Formed in 1963, by Angus Cameron from Kirriemuir, with 8 members, one of whom, Bob Spalding is still playing. Angus conducted the orchestra until 1990 when Frank Robb took over. Angus was a very accomplished fiddler, composer, arranger and conductor and a hard act to follow. It is quite a record to have only 2 conductors in 40 yrs.
Many skilled and weel kent fiddlers have sat in the ranks – Cyril Robb, Willie Todd, Chae Brown, Eck Mill, the Webster brothers, Joe Murray, Paddy Bob, Eck Young, Sandy Vettese, Sandy Beattie, Katherine & Billy Nicholl. Frank has played with the orchestra man and boy, joining in 1967! Lindsay Downie, another local lad, is our current skilled and able Leader. The orchestra has stayed with tradition allowing only stringed instruments and is one of the few orchestras which does not include accordions.
There have been some outstanding performers, who became well known on the Scottish Traditional Music scene throughout the country. Others who can best be described as ‘characters’ of the unforgettable variety. Frank’s father, Cyril was a stalwart president for many years. George Scott, accompanist for 36 years, was an individual and well known personality. He also played with the Jim Cameron Band, alongside Angus who was Jim Cameron’s nephew.
There have been notable concerts down the years – Broadcasts with BBC & Grampian TV, including Mostly Magnus in 1971. ‘Ringing Strings’ and the memorable show with Yehudi Menhuin and Hector McAndrew in 1973 at Blair Castle. Radio performances for Radio Forth and Radio Clyde
The orchestra made it’s mark at concerts and music festivals throughout the UK including Coleraine, Belfast, Rhyll and the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. Some of the players, as guests of other societies, have graced the prestigious stage of the Albert Hall, and several of the finest theatres in Canada and New Zealand.
The Fiddle Festivals have been a big part of the calendar in the past and trips were made to Elgin, Banchory, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen to compete. These Festivals were introduced to allow young fiddlers to meet up and compete in a variety of individual and group classes, promoting and raising the standard of traditional playing. This year is the 40th Festival in Kirriemuir. Previous champions at the Kirrie Festival have included Angus Cameron, Frank Robb, Douglas Lawrence, Paul Anderson, Yla Steven, Alistair McCulloch, Duncan Chisholm, Aiden O’Rourke, Gregor Borland, Charlie McKerran An impressive list!
Our main fund raiser is The Rally, normally held in Springtime and fiddlers from other societies are invited. Initially held in Kirriemuir Town Hall, it is now either in the Reid hall, Forfar or the Websters Theatre, Arbroath. Records show that one of the first artistes was Bobby McLeod paid a fee of £12 in 1969 and followed in 1970 by Jimmy Shand at a fee of £40.
For many years rehearsals were held in the Airlie Arms Hotel but moved some years ago to St Andrews Church hall, Kirriemuir.
You are welcome to join us: In the words of Angus Cameron – ‘blaw the stoor aff your fiddle case’ and come join us.