Massed bands help celebrate Isle of Skye Pipe Band’s 50th anniversary

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PORTREE is the place to be this weekend if you are stirred by the sound of the great Highland Bagpipe and enthralled by the spectacle of massed pips bands.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Isle of Skye Pip Band, a total of eight pipe bands from around the Highlands and Islands will be joining forces, performing together and individually in the village throughout tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, June 4)

A number of bands from the Islands will also be playing through Portree’s streets this evening (Friday, June 3), so this weekend promises to be a great musical treat for visitors and locals alike.

Those joining the Isle of Skye Pipe Band 50th birthday celebrations are bands from Uist, Lewis, Nairn, Lochaber and the band of the Army Cadet Force. And of special significance, particularly given the continuing need to bring on young players in Skye, will be the appearance of the Skye Schools’ Pipe Band.

Says Peter MacDonald, Drum Major of the Isle of Skye Pipe Band: “We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 50 years than to put on a veritable feast of music. After all, entertaining the public is our main objective and this event will do exactly that.

“Also it will give something back to the island in return for all the help and support we have received over the years. We have been privileged over the years to be invited to play in places like Lewis, Uist and Nairn and so it is entirely appropriate that bands from these areas will join us for our celebrations this weekend.”

Although there had been a Portree Pipe Band, formed in the late 1920s, it went into abeyance during the Second World War. However, a local pipe band was re-formed in 1961, largely at the initiative of local man Ewen MacKenzie, a former Cameron Highlander who had returned to work in Portree.

And because the new band now drew its memberships from throughout Skye, the Isle of Skye Pipe Band replaced its original name.

Over the half-century since the band was reformed there have been a number of overseas trips to places like Toulouse in France and Stornoway but the principal role for the band has always been to perform and entertain in its native island.

The band unfailingly turns out to play for the thousands attending the annual Skye Games. It continues to support agricultural shows, gala days, half-marathons and the like and, in the past, the band was a regular feature of the anti-bridge tolls SKAT demonstrations.

On Tuesday evenings over the summer, weather and midges permitting, the band plays for about an hour and a half in Portree’s Somerled Square – a hugely popular event for visitors and locals alike.

The 50th Anniversary event will also feature performances by local Highlands Dancers and has received generous financial support from Scotland’s Islands.

Massed bands will kick things off at 8pm this evening (Friday) and at 12 noon tomorrow (Saturday).