Ursa Beckford, 18, of Clifton, Maine, started playing the highland bagpipes at age seven. Under the initial instruction of his father, and since then from Donald F. Lindsay, Ursa quickly moved through all the Amateur ranks of piping competitions. In the fall of 2011 Ursa was upgraded to the Professional (Open) grade, the highest grade in piping. He is the first ever from Maine.
Ursa competes throughout the year at competitions across the U.S. and Scotland. As a professional his successes include 3rd at the MacGregor Memorial Piobaireachd Competion (Oban), 1st Overall B Grade at the Cowal Highland Gathering (Dunoon), 1st B Grade Piobaireachd at the Cowal Highland Gathering (Dunoon), and 3rd in the Piobaireachd at the Royal Braemar Gathering (Braemar). As an amateur, he was Overall Champion at many competitions, including the Gilchrist Challenge (2009, 2011); the P/M Sandy Jones Invitational (2011); the Scottish Arts Indoor Games (2009, 2011); Capital District Scottish Games (2010, 2011); Back Bay Solo Piping Contest (2011); Round Hill Highland Games (2011); Glenfinnan Highland Gathering (2011, tied for 1st), and New Hampshire Highland Games (2011). Ursa is the 2011 Eastern United States Pipe Band Association Grade 1 Champion in both Overall and Piobaireachd.
Ursa is also winner of the William Ross MSR Challenge Targe at the 2011 Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational. See the link below to watch his performace:
Ursa is a former member of the Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band, one of only three bands at this level in the USA.
He teaches and performs across Maine, performing solo and with a keyboardist. He instructs pipe bands and individuals of all levels. Above all, Ursa brings a musical standard higher than any ever seen in the Pine Tree State.
Outside piping, Ursa is a high school graduate, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, skiing, cycling, and debate. He is an Eagle Scout.