The Home of the Bon-Accord Silver Bands
The Home of the Bon-Accord Silver Bands
1959 saw the birth of Brass Bands in Aberdeen Schools. John Dalby, the superintendent of Schools Music was approached by the late Stewart Watson MBE, then a school brass instructor, as to the fate of the young brass players when they left school.
Out with the Salvation Army only two brass bands existed, both with a full complement of players. After some thought John Dalby challenged Stewart Watson to establish another band. Towards the spring of '61 parents were invited to attend a meeting at Christ's college. Despite the attendance of only seven parents, a committee was formed.
In June 1962 Stewart conducted the first rehearsal of what was to become known as "The Bon-Accord Silver Band", the foundations of which had been laid in the preceding few months. Fund raising events had produced modest funds. Additional support came from the granting of weekly accommodation, at no cost, in Aberdeen's Music Centre. School instruments were also made available.
More than 50 years on the Bon-Accord Silver Band is one of Scotland's' most successful Brass Bands. We have achieved qualification to the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain some 14 times including two performances in London's famous Royal Albert Hall. We were winners of the 1985 and 1998 Scottish Quartet Championships. We have performed at the 1991 Edinburgh International Festival, at multiple music festivals in Regensburg, Germany (1988-1992-1997), at the National Corporate Games (1996), at the Tall Ship Races in both Aberdeen (1997) and Dublin Ireland (1998) and at the European Brass Band Championships in Linz, Austria (2010).
Indeed by 1980 the band was so large a "B" band was formed. This provides a training band for players before they move up to the main band and also provides cover if required.
The band's career can also be followed in broadcasting, helping to raise funds on BBC's Children in Need and ITV's Telethon, performances on ITV's Highway and Lets Rejoice, not to mention numerous local and national radio broadcasts. For the band serving the community is time best spent, playing in local parks, Galas and Fetes, Old Folks homes, Boys Brigade Services, Church Services from Inverness to Perth, not forgetting a wedding or two.
Stewart Watson, the founder of the Bon-Accord Silver Band, was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty The Queen in the 1996 Birthday Honours List for his service to music in the North East of Scotland.
This year the band supported Hamish Dear’s Warm Hugs with their movie music concert with our biggest audience yet! After lots of hard work with professional conductor Adam Cooke, Bon Accord Silver Band came 2nd at the Scottish Championships and won ‘Best Trombone’ and ‘Best Percussion’ and qualified to represent Scotland at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain at the Royal Albert Hall, London. This was the first time the band has qualified since 1983 and a great achievement! A week later all band rehearsals in person had to stop due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nationals were postponed to October 2021 and B Band were unable to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The bands kept going with weekly quizzes, online rehearsals, virtual performances, and an online Christmas concert to lift everyone’s spirits! We hope such resilience will see the band go from strength to strength.
Due to the success of the ‘At the Movies’ concert in 2018, Bon Accord Silver Band had to move to a bigger venue for the concert where a substantial amount of money was raised for local charity, Charlie House. The band’s best result this year was 2nd at the Fife Charities contest with ‘The Promised Land’.
2019 was a successful year for Bon Accord Silver ‘B’ Band who were ‘Best 4th Section band’ at both the Northern Counties Open contest and at the Fife Charities contest performing ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.
In January the band took on a new venture with ‘Bon Accord Silver Band At the Movies’ concert, organised and conducted by the band’s principal euphonium Richard Kidd. The proceeds of the concert raised much needed funds for the RNLI and Sandpiper Trust. The band also competed at the Senior Trophy as part of the Spring Festival in Blackpool.
At the Northern Counties Open contest Bon Accord Silver ‘B’ Band won the ‘Best Northern Counties Brass Band Association band’, and ‘Best 4th Section band’ at Fife Charities contest with Peter Graham’s ‘Dimensions’.
Another busy year for both bands and at the Fife Charities contest Bon Accord Silver Band won with ‘A Tale As Yet Untold’, conducted by David Roberts, and received an invite the following year to compete at the Spring Festival in Blackpool.
Bon Accord Silver ‘B’ Band gained an impressive 3rd place at the Scottish 4th Section Championships and went down to the Borders contest in Jedburgh for the first time in many years.
The Bon Accord Silver Band gained a third successive victory winning the Northern Counties Open contest. This success continued with the band competing at the West Lothian Festival of Brass where Mark Boyd received the ‘Best Soloist’ award. The band also won the Fife Charities contest with ‘St Magnus’ and nearly had a clean sweep of the section/instrumental prizes!
After another busy year with concerts and contests, Bon Accord Silver ‘B’ Band again came home with some silverware, gaining ‘Best 4th Section band’ at the Northern Counties Open contest and 5th place overall.
Back in the Championship section Bon Accord Silver Band gained an impressive 3rd place with conductor Steve Malcolm. This was then followed up with 1st place at the Northern Counties Open contest, 2nd place at the Fife Charities contest and 4th place at the Scottish Open so a great year for the band and morale was running high! Another highlight was celebrating our 40th anniversary visiting our friends at Fraserburgh Old Parish Church. To mark the occasion we commissioned our friend Alan Duguid to write ‘Sure and Steadfast’ based on melodies associated with the Boys Brigade and the surrounding area to create a wonderful musical picture.
Bon Accord Silver ‘B’ Band appointed new conductor Jennifer Cook and after performing well at the Northern Counties Open contest gained ‘Best 4th Section band’ at the Fife Charities contest with their performance of ‘Variations on Laudate Dominum’.
Bon-Accord Silver Band started their year well with a second place in the Scottish First Section which gains them promotion back to the Scottish Championship section. They then followed this up with first place at the Northern Counties Open Contest, fourth place at the Fife Charities contest, first place at the Scottish Challenge Shield and finally, they were awarded the Scottish First Section Band of the Year award.
Unfortunately, the Bon-Accord Silver Bands suffered a great loss this year with the death of Bon-Accord Silver 'B' Band bass trombonist and Bon-Accord stalwart, Angus Naples. Angus was very well known by many people that have been part of brass banding in Aberdeen and to those that have passed through the ranks of Bon-Accord Silver Bands. He will be sorely missed by all.
Bon-Accord Silver Band finally have a massive addition to the heart and soul of the organisation - a home of our own. After years of searching and months of negotiations we finally have the keys to our new property leased from Aberdeen City Council. The plans were submitted and accepted and the building work took 4 months to complete but finally we have a band hall that is our own. This is a defining moment in the history of Bon-Accord Silver Band, the first time we have had our own premises in our 50 years of existence. We look forward to some warm rehearsals in the near future once the band hall is finally opened. A huge thank you goes to Colin Buchan, Paula Leslie and Craig Beattie for all their hard work on this monumental project.
The Bon-Accord Silver 'B' Band got a new "walking out" uniform of polo shirts designed by Kukri - the band now have their own identity and are enjoying their new look.
Our 50th anniversary! We celebrated in style with a trip to Orkney and Shetland for the band to perform at various venues throughout the islands and an opportunity to invite old friends and players along with us. This was followed by a dinner dance in the Douglas Hotel in Aberdeen with our guest speaker, Richard Evans, where even more faces from the past were met and stories exchanged. We took time to remember our founder, Stewart Watson, who has meant so much to so many brass players that have been in Aberdeen and are looking forward to another 50 years and more of Bon-Accord Silver Band.
The Bon-Accord Silver 'B' Band came second in the 4th Section at the Scottish Championships and qualified for the National Brass Band Championships held in Cheltenham.
The band were delighted to perform the national anthems and provide the opening music to the 2011 Walker Cup held at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. The bands also took part in a Sponsored Blow where we travelled around some of the public parks in Aberdeen playing for free to the public and raising money by sponsorship of the members of the band. We completed our Sponsored Blow event with a performance in the Winter Gardens of the Duthie Park and were joined by some past members of the band for a memorable performance.
Our first Classical Brass concert took place at St Machar Cathedral with a superb night of classical favourites. We were joined by the Robert Gordon's College Chamber Choir and thoroughly enjoyed playing in such a wonderful venue.
In contesting, the Bon-Accord Silver Band were placed a fantastic 2nd place at the Fife Charities contest with Richard Kidd winning the best soloist award.
A year to remember for the Bon-Accord Silver Bands! In May, Bon-Accord Silver Band was invited to represent Scotland at the European Brass Band Championships in Linz, Austria. Following many months of extra rehearsals, fundraising and hard work, the band made it to Linz ready to take on the challenge of competing with some of Europe's finest bands.
At this stage we would like to offer a huge vote of thanks Georgian Dress Hire, who were generous enough to offer all of the contesting band a kilt to wear during our European adventure. Our dress was met with great cheers from the sold out concert hall on both days of the competition. Whilst we were always up against it in terms of the competition (representing England were the Black Dyke Band and for Wales the Cory Band!) the band were able to defeat both the Danish and French National Champions in the Saturday contest - a tremendous achievement!.
In addition, the 'B' band were busy celebrating their 30th anniversary of existence with a dinner dance held at the end of November. A number of current and former members braved the elements on a wintry night and enjoyed some fantastic ceilidh music provided by Sechndar.
A most successful year for Bon-Accord Silver Band with the ‘A’ Band came 4th in the Championship section and almost managed to topple of one the ‘Top 3’ bands in Scotland. We were also invited to represent Scotland in the European Brass Band Championships in Linz, Austria for 2010. To finish the year we recorded our 3rd commercial CD titled ‘Christmas Festival’ with the Aberdeen City Children’s Choir.
We welcomed Morten Hansen from Norway as our new conductor and following an impressive outing at the Scottish Championships we retained our Championship Section status. We competed at the Scottish Open playing ‘St. Magnus’ and came an impressive 5th overall.
A host of new faces joined the Bon-Accord SilverBand. During this year we had been fortunate enough to work with such high profile conductors as John Maines, John Roberts, Richard Evans and Duncan Beckley.
This year saw the ‘B’ band being promoted to the 3rd section and playing ‘Valerius Variations’ in the National Finals in Harrogate. The ‘A’ came 4th in the Championship section and started the threaten the ‘Top 3’ in Scotland.
We began with a new professional conductor for the A band - Duncan Beckley. After a good outing to the Scottish Championships with both bands, the bands have gone from strength to strength with an excellent result at Whitburn and several fantastic concert performances under their belts. Our 2nd CD ‘Northern Lights’ was produced with South & Central Aberdeenshire Youth Brass Band and Aberdeen City Youth Brass Band.
The ‘A’ band returned to the Championship section and another trip to the National Finals.
This year marked the bands 40th anniversary, and what a year we had! With trips to Regensburg, a gala concert with the Fodens Band, and the production of our first commercial CD recording ‘Forte’, clearly the Bon-Accord Silver Bands are still going strong.
The band gained promotion back to the Championship Section to compete against the 'Big Boys'. A very creditable 7th position was obtained playing ‘Jazz’, thus ensuring their status as a Championship section band was maintained.
Tony Swainson once again led the band to victory in the First Section at the Scottish Championships in Troon and the band went on once more to represent Scotland at the National Finals of Great Britain. This year, to mark the new millennium, all grades were held in the Royal Albert Hall in London. A very creditable 9th place was achieved off a disappointing number one draw however in the opinion of many it was the finest that the band had played on a contest platform for several years.
The year started well with the appointment of Glasgow based professional conductor Anthony Swainson, who led the band to victory in the Second Section at the Scottish Championships in Motherwell. This was followed by a very well deserved third place at the National Finals held in Nottingham in September.