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UCR Pipe Band Takes First Place


UCR Pipe Band Takes First Place

Win at Pleasanton competition puts bagpipers on track for national award.

(September 9, 2008)

Pipe Band members Erin Thomson and Marshall German celebrate their first-place tie in a solo piping competition over Labor Day weekend. Holding the plaque they will share is Pipe Major Mike Terry.Enlarge

Pipe Band members Erin Thomson and Marshall German celebrate their first-place tie in a solo piping competition over Labor Day weekend. Holding the plaque they will share is Pipe Major Mike Terry.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The UC Riverside Pipe Band won first place at the 143rd annual Scottish Highland Games in Pleasanton over Labor Day weekend.

The band is on track to win first place for Grade 4 bagpipe bands in the annual Western United States Pipe Band Association (WUSPBA) competition season, based on points won at events throughout the year. That award will be presented at the association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas in November.

UCR sophomore Erin Thomson tied for first place among Grade 3 soloists in piobaireachd – the classical music of bagpipes – competition at the Pleasanton event. She tied with Marshall German, a band member from Corona who is a 10th-grader at John F. Kennedy Middle College High School. German also won the 2/4 march, 6/8 march and strathspey/reel solo events. He is on track to win the Grade 3 solo piping division of the WUSPBA. John Jensen, a Pipe Band member who graduated in June from Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School, placed first in the Grade 4 event for solo aggregate piping.

Bands and soloists compete in Grade levels 1 through 4, with 1 high and 4 entry level. Soloists may compete in levels that are different from their bands.

The UCR band placed first in quick march medley, first in timed medley and first place overall in Pleasanton. In previous competitions, the band was first overall at the Queen Mary Games, San Diego Games and Arizona Games, and placed third in quick march medley and timed medley at the Costa Mesa Games.

This is the most successful season since the group began competing in 2003, said Mike Terry, pipe major and founder of the 8-year-old band.

“If we win next year like we did this year, there will be a lot of pressure to move up to Grade 3,” Terry said. “Our goal is for this band to go to Scotland to compete in world championships.”

The Labor Day weekend event, hosted by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, is the biggest Scottish Highland games west of the Mississippi River and is among the most prominent in the country, said Walter Clark, chair of the UCR Department of Music.

“Our band faced very stiff competition from other excellent bands, but came out on top,” he said. “People were impressed with the way our band played, and with the dramatic improvement it has made under the leadership of Ian Whitelaw and Ed Best.”

Terry, who has played bagpipes for more than 20 years, said instruction from Whitelaw in piping and Best in Scottish drumming has improved the musical skills of band members. “We’d been placing in events, but had not reached our potential,” he said.

The UCR Pipe Band is a volunteer organization composed of alumni, students, staff and faculty and is associated with the university through Alumni and Constituent Relations. It also serves as an ensemble to meet requirements for a degree in music. Whitelaw directs ensemble performances. Terry, as pipe major, directs performances at competitions and other public appearances and oversees the band’s business affairs.

UCR is the only public university in the United States to offer a bachelor of arts degree in piping and is the only university, public or private, in the world to offer a B.A. in Scottish-style drumming.

The band offers instruction in piping and drumming for beginners to competitive levels and offers two $1,000 scholarships each year to qualified pipers and/or drummers who attend UCR. Terry funds the Linda Joy Terry Memorial Scholarship each year to send a piper or drummer to the Celtic piping/drumming summer school of their choice.
The UCR Pipe Band marches toward the competition venue at the Scottish Highland Games in Pleasanton.Enlarge

The UCR Pipe Band marches toward the competition venue at the Scottish Highland Games in Pleasanton.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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