Senior pupils from Robert Gordon’s College travelled to New York City during the Easter holiday period to take part in the world renowned Tartan Week. Members of the Robert Gordon’s College Pipe Band and Highland Dancers marched alongside pipe bands and dance groups from across Scotland and the United States marking their first appearance in the New York Tartan Day Parade.

On arrival in New York the young pipers, drummers and dancers were excited to start their tour schedule with a rehearsal session in Central Park, impressing crowds of passersby who were captivated by their performance. Adding to the excitement, Robin Macpherson, Head of College, sent a heartfelt video from Central Park as he watched on at the rehearsal, setting the tone for the upcoming weekend events. Mrs Smith, Head of Senior School, and Mrs Melville, Highland Dance Lead, joined Contingent Commander Sumner and Mr Black as they took to the paths of Central Park.

Further performances took place during the week where pupils were able to appreciate the sights and significance of New York landmarks when they performed at the 9/11 Memorial, represented the American-Scottish Foundation at a pre-parade performance in Bryant Park, and conducted flash-mob performances at Times Square and Grand Central Station

Highland Dance Captain, Lucy S (S6), shared: “Highland Dance has always been a passion of mine and to experience New York Tartan Week with our amazing RGC Senior Highland Dance team was phenomenal! We performed at many famous New York locations along with our exceptional pipe band members. To be part of RGC'S inaugural trip to New York was such a special experience and has filled us with memories that will last forever.”

Lottie R (S6), Drum Major, added: “I really enjoyed getting to know my fellow bandmates even better on the trip and has definitely made us friends for life. A personal highlight, other than the Tartan Day Parade, would be the impromptu fanfare performance the drum corp did as we made our way back from Grand Central Station.”

Pipe Major, Blair G (S6), added: “Having the opportunity to play in New York as the Pipe Major of our school pipe band is the highlight of my time at RGC. I’m so proud of all members of the band and the highland dancers who made the trip memorable.”

A highlight of Tartan Week has been the overwhelming support from former pupils of Robert Gordon’s College who gathered in New York to support the Pipe Band and Highland Dancers. With an impressive turnout of over 45 Gordonians aged 22 to 80, an exciting programme of alumni events took place across the weekend which was planned and hosted by US based Gordonians who are part of the Robert Gordon’s College US Development Committee.

Boston based David Dalgarno, Class of ‘76, and Chair of RGC’s US Development Committee, said: “Tartan Week has been a great showcase for Robert Gordon’s College and has offered pupils the rare opportunity to perform on a global stage prior to leaving school. It has been wonderful for alumni to reconnect with the College and to assist any pupils with their aspirations to study or look for employment in the United States.”

Former rugby international player, Chris Cusiter, Class of ‘00, travelled from California to support the pupils and the weekend events. He shared: “I was very impressed by the RGC Pipe Band and Highland Dancers and delighted to hear that the programme is so strong these days. I'm sure most of the US alumni will agree that living in the United States tends to make you more patriotic than ever and it was a very proud moment for us all to be part of the parade and to see RGC represented so well in North America.”

Saturday marked the highly anticipated parade day which is the high profile centrepiece of Tartan Week with blocks of Manhattan closed off to traffic to enable the many Scots who paraded along Sixth Avenue from West 42nd Street to West 55th Street led by Emmy and Bafta-winning actor Dougray Scott as the 2024 Grand Marshal.

The parade did not fail to impress the large group of Robert Gordon’s supporters following the Pipe Band and Highland Dancers as they showcased their talent and pride marching and dancing behind Sir Jim Walker, Class of ‘62, and the team from Walker’s Shortbread as they led the Pipe Band down Sixth Avenue. 

Sir Jim shared: “The pupils' performance during the parade was nothing short of magnificent and I am extremely proud to be here with my former school seeing first hand the wonderful musical and dancing talent Robert Gordon’s pupils are displaying on a global stage which I am confident they will remember for the rest of their lives”.

Post-parade celebrations continued as former pupil Dougal Grimes, Class of '00, hosted a vibrant reception in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, the pipe band and highland dancers treated guests to further performances, capping off a memorable day in true Scottish style.

Dougal Grimes, Class of ‘00, living and working in New York added: “The orchestration for a weekend like this, with so many moving parts, takes immaculate planning and teamwork, so a massive congratulations goes to all our alumni and RGC staff as it has quite literally been a world class effort”.

Reflecting on the weekend's success, Laura Presslie, Director of Development, Marketing and Admissions expressed gratitude to all Gordonians who participated, describing the New York Tartan Weekend as one of the best alumni events in the history of the College. The gathering served as a testament to the strong bonds and enduring spirit of Robert Gordon's College, bridging continents and bringing together pupils and former pupils from across the United States, Canada and the UK.

Robin Macpherson, Head of College, said: “I am extremely proud of all our pupils who participated in Tartan Week which has been a tremendous success from start to finish. I am delighted to have been in New York to experience first hand how special this event was,  marching alongside our talented pipers, drummers, dancers and the large number of Gordonians who joined the parade. The RGC community has a very strong footprint in North America and we will build on this incredible experience in the future. It proves that we are a school with a truly global reach.”

RGC pupils debut at 2024 New York Tartan Week