The RSPBA has moved the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band to Grade 2, when the band is not a member of the organization. The move overshadowed the news of the elevations of RSPBA member bands Glasgow Skye and Lomond & Clyde to Grade 1.
Also going to Grade 2 was Ravara of Northern Ireland, after the band worked for the whole of the 2016 season to return to competition.
The RSPBA has regraded non-member bands in the past, and has also rejected bands entering certain grades at the World Championships, informing them that they must play in a grade not officially assigned to them by their home association.
The organization downgraded EUSPBA members City of Washington to Grade 2 in 2010, and in 2014 the band dissolved. In 2008, the RSPBA rejected the entry of EUSPBA Grade 1 band Oran Mor, requiring the band to compete in Grade 2 at the World’s. In 2013, Oran Mor assimilated into the Stuart Highlanders, which is now an EUSPA Grade 2 band.
“We’re aware of the RSPBA decision and are reviewing it,” said PPBSO President Chris Buchanan, whose Music Committee has not yet met to make recommendations on regradings of its members.
Lomond & Clyde of Glasgow won three of five RSPBA major championships, losing at the European and World’s to Glasgow Skye. The upgrades, along with the move to Grade 2 of Wallacestone & District, were widely expected. Royal Burgh of Stirling also was moved to Grade 2.
Despite City of Glasgow announcing last week that it was no longer operating, the RSPBA went ahead anyway and included the band in its downgrades, officially moving them to Grade 3A.
“The band is thrilled to have been promoted to the top grade following a successful season in Grade 2,” said Lomond & Clyde Pipe-Major David Wilton. “We look forward to a hard winter in preparation for the band’s toughest challenge yet. Congratulations to all the other bands promoted, especially Glasgow Skye who will be joining us in the top grade.”
Both Glasgow Skye and Lomond & Clyde have reaped the reward of appointing new leadership, with Wilton taking over Lomond & Clyde after the 2015 season and Ewan Henderson being made pipe-major of Glasgow Skye in 2014 and Arthur Cook appointed lead-drummer in 2015.
The Peel Regional Police have competed in Grade 1 for more than 20 straight years. The band has consistently competed at the World Pipe Band Championships, but has not qualified for the Grade 1 final in the recent past. The band finished last in its group in the World’s Medley qualifier and second-last to Ravara in the MSR. Peel also generally finished third when it competed in three-band Grade 1 events in Ontario.
Peel Police have started a teaching program and hope to launch a Grade 5 band in 2018.
Buchanan declined to comment as to whether it is appropriate for the RSPBA to regrade non-member bands.
The RSPBA also upgraded the College of Piping (Summerside) of Prince Edward Island to Grade 4A, presumably in case the band’s home association, the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association, had plans to upgrade the group to Grade 3. The band won Grade 4B at the 2017 World’s.
Neither RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton nor RSPBA Grading Committee Chair Bruce Cargill had responded to questions from pipes|drums at publication time. Peel Regional Police Pipe-Major John Cairns, busy with his band at an event in Ottawa, promised to respond to questions.
Stay tune to pipes|drums for more on this issue as it develops.