Ken Mustard of the KwaZulu Natal Piping & Drumming Society reports on the recent Flame Lily contest held at Queensburgh, South Africa:
The province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN) is one of South Africa’s smaller provinces in terms of piping. It therefore has comparatively few pipe band contests compared to the province of Gauteng which has many such contests and, in fact, has one every second weekend during the contest season. KZN does, however, host one of the three annual championship points contests, the South Coast Highland Gathering which is attended by bands from all over South Africa. Its other contests are attended by local bands only.
As South Coast Highland Gathering was until recently the first contest of the year for KZN bands it was felt that the local bands were at a disadvantage as their first contest of the year was a championship gathering and counted for championship points compared to Gauteng province which is the centre of piping in South Africa which is the centre of piping in South Africa and consequently many more contests.
The KwaZulu Natal Piping and Drumming society decided to have a ‘mini contest’ two weeks before South Coast just to give the bands an opportunity to play their sets and be judged on them. As originally envisaged, it would be nothing big and probably not have any spectators apart from band members and some family members. While looking for a venue, the Flame Lily M.O.T.H.* Shellhole offered to host it at their premises at Flame Lily Park, Queensburgh, which incorporates the Shellhole [meeting premises/social club], a hall, a spots field and an ex-serviceman’s retirement village. The shellhole holds fêtes there and it was felt that by holding the contest on the same morning as a fête the bands would have a ready-made audience which would add to the contest experience. The first one was held three years ago and was rather low key. The third one was held on Saturday, April 13, 2019 and was a much bigger affair. This year there were nearly double the stalls at the fête and probably three times the audience that we had last year.
After the band competition, while waiting for the recorded to tally the results, the crowd were entertained by the KZN Academy of Highland Dance. Thereafter, the bands gave the crowd a massed band display during which the results were announced as follows:
March, Strathspey and Reel – 1. Durban Caledonian Society Pipe Band (Grade 2); 2. Durban Regiment Pipe Band; 3. Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Pipe Band
Medley/March Selection – 1. Durban Caledonian Society Pipe Band (Grade 2); 2. Durban Regiment Pipe Band; 3. Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Pipe Band
Overall – 1. Durban Caledonian Society Pipe Band (Grade 2); 2. Durban Regiment Pipe Band; 3. Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Pipe Band.
Drill, Dress and Discipline – Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Society Pipe Band.
Having seen the growth of the fête thanks to the contest, the M.O.T.H.s decide to present some trophies which they did in honour of the late M.O.T.H. Peter Woodhouse, who in the past had played tenor and bass for some of the Durban bands.
The judges for the day were Scott Bigby (piping), Eddie Maulson (drumming) and Alistair McKenzie (drill, dress and discipline). The recorder was Toni Redman and the band marshal and massed band Drum Major was Carlos Manggos. The announcer was Alex Coutts and the prizes were presented by Graeme Fuller, chairman of the KZN Piping and Drumming Society.
From everyone’s point of view, the contest was a success. The bands had an opportunity to play their selections under contest conditions and have two weeks to improve their performances before the big one.
• M.O.T.H. – the Memorable Order of Tin Hats – is an ex-serviceman’s organisation founded in Durban, South Africa, in May 1927.
South Coast Highland Gathering takes place this weekend (April 27) at Hutchison Park, Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu Natal.