Two of the best pipe bands in the United States are combining, with Grade 1 Oran Mor of Albany, New York, and Grade 2 Stuart Highlanders of Massachusetts the latest to merge forces with the aim of creating a super-band.
The members of Oran Mor will fold, and all members of that band who wish to join the Stuart Highlanders are being welcomed into the group, under Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway and Leading-Drummer Scott Fletcher.
The move comes in the Stuart Highlanders’ fiftieth anniversary year. The band plans to continue to compete in Grade 2, and will also continue its Grade 4 development band, with weekly practices being held in both the Boston and Albany areas, with one monthly combined practice.
“Twenty years ago, the Oran Mor Pipe Band was founded as a collaborative effort between two successful bands in Central New York, who recognized that coming together was worth the effort and risk if it meant that a higher level of music could be made,” Andrew Douglas, Pipe-Major of the now defunct Oran Mor said in a statement to pipes|drums. “I think, in large part, that inspired my decision to approach Adam and Scotty with the idea of doing a similar thing between our two bands. While it’s true the name Oran Mor will go away, we are all very excited to see the spirit of the band live on. “
While the Stuart Highlanders had enjoyed a general trend upward until 2013, the group had been reduced to only 13 pipers, outnumbered by a healthier drum section. Oran Mor also had been struggling with enough numbers and talent to compete seriously at the Grade 1 level.
“After several weeks of thorough discussion among band leadership, both Scott Fletcher and I are extremely pleased to welcome this group of talented musicians to the band,”Holdaway said. “We feel that this collaboration is the right fit for the organization at this time. Weére also confident that this move will help raise the overall musical standard in the northeast United States.”