The Ninth Festival of the International Guild of Town Pipers
Worcester, 13th – 15th May 2022
Report by David Jarratt-Knock (City of Worcester Waytes)
The Ninth Festival of the IGTP took place, finally, in Worcester over a mostly sunny weekend in May 2022. It was originally intended that this event take place in 2020, but it had to be postponed due to The Great Unpleasantness of the Covid pandemic. Whilst a date in 2021 was briefly considered, the decision was taken to produce a ‘Virtual Great Noyse’ that year, with bands and individuals recording their parts, to be assembled remotely by the Worcester Waites’ very own recording supremo and IGTP Webmaster, Paul Baker (the results of which can be found on the IGTP website: https://townwaits.org.uk/festival-2021-video/).
So it was with a sense of anticipation, and not a little delayed gratification, that nearly 70 musicians, representing ten bands, descended on the fine city of Worcester on a Friday afternoon in May. A full programme of events for the weekend began for early arrivers with a walking tour of the city led by Paul Harding of Discover History and a visit to the Cathedral Library hosted by its librarian, David Morrison. At 6.45pm we assembled, as directed, in costume, outside the Guildhall for the official photograph, followed by a Civic Reception in the opulent surroundings of the Guildhall’s Assembly Room. The City of Worcester Waytes, the host band for the weekend, provided a fanfare to welcome the Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Stephen Hodgson, and the member bands were presented with their commemorative festival badges. A special presentation was made to Alan Radford, outgoing Chairman of the IGTP, in recognition of his work for the Guild over many years, and the rest of the evening passed in general conviviality.
On Saturday, performance spaces were provided at five venues around the city: The Commandery (both inside the Great Hall and outside in the garden); the Tudor House Museum; Greyfriars House and Garden; and outside the Guildhall. It was a huge pleasure to have such a collection of wonderful buildings to host our performances, all within a relatively compact area, and the bands were greeted by enthusiastic listeners at all the locations throughout the day. We were particularly fortunate to be able to use an upstairs room at the Commandery as a changing room and instrument store, and that building also played host to the evening social event. After feeding the inner minstrel with a hog roast supper, various member bands contributed party pieces, including such delights as puppets and dancing pipers, instrumental and vocal contributions, and communal music-making, rounded off with a performance of the “Great and Mighty Ballad of the Fight between Sir Eglamore and the Dragon”.
Sunday’s rehearsal for the Great Noyse took place in the Great Hall of the Commandery, led by Baz Pope, who drilled the massed bands into shape for their performance of four pieces: The Worster Braules (after Thomas Tomkins); Pavane Lequercade (Pierre Phalèse); En Vray Amour (attrib. Henry VIII); and Bacco Bacco (Franceso Corteccia). We also prepared versions of the National Anthems of the United Kingdom and Ukraine. After gathering in Friar Street, the massed bands, marshalled by members of the Worcester Militia, processed to the Guildhall and thence to Cathedral Square where, under the watchful eye of Sir Edward Elgar and with the Cathedral as our backdrop, we played the four pieces and two national anthems, interspersed with individual contributions from several of the member bands. We were tremendously fortunate that the rain held off until after the last note of the Ukrainian Anthem, after which the bands dispersed to begin their several journeys homeward.
The bands taking part in this year’s festival were, in no particular order:
Waytes and Measures;
Stadspijpers van ‘s-Hertogenbosch;
De Mowbray’s Musicke;
City of Worcester Waytes;
Waites of Gloucester.
We were also delighted that our patron, Richard Rastall, was able to join us for the weekend.
Speaking as a member of the host band, it was a delight and a privilege to host the Ninth IGTP Festival. Thanks are due to the organising committee for a most enjoyable and smooth-running festival, and we look forward to 2024 when the tenth Festival will once again be hosted by our friends the Stadspijpers van ‘s-Hertogenbosch in their wonderful home town.