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The G8, An Epic Gathering!

posted Nov 12, 2019, 2:29 PM by Mike Flight   [ updated Nov 17, 2019, 9:13 PM ]

“G8, Patagonia, Argentina…” was the provoking closing statement of the promotional video that went viral about 6 months prior to the 8th South American Pipe Band Gathering.  This set the Continent’s excitement to unprecedented levels, and so did the Bariloche Highlanders deliver the unanimously acclaimed best Gathering so far!

Official G8 group photo, on the banks of the Nahuel Huapi lake - Credit: Jeannine Facht

Bariloche Highlanders Pipe Band first conceived this dream in 2015, and later embraced the project in 2017 at the end of the 7th Pipe Band Gathering in Santiago de Chile.  This pipe band is the newest member of the Association, one of the smallest and most geographically isolated pipe bands in the Continent yet courageously navigated through a 70% currency devaluation in Argentina throughout the past two years of planning and hard work behind producing this Gathering.  Their vision of hosting the greatest Gathering became a reality as from 15th of October, when the guest adjudicators and instructors started their Southbound journey from Scotland, Canada and the USA; and the pipe bands followed soon after from Mendoza, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, São Paulo and Rio do Janeiro!  The town of Bariloche coincidentally witnessed that day the last snowfall of the season, to be followed by majestic clear skies and temperature highs of over 20 °C throughout the weekend!

The G8’s agenda started on Thursday 17th of October, with an afternoon of soloist competitions: mini-MSR and Hornpipe & Jig piping competitions, a snare and tenor drumming drumming competitions, and the first highland dancing competitions to ever be held at a Gathering.

Highland Dancing Competitions - Photo credit: Jeannine Facht

Friday morning was entirely dedicated to piping, drumming and highland dancing workshops, one of many cornerstones to augmenting the region’s collective knowledge of these Highland arts.

Click on the image for the brief video on the workshops

The traditional Massed Bands parade, downtown Bariloche on Friday afternoon, was accompanied by the Argentine’s Army Band from the Regimiento de Montaña (the Army’s regiment based in Bariloche).  Both bands met at the endpoint of the parade, and played together symbolizing music’s ability to connect countries and cultures.


Drone-view of the Massed Bands Highland Fling (center rows of dancers, flanked by pipers and drummers).  Far left, the band of the Regimiento de Montaña (in white uniforms)

The guest adjudicators and Bariloche Highlanders then played at a fundraising ceremony at Bariloche’s Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi Cathedral, alongside the Bariloche-based Russian Likui Choir.  This event raised AR$ 39,270 (equivalent to US$ 650) in just 45 minutes!

That same evening, we had the Bariloche Highlanders and the Association’s official welcome cocktail party, and adjudicators’ most inspiring and entertaining concert.

Craig Munro’s processional at the Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi Cathedral

Photo courtesy of Patricia Izuibejeres

Saturday 19th were the pipe band competitions, held at Pehuenes Rugby Club, and attended by an audience of approximately 2000 residents and out-of-town visitors.  The competitions were divided into two sections, where each pipe band would compete in a Quick March Medley and Dance Corps competitions in the morning, and a Medley competition followed by a freestyle show in the afternoon. 

Highland Thistle Pipe Band, during their Dance Corps Competition

 The pipe band competition results are as follows:

Quick March Medley

  1. Highland Thistle
  2. South American Piping Association
  3. Banda Brazil Caledonia


  1. Highland Thistle
  2. South American Piping Association
  3. St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate
March and Deportment
  1. Highland Thistle
  2. St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate
  3. Santiago Metropolitan

Dance Corps

  1. Highland Thistle
  2. South American Piping Association
  3. Santiago Metropolitan


  1. Highland Thistle
  2. South American Piping Association
  3. St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate


  1. Highland Thistle
  2. South American Piping Association
  3. St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate

 SPBASA Cup (Overall Pipe Band)

  1. Highland Thistle
  2. South American Piping Association
  3. St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate

Congratulations to Highland Thistle Pipe Band for winning the SPBASA Cup, and we once again thank the Bariloche Highlanders, the adjudicators/instructors, all the participating pipe bands and soloists, the numerous sponsors and the Argentine-British Community Council for their support in making this happen.

Was Here Video
Click on the image for the closing video

G8, full steam ahead!

posted Jul 14, 2019, 1:39 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jul 14, 2019, 4:54 PM ]

Bariloche Highlanders Pipe Band, the host band fo
r the 8th South American Pipe Band Gathering are making huge strides with the event's organisation.  The Patagonian city of Bariloche (Province of Rio Negro, Argentina), the Andes mountains and the Nahuel Huapi lake will be the arena for pipers, drummers and dancers flying-in from Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, Brazilia, Sao Paulo, Rio do Janeiro, Colombia, Houston, Vancouver, Glasgow, and Osaka, Japan!

Promotional video
During the upcoming 17-20 October, we will see a Solo Piping and Drumming competitions, Pipe Band and Highland Dance Corps competitions, workshops, non-competition shows by bands and dance corps, a traditional Massed Bands parade downtown Bariloche, and the G8 will be the first to host a [solo] Highland Dancing competition!  Click on the image to see the promotional video.

This year's guests and adjudicators will be Craig Munro (St. Lawrence O'Toole Pipe Band, and the Red Hot Chili Pipers), Roddy S. Macdonald (composer, former Pipe Major of the Queensland Police Pipes and Drums and of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo's house band The Pipers Trail), the legendary World Champion Snare Drummer Joe Noble (after whom one of the SPBASA's trophies is named), Tyler Fry (former Shotts and Dykehead drumming champion, and also Red Hot Chili Pipers) and Susan Nase (Director of Shot of Scotch Vancouver).

Links to more info:

Recent updates to Competition rules

posted Jun 13, 2019, 9:10 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jun 13, 2019, 9:16 PM ]

As we continue to progress towards the 8th South American Pipe Band Gathering, the Association agreed to a few more changes and updates to the competitions rules:

The first was an edit to the dress code for highland dancers, wherwe are now clarifying that the headgear is optional (as is also the case for sporrans).

Second, we now have listed the number of parts for each tune type, applicable for solo piping and drumming, as well as pipe band competitions.  This addition also clarifies on how tunes can be combined for categories that require a number of parts for each tune-type.  Mode details: Competition Categories.

Last, but not least, we have expanded and detailed the rules for March and Deportment competitions.  The G7 hosted the first of its kind, and these new rules now complete this competitions category in time for the M&D competition at the G8.

Changes to QMM and Medley Competition Categories

posted Jul 28, 2018, 3:39 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jul 28, 2018, 3:48 PM ]

SPBASA's Executive Committee approved earlier this week a series of modifications to the Quick March Medley construct rules.  The rules now list three alternative QMM competition categories:
  • Quick March Medley - simple time signatures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, etc.)
  • Quick March Medley - compound time signatures (6/8, 9/8, 12/8, etc.)
  • Quick March Medley - freestyle time signatures (any combination of March time signatures)
In all of the above cases, the QMMs are now limited to eight parts (vs. the min and max chronometer limits used in the past).  Future QMM competitions will need to specify which of the above categories will be used.  SPBASA is now also recommending (not requiring) the use of the RSPBA's prescribed list of marches (currently two-parted and four-parted 2/4 marches).

This is in addition to a clause approved in March for the Medley competition category, which establishes a minimum of four tune types.  This clause avoids confusion with the March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) competition categories.

Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band continued to raise the bar with the G7!

posted Dec 9, 2017, 9:59 PM by Michael Flight

The 7th South American Pipe Band Gathering, an exceptional record-breaking four-day event in Santiago, Chile, was pioneering for having included a solo piping competition at a Gathering, but especially for hosting the first ever solo drumming competition in the Continent!

We also had the largest number of pipe bands so far represented at a Gathering, including:
  • 11th Fire Company (Chile)
  • Bariloche Highlanders (Argentina)
  • South American Piping Association (Argentina)
  • Sacramento Pipe Band
    • St. Andrew’s Society of São Paulo (Brazil)
    • Riverside Pipe Band (Uruguay)
  • Banda Brasil Caledonia (Brazil)
  • St. Andrew’s Society of the River Plate (Argentina)
  • Brazilian Piper (Brazil)
  • Eagle School (Chile)
  • Mendoza Highlanders (Argentina)
  • Southern Winds (Chile)
  • Wolney Highlanders (Brazil)
  • Santiago Metropolitan (Chile)

First Solo Drumming Competition
Photo: Jeannine Facht

The G7 offered workshops with each pipe band corps, an invaluable exposure and hands-on learning opportunity at the individual level and for the pipe band corps.  This instructional approach was in fact first adopted in Santiago de Chile, at the G3 ten years prior.  The 2017 Gathering also included the first Adjudication workshop, attended by band leaders to have a deeper insight of the pipe band competition genre; and also a step in the direction towards eventually having local adjudicators.

The Adjudicators (and workshop instructors) were:

The Concert and Cocktails evening included a concert where the P/Ms and D/Ss of each band player a few sets together, followed by and impromptu concert by the adjudicators that brought down the house!

Adjudicator's Concert (L-R: Craig Munro, Susan Nase, Tyler Fry)
Photo: Jeannine Facht

This was the first Gathering after SPBASA approved a registration clause allowing pipe bands to compete with non-South-American guests within their ranks.  The intent of this new rule is to accelerate the bands’ exposure to overseas players, as compared to workshops every two years at a Gathering.  SAPA made the most of this by inviting Duncan Millar (snare drummer from the six-time World Champion, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band), who worked with SAPA’s drum corps for months prior to the G7.

SAPA's Drum Corps - Photo: Jeannine Facht

This Gathering hosted the Continent’s 4th pipe band competition, where bands competed in the Quick March Medley, Medley and Dance Corps categories.  Congratulations SAPA for winning the SPBASA Cup and the Dance Corps Competition both for a second consecutive time!  See also the Results page.  Bands also annexed to the competitions a general-audience free-style show, which is what our bands play mostly in their home towns.  Brazilian Piper (a social-project band from the State of Rio de Janeiro) stole the show with intricate drill, samba music and dances!

G7 pipe bands - Photo: Jeannine Facht

The G7 was unofficially closed with a Ceilidh/dinner at the Doce Trece pub/brewer in Providencia (a suburb of Santiago), and officially closed on Sunday Nov-26 after the Massed Bands Parade in the Las Condes district, and playing at the Parque Araucano with the Chilean Air Force Symphonic Orchestra and the Asturian Gaitas Ximielgu band.  Great thanks to the Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band for such a great Gathering!

We are all looking forward to the 8th South American Pipe Band Gathering, to be hosted in the city of Bariloche (host pipe band: Bariloche Highlanders), with the incredibly scenic backdrop of the Andes, lakes and forests!

Bariloche - Photo: Jose Cande

G7 on its way!

posted Jan 11, 2017, 9:56 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jan 12, 2017, 5:57 AM ]

The 7th South American Pipe Band Gathering will be 
held on November 24-26, 2017 and hosted in Santiago de Chile by the Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band.  This is the first Gathering to close the South American circuit of host cities (the G3 was also hosted in Santiago, in 2007).

With still 11 months to go, the organization is well on schedule having already defined all of the following:
  • Instructors/Adjudicators:
  • Competition Categories (*)
  • Venue: Prince of Wales Country Club
  • Massed Bands Venue: Parque Forestal
  • Preferred lodging: Time Suite Apartments
  • Pipe bands confirmed to date:
    • Argentina
      • Bariloche Highlanders Pipe Band
      • Highland Thistle Pipe Band
      • South American Piping Association (SAPA)
      • St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate Pipe Band
    • Brazil
      • Banda Brasil Caledonia
      • Sao Paulo Scots Pipe Band
      • St. Andrew's Society of Sao Paulo Pipes and Drums
      • Wolney Highlanders Pipe Band
    • Chile
      • 11th Fire Company Pipe Band
      • Lord Cochrane Pipe Band
      • Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band
(*) at the time of this article, the SMPB is also considering solo piping, drumming and dancing competitions, more details to follow in the near future.

Further details and announcements will be posted on the G7's Facebook Event page.

More info: Gathering Fixture.

Non-South-American Guest Players/Instructors for Pipe Bands

posted Mar 23, 2016, 10:22 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Mar 23, 2016, 10:24 PM ]

SPBASA's Executive Committee approved a new competition clause that allows foreign players to compete as guests within South American pipe bands.  There are two sides to this new clause:
  • what happens before the gathering/competitionHaving overseas "non-South-American" pipers, drummers and dancers as part of the pipe band practices and prep work for the Gatherings is a great opportunity to learn from experienced players.  SPBASA is ultimately encouraging pipe bands to expand their knowledge at a higher exposure rate than our current 1-hour-every-2-years at the Gathering workshops.
  • what happens during the competition itself: SPBASA is likewise trying to allow these guest players/instructors to compete as part of the band, yet not make a noticeable difference in the band's competition results (as compared to if these guests had not been competing with the band).  This ensures that bands continue to be on "fair-grounds" in the competition arena.
SPBASA is looking forward to seeing this clause enable all bands to accelerate their learning path and their exposure to top players and dancers.

G6, a unique Gathering

posted Oct 24, 2015, 5:09 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Oct 24, 2015, 5:11 PM ]

After two years in the making, the 6th South American Pipe Band Gathering concluded on October 18th with the departing of the 200 performers back to the five countries represented at the event.  This Gathering was the first to be hosted in Brazil, thus finishing the first time round the circuit of the current members' countries.  Though the Gathering officially started on Oct-15 with the local bands' workshops, some bands had their workshops the weekend prior in Rio do Janeiro.

This Gathering's guest performers and competition adjudicators were:
The G6 had a record number of eleven participating bands, including four bands participating for the first time at a South American Pipe Band Gathering.

In addition to the Quick March Medley category, the bands also competed in two categories for the first time (category results):
  • Dance Corps
  • Medley
Two additional SPBASA prizes were added this year (overall results):
  • The Pipe Major Robert Dunsmore Ross Shield, for the best overall pipe corps
  • The Joseph G Noble Shield, for the best overall drum corps
A memorable feature was the massed bands playing and dancing Asa Branca (a traditional Brazilian song, adapted to the Highland Bagpipes) with an escola do samba at the Ibirapuera Park's central esplanade (see photo below).

The South American Pipe Band Gatherings are huge camaraderie, knowledge sharing and learning experiences; and are key to the SPBASA's mission.  As was the case of the G6 kicking off it's organization at the G5, the 2017 G7's organization was likewise officially kicked-off at the G6 (more details to be communicated soon).

The Association and all the participating bands thank the Brazil Caledonia Pipe Band for hosting this wonderful Gathering and we are all looking forward to the G7!

Michael Flight elected as SPBASA's President

posted Oct 14, 2015, 7:21 AM by Brian Gibson   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 12:18 PM by Michael Flight ]

Following the Sep-29 reorganization, SPBASA's Executive Committee elected Michael Flight as the first President of the Association. Michael has been involved with SPBASA since it's conception in the mid 1990s, and the official founding in 2004. While representing the St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate Pipe Band, Michael has designed and promoted multiple projects and improvements, and has represented the Association in the international arena.

Michael started his pipe band experience in the late 1980s as a tenor drummer, and as a piper since 1988. He also was Pipe Major of the SASRP Pipe Band, and guest piper in several pipe bands in the region. Michael also has multiple years of overseas training and pipe band experience. Click here for more details.

Photo credit: Jeannine Facht

SPBASA's Management Reorganized

posted Oct 3, 2015, 2:11 PM by Michael Flight

Last September 29th, SPBASA's Executive Committee agreed to a reorganized management style, opening new Officers positions, as well as redefining and detailing the President's role.  The driver for these changes is to have a more effective approach to SPBASA's progress and future advancements, and to ensure long term continuity of the organization.

The resulting Management sections are listed following:
Clip art source.

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