The newly created St. Andrew’s College Association (SACA) Pipe Band, often known as “the competition band,” played its first public performance on June 11 to great acclaim and an excellent result.
Some background: in the fall of 2019, St. Andrew’s College began sponsorship of the St. Andrew’s College Association Pipe Band, a competition band open to both adults and students. The band started to prepare to enter its first competition in June of 2020, but alas, that didn’t happen, nor did any other regular pipe band contests for more than two years.
As a brand new band, the SACA Pipe Band was required to be graded for competition. This happened in April, and the band was placed in grade 2 (grade 1 is the highest, grade 5 is the lowest). This put the band just one grade short of the premier grade: an excellent level at which to debut!
On Saturday, June 11, the day finally materialized as the band attended their first major piping and drumming competition of the summer at the Highland Games in Georgetown, Ont.
The sun blazed on a beautiful day that had rain in the forecast but never fell, and the group felt relaxed but determined after weeks of hard practice on campus. “Our hope and our mantra were simply, ‘let’s just go out and play good music’,” said pipe major and piping program director, Matt MacIsaac.
The competition band finished in second place, behind the Peel Regional Police Pipe band, a much larger and more established pipe band than fledgling SACA. Interestingly, the band had a first and a second from the two piping judges, suggesting the result was a very decisive 2nd place. Toronto Police finished third, and fourth place went to Ottawa Police Service, both long-established bands.
In addition to the band prize, two of the band’s soloists took top prizes, including Henry Paluch ’22 who won best Amateur Piper of the Day.
The band plays three more competitions in Ontario over the course of the summer: Cobourg on June 18, Cambridge on July 16, and Maxville on July 30. Happy to see any staff or Old Boys around the competitions!