In 1952, Dr A.J. Irvine was invited by the then Director of Education in East Lothian to give a lecture on the teaching of music in the classroom. One of the points he made was that the form of musical discipline, where each child in the class had an instrument to play, was a fine exercise in citizenship. He was referring to percussion instruments – the only kind available in the classroom at the time. Dr Irvine would surely be surprised, if not overwhelmed, by the quantity and quality of this form of citizenship made possible for the inhabitants of East Lothian today.
It is appropriate to mention two very recently (2001) started projects in East Lothian. They are the result of the efforts of Philip Taylor, a violinist who has moved into the county in the nineties.
Orchestras have been started in the past and not survived but, with an increasing number of instrumentalists moving out of Edinburgh, the East Lothian Players, which has already given one or two concerts, would seem to have a real chance of success. The other project, the East Lothian Music Circle, is for local musicians interested in classical music, to meet and play together in an informal setting.
A third project, under consideration in the year 2000, is Fingers and Thumbs, a music school to be opened by Fergus Malcolm and Ann Traill in Haddington which plans to cater for every aspiring musician from age four onwards, teaching all aspects of music pedagogy as well as practical musicianship.
Names and starting dates of the 30+ performing groups and other musically-related organisations in East Lothian in 2000.
1842 Penston Band Formed pre-period and still in existence 1895 Musselburgh & Fisherrow Trades Band 1921 Prestonpans British Legion Pipe Band 1925 Fisherrow Fishwives’ Choir faded out in 1960s 1947 Haddington Amateur Operatic Society 1947 East Lothian County Music Committee 1947 Musselburgh Junior Singers 1949 Dunbar & District Musical Society later Dunbar & District Choral Society 1950 Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association 1951 East Lothian County Music Festival 1956 North Berwick Operatic Society later East Lothian Musical Society 1957 North Berwick Pipe Band 1959 St Ninian’s Junior Concert Party, Musselburgh 1967 Lamp of Lothian to ‘induce the growth of a “whole community”‘ 1968 Haddington Festival (Haddington Community Council) 1970 Garleton Singers 1973 East Lothian Reel and Strathspey Society 1975 Lothian Region East Lothian + Musselburgh 1976 Dunbar British Legion Pipe Band 1976/77 East Lothian Music Workshop 1977 Hadley Court Singers c.1980 Congregational Church Junior Choir Musselburgh 1980 Haddington Fiddles 1981 Haddington Pipe Band 1983 Haddington Folk Club 1985 Dunbar Lyric Group 1986 Haddington Music Club 1986 Dalkeith & Monktonhall Silver Band 1987 Stenton Singers 1988 Dunbar Traditional Music Festival 1988 Holy Trinity Handbells 1990 Lammermuir Pipe Organs provide new organ for St Mary’s, Haddington 1992 Bridge Centre Music Project 1992 Musical Youth 1994 Encore. 1994/5 North Berwick Youth Music Theatre 1995 St.Mary’s Choristers 1996 East Lothian Concert Opera 1997 East Lothian Piano Festival 1998 Haddington Music Festival run by Haddington Music Initiative 1998 East Lothian Amateur Orchestra 2001 East Lothian Music Circle 2001 The East Lothian Players 2001 Fingers and Thumbs
Further reading & references
Marshall, RK (2001) Ruin and Restoration: St Mary’s Church, Haddington
Because of limitations of wordage, the writer has only been able to include the names of those who either initiated something, or were involved for an unusually long time. She apologises to the numerous individuals whose story of their input into East Lothian music has been omitted