Centennial Celebration: Year in review

Schenectady Pipe Band, Centennial Celebration review.

When we started planning for our Centennial Year, about 18 months ago, I remembered a remark made by Mark Dubois. He said that all the bands that celebrate these kind of milestone always leave a lot on the table that don’t get accomplished. As the Centennial Chair, I was determined that that would not happen. We set a goal of raising $50,000 to support the Band as we begin our second century, and I am proud to report that we have exceeded that goal, thanks in large part to all 75 individuals who donated to the Centennial Fund. Gifts ranged from $5 to $10,000, and I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your generosity. Special recognition needs to be given to a few people who were key to this success. The first person to give was Pat Burke, whose Centennial Supporter Level gift gave us a huge starting point. Then John & Jeanette Sassatelli got us enrolled in GE’s Matching Gift program, which has so far resulted in $7500 in matching gifts. As John says, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Next I’d like to thank the members of the Schenectady St Andrews Society. Their individual contributions totaled over $3000. And last but certainly not least, Donna & David Dardaris’ generous gift, including the GE match, of $10,000 put us over the top!

We started out with the Centennial Kick-off at the Celtic Hall last October. That event was organized by the SPB Association, led by Association President Donna Dardaris. Thanks also to Kevin Roe for allowing us to use the Celtic Hall with North Sea Gas that night.

Then we had the Sounds of a Century concert at Proctors, which we were proud to again partner with the Schenectady St Andrews Society.

Following the concert was the Centennial Pub Crawl in downtown Schenectady and it was a blast, led by Bill Schmitt.

Then, of course it was on to Scotland to compete in the World Pipe Band Championship. We didn’t win, but the trip was a total success. Thanks to Betty Schenck and her committee, we had wonderful trips to the Edinburgh Tattoo, Glencoe and the Famous Grouse Distillery, and a memorable farewell party at the Birds & Bees Patio.

Getting back from Scotland, we were all about celebrating our 40th year of presenting The CDSG, led by our Games Chairman for the past 17 years, Pete Plourde.  Saturday was one of the Best in many years.   And this weekend is the finale for the Centennial. Yesterday Bob Barnes organized the first SPB Golf Day at Western Turnpike with 44 golfers in attendance.

And I can’t imagine a better way to end the year than at the wonderful Gala with all the beautiful dresses, colorful table decorations, former band members and the music of the Brigadoons. Thanks to Donna Bartlett and her committee for organizing this spectacular event.

And one last person to thank is Matt Kelly. He was able to wrap all this up in expertly designed materials, posters, signs, drumheads, videos & pictures to make it look as though we all knew what we were doing!

Looking to our second 100 years, we have much going for future success. The Centennial Fund-raising effort allowed the band to invest in improvements in uniforms, drums, piping supplies and tuition to the tune of $23,500. We have funds remaining that we will continue to invest in the “infrastructure” of sound and spectacle that is the signature of the Schenectady Pipe Band. (by the way, if you haven’t sent in a donation or want to donate again, it’s not too late!).

Also, the Capital District Scottish Games continues to be an Important factor in SPB’s future success. The Games are a great recruitment tool, and connect us to the Community in many beneficial ways.

Finally, the constitution and by-laws of the SPB is quite unique in the Pipe Band world. We are a member driven organization, led by an elected Board of Officers and Representatives. Decisions on budgets, uniform components, musical selections and musical leadership are all decided on by the membership, allowing for each member to be a part of a dynamic not for profit entity.

Yes…the future looks bright!

Bill Munro Sr.
Centennial Committee Chair

Centennial Update: Virtual Trip to Scotland

The 100 year old Schenectady Pipe Band is going to Scotland to compete in the World Pipe Band Championship competition.  Follow along with us on the Band’s Facebook page as we begin our journey on August3rd.  Be a part of this experience for their 2 weeks of music and fun!  Were going to be doing daily Vlogs (video blogs) and posting as many photos of our trip.  Starting with packing and checking in at the air port to early morning practices to finally the worlds.  It will be like you’re right there with us.  The Vlogs will be posted to our YouTube channel and shared on our Facebook page in the morning, (eastern time).  Don’t forget to give us a like on Facebook and Subscribe to our YouTube Channel.  Links are below.

Facebook    YouTube


Centennial History: Our 1st Pipe Major, Isaac L. Riddell

Isaac L. Riddell, pictured here with his wife Margaret Scott Riddell. Early 1930’s

With the band in the middle of it’s Centennial Celebration and we have been looking into the past to find out more about our bands history, mainly the man who started the band, Isaac L. Riddell, our very first Pipe Major.

With help for multiple sources we have found that Isaac; born 6 Aug, 1882, from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Scotland, immigrated to the United States around 1910, at the age of 27.  He settled in Barre Vermont and worked as a stone cutter.  We’ve found multiple articles printed in the Barre Times that have him playing bagpipes at clan dinners, weddings, and other functions between 1910 and 1916.

Article from The Barre Daily Times dated July 29, 1912

In 1917, Isaac moved his family from Barre Vt. to Schenectady to start The Schenectady Pipe Band and work for General Electric. In a 1920 United States Federal Census, it lists him living in Glenville with his wife and family and was a Coil Molder at GE.  His son William Riddell also played in the band.  Isaac still has family that lives in the area.

From 1917 until the time of his death in 1938, from Stonecutters TB, (known today as silicosis), Isaac was part of the Schenectady Pipe Band.  We have been around for 100 years but we never would of been where or who we are today without Isaac.  As we look back onto our history we remember the people the came before us to make the band what it is today and we look forward to what the future holds. 

William Riddell, third from the left, is pictured here with the band cir. 1950’s.

Check back often, as we look for more information on our early history.  We would like to thank Martha Riddell Fowler, Isaac’s Granddaughter, for the providing us the picture of Isaac and his wife, Margaret.

On Monday we’ll rest….

•Phew…what a weekend.  One golf tourney, one parade, and two graduations.  Time to hang up the kilts and rest our feet for a few days before we have another parade.

This busy weekend started on Friday morning at the Stadium Golf Course in Schenectady for the 23rd Annual Capital District Scottish Games Charity Golf Tournament.  Every year band members play in and run the CDSG Charity Golf Tourney which raises money for St. Anne’s Institute in Albany.   This year we raised over $8000 for St. Anne’s.


After the Golf Tourney, the same band members that played golf and ran the tourney, did a quick change and headed for Proctors in downtown Schenectady for Clarkson College’s Graduate Commencement.

With the tourney and graduation under our belts Saturday gave us Saratoga’s Flag Day Parade.  With a step off time of 12 noon, and most members waking a bit tired and groggy from the busy day before, we all made it up the north way on time for the parade.  And what a parade, with folks lined up in some places 10 to 15 deep on the sidewalks,  a C-130 buzzing the parade route, American flag waving and flying with the sun shining, it sure was a great day for a parade.  One, we hope to be invited back to every year.

Sunday gave us our last job of the weekend.  Union College’s undergraduate Commencement.  The weather man said it was going to be hot, but the word hot doesn’t quite fit when you’re in your full military kit.   With plaids and feather bonnets blowing in the wind, we set off to lead the graduates to their degrees.

How Union’s Graduation goes:

Show up at Union parking lot, 8:30am right on the dot.
Get dressed, tuned and looking smart, now its time to give this graduation its start.
A bus ride across campus, to wait for the start sign and then.
First though the students leading the president and platform party, then across campus to pick up the faculty.
Then back through the students and turn left.
Down to the knot and around it, wait for the president to appear and start off down the isle.
Bring them in and play while students are seated, then back out again and wait till needed.
Wait about 45 minutes to an hour, and then we’ll get the time to get dressed reminder.
Get those tunic and plaids back on, tune, golf card pick up and then we’re on.
Back down the isle, countermarch and back out.
Back around the Knot and down in front.
Circle and play while everyone is watching, Scotland The Brave set without stopping.
Band dismissed, we all turn and exit, walk back to our cars and relax a bit.
Say our goodbyes, I’ll see you on Tuesday.
That’s it, the end, till next year Union.

Total Miles Marched: 2 & Change
Tunes Played: All of them
Holes Golfed: 18
Drum Heads Broken: 1
Sweat sweated: Gallons


What a Crawl it was….

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that came out and supported our Pub Crawl this past Saturday, March 25th.  What a time we had….even though it’s start was a bit rocky, we forged ahead and had a great time along the way.

We would especially like to thank our crawl stops, Clinton’s Ditch, Katie O’Byrnes, Pinhead Susan’s, Centre Street Pub, & The Schenectady AOH for their hospitality, generosity and support.  Also a very big thank you to our very own Bill Schmitt for coming up with, planning, & running this event!!

And last but not least….Congratulations to Nancy Zieker on winning the Trip to Scotland Raffle.  Thank you to all that entered.

We even made the Schenectady Gazette on Sunday 3/26

•For pictures of the event    Click Here
(photos are owned by Matthew J. Kelly, any reproduction or use without his written consent is prohibited)

The chance of a life time!!



Congratulations to Nancy Zieker on winning the raffle!!  We hope you enjoy your trip with us.

The Schenectady Pipe Band will travel to Scotland to compete in the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships in August of 2017.

We’ll be leaving from JFK on August 3rd, 2017, and we would love to have you come with us.  Just to make it possible, we will be selling raffle tickets that could put you and a companion on a seat on that flight, and also a week’s lodging at Stirling University where the Band will be staying.

Only a maximum of 300 raffle tickets will be sold, and the drawing will be held at the Band’s Pub Crawl in April.  And don’t need to be present to win, and if for some reason you’re unable to travel with us, you can choose an alternate prize of $2,000.

So buy a raffle ticket before they’re all sold out!!  Just send a $25 check, made out to The Schenectady Pipe Band, to P.O. Box 13792, Albany, NY 12212.  Include your Name, Address, Phone Number, and email address, and we’ll enter you in the raffle and send your ticket stub back to you.

Sounds of a Century Concert

spb_100_concert_logoThe Schenectady Pipe Band, a Celtic heritage organization based in upstate New York is proud to announce the celebration of their centennial year.  As one of the oldest bagpipe bands in North America, The Schenectady Pipe Band was formed in 1917 when a stone cutter from Vermont named Isaac Riddell was chosen as the band’s first Pipe Major.  Mr. Riddell relocated to Schenectady NY and began a 100 year tradition of musical excellence that, in addition to winning the band multiple musical awards and championships, has  showcased their talents for international dignitaries, rock stars and thousands of loyal fans.

On November 27th, The Schenectady Pipe Band will present “A Century of Sound” at Proctors GE Theater.  We’ll record our second CD to commemorate the Centennial that afternoon, with lots of new music that the Band has been rehearsing. We’re doing this in partnership with the Schenectady St Andrews Society.

Get your tickets early at  Procters website as there are only 440 seats at this awesome venue. You’ll want to be part of this live recording. The concert begins at 3 PM, and an after concert gathering is planned at the AOH Celtic Crossing, 1748 State St.

Purchase Concert Tickets

An Evening of Piping

This past Saturday April 9th, The SPB hosted An Evening of Piping at the Celtic Hall in Albany.  The evenings featured piper’s were Cameron Drummond & Alasdair Henderson, Pipe Sergeant from The Inveraray & District Pipe Band.   The event was well attended and it was great to have two pipers of their talent in the Capital District.  We hope to hold this event again.  Check our Facebook page for photos & videos from the night.  

SPB Garage Sale!!

Come support your local bagpipe band!!

The Schenectady Pipe Band will be holding a Multi-family Garage Sale.  The sale will run from Friday April 22nd through Sunday April 24th.  New items added everyday.  All proceeds will go to benefit the band’s Centennial Celebration in 2017.

799 Rainbow Drive
Schenectady, NY 12303
Friday 4/22 | 9am-4pm
Saturday 4/23 | 8am-4pm
Sunday 4/24 |10am-3pm


Sponsor of the Capital District Scottish Games in Altamont, NY