THE long awaited concert by the Grade 1 World Champions - The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from Vancouver, Canada took place last Saturday evening in the Waterfront Hall.
It was a fantastic night of piping, drumming, dancing and singing with band supporters coming from all parts of Ireland.
One of the highlights of the evening was a tune from the band of a Piobaireachd, which they first sang and then performed on the pipes.
As well as the brilliant performances from the band, the SFU dance team, comprising 13 young girls, was absolutely outstanding. This dance team has won the World, Commonwealth, British and Canadian championships, under the instruction of their well known teacher Heather Jolley .
The Simon Fraser also performed to a packed house in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Monday 25 March.
A date to look forward to in August this year will be the appearance of the 1987 world Grade One champions- the 78th Fraser Highlanders from Canada.
They were the first band to take the coveted Grade One world trophy out of Scotland and will be performing at a concert in Banbridge just before this year's world pipe band championships in Glasgow.
This Saturday, 30 March, Saintfield Pipe band will host their annual Mini bands contest in Ballygowan Presbyterian Church hall commencing at 1pm.
This event is open to all grades, and the adjudicators will be Richard and Gordon Parkes.
The solo piping under the auspices of Cullybackey Pipe Band will take place on Saturday 6 April in Cullybackey High School.
There will be the usual grades as well as the new juvenile piping under 14 section. Competitors are requested to book in at loam and the entry fee of £3 is payable at the door.
April 20 is the Ulster Festival of Piping and Drumming, and this year it will take place in its entirety in the Community School, Monkstown.
Then on Saturday 27 April, the Co. Down section holds their popular Full indoor bands competition in Banbridge High School starting at 12 noon.
Entries close on 6 April and these should be forwarded to Contest
Secretary Mervyn Herron, 17 Merrion Avenue, Newcastle BT33 OBH. Adjudicators for this event will be Gordon Parkes and Trevor Dear.
There have been several meetings recently to discuss the future of the Northern Ireland Police Pipe band after the departure of Pipe Major Tony Sloan.
At the moment there are grave doubts hanging over the fate of this band. It would be a great loss to the pipe band association if they did not continue to compete in the competition scene. But hopefully, if not this year then next year, this outfit will be back in the arena bigger and stronger than before.
'Pipes and Drums', the long running series reflecting the very best music of the Ulster-Scots tradition, returns to the airwaves of BBC Radio Ulster, on Easter Sunday . 31 March at 2pm.
Now entering its second decade, presenter Tommv Millar explores the rich diversity not only of pipe band music in Ireland and Scotland, but featuring pipes - large and small- from the United Kingdom and Europe.
Alongside commercially released albums, he includes specially recorded music from BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland, RTE and BBC Northern Ireland Television.
The musical mix is broad, and the programme is a mine of information. There will be reviews of forthcoming attractions in the tartan calendar and regular specials involving some of the major competitions in Ireland and Scotland.
Pipes and Drums, which is produced by Joanne Murphy, is repeated after the 7 o'clock news on Thursday evenings.
For requests and dedications, the number to contact is 90 338048.