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Jack Lee, Pipe Sergeant, in Scotland: Direct dial cell 011-44-7542-588801 jack.lee@shaw.ca
Rob MacNeil, in Scotland: Direct dial cell 011-44-7790-453515, rob@robertmacneilmusicworks.com
Don MacLachlan, SFU PAMR, cell 604.763.3929, donmac@sfu.ca

August 15, 2009

The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band won its sixth world pipe band title—and its second straight—in Scotland today. (Saturday, Aug. 15)

SFU’s long-time rival, the Field Marshal Montgomery Band of Northern Ireland, placed second, and the St. Laurence O’Toole band from Ireland third In the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow.

The SFU band also won the March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) title. And the SFU band’s drum corps—also for the second straight year—won the world crown as best over-all drum corps, and placed first, as well, in the MSR section of drumming competition.

“We feel absolutely fantastic,” said SFU Pipe Major Terry Lee of Coquitlam. “Absolutely fantastic to have repeated this year. We worked hard to do a little bit better, and we did. We are going to party it up tonight and have a good time.”

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Video by: Thomas Buchan, SFU Learning and Instructional Development Centre

There was huge applause for from the crowd after SFU’s final Medley, and Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee of Surrey (Terry’s brother) said: “I thought it was absolutely brilliant from my perspective. The band thought it went just great. It was as good as we can play. I really think that that we could not have played better.”

And SFU President Michael Stevenson said: “Incredible, just fantastic, two years in a row. What a day: huge crowds, and a terrific performance. Our pipe band was just fabulous.”

The 45-member SFU band won earlier world titles in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2008.  Last year, the Montgomery band placed second and Scotland’s House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead band third. The Montgomery Band has won six crowns, and the Shotts & Dykehead band 15 titles.

The SFU “farm team” band—the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band—placed fourth in its junior division Saturday. (This band is named for Robert Barbulak and Malcolm Bokenfohr, two members of the SFU Pipe Band who died in an automobile accident in 1993.)

In junior Drum Major competition, Jason Paguio of SFU and San Diego placed fourth.

Heavy rain eased up as the Grade 1 SFU band band marched onto soggy Glasgow Green for its first set, the SFU logo prominent on the bass drum and pipe bags. But a blustery breeze continued, and Bob Worrall, BBC Scotland’s expert commentator, noted: “The wind can play a little bit of a role here . . . the adjudicators have to be alert.”

The band’s opening set of March, Strathspey and Reel was hailed by Worrall as featuring a rich sound from the pipes.

“I really enjoyed that. Musically, there was very, very little to fault them. A rich sound from the pipes. . . . Each band has its own tonal identity.” As for the drum corps: “Reid Maxwell (SFU’S lead drummer) has done a wonderful job with the back end.”

Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee said: “That was a bit of a challenge with the weather for the MSR, but I thought we played very well.”

The wind was still blowing strongly for the second set, the Medley, in which bands can be a little more creative and original. As SFU marched in, Worrall urged his world-wide viewers to watch in particular SFU’s “excellent” bass drummer, Kathryn Tawes of New Westminster.

Worrall told his global audience that SFU played its Medley with “a very, very sophisticated structure, dynamic, great over-all technique, great music.” But, he insisted: “There were some discords that affected their harmonies.”

The band continued to play for the crowd as it marched off Glasgow Green, with Stevenson carrying the trophy. "A great day," said Jack Lee. "People in the crowd followed us to the bus, with us playing all the way. It was fantastic."

Lee explained the band's recipe for success: "We take some of the classic tunes on the bagpipes and put our own spin on them."

Then Piper Alan Bevan went on to win the prestigious Master's Invitational event for solo pipers. Only eight pipers from around the world are invited—and SFU provided two of them: Bevan and Jori Chisholm.

A special guest who accompanied the SFU band this week was piper Nick Wemys of Calgary, who had bid $7,500 on e-Bay for the chance to spend a week with the band in Scotland, stay in residence with them, and attend practices and performances.

“The whole trip was fantastic,” said Wemyss. “And the band was fantastic today. For the March, Strathspey and Reel, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and a little sun came out. It was almost as if Moses had come to lead the band!”

In all, 220 bands and some 8,000 musicians competed, in a typically Scottish mix of rain, cloud, sun and blustery wind, on a soggy Glasgow Green. As Jack Lee observed going into the event, rain and damp can make a bad band sound better, and make a good band lose a little of its edge.


Comment Guidelines

David Morty

Heartiest congratulations from South Africa. I was watching on the web and you were fantastic.

Archie MacKinnon

WOW ! What a triumph in every way. You have set a standard of the first-rate for all pipe bands. I recall with great pride how two pipers came to my office in 1965 and proposed that SFU needed a tradition and it should be the pipes. WOW !

Drum Major Norm MacKenzie

To Terry, Reid and all those at SFU well done.

Don MacLachlan

And then SFU piper Alan Bevan caps the band's world title by winning the Master's Invitational solo bagpipe event. (Huge deal; only 8 world pipers invited to play and two were from SFU: Alan and Jori Chisholm).

Story at http://at.sfu.ca/VQwIZj

Derek Read

We need to see more of you around the GVRD. Greek Days, Kits Days, 4th Avenue Days, Commercial Drive events, Chinese New Year parade!

Celeste Duncan

Congratulations on a well deserved win. Wishing the Lee family continued success for the upcoming Cowal Gathering! And of course, the band - if you are staying to compete!

Bruce Anderson

Oh, Dear Lord, if there is a greater treat for the human ear, I have yet to hear it. I'm 73 -- and with a seven year hiatus caused by bilateral cornea transplants to bring me back from blindness, have tried desperately to play pipes well since I was 9. Watched the BBC video of SFU and couldn't stop the tears of joy and happiness flowing -- you'll never know what joy swelled my heart -- I went to bed with the sweet sound charming ms into dreamland. Thanks, SFU -- you made my life complete.

Yours aye,

Bruce "Th' Auld Yin" Anderson

Sbastien Vandenbosch

J'tais prsent au Green's cette anne et j'ai eu la chance de vous suivre durant le final tuning. Extraordinaire momment! Je tiens signaler la gentillesse et la disponibilit du PM et des pipers avec qui j'ai pu changer quelques mots. Congratulations SFU!

Stephen Campbell

Glorious! Well done! Congratulations to each and every one involved, including all of those providing encouragement and support ... Thank you for having brought this great honour to SFU once again!

Maura De Freitas

The SFU Pipeband have brought great honour to not only Simon Fraser University but to Burnaby and the whole Lower Mainland. There should be some significant local recognition such as a street named after this pipe band. Congratulations to everyone who participated...you deserve a great round of applause in British Columbia.

John Pratt

Re:Archie MacKinnon

WOW ! What a triumph in every way. You have set a standard of the first-rate for all pipe bands. I recall with great pride how two pipers came to my office in 1965 and proposed that SFU needed a tradition and it should be the pipes. WOW !

Yes Wow!

One of the "pipers" Mr.MacKinnon refers to was a drummer, yours truly. I have called that my claim to non-fame, I failed to start the World Famous SFU Pipe Band. Although we failed to actually start a band at that time Mr MacKinnon followed through by arranging an annual piping prize at SFU. I do not know the name of the piper nor any of that small group as I started working afternoon shift and was unavailable for practices.

I resumed drumming with the Trail Pipe Band in the 1980s and 1990s including an opportunity to perform a series of concerts at Expo 86 with my own two daughters in the pipe section.

Currently the Grand Forks Pipes and Drums is my musical home. Several of our members have taken advantage of the SFU Band's willingness to teach. Reid Maxwell is an excellant teacher and a fair and compassionate adjudicator. We intend to submit ourselves to that judgement at the Castlegar Highland Games in early October, where Reid will be drumming judge.

John Pratt (Charter Student) B A Economics and Commerce, 1974