cameron highlanders pipe band
The band was originally the San Diego County Pipe Band and because of the alliance with Clan Cameron of the Order of Scottish Clans, the name was changed to the Cameron Highlanders Pipe Band. It is now the oldest continually performing pipe band in California and is one of the oldest in the United States.
The band originally wore the Cameron of Erracht tartan, which was the same tartan worn by the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders regiment. In 1956, the Camerons of San Diego were officially recognized by the Queen and were given the privilege of wearing the regimental insignia and buttons.
The uniform of the band at that time was the kilt, full plaid, hair sporrans, glenngaries, and military white jackets with Cameron collar badges and the round Queens Own buttons. Later, dark green doublets with gold trim and feather bonnets were added for formal or evening occasions. These uniforms were those worn when the band performed for The Prince of Wales when he visited San Diego during his tour of duty aboard the H.M.S. Jupiter and also several years later when Queen Elizabeth made a visit to San Diego.
The uniforms went through another change in the 70’s when it was decided to change the kilt to the Cameron of Erracht old colors. In addition, the full plaids were dropped, as were the feather bonnets.
The band now wears the Ancient Cameron kilts with black fur sporrans, black Prince Charlie jackets, and black balmorals. This uniform is much more adaptable to the warm Southern California climate and gives the band a very formal appearance.
During exceptionally warm days or in parades, the band wears short sleeve white military shirts with waist belts and leather sporrans.
The Cameron Highlanders have been performing over the last fifty-five years and have been competing with fair regularity since the late 1950’s. They were one of the original founding members of the Pacific Coast Pipe Band Association, now the Western United States Pipe Band Association. The band first competed as a B band and in the 1970’s entered the A band ranks. The band did well during these years but dropped out of the competition scene for about five years in the mid seventies. During that time, the P.C.P.B.A. reoriented the association, creating Grade I, II, III, and IV bands to better align the West Coast with Scotland. At that time, the Camerons were placed in grade III. Since that time, the band has always been among the prizewinners and has won numerous championships, including the WUSPBA championships at Reno in 1996. After a sabbatical from the competition field for the 1999 season, the band returned in 2000 to finish 2nd in the WUSPBA standings.
The Cameron Highlanders have been under the leadership of John’s sons, Pipe Major Charles R. Rosenberger and Drum Sergeant Malcolm R. Rosenberger since 1970. Both of them are well respected players throughout the Western United States and both have been on the W.U.S.P.B.A judges list for over 20 years.
Charles learned to play the pipes from his father at the age of seven and was competing at the age of nine. He also took instruction from the late John B. McClellan. He won his first prize at the age of ten in the novice class at Petaluma and a second place at Santa Monica. He was moved to the Amateur grade at age ten and won his first aggregate championship at San Diego when he was twelve. He gathered dozens of other prizes and championships over the next seven years including the coveted James McColl trophy for Ceol Mor at Santa Monica. Charles entered the open class at nineteen and collected many more prizes before retiring from the individual ranks to concentrate on the band and other personal endeavors.
Malcolm began playing at age four, and entered his first contest when he was seven walking away with a second place in the Amateur class. By the time he was eight, he took the trophy in the Amateur competition at Santa Monica. Malcolm continued his winning ways throughout California and the Western United States. A room full of trophies attests to this. He entered the open competition class when he was seventeen and won the Western United States Championship at Santa Rosa at eighteen. He has also retired from the individual field, but continues to lead his drum corps to championships in their grade.
The Cameron Highlanders also has a championship highland dancing corps lead by Head Dancer Chrissy Ambler. Over the years, the Cameron dancers have accumulated hundreds of individual awards. Four of the band dancers of the past have won the Western U.S. championships. The current band dancers are all prizewinners. The dancers perform with the band at parades and other functions throughout the year.