Western Australia re-starts in-person competitions
The efficacy of the state of Western Australia in battling back the coronavirus has been rewarded with the approval to return to face-to-face piping, drumming and pipe band competitions.
Four events have so far been sanctioned by Pipe Bands WA after the state government eased COVID-19 restrictions.
“The cautious relaxation of restrictions and strong border controls have allowed gatherings in Western Australia to commence,” said Stuart Bradford, chairman of the association. “Pipe Bands WA have seized this opportunity to provide the pipe band community a chance to continue to grow and improve.”
The first contest will be the 2020 WA State Solo Championships at the Fremantle Sailing Club on August 22, followed by the Swanbourne Solos at Scotch College in Perth on September 6. The Armadale Highland Gathering on October 4, which normally attracts crowds of more than 20,000, is expected to exceed even that attendance level, with pipe bands performing in-person for the first time in 2020.
A second pipe band competition in November will be held at the Swan Valley Highland Games, which was originally planned for March 2020.
“The enthusiasm of pipers and drummers in the state is encouraging,” Bradford added. “I’m glad we can provide the chance for competitors to improve their skills.”
The band competitions are expected to mark the first appearance of the Grade 1 Western Australia Police under Pipe-Major Alisdair McLaren, who returned to Perth after more than a decade in Scotland as a member of Grade 1 bands Field Marshal Montgomery and the Glasgow Police working at the National Piping Centre, and running the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.
In-person competitions and performances in the rest of the world have not returned, as most countries are either struggling to contain the virus or are taking a cautious approach to restarting normal life.
The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association recently encouraged their member bands to lobby their elected government officials to make an exception for pipe bands in Scotland to allow them to return to in-person practices. As with many other countries, Scotland is only beginning to open up businesses and social gatherings in a restricted and tightly phased-in manner.
Among other claims, RSPBA Chair John Hughes contended that the Highland pipes were a “dry” instrument, causing significant consternation within the piping and drumming community.
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