Big thank you from

100 soloists sign up for first contest of the new season 

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THE first competition of the pipe band season will be the Seven Towers solo piping and drumming competition. It will take place on Saturday 5th March in Ballee Community High School, Ballymena starting at 12 o'clock.

There are 100 soloists entered for this event but secretary Patricia Pedlow says the competition is still open to anyone interested in playing. She can be contacted on 9261 3092 or mobile 077 1219 4981.

There are sections for novice and advanced practise chanter and drum pad; juvenile piping and drumming for under 15 and for 15-17 years old; junior piping and drumming; intermediate and senior piping and drumming.

The piping adjudicators are Harry Stevenson and Jimmy Young with Barry Wilson and Neil Ussher for drumming.

The RSPBA Music Board has developed a new competition format for Grade 4 and Novice juvenile bands at Major Championships, which has been approved by the National Council for implementation in the 2006 outdoor competition season.

The overall vision is to improve the pipe band performances in terms of musical balance, musical effort and playing standards. According to the RSPBA National Council statement this vision is a fresh and exciting competition format supported by structured and readily available educational support for all Grade 4/Novice Juvenile bands.

The new format will provide a competition platform for Grade 4/Novice Juvenile bands based on a "dual event" competition at Major Championships.

Integral to this approach will be an associated educational facility offering both direct instructional seminars at RSPBA Branch levels and a distance learning unit facility.

At the moment this is just a proposal plan and a recent meeting was held last Wednesday evening in Lisburn to discuss exactly what this would mean to all Grade 4 bands here in Northern Ireland.

At the February Branch meeting on the 26th there will be an opportunity for all representatives to hear a report on the outcome of this meeting.

A vote on this proposal will be taken at the Annual General Meeting in Glasgow on Saturday 12th March and it is vitally important -especially for Grade 4 bands- to plan to attend this event. Contact secretary Margaret Montgomery on 92 621621 to arrange details on travel etc.

Distance is seemingly no object for some players to travel to compete with the band Distance is seemly no object for some players to travel to compete with the band of their choice. Just recently lain Donaldson from New York and John Walsh from Nova Scotia have announced that they will join Pipe Major Robert Mathieson and the House of Edgar- Shotts & Dykehead Pipe band in Scotland to compete in this 2005 season competitions.

Both men are originally from the 78th Fraser Highlanders, which they left just recently.

The House of Edgar-Shorts & Dykehead have a strong history of recruiting overseas members to their band, and their drum corps also features North American and European players in their ranks.

The 'Officials and Programme of Events' books for 2005 are now available from Walter McKibben. This year the book has been produced in colour and is very informative and attractive. He also has RSPBA ties with crest and crown and RSPBA Lapel badges for sale. Walter can be contacted on 9061 0198 or mobile 07743 477488.

Free colourful 'flyers' giving all the dates for the 2005 pipe band season are now also available for distribution to all travel agents hotels tourist centres etc. This is a handy compact reminder of all the events taking place in the North and South of Ireland and in Scotland. Contact Mervyn Herron for more details on 4062-4849, mobile 077 0268 1189.

Ulster Star