Both James P. and I are back from an intense week over in Glasgow, preparing for the World Pipe Band Championships. This year we played with the Spirit of Scotland, led by P/M Roddy MacLeod and D/S John Fisher, both of whom we have the utmost of respect for.
The band gathered players from Canada, Scotland, Australia, Ireland and the United States - all "excellent pipers and drummers not currently playing with bands and unable to commit to a band on a year round basis but would enjoy the opportunity to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships...."
With the homework to be done at home, the week of the Worlds was the first time that the whole band saw, met and played together. It worked out wonderfully.
Practice commenced on Sunday, August 10th but due to a four hour lay-over in Vancouver, Jamie, John, Curt and I were not able to get there in time. From that point on through the week, every day consisted of two 2-4 hour practices. The drummers actually ended up practicing for about ten hours a day, in order to finalized tenor parts, snare parts and solidify the memorization for the various changes to the medley that happened over the week.....I've never played so much in such a condensed amount of time and came out loving every second of it! It never was a chore and with John leading us all, we all definitately came out better drummers, and musicians for that matter.
Pracitce sessions ran at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow Green, The Piping Centre and St. Andrews on the Square and of course, back at our flats at Victoria Hall...we were everywhere all of the time. There might have been some composition and finalization done at the Station Bar at some point or other as well....
There was a documentary crew that followed our every step. Roddy, Craig (Hoss) and John were hooked up to mics all the time so I'm sure they got some juicy tidbits. Interviews, multiple takes of the most random things, and just having a microphone and camera in your face put a whole different twist on playing with a pipe band.
Saturday was a dark and early morning for us as we were second on in the Qualifier, playing at 9:09am. We had a great run and with an agonizing two hours waiting for the results, we were given the news that we had made it through! Third to play in the final, we had an even better run in the MSR and a respectable go in the medley. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces after both performances but I think the medley was the most fun on the contest field that I've ever had. After conferring with the others, it was the same all around. The Spirit of Scotland ended up 11th overall.
Stay tuned to BBC Radio Scotland's Pipeline for recordings from the final.
There have been many of years for me at the World Pipe Band Championships, with various Grade 1 bands but this year was unprecendented. The musicianship, professionlism, discipline, enthusiasm, passion and downright fun that each and every one of the SOS members embodied was truly inspiring, resulting in the best Worlds week ever for us!
Congrats go out to SFU, who hold the 2008 World Pipe Band Championship, as well as the Sash for the drumming. I heard them warming up on my way back to the bus and they were sounding tremendous! As were FMM and the 78th Frasers...
As well, a big congrats to the White Spot Pipe Band who placed 6th in the Juvenile category, the Keith Highlanders who were first in Qualifier 1 for Grade 4B and came out 3rd overall and to Northwest Junior who were 3rd in the Novice Qualifier 2 and were 5th overall.
Breakdown of results for all Grades can be found at: http://www.rspba.org/html/majorcontests.php?Year=2008&Contest=World%20Championships
Ryan, who was also in Glasgow, competing with the Peel Regional Police, captured our practice at The Piping Centre. Those photos are to follow.
Cheers for now,