Penticton piper a member of the world's best

·2 min read

By day, Penticton's James Beaumont is a mild-mannered investment advisor, but beneath that modest exterior beats the heart of “piob mhor” master.

Piob mhor is Gaelic for “great Highland bagpipe” and Beaumont recently helped the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band win the World Championship in Glasgow, Scotland.

He was just one of nearly 7,000 pipers and drummers in 150 bands that took part in the two-day competition in the Glasgow Green Park. The competition attracted more than 40,000 spectators.

“The weather in Scotland was 30 degrees (Celsius) so to be in that heat, tired and exhausted and all those people around cheering, screaming, people were going crazy, it was incredible,” said Beaumont about the moment Montgomery was announced the winner.

“To go from this low, tiredness to ecstasy and euphoria, it doesn’t happen too many times in life, so I’m pretty fortunate.”

Beaumont, 38, has been racking up his frequent-flyer points in the last couple months, having made three trips to Scotland and another one to Northern Ireland for competitions.

In addition to the worlds, the 45-member Grade 1 (premier) group this year won the United Kingdom, Scottish and Irish competitions and placed third in the European and second in the British events.

Beaumont first picked up the pipes at the age of eight when he was growing up in Scotland and has been playing and competing both in bands and as a solo musician ever since.

He is also no stranger to being part of the best band in the world, having won the same title twice while he was in the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.

The Montgomery group is made up of international musicians and Beaumont is one of four members from North America.

“It’s so much fun to be around such nice people, we talk the same language and have the same interests,” said Beaumont, who has lived in Penticton since 2009. “We have a lot of drive to play good music and the band is known to be very creative.

“The pipe major in charge is Richard Parkes and winning the world championship for the 13th time, which is a record, it was nice to be a part of that,” said

While he has to travel to competitions, most of his practice time is at his home.

“I guess it’s not so much fun for my neighbours, it’s not the most-quiet instrument in the world,” he added with a laugh. “Bagpiping is popular everywhere, I guess it’s one of those weird things. It’s actually kind of scary just how many bagpipers there are in the world.”

Beaumont will have a bit of a break to entertain his neighbours before his next event in January which will be a solo competition at the U.S. championships in Kansas City, Mo.

Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald