A young Maple Ridge piper will be competing at the World Championships in Glasgow this week as a member of Simon Fraser University youth pipe band.
Cameron Ickert will celebrate his 10th birthday two days after the international competition set to take place in Scotland on Saturday (Aug. 11).
Ickert and more than 60 young musicians from the Grade 3 and 4 junior Robert Malcolm Memorial (RMM) band, along with 44-member from Grade 1 band are at the competition this year.
The elite band, which finished second in 2011, is looking to claim its seventh championship.
The junior bands have already proved themselves contenders with strong performances at the North Berwick Highland Games in Scotland on Saturday.
The Robert Malcolm Memorial (RMM) Grade 3 band took second place in its category and its drum corps claimed first prize. The Grade 4 band – with all of its young members competing for the first time in Scotland – placed third among novice-juvenile bands.
“We bring them to events like this in preparation for the Worlds, so they can get a sense of the atmosphere, the expectations and the pre-competition pressure,” says Jack Lee, pipe sergeant of the Gr. 1 band and pipe major of the young Gr. 4 band.
“The Gr. 4s, with the oldest at 16, are a younger band than many of those participating in their category, and it was their first time ever playing in Scotland,” says Lee. “They did a good job of it today.”
The bands started practicing when they arrived in Scotland last week.
“The first practice is really about taking the pressure off and seeing where the instruments are,” added Lee.
“We’ve brought them over early so they could get used to the environment and take part in a few events before finding themselves on a world stage.”
The Gr. 4 band, comprised of musicians aged nine to 16 years, performs for the first time at the international competition, which draws more than 40,000 spectators.
“We’ve brought the Gr. 3’s over several times, but this is a first for us, taking the 3’s and 4’s,” says Lee.
“Along with their families we have nearly 250 people with us this year.”
Ickert, 9, the youngest band member, arrived the day after first practice and waited anxiously with the group for his first chanter practice with Lee, saying, “I’m totally excited.”
Other bandmates wound down by playing cricket in the courtyard and napping to combat jetlag.
Fourteen-year-old Russell Fairley from Port Coquitlam expects to feel “the usual nerves” before playing the biggest piping gig in the world.
“Like always, you do the best you can,” says Fairley, who has been playing pipes for six years.
Max Middleton, a 13-year-old from Christchurch, New Zealand, says lots of practice will help battle the nerves.
“You are always a little nervous, whenever you compete. It’s good to be here and get things started,” he added.
The Grade 3 band is the highest level of the band’s junior organization and last competed in 2009, placing fourth. The band first performed in 1997, finishing second, and went on to compete every two years – winning four firsts along the way.
“All of our bands are working hard this year and aiming high for wins at the Worlds,” says Lee.
The RMM band is named after two members of the SFU Pipe Band, Robert Barbulak and Malcolm Bokenfohr, who were killed in a car accident in 1993. It was formed to continue developing talented and dedicated players in the spirit of the two young men.
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