Memory Bank

Members past and present have been invited to share their memories…

Moira Langston (Oboe)

I have very fond memories of my time with the DCB, and am very grateful for the RSAMD Junior Academy not accepting me, as it was also on a Saturday morning (I only auditioned once – I didn’t consider it again after joining DCB!), and I believe that I received a far more well-rounded musical education with the DCB than I would have done at the RSAMD.  I can’t imagine that I would have been performing concerts including Holst, Sousa and Ellington in the same programme anywhere else ?. It was also a very encouraging environment.  When I first joined, I played 2nd oboe alongside Ian Leslie (who was our cor anglais player as well), making, no doubt, a very honking sound, as I hadn’t been playing very long at that point.  After a year, the 1st oboist, Laura, left, and I was ‘promoted’ to 1st oboe. I very well remember how pleasantly surprised Glyn Bragg was when he heard how much I had improved – it was when we first rehearsed the Nativity Paintings, a very short atmospheric piece with a great little oboe solo passage in it.  I was also given the opportunity to perform a piece for oboe and piano (Glyn Bragg accompanying me) at a DCB concert at Kilmardinny House (in 1984??), with Viv Lumsden compering the evening.

I absolutely loved the eclectic mix of music that we played – not so much the Sousa and that ilk, although I think they are an important part of the wind band tradition so was happy enough that we included them – but the musical medleys, big band selections, Glyn’s arrangements of Malcolm Arnold etc, the amazing and unique ‘Tom Sawyer’s Saturday’ by John Dankworth, the marvellous Eric Coates suites, Grainger’s Children’s March (Over the Hills…), great modern works for wind band like Gallimaufry, and, best of all, Holst’s 1st Suite in E flat.

But as well as the great music, a key element was the great atmosphere at Saturday morning rehearsals.  It’s hard to convey just how special these were, but I think it was the great range of people that came together, from teenagers like me to music students, adults from all sorts of professions, and folk who were retired. I’m not much of one for (what passes for) ‘banter’ these days, but it was ‘proper’ banter at DCB rehearsals.  I didn’t always get the jokes (it was a while before I discovered that ‘I thank you’ was an Arthur Askey(!) catchphrase), but that didn’t matter, because what came across was the sort of ‘bonhomie’ that was felt between members.  I remember the punchline of a joke that Glyn Bragg made when we were doing an Oklahoma medley, which was ‘The Furry with the Syringe on Top’.  It was something about an alien, but you’d have to ask him for the rest of the joke, especially as I had no idea at the time what a Surrey was, so it was all rather lost on me!

Mention must go to the warm-hearted Jimmy Weir, and his lovely wife, who provided for every tea break a huge pile of the best scones I have ever eaten.  Also, the seamless work of Arthur as librarian.

Robert [Baxter] was indeed a contemporary of mine, not only in DCB but in the Dunbarton Divisional Schools Orchestra and Strathclyde Schools Symphony Orchestra, as were other band members at the time, including Alan Friel (also a trumpeter) and Douglas Fairley (a fantastic clarinettist, although in DCB he played (alto) saxophone, and who is now Lord Fairley, a KC!).  We were so fortunate at that time to have these opportunities, both with Glyn Bragg’s leadership of DCB and Ronnie Walker’s running of schools music provision in Dunbartonshire, and it doesn’t surprise me that their legacy is seen in the fact that Robert is now conducting DCB and Alan is working in a similar job to Ronnie Walker now.  I do worry that today’s teenagers don’t have the same resources available to them for inspiring music-making, so thank goodness DCB is still around…