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Photos: SFU Pipe Band tuned up for return to the ‘Worlds’ in Scotland
After a two-year hiatus the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band is tuned up and heading back to Glasgow, Scotland for the World Pipe Band Championships August 12-13.
The 46-member elite Grade one band, led by Pipe Major Alan Bevan and Drum Major Reid Maxwell, is aiming for its seventh world championship title as it competes against a field of the world’s best bands.
Despite pandemic restrictions the band found ways to stay connected and continue its year-round practice routine, often resorting to Zoom meetings.
And when SFU recently returned to in-person convocation ceremonies the band was front and center playing to the delight of grads and guests.
The band recently returned to the competition circuit in B.C. and Washington and is primed for the big show in Glasgow.
“We’re delighted to be heading back to Scotland,” says SFU Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee, after the band’s final practice during the recent heat wave, held under a shady tree in his backyard.
“There’s nothing quite like getting out on the field in Glasgow, playing our pipes and drums and competing against the best bands in the world. Despite the pandemic we’ve managed to persevere and feel good about where we are right now.”
The band is both a ‘destination’ band, attracting international players, and one that nurtures young talent through its junior Robert Malcolm Memorial (RMM) band system.
Among its Scotland-bound ranks are also several alumni of SFU, including Bevan and his wife Bonnie—while their two piping sons, Alistair and Callum, are now SFU students, keeping SFU literally “all in the family.”
This past spring, piper Tori Killoran and drummer Madison Rattai, both former RMM band members, graduated from SFU.
Killoran—who piped the national anthem at her ceremony— earned an education degree and will spend some time teaching and piping in Scotland. Rattai, a Beedie School of Business grad, has landed a job as project coordinator with the First Nations Fisheries Council.
Outside of their common love of piping and drumming, members run the gamut of careers—including a lawyer, dentist, marketing specialist and even a nuclear engineer.
“It’s that love of the music, the pursuit of excellence and the pride of our accomplishments that connects us all,” says Lee, who holds the title as the world’s top solo piper after winning the Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship—for the third time in his piping career—in 2021.
The SFU Pipe Band last won a world championship in 2009, with previous wins in 2008, 2001, 1999, 1996 and 1995. The band has finished in the top three for most of its time in Worlds competition and is one of only four bands from outside Scotland to claim a championship.
If you want to watch the World Pipe Band Championship, you can livestream the competition here (it gets underway at 2:45 a.m. Friday). The winners are typically announced Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and noon.