THE seventh annual Ulster Festival of Piping and Drumming, incorporating the Ulster Solo Piping and Solo Drumming Championships, will take place on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 April.
As in 2002, the entire event will again be staged in the excellent facilities at Monkstown Community_ School at Doagh Road, Newtownabbey.
The juvenile piping and drumming grades will start at 7pm on Friday evening with all other competitions being run on Saturday.
The action on Saturday gets under way at 9.30am with the Piobaireachd competition and many of the remaining piping and drumming grades commencing at 10am.
With all competitions under one roof and with full catering facilities available, these arrangements should prove more amenable for both competitor and spectator, especially those who have to travel a distance.
In the piping competitions this year, Intermediate 'B' players are required to submit two marches, two strathspeys and two reels. This is similar to Intermediate 'A' and was brought about by a direct request from the players themselves.
Over 200 sets of 'Syllabus and Rules' with the necessary entry forms have been distributed to bands as well as individual soloists who have registered with the event organisers.
Any soloist interested in obtaining a copy should contact the Solos Committee Secretary - Samuel Lawson, 8 Annaghanoon Road, Waringstown, Craigavon BT66 7RZ or by telephone on 3882 0374.
Fred Walker is now the new correspondent of the Northern Ireland Branch for the Pipe Band Magazine, the official publication of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
Fred, who stepped down from the role of Executive Officer of the Branch last year, has a wealth of knowledge of what goes on in the pipe band world and will bring his usual touch of geniality to the column.
Bob Shepherd, RSPBA adjudicator and former Pipe Major of twice world champions Dysart & Dundonald Pipe band, has received an MBE at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
He received his medal from Prince Charles as the Queen was on tour in Canada at the time. Bob said it was a most marvellous experience and one he and his family would never forget. He was accompanied by his wife Dorothy, his son Douglas and daughter Elaine.
He also said he accepted his honour as being one for the whole of the pipe band movement for there were many people out there just as deserving as himself. A major international conference on pipe bands is to be held in Glasgow in August 2003.
The conference will be sponsored by the RSPBA and the high profile event will be held in a city hotel. Delegates will be invited from pipe band associations around the world. The conference is seen as a natural progression from the informal talks that have taken place from time to time at Headquarters before the World Championships.
Speakers will be invited from the Music Board and the Adjudicators Panel and it is hoped there will be contributions from overseas bands as well.