Calgary Highlanders military band holding free concert Saturday to celebrate 100th anniversary

·2 min read
On the left, a photo of the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders at the Highland Ball in May 2022. On the right, a photo of the band performing in 1924. (Submitted by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders - image credit)
On the left, a photo of the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders at the Highland Ball in May 2022. On the right, a photo of the band performing in 1924. (Submitted by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders - image credit)

About 40 musicians and dancers with the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders will put on a free concert at St. Patrick's Island Saturday in celebration of their centennial anniversary.

The performance will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in collaboration with the King's Own Calgary Regiment Band.

Historical artifacts from the Military Museum will also be on display.

"It's actually fairly rare for us to do a large performance in this state," said Drum Maj. Master Cpl. Perry Andress in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener.

"We're doing a large performance moving from traditional music into modern interpretations of music as well."

Along with the performance, the group will present historical information compiled by retired Maj. Paul Ritchie, the band's historian.

Submitted by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders
Submitted by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders

He says the gathering will be almost exactly 100 years from the band's first recorded performance — on Aug. 6, 1922, as noted in a clipping from The Calgary Albertan newspaper — and it will be held in the closest possible location.

"It was on St. George's Island and it was in the afternoon," he said, adding that the original area is now occupied by the Calgary Zoo.

"They played five or six tunes, but it was just more or less a 'Hello Calgary, we're here' kind of concert."

In those days, regimental bands would play soldiers into battle. Ritchie says the last time that happened was back in 1944, when pipers played their company up to the start line.

Submitted by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders
Submitted by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders

"Prior to that, reaching back hundreds of years, the piper, the pipes being mainly a solo instrument at the time, would play to incite and to encourage the soldiers prior to battle and during a battle."

Of course, the band will be in the uniform of the Calgary Highlanders. They'll be wearing a tartan adopted from Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a former British army regiment, Ritchie says.

"When you're affiliated with a British army regiment you tend to adapt their uniform," he said.

"This one is what people are more familiar with. It's actually got some lighter colours in it. The pleating is different in the back. It's got a box pleat, which we think looks a little better."

CBC News
CBC News

It's a unique opportunity to see the group in action, as they typically only play at organized concerts or military tattoos, which are large, usually paid, performances with other bands.

The band will be by the Confluence Plaza on Saturday, ready to play.

"It's on a weekend. It's going to be great weather. We would like to see a big crowd," Ritchie said.

"So come on out. Stay for five minutes, stay for the whole thing. We know you'll enjoy it."

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