World Grade 1 format consultation

There has been considerable speculation regarding the format for the 2019 Grade One World Championships ever since it became apparent that considerably fewer bands are likely to attend this year, writes Gilbert Cromie.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:07 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 9:10 am
Gary Smyth presenting a cheque for £8355 to Francine McDonald of the NI Children's Cancer Unit representing the proceeds from the recent Charity Concert in Cookstown

At the 2018 World Championships 22 bands entered and played in the Friday Grade One Qualifiers, however, since then three of those bands, Denny and Dunipace Gleneagles, Buchan Peterson and Bagad Cap Caval (France) have been downgraded by the RSPBA Music Board.

Dowco Triumph Street (Canada) announced that they had closed down completely due to the loss of sponsorship while Vale of Atholl lost a number of key pipers and drummers resulting in their Grade One band having to cease operations.

Three New Zealand bands competed last year, however, it is thought that only one of them may attend this year.

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Two of the Canadian bands that come regularly, Toronto Police and the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), are reported to have lead drummer problems and are not attending.

From the information available it is likely that only 15 bands will enter making a mockery of any qualifying exercise.

It is being reported that the RSPBA Chairman John Hughes had written to all Grade One bands asking them if they will be entering in 2019 and if they would support the removal of the Friday qualifying in favour of all entered bands playing on the Saturday, should that be necessary. This would mean MSR’s and Medley’s being drawn on the Line.

Responses were requested by Wednesday, March 6, so that the RSPBA Board of Directors could consider the matter and report on it to the Annual General Meeting which will take place tomorrow Saturday, March 9, in the Trades Hall, Glasgow.

Grade One entries through the first decade of the Millennium averaged around 14, however, in 2013 numbers rose by a third which brought about the introduction of qualifying.

Ever since entries have remained the same enabling bands to compete in two sections with six progressing from each to the Saturday final.

It would seem that the days of qualifying for Grade One have passed unless there is a dramatic increase in Grade One band attendance in the future.

Solo Piping and Drumming competition information now available

This is the season for solo piping and drumming competitions with the Cullybackey Solos, Ulster Solos and the NI Branch World Solo Adult MSR Qualifier taking place.

The Cullybackey Solos are on Saturday, April 6, with the closing date for entries being Saturday, March 30.

The Ulster Solos and the World Adult Side Drumming Qualifier will be held in Lisnagarvey High School, Lisburn on Saturday, April 20, and the closing date for entries is Sunday, March 31, at 1pm. Entrants should read the competition criteria which can be found on the RSPBA NI Branch website www.rspbani.org.

Children’s Cancer Unit Charity Cancer raises £8355

Congratulations to Gary Smyth (pictured) and his team, the artistes who performed and the legion of sponsors whose efforts raised £8355 for the Children’s Cancer Unit at the recent concert in Cookstown. Gary has confirmed there will be a 2020 event.