THE second half of the pipe band season kicks off with the North Down Championships to be held on Saturday, July 26 in Bangor Castle Grounds commencing at 12 noon.
There are 44 bands and 40 drum majors entered for this event This year there will be the addition of a Highland Dance competition and entries will be accepted up to the day of the competition. These should be sent to Mervyn Herron, contest administrator, at 9 Ballydown Meadows, Castlewellan Road, Banbridge BT324QX telephone number 40624849.
The Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School will be giving pipers and drummers the opportunity to attain their Grade 1 practical certificate on the day.
Following on from last year there will be a solo piping competition. Two grades under 14 and under 16. The musical requirement for the competition. is a 4-part March, and entries will be taken on the day of the competition.
Adjudicators for the championships will be W. Wallace and L
Ingram for piping and S. Steele and J. Noble for drumming.
Saturday, August 9 the North West Championships will take place in Ramore Head Tennis Arenas, Portrush from 12 noon. This is always a very popular event with the now familiar parade of bands and drum majors through the centre of the town.
A Tartan Extravaganza concert has been organised for Friday 8th August in Magherabuoy House Hotel Portrush commencing at 8 pm. The artistes include Alasdair MacCuish and the Black Rose Ceilidh band from Glasgow, Robert Watt solo piper, Emma Culbert accordionist and William Loughlin vocalist. Compere is David McClarty and tickets cost £10. Contact number is 29540216 or 29540645.
The presentation of certificates of the Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School was held in Magee University where a total of 102 certificates were presented to students.
This evening is the highlight of Magee Campus year and the students get the chance to show what they have learnt throughout the year by performing for their parents, family and friends.
The finale of the evening was a mass band playing under the direction of Pipe Major Denver Cardwell, which was recorded by radio Ulster for Tommy Millar 's 'Pipes and Drums' programme.
The guest of Honour was Professor Tom Fraser from the Institute Ulster Scots Studies at Magee. Invited guests were George Ussher Chairman of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA, Fred Walker Vice President and Miss Lonaine McVeigh secretary.
Mr and Mrs Ivor Spence along with parents and friends of the students and tutors were also invited. The school caters not only for pupils who have some knowledge of piping and drumming but also the total beginner. The students ranged in age from 8 to 50+ and some completed the first 3 grades in both Theory and Practical.
Magee has 11 tutors, which include top judges, pipe majors and drum sergeants who pass on the valuable knowledge they have learnt throughout many years in the competition arena.
Since the Piping and Drumming School started West of the Bann, there has been World, European and Cowal Champions, as well as many more major winners.
If anyone wishes to have more information on the Piping and Drumming School held in Magee University, they should contact the co-ordinators Norman and Victoria Cochrane on 028 8164 8853 after 6.00pm.
The guest band appearing at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park on Sunday, July 27 will be the Cottown Pipe band under the direction of Pipe Major Colin McClelland. They will be performing from 3.00 to 4.00pm.