Last week, over 75 band members from the City of Dunedin Pipe Band traveled to Chicago, IL to compete at the largest pipe band competition in the USA. This year, the Chicago Highland Games welcomed 48 pipe bands from all corners of the country to the windy city for a full-day of competition events.
The City of Dunedin sent 3 pipe bands to compete in Grade 4, Grade 3, and Grade 1. Several Dunedin players had hoped to also compete in the solo events, which occurred on the Friday before the band events. However, because of the logistics of getting all three bands tuned up and prepared for the Saturday band competitions, most of those players ended up withdrawing from the solo events to ensure they were fully prepared with their band and ready for the Saturday competitions.
The grade 4 band finished in 5th prize, just outside of the prize list, achieving a third place in drumming and a first place finish in ensemble, which is the evaluation of the group as a whole. I was extremely proud of this result and of their performance. The Grade 3 band included many young students from the Dunedin School pipe band programs to bolster the ranks for the trip. For many of those players, this was their first pipe band competition outside of Florida and provided excellent experience and exposure to the larger “pipe band scene”. Grade 3 bands had the opportunity for two performances at Chicago. Their MSR, the first event, was fairly strong. However the second performance was not their best, as many were fatigued after the first run. Nonetheless, the day and trip provided great experience and learning moments that will hopefully bolster all of these players for the future.
The Grade 1 band delivered two strong performances against the impressive St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston, TX. St. Thomas and City of Dunedin are the only grade 1 bands in the USA, so it was exciting for the chance for the two groups to compete against each other. The City of Dunedin won Best Drum Corps and Best Bass Section in grade 1, and finished 2nd overall to St. Thomas Alumni. I am extremely delighted and proud to have achieved this 1st place drum corps result, which is a testament to all the hard work the team has put in over the last several months. A highlight of the competition was the City of Dunedin Grade 1 medley performance, which featured the band starting at the line with a slow air, instead of the traditional “march” introduction. The medley was a lot of fun play and well received by the audience.
The Grade 1 band is now gearing up for the North American Championships in August at the Glengarry Highland Games, in Maxville, Ontario.