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The City of Melbourne Highland Pipe Band is one of Australia’s oldest pipe bands. Our members are proud of traditions dating back to the 1890s. Since that time the band has earned a reputation for musical innovation and excellence in performance.
The band is highly regarded within Australia as a key exponent of the traditional art of Pipe Band music. In recent years the band has developed new concepts and innovations within this traditional field, including the blending of traditional / non-traditional music with specialized choreographic displays and concert performances.
Bagpipes have been important in almost every European and Middle Eastern culture, but it is with Scotland that pipe music is inevitably associated. Different types of bagpipe are still played today in Ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, India, Egypt, Jordan and North Africa; the Scottish pipe is also played in virtually every British Commonwealth nation and the United States. The City of Melbourne Highland Pipe Band is proud to maintain this multi-cultural tradition.
1897 to 1918
Born out of desire for the early Scottish settlers to perpetuate the traditions and customs of their homeland, the band began life as the South & Port Melbourne Thistle Society’s Pipe Band around 1897/98. The band performed for both society and public occasions growing in size and prowess as their existence became more widely known and new arrivals joined their number. As pipe band contests began to be held, the band was frequently successful, including at unofficial Australian Champion contests. At the outbreak of the first world war 22 of the band’s 26 members enlisted, with seven losing their lives.
1918 to 1978
In 1918 the pipe band split from the Thistle Society to become a self-governing body. The name chosen was the Melbourne Highland Pipe Band, which was to endure for sixty years. The band was at the forefront of the pipe bands standard in Australia during the forties, fifties and sixties competing in contests Australia wide and accumulating many accolades including National and State Championships at the highest level.
In 1962 the band released an album "Airs, Marches and Selections", which was widely distributed in Australia and the United States. The following track is the band playing "The Highland Brigade at Magersfontein" and "Green Hills of Tyrol".
During this period the band was also invited to record and participate in the radio based contest by the BBC. A copy of this event remains in the band’s archives.
In 1978 a geographical affiliation was established with the City of Melbourne and the band became The City of Melbourne Highland Pipe Band.
1978 to the present day
During the eighties and nineties the band underwent an extensive reconstruction and growth period. The result was an expansion of our activities and promotion to the higher level of piping groups at a national level.
The band celebrated its centenary with the production of the CD “An Epic Journey” comprised mainly of original compositions. The track below is the Grade One band's contest medley from the album. The album can be purchased via Amazon.
The band travelled extensively interstate, and to New Zealand on several occasions, to improve musical competitiveness. On the contest field the band was rewarded with success in many competitions, most notably Australian Championships wins in 1974 (Juvenile grade) and 1992 (Grade 3), and regular Grade 1 placings. The band was undefeated in the Display contest between 1984 and 2004.
In recent times the band has been invited to take part in all three Edinburgh Tattoo events held in Australia, the most recent in Melbourne in 2016.
With in excess of thirty members in the Pipe Corps and twenty in the Drum Corps, the band enters contest groups in various grades. The members are an extremely representative cross section of the community, from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Members come from throughout Melbourne and Victorian country areas.
2018 brings a significant milestone for the band, as we celebrate 120 years, and 100 years as “Melbourne Highland”.
Donate to the band
Donations to the band are directed to our Scholarship Fund. The Fund assists young pipers and drummers in their tuition programme, allowing them to attend workshops and lessons presented in Australia by world-renown tutors.