Music club in tune for 60th

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WHEN a small group gathered to form Hawick Music Club there were initial doubts that it wouldn’t last longer than six years.

But it certainly hit the right notes as it continues to go strong some 60 years later.

During that time the club, which is now known as Hawick Music Live, has welcomed a plethora of performers including Evelyn Rothwell, Joseph Cooper and Gerald Moore, as well as gypsy music and Flamenco dancers.

A far cry from that inaugural meeting in the farmers’ room at the Tower Hotel on August 21, 1951, when Eric Whitehead proposed that they establish a music club in the town, with the annual subscription some 10/s.

According to records from the time, he said that it would provide “a good platform for local performers, would encourage young people to reach higher standards, and that the musical development in the town would be greatly helped by the club’s existence”.

One of the founder members, Jim Porteous, a past-president and singer, told the Hawick News: “Eric Whitehead had just been appointed musical director for Roxburghshire. There was such a lot of music in Hawick that he wanted to get a musical society up and running where music could be played and listened to.

“His belief was that it didn’t matter what kind of music people listened to or performed, as long as there was an interest in music.

“That was his philosophy and it’s stood us well throughout the years.”

The opening notes of Hawick Music Club were sounded in St John’s Masonic Hall, with the first members’ concert on Saturday, September 29; and the first professional concert on Saturday, November 24; before they moved on to the library hall, St George’s Church and then Drumlanrig school.

That finally led them to their current home in the Heart of Hawick theatre.

Evelyn Aitken, also a founder member and former past-president, who played piano at the first concert, said: “We’re very grateful for our new premises. In the past we’ve floated about a bit but it’s great to be settled in such a fine place.”

And, just as the venues have changed, so too has the music, from the origins of Mr Whitehead, to the unbelievable service given to the club by the late Brian Bonsor, and latterly Jim Letham.

Current president Gordon Macdonald explained: “In recent years we were almost closing the doors because we were down to about 30 members. It was really serious, but this year we’ve got 60 members so that’s a good sign.

“I think where we’ve suffered is, originally, people came from a church choir and everybody sang or was involved in music. These days have gone and the whole thing has changed.

“But the programmes have adapted. The range of music is more Classical FM than traditional Radio 3.

“There really is something for everybody.”

And after a celebratory sell-out concert in the Heart of Hawick, presented by Mr Letham and Andrew Sherwood, and a packed programme ahead, there’s no reason why the group can’t continue to bring sweet music to the town for another 60 years and more.

n THE anniversary concert report will be published in next week’s paper.