JUST recently the newly formed Ulster Youth Ensemble (Piping, Drumming and Dancing Project), under the musical direction of Sam Bailie, and assisted by a number of tutors from around the province, contributed to The Simon Dickey Memorial Concert in Lagan Valley Island, Lisburn, to raise money for the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
The Ensemble gave a rousing performance lasting j about 25 minutes consisting of well-known pipe tunes including the much requested `Amazing Grace' with enthralling three part pipe harmony and a selection of Christmas Carols.
Members of the Ensemble also provided the music for a group of very talented Highland Dancers, pupils of Lindsey Ellis.
The performance ended with a spectacular display by Drum Majors, including the World Juvenile Champion, Elizabeth Sloan.
This is only the second occasion the Ensemble has performed in public but three further concerts are planned before the summer of 2005.
The Ensemble, which received initial funding from The Rural Development Council through the Peace and Reconciliation Programme, is a cross-cultural and cross-border project consisting of pipers, drummers and dancers from the 12-25 age group.
Members have been recruited from around Northern Ireland and the border counties, with many from bands who are current world champions in their respective grades.
An ambitious training programme has been introduced and the Ensemble's repertoire will extend well beyond what is normally heard and expected from groups of pipers and drummers.
The Youth Ensemble is still recruiting playing members and the Musical Director, Sam Bailie, would welcome applications from talented musicians from the appropriate age range in the piping and drumming field as well as from those who think they have potential and might benefit from training.
Applications would also be welcome from Highland Dancers and percussionists (with experience in tuned percussion) as well as from anyone who has keyboard skills.
Anyone who might be interested in joining or who would like further information, should contact the office of The Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School, 38A Railway Street, Lisburn, BT28 1XP, Tel. 9262 8591.
If you haven't got a Northern Ireland Branch's calendar for 2005, Mervyn Herron still has some left.
The calendar features all of the 2004 world championship bands and drum majors plus many other useful dates including all of the branch's meetings, solo events mini bands and pipe band competitions for the 2005 season. Mervyn can be contacted on 406 24849.
Mr Barry Gardiner MP will be hosting a reception in the Throne Room in Hillsborough Castle on Tuesday 25th January.
This event has been organised to celebrate the exceptional success of the Northern Ireland bands at the 2004 world championships held in August 2004.
The bands include Field Marshal Montgomery (Grade 1), Ballinderry Bridge (Grade 2), Finvoy (Grade 3A) Seven Towers (Grade 313) Annsborough (Grade 4A) and McNeillstown (Grade 4B).
There will be an extraordinary General Meeting on Saturday 29 January in the Bridge Community Centre Lisburn. This meeting has been arranged to finalise some of the unfinished business from the last meeting.
Pipe Sergeant Ian Donaldson has resigned from the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band from Toronto. He had been Pipe Sergeant of the band since 1998 and had played with them for some 22 years.
Also, Peel Regional Police recently lost their leading drummer Doug Stronach and nearly all its drum corps. Craig Stewart has returned to the band to rebuild the drum corps.
Tom Anderson, who at one time was Pipe Major of St.Patricks of Donaghmore Co. Tyrone and who took over the reins of Niagara Police Pipe Band just one year ago, has also resigned his position with them.
Taking over this post will be Paul DeBoth who has played with the band for several years. He was a former member of Peel Regional Police and the 78th Fraser Highlanders.
Paul says his job now
will be concentrating on the recruitment of new players and
improving the standard of playing in the band.