RCMP Pipes and Drums in Basel 2022

In July 2022, nineteen 19 RCMP Pipers and Drummers assembled in Basel, Switzerland for the 2022 Basel Tattoo. Most were Ottawa members, but we were augmented with friends from RCMP Pipe Bands in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. The Tattoo had been cancelled for the previous two years, as had most big events due to Covid, so the chance to be there for the 15th anniversary of the Basel Tattoo was very exciting.

This year, we were the only Canadian band in the Tattoo. Pipe bands joining us on parade were from South Africa (2), Australia (1), Malta (1), the U.K. military (4) and from Switzerland itself (1). Military bands (brass and reed) were from Switzerland, Bulgaria, Norway and the U.K. Adding excitement to the show were the USAF Honor Guard drill team, the Kumudini Homes School Pipe Band from India, the Flings and Things Highland Dancers from Scotland, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Top Secret Drum Corps, the local boys. Not to mention the Cows and singers from Les Armaillis de la Fete de Vignerons.

Band members arrived on 11 July and settled into the hotel. The next morning, we started four days of intensive rehearsals to fine tune the formations and the choreography. The music came together quickly as all of the bands had done their homework and were ready to play. The choreography took a bit longer as there were many adjustments to the plan until the Director was satisfied. Then, it was on to the first of 11 shows on 15 July.

Saturday, 16 July was a very busy day. It featured a 2 km street parade, with the Tattoo acts joined by over 20 guest formations. This was a popular event, with an estimated 100,000 spectators lining the route. There is a great video of the entire parade on YouTube if you’d like to watch. Just search for “2022 Basel Tattoo Parade”, or click here. After the parade, we changed to dress uniforms and presented an afternoon and an evening show, both to a full house of over 8000. I think the spectators were overjoyed to have live events again as the ovations were long and enthusiastic!

View of the parade on the Rhine bridge

The last day of the Tattoo was Saturday, 23 July and a special event took place – Children’s day. Many of the participating acts took place, giving the visiting kids a chance to try out instruments, ask questions and admire the uniforms. The RCMP tent was a popular stop. Five members were on the show floor handing out candies and RCMP and Canada flag pins. They also allowed the kids to try their hand at both snare and tenor drums, under drummer supervision of course. Many kids took the opportunity to get their photos taken holding the Drum Major’s mace and wearing some of the uniform accoutrements. Then, of course, all members were back into full uniform and marching on for the 5:30 and 9:30 PM shows to wrap up the tattoo experience.

Photos from Childrens’ Day

Basel was a very warm place to be in July, with the temperatures in the high 30s, reaching 37 degrees on one day. We were happy the majority of the shows only started at 9 PM when it was a tad cooler. Of course, it was not all hot, sunny days. Thunderstorms moved in Thursday night and pelted the city with monsoon like rain. Fortunately for us, the rain ended before the Massed Pipe Bands marched back on, but the band of the Welsh Guards got a drenching.

Band of the Welsh Guards – they don’t let the rain deter them

I should mention that the Tattoo was very well organized and took good care of the participants. Each band had a liaison officer assigned who made sure our needs were met and that we made it to our commitments on time. They brought in many pallets of water to help keep us well hydrated on those warm days. The food and accommodation was great and the passes for the city transit system were well used. It was nice to feel wanted.

Tattoos are hard work, but there is time for fun and comradeship as well. One of the highlights for many was a float down the Rhine; especially appropriate given the heat. Not everyone tried it, but many wished they had. Recreational trips organized by the Tattoo were popular, with visits to Bern and Lake Neuchatel, a day in the Alps at Stoos and Fronalpstock, a visit to the St Beatus Caves and a chocolate tasting among the offerings. On the 25th, those of us still in Basel took the opportunity to ride the local tram to the area where France, Germany and Switzerland meet. Not often you get a chance to have breakfast in Switzerland, a beverage in France, lunch in Germany and back to supper in Basel, all in the same day!

The two weeks of the Tattoo commitment signalled a return to a more normal year for the RCMP Pipes and Drums and was an experience we won’t soon forget.

Royal Visit 2022

On 18 May 2022, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visited the RCMP Musical Ride at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa. Their visit was part of the celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The band and dancers had the privilege of assisting at the show. We marched the RCMP Guidon on parade to the RCMP Regimental March, then proceeded to the menage to perform for the assembled crowd. Our job was to entertain those attending while they waited for the arrival of the special guests, who were visiting with the Ride members and the horses.

After our performance, we were able to watch the Ride before forming up once more to play for the departure. It was a perfect day for the show.

The cover photo for the post took advantage of the rare opportunity for the band to get a nice photo with the full band and the Musical Ride. Scroll down to see a larger selection of photos from the event. Also enjoy the vido of the dancers, performing to “Corky’s Gift”, a tune written by our Pipe Major, Graeme Ogilvie.

The RCMP and the Monarchy

Members of the RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers have had the privilege of performing for members of the monarchy on many occasions. We look forward to any further opportunities in future. The RCMP has a long association with the monarchy and with our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II who is a strong proponent of the Force. The Vancouver branch of the RCMP Veterans Association published a very interesting history of the association between the monarch and the RCMP. It turns out it has existed since the very early years.

It is well worth your time to have a read of this article. We hope you enjoy it!

PPBSO Feature on Andrew Hayes

The RCMP Pipes and Drums is a group of volunteer pipers, focused on community service vice competitions. Because of this, we are fortunate to have pipers and drummers from various skill levels, both competitors and casual players. We were privileged in the early years to have Andrew Hayes in our ranks. Andrew is the son of Patrick Hayes, who was the RCMP Pipe Band’s founding Pipe Major. Both are featured in the photo above.

Andrew has played with several successful competitive bands in Canada. Recently, he was the Pipe Major of the Ottawa Police Services pipe band and led them to championship titles in Grade 2 and 4, before turning over that role to focus on his solo career.

As a solo competitor, Andrew has been extremely successful. He has won many prizes in Canada and has been successful in Scotland as well. Among the prizes he has won were London Gold Medals at the Northern Meeting in 2010 and the Argyllshire Gathering in 2019.

The Ottawa Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) branch is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It has published articles about notable members of the piping and drumming community to celebrate this milestone. Issue #34 provides Andrew’s history. It is an interesting read and can be found here. While you are there, browse the other PPBSO articles and enjoy the interesting history of piping in the Ottawa area.

Thornton Award for 2021

Every year one very special person is identified as the recipient of the Thornton Award, which goes to the band member or dancer who has served as a role model by being the ultimate team player through exceptional commitment, motivation, perseverance, and cooperation. You can read about the award’s beginnings in the 2012 History post here

At the band’s Regimental Dining-In on Saturday night, the award for 2021 was presented to Jenny Putinski. Congratulations, Jenny, from the band management team, and all band members and dancers, on this extremely befitting honour. So very much deserved.The citation for the award follows:

Citation

Jenny Putinski came to the band in 2010, and although she was not sure at first about playing for a non-competitive band, she quickly came to enjoy all the amazing events the band had to offer, including over the next two years, a Dominion Chalmers concert, a trip to Loon Mountain as Duty Band, and the FIMMQ Tattoo in Quebec City.

Already a well-accomplished piper, pipe major, and drummer, and extremely well regarded within the pipe band community of Eastern Ontario, she quickly immersed himself in the band as a committed team player whose presence has had a significant positive impact ever since.  She has participated in more than 150 events in red serge, many of them major occasions such as the presentation to the Princess Royal at the RCMP stables, and as well as domestic trips to Quebec City and Halifax, international trips to the Netherlands, Loon Mountain, Estes Park, Belfast, Edinburgh, and China.

Jenny has also done more than 30 solo events and far more than the 5,000 volunteer hours itself would belie, her commitment to representing the RCMP has been exemplary.  But even more important has been Jenny’s commitment to being the ultimate team player.

Jenny has volunteered as member on the Board of Directors, she has been acting/Pipe Major, and she has been an acting/Pipe Sergeant on many occasions.  She has also voluntarily taken on the role as one of the band’s most influential teachers and mentors, significantly helping the overall quality and presentation of the band.

Jenny’s exceptional commitment, motivation, perseverance and cooperation, serving as a role model to others in the band, makes her this year’s Thornton Award winner.

Remembrance Day 2021

Remembrance Day is always an important date in the calendar for the Pipes and Drums. Remembering the contributions of our military and police veterans in times of conflict is a sacred duty for our members. The RCMP Pipes and Drums have led the parade at the Royal Canadian Legion branch 632 in Orleans for many years, but in 2020, due to Covid restrictions, the band was represented only by our Pipe Major and Bugler in the limited attendance ceremony. This year, with the easing of restrictions, the Legion was able to present a full ceremony at their cenotaph and we were able to participate with a full band.

The band marched on the colours at the form up point, then led the veterans contingent to the cenotaph. Once in place, we played Maple Leaf Forever again to march the colours on and off the assembly area. As the ceremony progressed, our Bugler played the Last Post and the Rouse and the Pipe Major played the traditional Lament, Flowers of the Forest. Once the many wreaths were laid, the band marched off the participants to the Regimental March. In pure celebration of the occasion to march together again, the band returned to the branch building to the tune Cabar Feidh.

After a short break to warm up and partake in the lunch put on by the Branch, a mini-band retired to the upstairs lounge and played a few tunes. From all reports, the music was enjoyed by all. Certainly the band members really enjoyed the chance to perform as a group again after such a long dry spell.

The participants at the ceremony were all obviously pleased to be able to gather for a full ceremony again to remember our veterans. The favourable weather was an added bonus for all who attended. Our band photographer, Charles, was on hand to take the beautiful photographs presented below.

A tune for your listening pleasure

A short time ago, we announced the planned production of a book of pipe music to celebrate the RCMP’s 150th Anniversary in 2023. (details here) This post is to highlight one of the entries already submitted for the book.

The tune, 50 by 1, is composed by Bruce Topp, a former Pipe Major of the E division band. Before joining the RCMP Pipe Band in 2006, Bruce had already served as Pipe Major in military bands and had participated in many significant events with several of them. His full biography can be found here.

Bruce was also a long serving member of the Delta Police Pipe band and wrote this tune for their anniversary. This video, prepared by the DPPB, provides a beautiful rendition of the tune. Look for it in the compilation when it’s released next year.

The video can be found here. Enjoy!

RCMP Pipe Band “Virtual” Concert for Perley & Rideau Veterans

The RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers first performed a concert at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre in December 2008 as a “Christmas present” to the Veterans and staff. The audience much enjoyed the show, so in 2010, the band decided to make the concert an annual event. Since then, the band has presented a show every year, usually in April. It give us a chance to do a “dress rehearsal” to try out all the new material for the coming year and provides a kick off to summer for the veterans.

The band is proud to honour and recognize the veterans at the residence and not only applaud the service they had provided to Queen and Country, but to give them an evening’s entertainment far from their normal daily routine.

Sadly, the pandemic prevented the band from doing the annual show in 2020 and again in 2021, so an alternative was found. The band members and dancers recorded individual videos of their tunes and dances. These were passed to our multi-skilled Dance Team leader, Kelsey, who tied them all together into a great 30 minute show. The video was passed to the Perley Rideau entertainment people in early May. We are now happy to share this with a wider audience. We hope you enjoy it.

Here is the link to the video on YouTube

RCMP PB at FIMMQ 2013

The first Festival Internationale de Musique militaire (FIMMQ) took place in Québec City in 1967. It was organized by the Canadian Army for the 100th anniversary of the Canadian
confederation. This year (2013) saluted the 15th anniversary of the Festival and gathered close to 700 musicians and participants.

Over the week of activities, it was estimated that the bands entertained over 200,000 people. There were bands from Belgium, Germany, Chile, France and Russia as well as all the Canadian bands. Three soloists from the Russian Red Army Choir were the special guest.

This was the fourth and final time that an RCMP Composite Pipes, Drums and
Dancers performed at the FIMMQ. Unfortunately, the FIMMQ ceased operations after the 2013 show. It was a huge disappointment to all who felt that this was one of the best
exhibitions of military brass bands in existence.

Representatives participated from the RCMP Pipes and Drums from “H” Division (Halifax), “J” Division (Moncton), “C” Division (Montréal), “National” Division (Ottawa), “D” Division (Winnipeg), “K” Division (Regina) and “E” Division (Vancouver). Dancers from “H”, “C” and “National” Divisions joined the RCMP Composite Pipes and Drums. As was the case the previous year, the only other pipe band participating was the local 78th Fraser Highlanders, Québec City Garrison.

It was a great performance, which you can watch here: FIMMQ 2012

RCMP PB at Windsor Castle 2009

The RCMP Pipe Band traveled to the U.K. in 2009 to participate in the Royal Windsor Military Tattoo. The occasion was the presentation of RCMP Horse “George” to Her Majesty the Queen. “George” was the fourth black horse presented to Her Majesty by the RCMP. These beautiful horses are used for the breeding program and to be ridden on ceremonial occasions.

The video shows the full presentation ceremony This includes the introduction by Leslie Neilson, which gives the history of the presentation of RCMP horses to Her Majesty. The band marches in with “George” at about the 3 minute mark.

You can read more about “George” and the presentation in the CTV News article here. Enjoy the video on YouTube, by following this link.