Apart from the World Pipe Band Championships August 12-13, the weekend ahead is collectively the biggest of the year for pipers, drummers and enthusiasts with the Scottish Pipe Band Championships at Dumbarton, Scotland, on Saturday, July 30th, and the Friday-Saturday North American Championships July 29th and 30th at Maxville, Ontario.
For the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville, this year will see a bump up in entries, especially at the top-end, with five Grade 1 and nine Grade 2 bands entered and an almost untenable 33 solo pipers in the Professional grade, and a staggering 280 individual contestants overall entered for the piping and drumming solo events.
Add to Maxville the Friday Gold Medal Solo Piping contests where 14 pipers will vie for the Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal and nine for the Bar to the Medal for former winners of the Maxville Gold Medal, and overall Glengarry Highland Games could be the biggest in the history of piping and drumming in terms of the number of events and competitors. The organizers previously announced that they are bringing in guest judges Tom Kee, Brian Morgan, Hal Senyk and Jamie W. Troy to assist with bulging orders-of-play. Bill Livingstone will judge the indoor Gold Medal and Bar events, and Troy will handle the outdoor Gold Medal Professional MSR on the Saturday.
Brian Morgan, a bass drummer who is accredited in ensemble by the EUSPBA, was invited to adjudicate the solo bass-section events and the Grade 2 MSR, but subsequently withdrew his services after the PPBSO reportedly removed him from the band competition due to the organization apparently not recognizing ensemble judges with only bass and/or tenor experience.
PPBSO President Chris Buchanan had not yet commented on the matter at the time that this story was updated. (Readers interested in whether bass-section experts should be eligible to judge pipe band drumming or ensemble might want to complete our online poll on the topic on the front page of pipes|drums.)
There are five bands vying to be North American Champions in Grade 1, with the aggregate award decided over Medley and MSR events. The 78th Fraser Highlanders will defend the prize against the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), Ottawa Police Service, the Peel Regional Police and the Toronto Police.
Total band prize money at Maxville amounts to more than $27,500, ranging from $3,000 for first in Grade 1 to $150 for sixth in Grade 5. Professional solo prizes total more than $5,000.
In Dumbarton, the fourth major of the RSPBA’s five-championship season will run, with 12 Grade 1 bands in the MSR event and 20 Grade 2 bands delivering a medley. So far in Grade 1, a different winner has emerged at the previous three championships, with Inveraray & District winning the British at Paisley, Scotland, Field Marshal Montgomery taking the United Kingdom at Belfast, and St. Laurence O’Toole winning the European at Forres, Scotland, setting up a World Pipe Band Championship that could see any of these bands – and maybe more – with a strong shot at taking the ultimate prize.
Stay tuned to pipes|drums this weekend for results as they emerge.