Published: February 13, 2021

Show must go on: Boney Invitational charity program attracts international audience (video)

An archive performance by the late Andrew Bonar was part of the 2021 Boney Music Invitational.

Many household names in North American and world piping gathered for a nearly three-hour program broadcast on Facebook Live and archived on YouTube carried on the six-year tradition of the Boney Music Invitational in aid of cancer research on February 13th.

The event was started by Bonar himself in 2016 as a charity effort to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. Normally, it would be an in-person competition-recital with the five top professional pipers from the previous BCPA season. Each would have to deliver a 20-minute performance of whatever tunes they wished but had to include a ground of a piobaireachd and an original composition or arrangement by Bonar, who published Boney Music, a collection of his work in the 2000s.

The show was co-hosted by Bonar’s former Simon Fraser University Pipe-Major Terry Lee and fellow SFU bandsman and frequent concert host Neil Dickie. Both reflected on Andrew Bonar’s contributions and friendship.

“Boney was a pro, but also a real true competitor . . . he just stood there and did his job,” said Lee. “When I’d ask him to do a concert solo, I always knew that Andrew would think of things in a unique way. It would always be different.”

Throughout the broadcast, which was watched by about 150 people from around the world, there were calls to donate to the BC Cancer Foundation, and viewers of the free online program were requested to contribute at least $10.

Medical professionals spoke about cancer treatment and their bittersweet memories of working with Andrew Bonar as a brain cancer patient. After years of competing while ill before he was diagnosed with the rare glioblastoma form of cancer and several more years of treatment, Bonar ultimately succumbed to the disease in 2017.

The show was punctuated with recorded performances from the 2020 Boney Music Invitational by Alan Bevan, Jori Chisholm, Gordon Conn, Alastair Lee and Zephan Znichel, as well as archival footage of virtuoso playing by Andrew Bonar himself.

In addition to interviews with the performers, there were recorded messages from several of Andrew Bonar’s contemporaries and friends: Andrew Berthoff, Ken Eller, Bruce Gandy, Jack Lee, Barbara MacDonald, Iain MacDonald (Regina), Rob MacNeil and Bob Worrall.

You can watch the entire recording of the program on YouTube:

“Boney loved to play and loved to compete,” said Chisholm. “But he was really a gracious competitor. Never any competitiveness that would get in the way of being a friend.”
The BCPA hopes that the Boney Music Invitational Solo Piping Competition-Recital will return in its usual form in 2022.
pipes|drums made its annual monetary donation to the BC Cancer Foundation as well as gratis advertising for the Boney Music Invitational.

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