H I S T O R Y of
In September 1996, Mary Washington College asked the City of Washington Pipe Band to perform at the May 1997 commencement exercises, as they had for the previous four years. Due to scheduling difficulties, the band had to decline the invitation. Ray Scott, Erin Brown, Rob Martin, Paul Burgess, Bill Nightingale, and Walt McIntyre got together and played that commencement, calling themselves the Fredericksburg Piping Club.
President President Anderson was inspired to have Mary Washington College adopt the group, which occurred in September 1997 as the Eagle Pipe Band. By October of that year, the band had grown to twenty five members, and included not only pipers and drummers but also highland dancers. Many of the early members were from the greater Fredericksburg community, but we were also training MWC students.
The band performed as several public functions in a kaleidoscope of different tartans using many borrowed kilts. Graduation the following year (1998) saw a twelve member performing group.
One of the first major purchases was that of snare drums, tenor drums, and a bass drum. The first shipment of kilts arrived in October 1998, and the first public appearance in the official college tartan occurred at the 1998 Richmond Highland Games. By this time the band had expanded to roughly thirty five members, and was performing at a number of Scottish festivals and parades.
The 1999 MWC graduation saw a much larger band with fourteen pipers, five snares, three tenors, and a bass, all outfitted in the college tartan. What a difference from our first outing!
The summer of 1999 also saw the EPB’s first attempt at competition. The band entered grade V with a medley of Walter Douglas (2/4), Piper’s Prayer (slow 6/8), Nameless (3/4), and MacNeil’s Mill (4/4). At the first outing, the Virginia Scottish Games in Alexandria, the band placed first from both piping judges, first in ensemble, first in drumming, and first for bass drum in a field of eight bands. By the end of the season, the EPB had a first, two seconds, and a sixth. Because of its strong showing, the EUSPBA upgraded the group to grade IV for the 2000 season. The band dancers also brought several 1st place trophies on an individual level.
The first half of 2000 saw a dramatic shift in personnel for the EPB. In the space of a few months the band lost fifteen performing members. This resulted in a re-focusing on recruitment and training of new members, and necessitated a re-assignment back to grade V status. This is when performances took on a larger roll in the band schedule. Among other things, the band has performed locally with the Scottish Country Dancers, Colonial Dancers at the annual Block party commemorating the birthday of James Monroe, the Potomac Celtic Festival and the Virginia State Fair. In 2002 Laura Scott Pearlman was commissioned to create choreography for one of Dr. Scott’s tunes, Jubilation. This piece, performed by the band and dancers was entered into the Choreography competition on October 2003. The band/dancers won a 3rd place trophy. At this time the band also started to work bagpipe and brass orchestrations into our performances using the University’s brass ensemble.
After a time of rebuilding, the band again entered the competition circle, one of the highlights being a weekend trip to the Loch Norman Games in Charlotte, North Carolina. A fourth place finish there, followed by a strong showing at Southern Maryland a week later had EPB stock running high. With the departure of some key personnel that was not sustained that year, but the band did present many excellent performances at the Potomac Celtic Festival and VA State Fair.
A highlight for the Eagle Pipe Band in 2006 was the introduction of the Fredericksburg Invitational Pipe Band competition. We invited five grade 4/grade 5 bands to come to town for an event specifically designed for bands. The competition started at 6:00 pm so no one got heat stroke, there were no massed bands or other trappings of a typical Games, each band was able to play for the judges twice, and the better performance was counted, and we also included a drum salute competition. All participants had a great time.
April 2007 brought the band back to competition, where it placed second in an eleven band field at Southern Maryland. Some new recruits and lots of enthusiasm lea to a great finish when the band placed first at the Richmond Games in October.
The primary directive for the band is to have fun producing quality music. The group practices on Sunday afternoons on the University of Mary Washington campus. The dancers meet from 3:00 to 5:00 in the Auxiliary Gym in Goolrick Hall. The pipers and drummers meet from 4:00 to 6:00 in room 127, Pollard Hall. Occasionally, sectional practices begin at 3:00. If you want to visit a practice we would be happy to have you. Please contact the Pipe Major, Dr. Raymond Scott for more information.
Mission & Principles: The Eagle Pipe Band is sponsored by the University of Mary Washington, and thus the organization and its members serve as ambassadors for this institution. We seek to have our actions reflect well on UMW. Whenever the University requires the band’s services, we will meet that obligation.
As a musical group comprised of both college students and community members we operate with two primary goals: First we strive to present quality. We will practice diligently to present performances that are the very best we can make them. Second we will have fun. This is a hobby, an outlet to share our love of celtic arts with like minded folks. As an extension of these we hope to pass on our enthusiasm to our audiences and future band members.