Vale of Atholl working to expand

Published: December 18, 2015

ValeofAtholl_logo_2013Scotland’s Grade 1 Vale of Atholl Pipe Band has embarked on a major recruitment drive with the hope of expanding its ranks for a 2016 season “relaunch.”

The band, officially from Pitlochry but which practices in Perth, is looking to add “experienced pipers and drummers” to all three sections, but stresses that “there is the opportunity for groups of players from other parts of the country to have regional practices, making good use of digital media and reducing the need to travel to some of the Perth practices.”

It’s thought to be the first time that the Vale, which has competed in Grade 1 since 1983, has looked beyond the Perthshire region for members in a significant way, although many players over the years have resided elsewhere.

In addition to competitions, the band continues its tradition of pushing musical boundaries on stage, including this year performing at BBC Alba’s Hogmanay Ceilidh live on television on New Year’s Eve, considered an honour for bands to be invited. The Vale performed extensively at last year’s Ryder Cup golf tournament, held at Gleneagles in Perthshire, and broadcast worldwide. In recent  years the group has travelled to Spain and Switzerland to perform.

Vale of Atholl performing at Crieff Highland Games in 2014.

The band is also currently searching for sponsorship, following several decades of support from organizations like McNaughton’s, Robert Wiseman Dairies, and ScotRail. The Vale hopes to build on current funding for its teaching program that it delivers for regional schools and in the community, which has been fully funded by grants and awards from external parties. The band was an early adopter of the feeder-band system, which has contributed to its longevity in Grade 1 with “home-grown” players.

The Vale of Atholl organization, which, in addition to the Grade 1 band, has bands in Grade 4B and 3A, expects to see its new teaching program to bear fruit to support the organization at all levels. Particularly with drummers, pipe bands in Scotland generally have a difficult time attracting high-quality players from Scotland’s central belt to come north.

The band reportedly had been in the running to secure Jim Kilpatrick as leading-drummer, but following apparent discussions, no agreement could be reached. The Vale is still searching for a leading-drummer to replace Alistair “Bongo” McNab, who stepped down after the 2015 season.

Interested players should contact Pipe-Major Adrian Cramb with a summary of their playing experience, if needed.

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