen from Vancouver to assess the ensemble.

The Grade 2 medley competition has an entry of only 10 bands. No bands from Ireland and Northern Ireland have entered, meaning that Ravara and Manorcunningham, which finished first and second in the UK, won’t be challenging.

Scotland’s Royal Burgh of Annan will defend the Grade 2 title it took in 2022 at Inverness.

One-hundred-one bands are entered across all grades – 21 more than competed at the UK Championships, but still substantially fewer than pre-pandemic levels when most non-World’s majors would see on the order of 120 entries.

The RSPBA is required to hold five major championships annually. The 2023 World, UK, Scottish and European championships are set, but the British Championships were cancelled outright after Inverclyde Council declined to bid on the 2023 event after holding the contest in 2022 in Greenock, and the association was unable to find a replacement venue or alternative solution.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for results from the 2023 European Championships as they are announced on June 24th at Duthie Park, Aberdeen.






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