Stewarton Academy Bands

Stewarton Academy Bands 

The 2019-2020 academic year has been amazing celebrating two major milestones for the Stewarton Academy Bands & Percussion Ensemble. It is 50 years since the first pupils started receiving instrumental tuition, in the former Stewarton High School, by Mr Andrew H Keachie MBE. 

It is also 30 years since the present Kickstart band system was created and launched by Mr Nigel Durno 

The success of the band system can be seen in the array of awards lining the school corridors 

Through the years, two adult music groups in particular, emerged out of the Instrumental system Kilmarnock Youth Band, (Kilmarnock Concert Brass) who went on to become The Scottish Brass Band Champions and Stewarton Winds, one of Scotland’s top class wind bands created by Alan Friel, the present Head of Instrumental Services in East Ayrshire. 

Both groups continue, to this day, to offer every pupil the next performing level/stage in their musical experience, either in senior stages at school or once they have left school. 

To mark both anniversaries, the Stewarton Bands, under the Instrumental team direction of Mr Brian Keachie, Miss Seònaid Macpherson, Miss Gillian Craven, Ms Camille Mason & Mr Stewart Forbes have been holding 50/30 celebrations throughout the year. There have been events, merchandise, trips and even the commissioning of two compositions “Fanfare for Stewarton Academy & “Annick Water” by “Composer in Residence” Gareth P Keachie. 

The events were organised by a special 50/30 Working Party Group who worked alongside the Stewarton Bands Support Group.  

A highlight included over 150 players, comprising of former/present pupils, representations from Stewarton Winds, Kilmarnock Concert Brass and Instrumental staff performing the inaugural “Fanfare For Stewarton Academy.   

Another highlight was the senior London band trip to see the Royal Marines Bands perform at the Lord Mountbatten Festival of Music in the Royal Albert Hall. 

The usual Scottish Concert Band Festivals were not neglected in our celebration year, when for the very first time, all five of the Stewarton Academy Bands & Percussion Ensemble reached the finals in Perth in March. 

All the bands were fully expected to perform amazingly and bring back another crop of awards. There was the additional excitement, for the Senior Band performing the World Premier “Annick Water” the new composition commissioned especially, by their Composer In Residence. But sadly, events were overtaken by the coronavirus crisis. With just two days notice the finals of the SCBF in Perth were cancelled. 

The lockdown has also meant temporary cancellation of the rest of the organised celebrations. This included: 

  • a Kickstart Extravaganza for over 450 pupils across East Ayrshire Instrumental Music Service Programme. 
  • a parental/carer band workshop weekend learning to play an instrument of their choice 
  • and the culmination with our summer 50/30 celebrations Gala Concert featuring all the Stewarton Academy Wind Bands/Percussion Ensemble. 
  • Invited guests included the first pupils to receive instrumental tuition, founder musical directors and various bands from across Ayrshire all gathering for a gala performance in the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock.

The cancellations have been incredibly disappointing for all the pupils, Instrumental staff and parents/carers. A particular blow to our S6 band leavers. Each year the band summer concert also serves as a farewell to the S6 pupils who are leaving, all of whom have been in the band system since they were 10 or 11 years old. Coronavirus has robbed these students of their final band performances. 

The instrumental staff, Stewarton Band Support Group, parents/carers and band supporters would all like to pay tribute and say a massive thank you to all those students for their commitment, enthusiasm and dedication throughout their banding years experience. 

We hope, as soon as possible, arrangements can be put in place to reschedule all the events affected by the Coronavirus and the Instrumental staff will makes sure all former 2020 S6 pupils will all be invited to play!