The official start of the PPBSO competitive season got underway on Saturday, June 13 at the 40th running of the Georgetown Highland Games in Georgetown, Ontario. Overcast but dry in the morning for the solo events, the sun arrived and shone brilliantly on the afternoon band contests. 31 bands competed in 5 grades, providing the large crowds with a very exciting day of pipe band music.
In the premier Grade 1 medley event, the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Band from Halifax, Nova Scotia put in a very strong performance to claim the top spot, winning best pipe section in the process. The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band from Ontario finished second while taking top drumming honours. Ottawa Police continued their strong entry into grade 1 as they rounded out the top three prize-winners.
In the Grade 2 March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) contest, newly promoted Paris/Port Dover Pipe Band bested their American challengers, Great Lakes Pipe Band. This is the first year in Grade 2 for PPD, and they have been keen to test their mettle against established competition. This win should be a definite confidence builder for Pipe Major Dylan Whittemore’s charges, as they look forward to The Glengarry Highland games later this season, at which ten Grade 2 bands are registered to compete.
Grade 3 is again looking like any band could win week-to-week, with Windsor Police Pipe Band claiming three firsts in winning the Medley contest, outpointing Toronto Police’s best pipes performance in second, and Hamilton Police in third. Each PPBSO contest this season will boast a very robust grade 3 contest, a great indicator of the strength of piping and drumming in Ontario at the moment.
Guelph Pipe Band continued their fine form from last year in winning the Mini-Set contest in Grade 4, finishing ahead of Paris/Port Dover in second, and Hamilton Police in third. The Mini-Set is a new requirement at the Grade 4 level this year in Ontario, providing grade 4 bands the opportunity to play music that is more representative of that which is played in the higher grades. This should be a stepping stone for many bands to improve their technical playing as they set their sights on winning promotion.
In the biggest contest of the day, thirteen bands vied for top spot in the Grade 5 March Medley contest. Niagara Police Pipe Band took second place marks across the panel of judges to finish first in the event, followed closely by Barrie Pipes & Drums in second, and White Heather Pipes & Drums from Aurora, Ontario in third. There are a number of new bands competing in Grade 5 for the first time this season, a very encouraging sign of the enthusiasm for piping and drumming in the province.
In the solo events, Andrea Boyd claimed Professional Piper of the day status, with a first in the Freestyle, seconds in both the March and the Strathspey/Reel, and a fifth in the Piobaireachd. Zack Miller was the Professional Drummer of the day, claiming a first in the Hornpipe/Jig and a second in the MSR from among a strong field of 6 competitors. Amateur Piper of the day went to Tyler Bridge, with the equivalent honour in drumming going to Michael Tuzyk.
The next stop on the PPBSO circuit is this coming Saturday, June 20, in the beautiful town of Cobourg on the shores of Lake Ontario. Hope to see you there!