The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band
Gig Seeker Pro

The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band World Comedy


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Livingstone's Art Centre"

78th Fraser Highlanders
Mississauga Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, Ontario
November 17, 2007

Reviewed by Andy Rogers

I had heard much about the 78th Fraser Highlanders Seanchaidh show and it was with great anticipation that I made the trek to see it with a near-capacity crowd at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. There were a number of highlights that left an indelible impression on my mind. The pipe section, which had anywhere from 20 to 25 players at any one time throughout the evening, was very good: excellent unison playing and a warm rich sound from the instruments.

It took the first three or four sets for the chanters to come together but after that the sound was superb. I also cannot say enough about the drum corps. There is a reason they are the best drum section in the world and throughout the evening they showed it. When they played their drum salute in the second half you could feel the "love" from the audience. The added percussion used in various sets was outstanding.

Whether it was extra bass work, drum kit, other types of drum work, cymbals or snare sticks on tenor drums, it all worked to great effect. This was especially evident in "Remember Culloden," "In Celtic Times," and "The Journey to Skye." I am very glad the audience got a chance to hear the band perform "The Dizzle" medley and the MSR "Balmoral Highlanders," "Atholl Cummers," and "John Morrison of Assynt House." We heard why the band did so well at the World Pipe Band Championships this August past and why they are one of the best pipe bands in the world. I was also pleased to hear "Journey to Skye." I remember hearing it for the first time in 1987, and when the pipe section joined in after the solo intro, goose-bumps appeared on the skin.

This wonderful, inspiring piece of music by Don Thompson still evoked that same emotion that evening. Another well played, beautiful piece of music was "A Love Song for Deborah Ann" written by John Cairns. I really enjoyed the accompanying instruments, all played by members of the band, which is so refreshing to see, and how the band went from the traditional concert U-shaped formation to one where the audience received the full-on power of the exceptionally tuned pipes.

In various sets throughout the evening the pipe band was joined by the Celtic Accent Dance Company led by Lisa Breck. What a talented group of young women. The dancing was very enjoyable to watch and the choreography by Ann Milne was simply superb. I enjoyed the choreography of modern dance juxtaposed with traditional highland dancing in the "Waulking Song and Morrison's Reel" set and the dancing/choreography in the "Macedonian Morning and Craig Colquhoun" set. The show would not have been the same without the dancers performing in the "Mason's Apron - Crookit Bridge" finale and the "Jig" encore.

Individual dancers also performed with the individual pipers - Lindsay Todd, Sean McKeowan, James MacHattie, John Cairns, Jake Watson, and P-M Bill Livingstone - during the "Tag-Team Solos." The intricacies of their footwork was dead-on the with the tunes. I later found out that these individual dances got together at the last moment: another testament to the creative talent of Ann Milne and the Celtic Accent Dance Company.

The narration by Ranald Livingstone throughout the show was kept to a minimum and, when used before certain sets, was very insightful. A detailed narrative of the Seanchaid story was included in the program and proved to be very informative. Livingstone also provided some warm and witty dialogue at the beginning of the second half and before the encore. I could find little fault with this concert. The Living Arts Centre venue was exceptional. The lighting by Greg Bride and the sound by Al Burnham were extremely professional. The pipe band and dancers were brilliant. I did feel that some of the entrances of the pipe section were a little untidy, the percussion in the "Zimba Warrior" set was a little overpowering, and that took away from the music and dancing.

It would have been more entertaining to "see" all of the extra percussion work being done - perhaps having them on a riser instead of tucked in behind the pipe section. However, these are minor faults. As the concert went on and even after the lights had dimmed and the sound was turned low the reviewer was continually reminded of one thing: For more than 25 years the Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders have produced the same passion for Celtic music, and their characteristic flow to that music has persisted. As an audience, we were very fortunate to hear that on the evening of November 17th.

Andy Rogers is one of North America's top solo pipers. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and plays with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Band.
- Pipes|Drums


"Flame of Wrath"
"Megantic Outlaw"
"Immigrant's Suite"
"Live in Ireland"



From the beginning, the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band has played music that has included repertoire considered outside the pipe band norm. In fact, the 78th has thrived on the continuing musical challenges placed before them. Led by P/M Bill Livingstone, a desire to nurture new ideas, to risk unconventional arrangements, and enthusiasm to play good tunes well, either in concert or in competition, has always been the Frasers binding tie.

Since the band formed in 1982, it has played a major role in changing the perception of what, artistically can and cannot be done in pipe bands. Drawing upon sources from the full breadth of music in the Celtic idiom, the 78th has evolved pipe band performances to a level of artistry previously unimagined.
Although the band has been widely successful at the highest level of pipe band competition, it is in concerts where its music can shine most brightly. The 78th Frasers have played to packed halls around the world, including Northern Ireland; Edinburgh, Scotland; Saint John, New Brunswick; Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; Motherwell, Scotland; Miami, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Vail, Colorado; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Cleveland, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia, Glasgow, Scotland and Toronto, Ontario.

Competitively, the 78th Fraser Highlanders have been uncommonly successful. The band has won the North American Pipe Band Championship at Maxville, Ontario and the Canadian Pipe Band Championship at Cambridge, Ontario, an unprecedented 12 times each. Over the 16 times it has traveled to and competed in the premier Grade One at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland, the 78th have been in the prize list 12 times, and in 1987 the 78th became the first non-Scottish band to win the coveted award. In 2007 the band finished 4th overall at the World Championships in Glasgow and the Drum Section under Drew Duthart and the Bass Section under Johnny Rowe and Lauren Bonnett won the 2007 World Drumming and Bass Drum Championships.