(Bonnie Klein Photo.  Click to enlarge)       
About Us

Under the leadership of Pipe Major Kurtis Bryden, Pipe Sergeant Scott Williams, Drumming Instructor Ray Halliday, and Lead Drummer Judy MacMullin-Smith, the Clan Thompson Pipe Band rehearses each week in Stellarton and/or Antigonish, Nova Scotia. First formed in 1984 under the direction of former Pipe Major Scott Williams, the band competed successfully at the Grade 3 level for almost a decade, winning the Grade 3 North American Championship in 1989. In the 1990s, the band took an extended layoff, but was re-formed in 2006 and re-entered competition at the Grade 4 level. The band has since become a popular concert and parade band with performances across Nova Scotia, and in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The band performs annually about 25-30 times each season in parades and concerts, and at football games at St. F.X. University.

In 2016, the band staged its first major 2-hour benefit concert in aid of the Fort MacMurray Fire Relief Fund. A second one was held in Antigonish in support of the Antigonish Highland Society Bursary Fund. Encouraged by the success of these two events, two more benefit concerts were held in 2017, three in 2018, and four in 2019. Plans for more concerts and parades in 2020 were brought to a halt by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

With a current roster of 20 musicians, pipers and drummers of all ages, who come from many different parts of the province, we strive for excellence and are proud of our teaching program. If you are a piper or drummer, or want to become one, contact us. We welcome new members and have teaching programs for anyone who might like to develop piping or drumming skills.

Latest News

 Pipe Major Kurtis Bryden 

p/m Kurtis Bryden

In November of 2019, the Clan Thompson Pipe Band welcomed its new pipe major, Kurtis Bryden. Kurtis had joined the band in August and heard that Pipe Major Scott Williams, who had founded the band and led it for twenty-two years, was anxious to retire. He offered his services and in November the band confirmed his appointment to the post.

Kurtis has been playing bagpipes for more than 20 years. He started at the age of 12 as a piper in the Army Cadet Program. Darren Knox was Kurtis’ first piping instructor in army cadets and he also took private lessons from Sandra MacIsaac of Giants Lake. 

At age 16 he left the Army Cadets and joined the Army Reserves as a bagpiper for the 1st Battalion The Nova Scotia Highlanders where he continued to learn from Pipe Major Karen MacLean. After playing with the 1st Battalion for about a year, he transferred to the 2nd Battalion in Cape Breton. “The Pipe Major of The 2nd Battalion The Nova Scotia Highlanders, Michael Campbell was one of the biggest influences on my piping. Mike is a perfectionist and always pushed everyone to play at their best,” Kurtis explains. While in Cape Breton he played for the Foresters School of Dance at several dance festivals. He was also employed by the Gaelic College in St Anne's as the duty piper the summer of 2006. He competed with the Antigonish Highland Society under the direction of Pipe Major Robyn Whitty in grade 3 band competitions at this time as well.

At age 19, Kurtis joined the Navy and started playing with the 12 Wing Shearwater Pipe Band under the direction of Pipe Major Danny Smith, competing with the band in grade 3 and grade 4 band competitions. After serving for a decade, he left to work in Alberta where he played for a short time with the Viscount Park Pipe Band where he continued to develop his skills with instruction from the bands Pipe Sgt. Jonathon Grady.

Kurtis moved home to Nova Scotia in November 2018. He had stopped piping for a short period when he was in Alberta, and decided it was a great time to start again. He reached out to Scott Williams and started playing with The Clan Thompson Pipe Band in July 2019. “I was a couple weeks late because my second son was born in June on the day when I was supposed to attend my first practice,” he explains.

Kurtis played with the band for a few parades and a couple of football games at St. F.X. University over the summer and fall, and when he learned that Scott Williams was anxious to step down as Pipe Major, he volunteered to take up the position. His appointment to the post was made official at the band's annual general meeting in November. Williams was Pipe Major for the last time at a Remembrance Concert at St. Ninian's Cathedral in Antigonish on November 8th, and Kurtis was Pipe Major three days later at the Remembrance Day Parade and ceremony in Antigonish where he had the honour of playing the two laments.

“The reason I decided to take the Pipe Major position was because I have a passion for piping and want to keep piping and drumming alive and thriving in the Antigonish and Pictou areas. This is where I grew up playing and it was a huge part of my life growing up,”  Kurtis explains.

The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed the band down a bit but the musicians kept up their weekly rehearsals on line and, when the weather co-operated, outdoors. In August, the band played for a video to be called “A Virtual Highland Games” which was commissioned by the Antigonish Highland Society. In addition to leading the band, Kurtis played a solo on the video. 

Kurtis is currently taking online lessons from Bruce Gandy to continue to develop his skills as a bagpiper and it is Kurtis' hope that his band can be ready to return to active competitions again in the near future.

Click here to read the history of the Clan Thompson Pipe and its founding Pipe Major Scott Williams.


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