Apologies for the delay in the Circle Sunday post for this week. Technical difficulties with my ‘trusty neighborhood internet provider’ kept me from posting when I wanted to yesterday, and I’m just now getting around to updating things.
The World Pipe Band Championships are quickly approaching, and I’ve been reading a lot of discussions about the new format for this year. Previously a one-day event, the Worlds this year are now going to be over two days, with the Grade 1 qualifiers split into two heats on the first day, and everyone in the final on the second day. The draw has been posted, and already it seems there may be some bugs in the system, though I’m sure the changes made were with good intentions.
The major positive of the new format is that it now levels the field for bands playing in the final: all bands now have to qualify to play, and all bands start fresh on the day of the final rather than some bands having had to qualify and play up to 3 times in the same day in varying weather conditions. Another positive with the new format is that bands traveling overseas are not cheated out of playing both the MSR and the Medley event at the worlds; with the cost of the trip to Scotland totalling in the hundreds of thousands for some bands, it’s a helluva long and expensive trip to play just one event lasting roughly five minutes, so the new format gives bands more bang for their buck in that regard.
Some drawbacks to the new format were noted in the pipes|drums article included the heats being not evenly spread, with heat 1 being comprised of mostly the pretty-much-guaranteed-to-qualify bands, and heat 2 being not as strong as the first. I’m not sure if the stacked deck in heat 1 was intentional, but without going into too much detail here, I can see why if it was and I can also see why that might be a bother for some and a benefit for others. Personally, with it now being a two day event, other than to give the judges more of a break I see no reason to split the grade 1 qualifier into two heats for any reason. Also, perhaps someone can enlighten me on ths, but I don’t see why pre-qualifiers had to go away either. There could very well have still been a qualifying event on day 1 while still pre-qualifying bands at certain events, but only if the RSPBA is willing to include major events overseas as pre-qualifiers (probably not very likely).
So, as I said before, I think there positives as well as negatives to the new format, and I’m interested in seeing how it plays out this year, and whether or not it continues in years to come; the new format has the potential to shake up the final result. Some have called for the Worlds to return to the old format: a free-for-all where everyone plays and what happens happens in a time when chanters pitched down around 470 and cane and sheepskin were more than ‘all the rage’ – they were all that was! So here’s a throwback to the 1987 Worlds, with the band who forged the way to the modern pipe band Medley: The 78th Frasers.