For lovers of all things Celtic, the St. Andrews Society and the Schenectady Pipe Band came together on Friday evening at Proctors’ GE Theatre in Schenectady. The evening started with a screening of the 60th Anniversary Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a massive event also featuring Scottish dance, music and so on. According to organizer Bill Munro of the Pipe Band, they had to get special permission to screen the excerpts from the film, which was made in 2009.
After a brief intermission, the Braemar Highland Dancers – a local troop that was founded in 1962 and now has a variety of highly talented performers than range from four years old to adult – took the stage. They performed a tribute to Abigail Hogan, a deceased member of the troupe, that featured the incredible athleticism and subtle grace that marks the best of highland dance.
The Schenectady Pipe Band, who have frequented the annual Scottish Games since their arrival on the regional scene in 1978, took the stage next and belted out a handful of numbers including “Grant Us Peace,” “Shenandoah,” “Highland Laddie,” “Lochanside” and “Balmoral.” What was striking, as always, was the sheer power of a relatively small number of pipes and drums. I suspect that’s why the massed bands at the Games each year draw such a huge crowd. There is simply nothing else like the sound of bagpipes played with skill and power by these men and women.
The dancers took over again performing the traditional sword dance, Scotch Measure and Hornpipe, the latter looking like it would have taxed even the most fit aerobics instructor working today. The Pipe band wrapped up their performance and then the Fighting 86’s completed the show.
All in all, it was a great evening for those who didn’t get quite enough over the Labor Day weekend when the Scottish Games were held at the Altamont Fairgrounds.
Review and photographs by Michael Seinberg