December 31, 2013

The 12th annual pipes|drums New Year’s Honours

2013 Pipe Band of the Year
Field Marshal Montgomery

The choice of FMM in this category was unanimous. Just when you think this band might be losing momentum, it turns around and satisfies even the most stringent expectations. FMM ended the 2012 season perhaps down on its fortunes, with the loss of longtime front-rank piper Ryan Canning to the Pipe-Majorship at Shotts & Dykehead, and the departure of a few other members. But Pipe-Major Richard Parkes and Lead-Drummer Keith Orr simply put their heads down and shored up the ranks with several key additions. Notably, FMM revamped its bass section with fly-in members Kyle Heaney and Andrew Elliott to raise the ensemble value even higher. The result? A grand slam of all five RSPBA major championships and a third consecutive World’s title. There is not much doubt that FMM produced the best competition pipe band standard in history, as the Northern Ireland-based group looks now to sustain and even build its legacy into 2014. This is the fourth time that Field Marshal Montgomery has been named pipes|drums Pipe Band of the Year.

Panelists’ comments:

  • “FMM – no doubt.
  • “xtraordinary ability to produce consistency of sound.”
  • “Maybe the first pipe band that is listened to by most with pure appreciation. When FMM comes on, people look forward to greatness instead of finding reasons to put them out.”
  • “The benchmark that all bands are placed against today.”

Also considered (in alphabetical order):

Boghall & Bathgate – if it weren’t for the fact that Field Marshal Montgomery was essentially indomitable in 2013, Boghall would be sitting on at least a few major championships and even its first long-sought-after World’s title. That the band finished a close second at four majors, including the World’s, is testament to its consistency and commitment to build locally, always adhering to “he Boghall Way” of doing things right.

Inveraray & District – while statistically IDPB might have slipped slightly in the results, the band is known today as placing music and creativity and taste first. Combine those elements with a rich and robust sound, and Inveraray is one of the world’s most popular groups. The band’s Pre-World’s “Ascension” concert was a sold-out triumph of skill and ingenuity.

National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland – they don’t compete, but this group of all-star youngsters from around Scotland show that performance and musicality can replace contest success as a band’s reasons-to-be. Coordinated by the National Piping Centre, the NYPBoS regularly puts on ambitious shows that aim for heights as lofty as those mounted by even the biggest bands.

Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia – by the middle of the 2012 season, Shotts’s future looked very much in jeopardy. Indeed, many, if not most, bands would have crumbled given the turmoil that the West Lothian group endured. But the canny securing of Ryan Canning as pipe-major, and a deft recruitment strategy returned Shotts to contention, even capturing a prize at the British Championship. Playing as well as they did through the 2013 Glasgow Green Typhoon alone makes Shotts deserving of a medal.




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