Bagpipe music is a symbol of West Milford

Local pipers express community sadness at 9/11 ceremony

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  • Bagpipers played the 19th-century hymn "Amazing Grace" at West Milford’s recent 9/11 memorial ceremony. PHOTO COURTESy OF JOE SMolinski


When West Milford High School chose the “Highlander” theme for the school it was only natural that bagpipes and Scotland would be part of the picture. How bagpipes arrived in Scotland is somewhat a mystery to historians but it is known that as early as 400 BC the pipers of Thebes’ reportedly were blowing pipes.

In Scottish lowlands the pipers were part of a traveling minstrel class – performing at weddings, feasts and other events. It became the musical instrument of war with the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1549. With the expansion of British Empire pipers performed worldwide and knowledge and use of the instrument continued to grow.

When the West Milford annual Sept. 11 memorial ceremony was held this year local pipers were present. Through their music they expressed the intense feeling of sadness the community continues to feel for those killed by terrorists on 9/11 and their families.

Bagpipers present to play the 19th-century hymn “Amazing Grace” were Pipe Major Danielle Dreyer of the West Milford Highlanders - leading The United Pipe Bands of West Milford; Pipe Sergeant Raquel Mea of the Highlanders; Pipe Major Joseph Smolinski and Pipe Sergeant Kristy Smolinski of Claddagh Pipe Band and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7198 Pipe Major Chip O’Reilly. Peter Suckiel of the Highlands Band played trumpet taps at the closing of the memorial ceremony.

The artists performed under the command of Dreyer.

The Claddagh Pipe Band in West Milford is a fairly new organization under the direction of Pipe Major Joseph Smolinski and Drum Major Mike Monacelli. In their next season they hope to gain numbers and expand their musical ability while enjoying what they do every step of the way. The group is open to members of all ages.

This is a Grade IV band and active affiliate of the Eastern Pipe Band Association. Their mission is to promote appreciation for Irish Highland Bagpiping as well as to represent the greater North Jersey area in a competitive piping community, according to their website.

The group was founded on ideals of comradeship and passion for good music. Their motto is “Motto Ex ARCA (“Out of the Box”) inspired by their drive to always be ready to perform whenever a situations calls for their music.

They recently took sixth place in Grade Four competition at the North American Championship at Maxville, Canada with a third place in piping.

Their final event for 2017 is to perform at the West Milford High School Tatoo Concert on Saturday, Nov. 11.

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Josephine Krieger
Josephine Krieger (Agostinelli) passed away on Sunday, Oct. 22. She was 77.
Born in Italy, she had resided in West Milford for the past 50 years coming from North Haledon.
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West Milford, NJ