Pipe band seeks 7th world win - St, Paul drummer

April 16, 2019

Owen Russell

Jack Lee, 604.574.3299; jack@leeandsonsbagpipes.com
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 604.209.5770; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca
Photos of individual band members: http://at.sfu.ca/jGmnBW
Video: http://at.sfu.ca/GEvmJK
The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band – celebrating 30 years since officially taking its name – will be vying for its seventh world bagpipe championship when members head to Glasgow, Scotland to compete this August.
The 46-member band, which has placed in the top three at the 'Worlds' for the past 12 years, is wrapping up a busy summer performance schedule and will complete its final practice sessions this week and early next on Burnaby Mountain and in Surrey (including, if weather permits, a practice outside Horizons Restaurant in Burnaby on Thursday at 7 p.m.).
One of the newest band members is drummer Owen Russell from St. Paul, Minnesota.
In what Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee calls a  "major signing" for the band, Robert Mathieson, formerly pipe major with Scottish rivals The House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band, is coming out of retirement to wear the SFU kilt and compete with the band.
Mathieson will be in town later this week and is expected to practice with the band starting on Thursday.
Also new to the band are former Toronto police lead drummer Doug Stronach, and drummers Owen Russell, formerly with the 78th Fraser Highlanders, from Minnesota, and Nicola Purvis, of the Auckland & District Pipe Band of New Zealand, where Lee and lead drummer Reid Maxwell teach a summer program (in January).
And making his first appearance at the worlds is piper Kevin McLean from Maple Ridge – who worked his way up to the Grade 1 band after first learning to play the pipes at an SFU summer camp.
The band is looking for another first after finishing third last year, following two years as the world's number one pipe band.
"The fact that we've consistently stayed at the top of our game means we're doing something right," says Lee, who is finishing off a hectic month of travels across Canada and the U.S.
"And yet we can't take that fact for granted either," he adds. "Our strength continues to be our dedication, commitment, and hard practice."
The band is an eclectic mix of ages and personalities and can lay claim to being "professional" in more ways than one – several musicians either work or have been recently accepted into medical, dental and law schools.
Members preparing for this year's competition include a core of local pipers and drummers while others hail from Calgary, Ottawa, several U.S. cities and as far off as Ireland and Scotland.
For a complete list see http://at.sfu.ca/UITqft
Of note:
The World Bagpipe Championships will take place on Saturday, Aug. 13 and will once again be streamed live by the BBC from the Grade One arena at Glasgow Green. More than 8,000 pipers and a crowd of 40,000 are expected. The coverage can be accessed at bbc.co.uk/worlds.
The SFU band began competing at the Worlds in 1983 and has claimed six championships in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2008 and 2009.
The band will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a concert at New York's Lincoln Centre (next May). Formed in 1966, it was originally made up of pipers and drummers from the neighbouring City of Port Moody Pipe Band, and formally became the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band in 1981.

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