Long-serving members

As part of our 50th anniversary year, we’ve asked current DCB-ers who have been in the band the longest (you need at least 20 years service to qualify!) to share some of their favourite moments and memories.

First up is Jacqui…

Jacqui McMahon

I joined in August or September 2002. It was just after Gozo because everyone was talking about that trip. I originally played clarinet but eventually got promoted to alto sax, following a short stint on bari sax, which proved too much for my back and arms. I remember having to play the bari sax at an outdoor concert in Salzburg standing on a platform. Thankfully the effort of holding that beast for an hour or two didn’t diminish the wonder of such a great venue. Two of my most memorable concerts were on our second tour to Schladming. The first was an enthusiastic reception in Nürnberg and the second the excessively hot outdoor concert in the all black and stifling theatre in the centre of Schladming. I remember it was so hot the mother of pearl decoration was melting off the keys of my sax and I think several beers had to be consumed that evening!Memorable occasions at home tend to involve precipitation rather than sun, like people dancing in their welly boots in puddles at Mugdock. On reflection I guess it’s the less formal, more exploratory and often outdoor events that seem to have grabbed my attention over the years. Probably my favourite piece is the Shostakovich Jazz Suite…… I wonder if you can guess why?

Alan Cooper

Having joined in 1991(ish!), oboe and cor player Alan easily qualifies as a long serving member! Here are his standout memories from his 30+ years in DCB.

It must have been around 1991 when Richard Phelps invited me to come along and try DCB. The conductor then was Alan Bell, and rehearsals were in Bearsden Primary School. As an adult learner I had only recently started on the oboe, and it showed. I remember being so nervous at the first rehearsal that I put cork grease on the tip of my reed, rather than on the cork where it was supposed to be. Fellow oboists will appreciate that this was a bad idea!

Favourite piece? One of many, from earlier days: Charles Ives “Country Band March”. This is a piece deliberately written to illustrate the potential idiosyncrasies and things that may go wrong in amateur wind bands. We managed this perfectly – though perhaps not in the way Mr Ives originally conceived. This is the only time I can recall the audience actually cheering when we finished a piece!

Overseas tours have been particular highlights, and the Gozo trip (2002) was no exception for various reasons – musical and otherwise. One particularly vivid memory is of our efforts to conceal from the rest the band that the tour treasurer Harriet (who shall remain nameless) had forgotten to pack the band cheque book. Fortunately, a few tour members who had arranged to travel out later managed to access the offender’s home to retrieve and deliver the cheque book a few days later, thus avoiding a potentially embarrassing international incident if we couldn’t pay end-of-tour hotel and other bills.

Favourite concert? Again, so many, and hard to choose. But our concert in the Heilig-Geist Saal, Internationales Haus in Nuremberg, where we stopped off en-route on the 2015 Schladming tour, sticks in my memory for various reasons – lovely venue, great concert, very appreciative audience. But, more poignantly for me as one of the immediate post-WWII generation, the opportunity one rainy afternoon to wander off and find the Zeppelinfeld, site of the notorious 1930s Nuremberg rallies. Now it’s just a car park for a local sports stadium, but the original massive and brutal concrete grandstand still remains. I was the only person there on that day. Standing on the very spot where Hitler delivered his rants was a chilling experience. So grateful to DCB not only for the music, but also for the opportunity to encounter people and places in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

On our most recent tour (Landeck, Austria, 2017) we were all quite jealous of the dedicated facilities in the local band hall in Garmisch-Partenkirchen where we stopped off for a rehearsal along the way. But now we have our own in Kessington Hall! It has been a privilege to help make this happen.

Anneli Demberg

Trombonist Anneli is the next of our long serving members to share their DCB memories.

I arrived in Glasgow from Norway in August 2002 and joined DCB in October 2002. I was introduced to the DCB after following and catching up with a gentleman carrying a trombone case along Sauchiehall Street. He introduced me to one of his big band mates, Bob Stewart, who also played in the DCB. Bob introduced me to Robert and some of the DCB members at a concert I attended on the Southside, and they invited me to come to rehearsals on Saturday mornings in Westerton Hall. That was it, I had become a DCB’er!

My favourite musical moments are probably the concerts where we have played challenging music particularly well, for example the concert we did in Nürnberg as part of our 2015 trip to Schladming, and the one we did in Landeck in 2017. I also enjoy playing in Perth Concert Hall for the Concert Band Festivals.

I don’t think I have one favourite piece of music, but I do like the more serious stuff, like the Holst Suites and, actually, the piece we are doing at the moment, Sketches on a Tudor Psalm.

Apart from the music, DCB is also a sociable gang, and there have been some good gatherings over the years. As the result of a chat at one particular party around Christmas or New Year 2003-2004, I was introduced to the brother of the euphonium player at the time, Collette. She thought we might get on quite well. She was right, and Colin and I have now been married for almost 16 ½ years!

Moyra Hawthorn

Moyra is the next DCB member sharing memories of 20 plus years in the band.

I joined DCB a few months before Robert took over as Musical Director, around 1999/2000. I had played piano since childhood and always loved the sounds of the clarinet, influenced by Acker Bilk who was popular during the 1960s, but I didn’t have the opportunity to follow up then. I received my first clarinet as a 21st birthday gift and began lessons shortly after. My flatmate played clarinet, so I had someone to play with from early on. It was only in the late 1990s that a colleague told me about DCB, and I screwed up courage to go along. I had never played in an orchestra or band before, but they were really welcoming; I was hooked.

So many memories, funny, happy, sad, scary but just the happy ones today. Trips invariably throw up special memories. The concert in Nuremberg was particularly so. I took time on my own to visit the museum at the Nazi rallying grounds. Having had close friends whose family members had travelled to UK as children on the Kindertransport in the 1930s, this was particularly moving. That we were now playing in Nuremberg in very different times was very memorable.

The trip to Gozo was also special but in different ways. Five young musicians from Douglas Academy joined us and Geoff Haydock, former Principal Clarinet in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, a founder of DCB and who had been instrumental in organising the trip, stepped in to play with the 3rd clarinets. We were made so welcome, marching with local bands, trying to keep music on my clarinet with an assortment of clothes pegs as I didn’t have a lyre…. One memory was playing an outdoor concert after dark, I think in Valetta on Malta. The local people loved it and were dancing in the street to our music. Suddenly one of our players left his perch, ran into the middle of the stage wearing a ‘Hey Jimmy Hat’, and did a jig. The crowd was in uproar.

But you don’t need to travel outwith the UK to enjoy concerts. The Christmas concerts in Kelvingrove Museum are particularly fun and it is great that these have been reinstated, hopefully to stay. They are particularly good at introducing children to wind band music and my young relatives love them; they are already planning a family get-together around the Kelvingrove Christmas concert 2023.

‘Routine’ rehearsals are special in a different way, however. It was only when we lost these during Covid Lockdown that I fully appreciated them. When we began to meet online, it felt like some return of normality, putting together my clarinet and seeing Robert on a Saturday morning. The two outdoor rehearsals in our garden were amazing, even although we were playing precariously perched on our seats, with music stands wobbling on the slope of the lawn! The neighbours still talk about this; apparently, we could be heard half a mile away across the Loch.

Maybe a final little ‘snapshot memory’ of the band and in some ways the most special was during a routine rehearsal several years ago. At that time the 3rd clarinet section comprised Cameron aged around 14, George aged 92 and me somewhere between. I will always remember Cameron and George huddled together discussing Robert’s latest directions. Cameron’s sister Morven joined the flute section in the band shortly before this and played at Kelvingrove Christmas Concert December 2009. Morven was 10 and George was 91. To me this is the essence of community bands and of DCB, a wide range of interesting people from all walks of life coming together to make wonderful music.

Alison McCree

A member since 2001, oboist Alison shares her favourite 20+ year DCB memories.

I joined the band in November 2001. I’d missed playing since leaving school and wanted to get back to playing again. It was a Google search for ‘concert bands in Glasgow’ that led me to DCB.

Early memories of rehearsing in Westerton Hall are of just really enjoying making music ‘for fun’. I remember in those early weeks, that Dougie Craig on French Horn was a constant source of encouragement to me. Week in, week out, he would be there with kindness and words of wisdom for me. Something I have always remembered with fondness.

The summer after I joined the band, we went to Gozo. I had never even heard of Gozo! This fair-skinned, redhead should probably have realised that travelling to the middle of the Mediterranean in the middle of July, that it would have been HOT. But she didn’t and it was! The heat aside, it was a great experience. Moyra has already mentioned the evening concert in Valletta in her memories, but this is also a key one for me too. It was just great fun! I remember we played Burns on the March – a collection of well-known Scottish tunes – that the crowd absolutely loved.

The first tour to Austria two years later in 2004 was also great but it is the hotelier who sticks in my mind. She was fearsome and as I had taken care of the hotel booking and room allocations, she had me in her sights all week for any minor misdemeanors she held us accountable for! I don’t think I’ll ever forget her name! My favourite memory from this tour was the ceilidh we hosted out the front of the hotel, complete with haggis canapés, whisky and irn bru – all of which had been smuggled across Europe in the van containing our instruments!

Closer to home, we have played so many concerts in so many places over the years, it’s hard to pick just a few highlights. People dancing in the aisles to an ABBA medley at New Lanark. People singing along to Slade in the Winter Gardens. The afternoon tea concert in Arrochar. Taking part in the national concert band festivals.

Christmas concerts in Kelvingrove Art Gallery hold a very special place in the hearts of so many band members, myself included. It’s a beautiful place to play. One of my favourite concerts there was just a couple of days before Christmas. There had been a huge crowd all joining in singing and dancing and just loving it. As I was leaving, it was dusk and as the light was fading, it started to snow. It just felt so Christmassy!

I love being part of DCB and hope to be involved for many years to come. The people are what make it and sometimes the chat and the ‘banter’ are just as much fun as the music making. There are some posts on Facebook that appear in my memories each year and make me laugh each time.

Congratulations DCB on your 50th Anniversary year!

Harriet Fishley

Harriet, currently a member of the bassoon section, shares her memories of her more than 20 (30!) years in DCB.

I joined DCB in 1992. I hadn’t played clarinet since leaving school but was persuaded to join the 3rd clarinet section and have been coming to band ever since. After a few years I decided to play bass clarinet before learning the bassoon and am loving being able to play alongside my talented bassoon friends.

I joined the committee as Librarian and then Secretary and more recently I had the privilege of being the Chair Person of the band, something I would never have envisaged. I took on the role just before Covid struck so it was something of a baptism of fire and certainly a challenge!

Being in the band for so long means I have some great memories. I think our very first tour to Gozo has to be one of my highlights for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I had been persuaded to be the Treasurer for the tour. I remember the flight out, sitting by a fellow clarinet player, going through in my mind all the things I needed to do. I realised I had switched bags at the last moment before leaving and didn’t transfer the cheque book to the new bag. I remember saying to her “I think I’ve forgotten the cheque book” to which she replied “don’t be ridiculous” and dismissed the very thought of it but I knew, I just knew, I had! I kept it to myself for a number of days before speaking to Mr Cooper who happened to know that one of our horn players was returning home in the middle of the tour and then flying back out again. To my great relief, she was able to pick up the cheque book en route and return with it – I have never been more relieved!

Another highlight was a joint concert we did at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow – such an amazing experience. I also love our Christmas Concerts, especially at Kelvingrove Art Gallery. There are, of course, many others over the years.

I enjoy all the music we play (bar one piece) and particularly love all the musicals and the composer, Rossano Galante.

I love being a member of the band and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning. It can be musically challenging at times but continues to teach me so much about music and the bassoon. It is a true community band and I’ve met some amazing musicians, gained some lovely friends and learnt so much, but most of all I have had, and continue to have fun. Thank you DCB.

Andrew McCafferty

Trumpet player Andrew shares his more than 20 (30+!) year memories of being a member of DCB.

I have played trumpet/cornet for over 30 years with the Dunbartonshire Concert Band, enjoying Saturday morning rehearsals as an antidote to a demanding working life as an Architect. It is fun to play a variety of wind band repertoire with a diversity of people of all ages and backgrounds that I would never otherwise meet.

It has been a privilege to play alongside some super young players who have gone on to develop careers in music. It is fascinating to witness their musical development and growing confidence in performance. It is also a pleasure to be playing with the more experienced musicians that bring a maturity of sound to the ensemble – sadly, some are no longer with us.

The Dunbartonshire Concert Band has allowed me to enjoy making music abroad having performed in Malta, Gozo, Austria and Germany.

Key concert highlights include performances in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow City Halls, Kelvingrove, Perth Concert Hall, Royal Conservatoire, and performances for local community indoor and outdoor events. I have witnessed the band change to be one of Scotland’s top performing wind bands, achieving platinum awards at Scottish Concert Band Festivals.

The top highlight for me was meeting my life partner (now wife) Jill who played in the flute section. (She is very patient at putting up with my practicing and attempts at hitting the high notes!)

I have also had two tours of duty as Chairperson and enjoyed many years previously working on the committee. Having helped organise the band’s 21st celebrations and attended the 30th and 40th celebrations, I’m excited to be participating in our 50th year with the musical micro community that is the DCB.

Alison Beattie

I joined DCB in 1999 after meeting two of the members at M4P summer school, Lesley Fellows and the late Sally Cuthbertson, who invited me along. Having only played alto sax for 2 years this was a daunting prospect, especially as the only other sax player was about to leave. However, I was welcomed in and my deficiencies tolerated. A year later I had my son Callum who I brought along weekly in his car seat.

A member since 1999, tenor saxophone player Alison is next to share her 20+ year DCB memories.

The saxophone ranks ebbed and flowed over the years. At the highest flow of altos I swapped onto tenor, my current instrument. Tenor thanks to Andy McGeoch and his old instrument vs table crushing incident (but that’s another story). If DCB had not been such a friendly band my future/present could have been very different as over the years I gained confidence and ability and now have a degree in music and a masters in composition.

I have memories of loads of concerts, many of which have already been mentioned. These range from the sublime at the Royal Concert Hall, through the QEUH Atrium (amazing acoustic) to playing in the snow under an archway in the near dark in Mugdock. I have a specific recollection of a past concert in Cottiers Theatre when we played the Typewriter Concerto by Leroy Anderson and Dave Lyons appeared on stage in drag to play said “instrument”.

We have also had the opportunity to be the house band for several conducting workshops at the RCS led by the late Nigel Boddice, a fun and enlightening experience. I also had the chance to partake in our own conducting workshop led by our own maestro Robert Baxter.

There are many more experiences I could mention, tour to Austria, competitions all over the country etc. but mostly I would like to acknowledge the many great folks I have met during the last 20 years and friendships made. Here’s to the next 20.