The Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band have confirmed that Mark Passmore has been appointed Leading-Drummer following the departure of Ken Constable on late-August. Passmore in his pipe band career has been a member of the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders and Peel Regional Police, and also was leading-drummer with the Grade 2 Glengarry and, in 2012, the Grade 2 400 Squadron. He is a drumming instructor with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
In an unrelated move, Pipe-Sergeant Michael Grey submitted his resignation from the band after six years with Pipe-Major Ian K. MacDonald, during which the band gained recognition worldwide for the original music that Grey brought to the group, particularly in his relatively avant-garde medley compositions and arrangements.
When Grey joined in 2007, the Toronto Police was down to 10 pipers and on the brink of collapse, but by introducing adventurous new music the band attracted members and, by 2013 were competing with more than 20 in the pipe section.
“The last six years were some of the most memorable and remarkable of my pipe band life, and I’ll remember it all,” Grey said. “I have many friends in the band and I know that won’t change. I know it sounds trite, but I do wish only the best for the Toronto Police Pipe Band as we both move on to new challenges.”
Several competition medleys constructed and orchestrated by Grey were among the most talked-about throughout the pipe band world. The band’s “Variations on a Theme of Good Intentions” got tongues wagging, and drew huge attention to a band that previously struggled to stand apart from the crowd.
Grey was the subject of a five-part pipes|drums Interview in 2012.
Regarding his confirmation as Leading-Drummer, Passmore said, “The Toronto Police has some true pioneers in its ranks and I have always respected their progressive thinking. I am looking forward to creating beautiful music with such talented musicians and great people. I am very fortunate to have being met with such upbeat enthusiasm and excitement from the current drummers as well as the new ones who are joining.”
Passmore could not yet provide specifics on new members.
When asked about rumours circulating that a merger between the three Ontario Grade 1 bands was being discussed, Ian MacDonald said that “critical components are not available” so is a “no-go,” while 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe-Major Doug MacRae said flat-out that “the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band will not be taking part in a merger.” Peel Regional Police Pipe-Major John Cairns said that his band had not discussed the idea, and he had no response.
None of the three Ontario bands qualified for the Grade 1 Final at the 2013 World Pipe Band Championships.