Alastair’s in the prizes at NY Metro solo competition

Aughintober Pipe Band pictured after taking part in the Belfast Tattoo.
Aughintober Pipe Band pictured after taking part in the Belfast Tattoo.

Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band’s Alastair Dunn featured in the prize lists at last weekend’s NY Metro Cup solo competitions in the USA.

Alastair took third place in the medley and fifth in Piobaireachd on a day when the prizes were dominated by Scots.

Calum Beaumont, from Bo’ness, Scotland, lifted the overall prize, with Roddy McLeod taking the Piobaireachd honours.

Alastair’s wife, Margaret, and fellow band member Andrew Carlisle also took part but missed out on the prizes.

Sad news early last week with the passing of the exceptionally talented pipe band drummer Gavin Bailie.

Winston Pollock, who was pipe major of Monkstown Mossley Pipe Band, where Gavin was leading drummer has penned this tribute.

“Gavin was a gifted teacher and musician; one who possessed musical style, a unique style - The Gavin Bailie Style.

His pipe compositions were invariably innovative, stirring and always struck the right chord with the listener’s ear.

“To see and hear the drum corps execute his creative drum scores with flair, technique and not least passion, was indeed a joy to behold.

“Moreover the pipers’ task was made so much easier because of Gavin’s ability to anticipate the beat or put simply hand perfect timing to the pipe corps on a “Monkey” plate. He was the proverbial ’piper’s drummer’.

“Above all to know the real Gavin was to know a wonderful person; helpful, humorous, generous, intelligent... those who knew and worked with him count it a very special privilege.

“Gavin your music will live long in our memory. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. Thank you for sharing yourself.”

The Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming Schools’ committee have also asked me to print this tribute to Gavin.

“Gavin Bailie was a uniquely talented musician who leaves NIPDS with a legacy of composition, innovation and inspiration for both drummers and pipers through our graded teaching materials.

“From an early age Gavin demonstrated his incredible musical talent achieving his RSPBA advanced certificate in his teens. He was a natural performer playing his own compositions with a incredible enthusiasm and a sense of fun.

“Gavin played under Bobby Rea at the highest level with the Pipes and Drums of the RUC and he provided the band with some of their most innovative melodies with drumming scores to match as an added bonus. He later developed a very talented and successful drum corps with the Monkstown Mossley Pipe Band were he was a natural leader.

“The Gavin Bailie Concert Drum Corp featured some of the most successful snare drummers in the province.

“His pipe band compositions which were rhythmically inventive blended with contemporary melodic lines and themes. They have been performed by many of the leading pipe bands.

“Gavin’s complex backing arrangements for his snare compositions were so far ahead of their time that they sound as fresh today and are still performed. His Buschemich Variations (1996) composition based on asymmetric time was performed and featured in “The International” played as a drum salute by Simon Fraser University Pipe Band on their Home Ground CD (2005). Gavin faced many challenges in his life and his health deteriorated over the years culminating in his tragic death at 49.”

I would join Winston and the Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School in passing on sincere sympathies to Professor Sam Bailie and the extended family circle at this difficult time.

I have details of two upcoming concerts.

Hollymount Pipe Band is holding a concert in Crossgar War Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 1 at 8pm. The compere will be Gary Wilson and the line up will feature the host band, Sticks on Fire, solo piper Scott Barr and the Albertbridge Accordion Band. Tickets are £5 or pay at the door on the night.

The newly formed Fintona District Orange Cultural Group is hosting a bands concert in the Silverbrich Hotel on Wednesday, March 12, featuring three popular marching bands from counties Tyrone and Fermanagh. First up will be Letterbreen Silver Band from Co. Fermanagh under their conductor Stephen Crooks.

Second on stage will be Aughintober Pipe Band. Aughintober, from Castlecaulfield, has undergone a period of redevelopment under pipe major Gary Waterson and drum sergeant Stephen Young.

The third band to feature is the highly regarded Omagh Protestant Boys Melody Flute Band, under the leadership of Kenny Porter.

Compere for the night will be the popular comedian Mr Ian Coalter from Moy. Admission is by ticket at a cost of £10 and can be obtained from Nigel on 07912439001, John on 07743742726 or David on 07809415289.

Cairncastle Ulster Scots are holding their February Soiree on Wednesday 26th January at 8pm in Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally. For information contact Bobby on 07774 401 935.