August 18, 2014
The Worlds !
It has been an amazing week in Glasgow. Absolutely brilliant!
We started the week off with a band practice on the Tuesday and that’s when it really hit me that it was Worlds week. The atmosphere was intense and every little detail seemed magnified. The sound was very good straight out of the box and the band was playing well.
On Wednesday I went along to see some of Piping Live but never made it. As I walked past the little pub next to the Piping Centre I heard a shout ‘Hey’. Why was I not surprised to see West Mids buddies Moe and David enjoying a refreshment! A short time later (!) I had missed all of the Piping Live events and they had missed the big concert they were there to see. But we had a great time catching up even if it was only a few days since we’d last caught up!
Thursday was the last practice day and we were scheduled to play outside at Glasgow Green. Unfortunately the weather forecast was poor so instead we had the final practice in the band hall. Everything seemed to go well and final arrangements were made to meet at 9am on Friday for the grade 1 qualifier.
That night we had a full house with Matt and Kevin from the band staying. We had a great dinner and Euan and Finlay arranged a ping pong tournament which distracted us from the next day’s events!
Now those of you that have followed the travel escapades of Matt and I will know that we struggle to get from A to B without something going wrong. Saturday was a pleasant exception! Everyone was ready on time and the taxi picked us up at 8am. Probably the most momentous event of the day was Matt and I arriving in the field 45mins early and there was no-one there to see it!
In the qualifier the band was due to play MSR at 11.10am and Medley at 2.30pm. The forecast was reasonable for the day and fortunately there was very little rain while we tuned up.
It can be difficult to enjoy the tune up and performance due to the focus of getting everything right. But I still tried to stay relaxed and enjoy it all. I noticed the first band leave final tuning and go off to play. Even though we still had 40 minutes or so before our turn I still thought ‘Here we go!’
One by one all the big bands went through final tuning; 78th, Power, FMM, Canterbury, SFU, SLOT…then it was our turn. The PM shouted ‘form up’ and we were off to the line. ‘Here we go for real I thought!’
A couple of pipers in the band have over 40 years consecutively playing at the worlds. This is only the second year I’ve played in the grade 1 format at the Worlds. Last year was mostly terrifying. This year I was looking forward to it slightly more than being terrified by it!
Our performances in the qualifiers went well. Euan watched at home on the live stream and made a very interesting comment that we really sounded like we were enjoying the medley. Not bad for a 9 year old! The crowd gave us a good reception and we had to wait until 5pm to hear if we had qualified.
After the two performances the band also made a presentation to Sandy Bell to mark his 50 years with the band. A formidable achievement!
After a short finale the qualifiers were announced and we were in! Due to play at 11.40am and 2.30pm on Saturday. We dashed home for chicken pasta and a game of cricket in the garden. Finlay threw such a monster tantrum when we got him out that we had to declare a no ball and put him back in!
Saturday’s atmosphere was a few notches up on Friday’s. We arrived early again and there were a lot more people around. Definitely the Worlds Final!
The rain was never far away and we bumped into Dave Gatcum and John McCulloch from the SPSL while we were waiting to get started. Great to see them both there listening and picking out their favourite bands.
Rain limited our preparation time to about 15 minutes for the MSR. The sound was good and we were happy with the performance of the Highland Wedding set. In the circle the sound on our side was great and I focused on blowing steady and hitting the breaks at the right time. Again the crowd gave us a good reception.
In the interval between performances I took the pipes apart to dry them out. The drones were soaked from the rain. Kitchen roll, brushes, all manner of gadgets were being used to dry the reeds.
The second run was at 2.30pm and as we went into final tune the crowd was huge. That buzz of excitement was definitely there and I was looking forward to getting into the circle. We played well again and that was four good runs over the two days. The crowd gave us a great reception and we marched off very happy, if a little disappointed that the season was over and we wouldn’t play together as a band for a few months.
When the results were announced we finished 5th overall as a band and the drum corps won the drumming world championship. It was a fantastic outcome and we were delighted. Attached is a photo of Matt and I holding the 5th prize trophy. It was a great celebration that evening and I can’t wait for next season.
It was a great week and fantastic to finish where we did. But my highlight is my son Euan listening to all performances on the live stream and picking out the medley from Friday as the best set where we played most freely and sounded like we were enjoying ourselves. He was right!