Pillarguridagene; Otta, August 2009. Foto: James Hosea

From a chance meeting in Bergen to the World Pipe Band Championships

Bergen Pipes & Drums was first formed in September 2005 under the name of Bergen Pipeband by a British piper (Chris Jones) and a Danish piper (Kirstine Folmann). After an accidental meeting at a Bergen Scottish Society cultural event, the founding members started talking about creating a musical platform for traditional bagpipe music in the west of Norway, leading to the establishment of Bergen Pipeband - the first pipe band in Bergen’s history. Close contact with the Bergen Scottish Society helped raise the profile of this exotic musical alternative and a remarkable level of interest quickly led to an increasing number of both pipers and drummers.

Professional percussionist Tom Hunter of Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra joined the band in 2006, and started building the foundations of a drum corps to compliment the growing number of bagpipers. In 2007 Gregor Campbell (former Glenalmond College Pipe Band, Inverclyde & District Pipe Band, Stonehaven Pipe Band, St Columba's Pipe Band and King's Edgehill Pipe Band) became the band’s first Pipe Major, leading the musical development of the band. Encouraged by the growth in numbers and responses from within the world of piping and drumming, the pipe band grew in strength and confidence to become an active part of Bergen's cultural scene. Both Tom and Gregor moved back to Scotland in late 2008, and Chris Jones was appointed Pipe Major after a successful performance together with the Oslo Caledonian Pipe Band at the Pillarguri festival in Otta.

Following the resignation of the Pipe Major in the autumn of 2009 and subsequent discussions about the organisation and musical direction of the band, some members decided to establish a new, separate band (The Bergen Pipe Band). The majority decided to reaffirm the band's close ties with Bergen Scottish Society and to carry out essential changes: establishing a constitution and band structure, electing a committee to run the band and choosing a new Pipe Major (Thomas De Ridder). To reflect the new structure and ambitions of the band, and to fully recognise the contributions made by both the piping and drumming sections, it was decided to change the band’s name. Band members voted overwhelmingly to change the pipe band’s name to Bergen Pipes & Drums.

The relaunced Bergen Pipes & Drums introduced a new repertoire in 2010, set itself the goal of entering the World Pipe Band Championships in 2013 and focused on raising the band's musical standard to achieve this. In 2011 the band took delivery of a brand new set of Premier snare, bass and tenor drums and chose a new tartan for the band's uniform (Morgan MacKay).

Bergen Pipes & Drums successfully competed in the Grade 4B category at the 2013 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland and became the first Norwegian pipe band to compete in any kind of competition. Although the band did not make it through to the finals, the Norwegian flag was flown for the first time at the World Pipe Band Championships and the band took part in the traditional massed bands parade at the closing ceremony. The experience was invaluable and Bergen Pipes & Drums continues to work at raising its musical standard, with a view to competing again.