ONE of the world's largest Celtic music Festivals, held over three weeks, took place recently in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
One of the events was an afternoon piping concert featuring our own world Grade 1 champions - the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band along with Gordon Duncan, Roddy MacLeod, Willie McCallum and lain Speirs.
In a packed hall of over 1,000 spectators, the Field Marshal Montgomery took centre stage with 14 pipers, six snares, two tenors, and one bass along with bongo, bouzouki and guitar players.
Pipe Major Richard Parkes and his highly motivated band delivered 10 great selections of music with their unique and superb sound.
Their opening set of jigs was a real treat - many of which were written by band members themselves.
Their performance was certainly of the highest musical standard and was an example of all we have come to expect from Field Marshal.
New Leading Tip Keith Orr made his debut with the drum corps
playing a couple of sets on stage with the band. Then
Stephen Rourke took over and fulfilled this role admirably for the rest of the concert.
Performing at a concert in January, said Pipe Major Richard Parkes, is very difficult for any competitive pipe band, but Field Marshal rose to the challenge and performed superbly, much to the delight of the appreciative audience.
Last Friday Field Marshal celebrated their remarkable season - which culminated in winning the 2002 world championship - with a party for all friends and members.
The band is preparing for all five majors this season including defending their title of world champions and have even more players than before ready to take on all challengers.
Once again this year Pipe Major Frank Andrews will be giving useful assistance to the band. Frank is one of Ulster's best sound men and will be in charge of tuning the drones of the band - a valuable asset to any Pipe Major.
The entries close on 22 February for the Seven Towers solos, which will be held at St. Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena on Saturday 1 March. There will be the usual classes - novice and advanced chanter, juvenile, junior, intermediate and senior. Adjudicators will be William McCallum and Bobby Brannigan. Leapoughs Pipe Band will be holding their popular annual Scots Night on 1 March in Dromore High School commencing at 8pm.
The show will feature the host band plus Killeen Pipe band from Co. Armagh - one of the best concert bands in Ulster. There will be Scottish and Irish Dancing, soloist Leigh Anderson, and the compere will be John Trotter from Londonderry. Admission is £5 and can be paid at door.
Upper Crossgare will be holding its annual open night on Monday 24 February commencing at 8pm.
The venue is Upper Crossgare Orange Hall and as usual the band will be playing some of its favourite music.
The Annual General Meeting of the RSPBA will take place at headquarters on Saturday 8 March.
The delegates from Northern Ireland will leave on Friday 7 March at approximately Spm and return on Sunday in the afternoon. Anyone intending travelling to the AGM please contact Lorraine McVeigh, 16 Mossvale Park, Ballygowan, BT23 6LQ telephone 97-521657.
BBC Television is planning to record two half-hour programmes of piping and drumming this year. They will probably be the All Ireland in Newcastle on 5 July and the Ulster Championships in Pollock Park Rugby Fields, Lurgan on 23 August. The Branch hopes to stage Highland dancing and a Vintage Cars Rally at the All Ireland in Donard Park with more Highland events planned for the Ulster.
Secretary Lorraine McVeigh is reminding all bands people intending to travel to Belgium on 13 September for the European Championships that they need to be sure to carry their passports.
Further details on this major championship will be given at the next branch meeting to be held in Lisburn on Saturday 22 February in the Bridge Community Centre Lisburn commencing at 2pm.
The Northern Ireland Branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association extend their deepest sympathy to the family of the late Sandy Cummings who died recently.