The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band – sporting some new faces – heads to Scotland this weekend eyeing a seventh first-place trophy at the World Pipe Band Championships this weekend, with a few pipers from Maple Ridge in tow.
The band last secured championships in back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009.
The pipers from Maple Ridge include Kevin McLean who plays with the elite band.
The newcomers include five who were elevated from the band’s Robert Malcolm Memorial Grade 3 band following the junior band’s world champion win in 2012. Other band members are from all over the Lower Mainland as well as across Canada and the U.S., with a few from Scotland and Ireland, and one drummer, Nicola Purvis, from New Zealand.
SFU has secured 20 top-three finishes in 30 “Worlds” appearances, finishing third last year behind eight-time winners Field Marshal Montgomery (FMM) from northern Ireland and Scottish Power, a band that enjoyed a wave of European popularity leading up to last year’s competition.
SFU placed second in 2011, again finishing behind FMM and continuing the rivalry. In both of SFU’s 2008 and 2009 wins, the Irish band took second place.
Changes to the competition this year mean all bands need to qualify for the championship finals. Until this year, SFU’s top three finishes have guaranteed them a spot. This year the contest will also be a two-day affair, with final play and results announced on Sunday.
The 50-member band completed its practice schedule last week and spent this week in Stirling, Scotland, about an hour outside Glasgow, practicing daily leading up to the competition.
The 2013 Worlds will see 225 bands from 17 countries compete at various levels. SFU is one of six Canadian Grade 1 bands competing among 23 top bands.
Once again BBC will live stream the competition over both days, with SFU scheduled to play first in the MSR and Medley first rounds starting at 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Vancouver time on Saturday.