ALTNAVEIGH House, in conjunction with Banbridge Pipe Band, presented `Piping Hot' - an evening of cultural diversity through music, song and dance - last Friday in Banbridge Leisure Centre.
Performing in front of 300 spectators were over 20 first class acts including Banbridge and Altnaveigh Pipe Bands, Scottish and Irish dancers, the Ulster-Scots Orchestra, Seapatrick Flute and soloists Mark Wilson and Colin Moffett.
The Cullybackey solo piping and drumming competitions are scheduled to take place on Saturday 5 April commencing at 10am.
Then on 11 and 12 April this year's Ulster Festival of Piping and Drumming will take place at Monkstown Community Centre, Doagh Road, Newtownabbey.
Friday evening commences with the juvenile grades with all other competitions continuing the following day from 9.30 am.
As part of the continuing development of the Ulster solo championships this year both Intermediate `A' and `B' pipers were required to submit two marches, strathspeys and reels with their entry.
The adjudicator will then select one of each type of tune for the soloist to perform.
Time permitting, guest adjudicators will contribute to the proceedings through recitals and demonstrations.
At the Branch meeting, which took place last Saturday, there was a long discussion on the future of the Ulster piping quartets which are held every March. This year there was a dramatic drop in the number of bands and supporters at this event and a decision will be made at a later date as to whether these will be continued.
The outdoor season for pipe bands in Ireland commences on Saturday 10 May with the popular Malahide event taking place at the Bridge Field, Malahide Castle. This contest grows in popularity each year, with most of the competition bands from the North taking part.
World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery, St. Laurence O'Toole and Ballycoan (who will be playing for the first time in this grade) will be challenging for the top prize in Grade 1.
There is as usual big prize money for all winners in each grade, as well as for the best band parading the village at the end of the contest.
This competition, which has an entry of over 40 bands, is a very useful guide for the bands going to the major championships the following week.
The following Saturday 17 May is the date for the first of the five major competitions. The Scottish championships will take place on that date in Dumbarton, Scotland.
Bobby Rea, former twice world solo drumming champion; and Alistair Dunn, one of the top solo pipers in Ireland, will travel to Amsterdam this Friday to take part in a musical week-end:
They will be the guests of a band from Holland, and during their three day stay will perform and demonstrate their skills on the drums and the bagpipes.
'Pipes and Drums' will return again on Sunday 6 April to BBC Radio Ulster.
Hosted by Tom Miller, this popular programme will be repeated every Thursday just after the 7 o'clock news. As usual there will be a mixture of music to suit everyone tastes.
If you would like social exercise and good foot tapping Scottish music, you are invited to join one of the many classes to learn Scottish Country Dancing held throughout Northern Ireland.
Beginners are welcome and you do not need a partner to join a class. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was formed in 1923 and is worldwide with 100,000 dancers in 45 countries.
Contact Helene Beattie on 9020 9687 for more details.