In the early 1990’s, Donald was approached with the idea of forming the Oran Mor Pipe Band and was invited to be the instructor and Pipe Major. In the fall of 1992, he accepted the position and the band was formed.
From its beginning years in Grade 3, Donald taught Oran Mor members how to unite in the spirit of working together to achieve something musical that they had not done before. His overall vision for the group was always several steps ahead of its position at the time. As the band’s biggest “cheerleader,” Donald constantly insisted that if the group kept working hard, it would be able to achieve any goal.
A teacher at heart, Donald’s goal for Oran Mor was to provide an opportunity for excellent musicians to gain experience at playing at a higher level and continuing to learn. He hoped that players would then take what they learned back to their local bands and continue the cycle. His wish came true.
Many bands throughout the regions surrounding Albany, NY, home to Oran Mor, have leadership and members who have learned from Donald and the experience he gave them in Oran Mor. Donald taught his players to always put the music first, and that to achieve their goals, they needed to look beyond the local scene and strive to reach for the bigger picture.
Oran Mor achieved many of its goals thanks to the leadership of Donald. In 1997, Oran Mor began competing in Grade 2; In 2004, the band made it far beyond the “local scene,” finishing 10th place in the Grade 2 at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow; In 2008, the band was upgraded to Grade 1.
“It has been a great privilege to work with members of the Oran Mor Pipe Band for the past several years,” Donald stated. “In that time, we have produced great music and formed an excellent musical organization. We have been blessed with many great friendships. I have enjoyed being part of the development of so many excellent pipers and drummers.”
After the 2008 season, Donald passed on the role of Pipe Major of Oran Mor to his long-time student, Andrew Douglas. Donald continued on as Pipe Sergeant to ensure a smooth transition for three years, and played a major role in the band's early successes in Grade 1. More confident than ever in the band, Donald stated: “I feel that Oran Mor is in excellent hands under the current leadership, and has never been sounding better!”
"The Oran Mor drum corps is where it is today because of the vision and support I received from Donald many years ago. I learned a lot from Donald and playing in his band has meant a lot to me. I will be forever grateful for his encouragement," said the band's lead drummer, Eric MacNeill.
Although you won’t see him in the circle, Donald plans to continue his relationship with Oran Mor. He will be a judge at the band’s indoor solo contests this winter, and serve as an instructor at the band's spring training workshop in April 2011. Plans are also underway to hold a formal reception and send-off for Donald this spring.
Oran Mor cannot begin to thank Donald enough for his many years of dedication, encouragement and guidance he offered along the way. He truly is, and will continue to be, an inspiration to all.