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News and Notices

Piping Live! Everyone! Join the Big Band!

Thursday June 30th, 2022

Join the Piping Live! festival’s International Big Band! You don’t have to be in Glasgow to participate! Visiting Scotland? Great! Take part in person. But members of the PPBSO can easily participate without leaving the province!

From Piping Live promoters:

“Piping Live! is delighted to be bringing back the Piping Live! Big Band for 2022, but we know there are so many pipers and drummers who can’t be in Glasgow for the week. If you would like to support a great charity, and take part in the Piping Live! celebrations, here’s how you can join the first ever International Big Band. 

  • Register to play by donating at least £5 through paypal 
  • You will be sent the list of Big Band sets, as well as a special poster, which you can print out. 
  • On Monday 8th August between 12 noon UK time and 11 pm UK time (at a time suitable to you and your performance location), play through the sets. 
  • We would love you to record a video or photograph of your performance and tag us in it on social media, with your event poster in shot.

More information and register here: https://pipinglive.co.uk/pages/piping-live-big-band 

PPBSO Diamond Anniversary Ceilidh!

Wednesday June 29th, 2022

Visit our “75th” page for information on this exciting celebration, October 22, 2022, in Kingston, Ontario!

Kincardine Games Band Meeting Time!

Sunday June 26th, 2022

We’re coming up to a busy Canada Day weekend with the Embro Highland Games on July 1 and The Kincardine Scottish Festival & Highland Games the following day, July 2.

For all bands attending Kincardine games, please note the usual morning band meeting will be held at 10:00 am (and not the usual 11:00 am) at the administrator’s tent of the PPBSO. As always, each participating band is to ensure a band representative is in attendance.

PPBSO History: August 4, 1972

Tuesday June 21st, 2022

Ontario piper, David SIobod (a former member of P/M Chris Anderson’s excellent, Glen Mor Pipe Band) kindly forwarded this snippet of our history along to the PPBSO.

He writes, “I saved this Toronto Star newspaper clipping from August 4, 1972. 1972 was the initial year that the Scottish World Festival was held at the CNE [Canadian National Exhibition] and it sparked my own desire to learn the bagpipes. I started lessons that autumn with Don Pringle at Fort York Armouries. In this photo are (L-R) Cathy Bremner, Duncan Pringle, Catherine Forrester, unknown, Jim Thomson, and Grier Coppins … . Hopefully someone will recognize the fourth piper”.

From The Toronto Star, August 4, 1972 (colourized)

This reminds us all that 1972 was the first year of the famous Scottish World Festival & Tattoo. Held at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, it was presented over four evenings in Exhibition Stadium (later to be demolished and rebuilt as “BMO Field”) with over 30,000 attendees for each show.

A highlight of the festival was the presentation of the Intercontinental Pipe Band Championships, during the day on the final Sunday of the tattoo. The CNE’s funding of the festival would see plane loads of hundreds of Scots and Irish pipe band members (along with bands from New Zealand, USA and England) all booked-in to the “big gig” in Toronto to participate in what was a spectacular event. The Toronto Scottish Regiment’s Sergeant’s Mess, then the location of PPBSO Toronto Branch meetings, was the go-to place as a first-stop for post-performance refreshments.

Competing in the Intercontinental Championships in Toronto in 1972 were 28 Bands in grade one, 16 bands in grade two, 28 bands in grade three and 46 bands in grade four.

To officially kick-off the festival a massive parade of pipe bands would march through the streets of Toronto and enter the CNE grounds through the Dufferin Gate; a sight not scene in Toronto since the demise of the event in 1981.

A list of the 28 grade one bands in attendance and competing is provided here. You will note that there were seven Ontario-based grade one bands participating in the 1972 competition.

It is likely that there are many more pipers and drummers inspired to take up the instruments, as was, David Slobod. Thanks to him for passing the clipping along.

If you have any news clippings, photos, or images of our shared past times, please feel free to forward to the PPBSO.

We will do our best to share your item and, as importantly, save in our budding database of archives – one to be available to all members on our new website (coming late summer).

Good News! Cobourg Games Parking Tomorrow

Friday June 17th, 2022

The PPBSO has just learned that the Town of Cobourg will NOT be ticketing cars parked around the games location, Victoria Park.

People driving to the games should feel comfortable parking in metered or other spaces that are designated for parking without fear of a municipal ticket (for the duration of the Cobourg games ONLY).

PPBSO competitors should still take advantage, as they are able, of previously announced parking areas.

The Town of Cobourg has relaxed their previous Highland Games parking rules

Newest PPBSO Life Member: P/M Bill Livingstone

Thursday June 16th, 2022

Bill Livingstone was presented official PPBSO “life membership” recognition on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the opening of the 45th Georgetown Highland Games. The PPBSO is grateful to the games committee for allowing us the opportunity to recognize one of our own.

The PPBSO’s membership committee is working to shift the “life membership” recognition to one of “life achievement”. On that, members can expect to see more presentations of this kind over the summer games season. Michael Grey, a long-time student of Bill’s teaching and current president of the PPBSO paid tribute to Bill on behalf of members.

What follows is the full text of Bill Livingstone’s recognition:

Good afternoon, everyone!

Today I have the honour of recognizing one of the piping and pipe band world’s greatest. In fact, I feel confident in saying that he is one of the best musicians of any category of music to ever be born, brought up and built in Canada. 

I’ve known Bill Livingstone since I was 16 after having met him at a summer piping and drumming school in Kingston, Ontario. Since that time I’ve come to know Bill as a teacher, leader, adversary, friend – and – one of the smartest and wittiest people I’ve yet met. 

Canadians are fairly good at looking to our forebears, many immigrants, and think of them with thanks. Its these pioneering types, after all, these brush-cutters, hewers of wood – and miners — who set their descendants up – us – for a better life.

Bill is a piping and drumming pioneer. Through his younger years he saw his way – along with his beloved and endlessly supportive, wife, Lillian, to travel to Scotland. On their own dime – when money was scarce –  they travelled those summers by caravan around rural Scotland. Bill would trod the often wet and midge-clouded boards of Scotland to learn, improve and, along the way … win everything. He was among the first from outside of Scotland to dominate the boards unlike any other person from away.

The medals at Oban and Inverness were his.  The light music prizes, too. He twice won what many consider the biggest prize of all, the Gold Clasp for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting, Inverness. 

Bill Livingstone playing with the Toronto Police Pipe Band in George Square, Glasgow, at Piping Live! 2012 ©JohnSlavin@designfolk.com/Bagpipe.news

Even more remarkable, to my mind, is that he was 7-times runner-up in that fantastically challenging competition. To be second in an event with a bench of 3 judges invariably means one judge had you first. A bittersweet record but, nonetheless, an impressive one for the ages.

He is a pioneer in the pipe band world, too. He brought together a diverse group of talented people. And through his committed musical vision, charisma  and a whole lot of patience – led this – almost rag-tag bunch – to become, for a time, one of the world’s most famous pipe bands. And you all know this: He was the first to lead a band from outside of Scotland to the premier grade title of, “World Pipe Band Champion” – his 78th Fraser Highlanders.

Bill Livingstone paved the way for the many that followed.

Bill is a musical visionary. Today, his work still reverberates through our music. Today – anywhere in the world – when pipe bands perform, their approach to arrangements played, and, sometimes the tunes themselves, can very often be easily traced to Bill Livingstone’s musical ethos and genius

Bill Livingstone is without a doubt a pioneer for whom we must recognize and thank.

Even the author of The Outlander series of books and movies, Diana Gabaldon, has something to say about Bill when he appears in her book, The Drums of Autumn – a short quote here:

“…The Minister’s cat had nearly jumped out of her skin when they walked through the performers’ entrance and come face-to-face with the 78th Fraser Highlanders’ pipe band from Canada, practicing at full blast behind the dressing rooms. [Claire Randall] had actually gone pale when she was introduced to the pipe major, an old acquaintance. Not that Bill Livingstone was intimidating on his own; it was the Fraser clan badge on his chest that had done it…”

Bill Livingstone will likely be the only person anywhere who can say they’ve come face-to-face with Outlander, Jamie Fraser’s wife, Claire Randall – and lived to tell the tale!

Still, intimidating or not (and he’s not). He is one of a kind. 

And, on behalf of the membership of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, I am privileged, to present Bill Livingstone our award for Lifetime Achievement and Life Membership. 

It reads:  In recognition and appreciation for a lifetime of leadership, teaching, musical innovation and performance virtuosity.

Pipe Major William Livingstone

Exciting New PPBSO & The Piobaireachd Society Initiative Announced

Tuesday June 14th, 2022

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is pleased to today announce a new educational initiative aimed at further supporting solo amateur piobaireachd players. In an agreement with the Piobaireachd Society, the PPBSO, beginning this year, will purchase PS memberships for all pipers who compete in at least two solo amateur piobaireachd competitions in any given year (in-person or online).  

These memberships will enable each amateur piper to access the extensive database of manuscripts, recordings and notes that are available (and limited) to Piobaireachd Society members. Of note, too, is the popular autumn-winter ‘Talk Piobaireachd’ series of live online seminars that offer members musical insights and perspective from a wide range of leading experts.

‘Over the last few years the Piobaireachd Society’s online database has, almost by the week, grown in size and scope. To enable our amateur pipers access is one way to encourage interest, and excellence, in this important part of the music of the pipes,’ said Michael Grey, PPBSO, president, adding, ‘and at a projected cost of an estimated $500 per year our Board of Directors were unanimous in supporting this initiative.” 

In addition to individual PS memberships for amateur pipers, all PPBSO branches (and the PPBSO parent executive) will each hold an affiliated membership. This will allow branches – and the executive – to draw on Piobaireachd Society online resources should they wish to augment the presentation of piobaireachd seminars or workshops. 

‘The PPBSO will continue to seek out creative ways for our pipers and drummers to improve their knowledge and musicianship. We anticipate more news before too long that will see a broadening of our outreach plans,’ said Grey.

Robert Wallace, President of The Piobaireachd Society, said: ‘This initiative by Michael Grey, President, and the PPBSO, is a welcome development in piping. It demonstrates the opportunity for co-operation between piping societies throughout the world. Our General Committee is delighted to be able to work with the PPBSO in spreading the piobaireachd message.’

More information related to the PS registration process to soon follow.

The Piobaireachd Society was formed in 1905 and since then has been a leading light in the preservation and propagation of what is often called the ‘classical music’ of the Great Highland Bagpipe: piobaireachd. Through their research, publications, teaching, student subsidy programs, event sponsorship and promotion the Piobaireachd Society has, since its inception, been the lynchpin for the global advancement of piobaireachd. The Society’s Patron is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

Massed Bands Tunes 411!

Monday June 13th, 2022

Congratulations to all who took part in Georgetown games this passed Saturday! The games of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario are off and running!

Bands have an extra week to shine up, “The Diamond Anniversary March” (score and recordings here). We will be performing this in massed bands at Cobourg games this coming Saturday!

For everyone’s reference here are the additional tunes that may be called in our massed band performances:

79th’s Farewell To Gibraltar (2/4)

Amazing Grace (3/4)

Bonnie Dundee (6/8)

Brown Haired Maiden, The (2/4)

Earl of Mansfield, The (2/4)

Glendaruel Highlanders, The (6/8)

Green Hills of Tyrol, The (3/4)

Highland Laddie (2/4)

Mairi’s Wedding (2/4)

Road to the Isles (2/4)

Scotland the Brave (4/4)

Wings (4/4)

All scores can be found here.

PPBSO Branches

PPBSO Office

President: Michael Grey
Vice President: Kevin Shand
Secretary: Michele Curtis
Treasurer: John Allen

Administration

Administrator: Sharon Duthart
Chief Steward: Glenn Covert
Ombudsman: Ken Eller

Niagara/Hamilton