THE grading for Irish bands for the 2008 season has now been released after the National Council of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association met on Saturday to ratify the gradings proposed by the Music Board. Promoted from grade 4B to 4A are Moneygore, Bready and Dr.Wright Memorial. From 4A to 3B - Killadeas and Cullefad. From 3B to 3A - Drumlough and Cullen. From 3A to 2 - Annsborough and Arklow with Cullybackey joining the elite Grade 1 bands. This will now make six bands from Ireland competing in Grade 1 for next year.
Bands who were downgraded are Upper Crossgare from 2 to 3A, Altnaveigh from 3A to 3B, Sgt Walker from 3B to 4A and Thiepval Memorial from 4A to 4B. All these band gradings are open to appeal.
The Ulster Youth Ensemble will be performing in the Market Place Theatre at 7.30pm on Thursday November 15 as part of this year's 14th Wm.Kennedy Festival programme. Also on the same bill will be Iain and Allan MacDonald, Hamish Moore and Mike Katz. Tickets cost £8 and are available direct from the Market Place Theatre Box Office at 3752 1821 or online at www.marketplacearmagh.com.
There is also a major piping conference, which will include lectures on different aspects of highland piping from Hugh Cheape, Joshua Dickson Allan MacDonald and Hamish Moore. Details of the full programme of events is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The world class pipers James Murray and Andrew Mathieson will be Pipe Major and Pipe Sergeant of a new band forming in the Fife Region of Scotland.
The Fife Constabulary Pipe Band, sponsored by the regional police force will officially begin practices in the autumn with plans to compete in the 2008 season. The band is still awaiting news of which grade they will compete in.
Both James and Andrew are currently members of the Grade 1 House of EdgarShotts & Dykehead Pipe Band. Pipe Major Robert Mathieson said: "I would like to take this opportunity to wish Andrew and Jimmy the best of luck with their new venture. Both these players have been good solid reliable friends and band members for several years. They made me well aware of this potential move several weeks ago. They leave the current Shotts band in good health with a remaining 25 pipers, so we are currently in good membership numbers."
A questionnaire has been sent out to all bands asking for suggestions as to the way forward for the Association.
The survey is in response to a request from the National Council who are keen to make sure that everyone is consulted about the shape of the RSPBA of the future.
Chairman Kevin Reilly said in the October issue of the Pipe Band Magazine: "The world has changed since we were founded more than 75 years ago. Getting volunteers is becoming more and more difficult. So I'll be asking all bands to put on their thinking caps. Are you happy with the Branch and Committee set up? Does it serve your needs? What could we do better? All of these points are of vital interest to us."
So it is now up to all bands to take the time necessary to send their views and ideas to Headquarters.
The world solo drumming championships will take place on Saturday October 27 in the Glasgow Caledonia University. Around 150 drummers from many parts of the world will travel to Glasgow to compete in these championships. Steven McWhirter from Cullybackey is the reigning senior champion and will be defending his title on Saturday.