Linlithgow Reed Band (LRB) celebrates a milestone event this year.
2016 will see the band celebrate its sixtieth anniversary and the diamond jubilee will be marked with a whole series of commemorative projects, kicking off with a special concert in the Linlithgow Academy Theatre on Sunday April 24 at 7pm.
The concert will feature the three Linlithgow Reed band ensembles - the beginners’ section, the Training Band and the main senior band.
In a major coup, there will also be a special guest performance by the award-winning professional clarinettist, Richard Russell, who has appeared in concert venues all over the world and whose musical career started as a school boy in the Reed Band in the early 1990s.
Richard is a founding member of the chamber music ensemble Liquid Architecture, a member of the Canteloube Trio and as an orchestral player, he has performed as a guest principal with the London Philharmonic and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to name but a few.
Outlining plans for the diamond anniversary concert, Reed Band president, Jonathan Molloy, said: ‘‘We are delighted that one of our most famous alumni, Richard Russell, will be coming up from his home in London to do a guest feature and perhaps join us for the finale.
‘‘The programme will include several concert band classics and we also hope to highlight a march specially written for the band in 1981 by former conductor, Fred Frayling-Kelly, who recently passed away.
“ Over one hundred musicians of all ages will be performing on the night - from ten year old beginners to 84 year old honorary president, Eddie McKenna - and I have no doubt that our diamond anniversary concert will be an evening to remember.”
The Royal Burgh of Linlithgow Reed Band made its first appearance on the streets at a Deacons’ night in May 1956, although a hard-working committee had been busily preparing the groundwork for almost three years before that.
The move to re-establish a town band in Linlithgow was provoked to a great extent by the 1953 decision of the Kinneil Colliery Military Band (formerly the Kinneil Reed Band) in neighbouring Bo’ness to change its instrumentation to brass instruments only.
This left the many woodwind players without a musical home and several of these players had a leading role in the formation of a new Reed Band in Linlithgow.
In recent years, under the baton of conductor Lex McDowell, a music teacher at Linlithgow Academy, the band has enjoyed something of a renaissance, with the flourishing Training Band providing a constant supply of new talent for the main ensemble.
This hasn’t only involved youngsters, as numerous adults have taken the opportunity provided by the Training Band to return to playing an instrument again, sometimes after many years absence.
2015 saw record numbers turning out at rehearsals and engagements, and this trend looks set to continue. Their latest CD was launched at the Christmas concert in December and sales so far have exceeded all expectations.
Jonathan said he and the whole band look forward to the coming months but, for him, the highlight of the diamond anniversary celebrations will come in July, as he explained: “We will be making a sixth visit to West Lothian’s German twin region of Hochsauerlandkreis in North-Rhine Westphalia.
‘‘Our first visit was in 1981, to mark our silver anniversary, and it is very fitting that we should return again in another milestone year.
‘‘Based for ten days in the village of Herdringen, near Arnsberg, we will be closely involved with the local band - the Musikverein Herdringen - and will share some joint events.
‘‘As well as sightseeing throughout the region - known as “the land of the thousand hills” - we will be renewing our many musical and personal friendships and taking part in several of the famous Schutzenfests”.
Tickets for the concert are available from Far from the Madding Crowd, Norman Cummings or at the door on, priced £6 with primary school age and younger children admitted free.