Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society

The Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society Collection

Material relating to administrative history of the Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society, including concert programmes and photographs.

About the Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society

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Logo for the Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society

The Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society began in 1888 in the home of David Work at 150 Woodlands Road. David was born in Orkney, and hosted musical evenings in his home with fellow musicians, including Tom Sinclair Rae. The society began to play functions locally, and went on to hold regular concerts at the “Red Lion” in West Nile Street, Glasgow.

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Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society membership card

The society was formed with the object of fostering Scottish music, especially Strathspeys and Reels.

Folios containing sets of music were used by members of the band. “A traditional set consisted of a march or a slow air, two Strathspeys followed by two reels. A few sets of jigs or reels were also included and the entire collection of these sets was printed in a small pocket book giving the set number and the title of each tune. A copy of this little book was issued to each playing member and contained some forty sets in all.

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The Society, 1930

The first conductor was David Work. As the society expanded, they moved to larger premises at the Central Halls, Bath Street. After the first conductor left Glasgow, Robert Williamson was appointed, followed by his son, John Crombie Williamson, who moved away in 1921.

Tom Sinclair Rae became conductor in 1921.

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Thomas Sinclair Rae

Throughout the 1920s, the band played regularly at the Lyric Theatre, City Halls, and the St Andrews Halls. They also played at Hawkhead Mental Asylum, Cardonald. The Concert Hall in Finnieston, Dunblane Hydro, Glasgow City Hall, Govan Town Hall, Motherwell Civic Centre and Kelvin Hall were also used as concert venues.

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Jubilee Concert, 1938

In 1954, James Moir was appointed as conductor. After the fire at St Andrews Halls in 1962, from which music, stands and double basses were rescued, scorched, but serviceable, the band began rehearsing in The Dixon Halls in Cathcart Road.

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St. Andrews Halls

In 1963, the 75th Annual Concert was held in Finnieston Concert Hall.

Kenneth McLean was appointed as conductor in 1981, and in 1988, the orchestra started playing BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay Show.

Pianists through the years have included Agnes Sinclair Wilson, and her niece, Janie Imrie Couper.

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Jane Imrie Couper from the Annual Concert Programme 6 March 1937

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Agnes Sinclair Wilson from the Annual Concert Programme 8 March 1930

The band celebrated their 125th Anniversary in 2013, and they currently meet every Tuesday Evening in the Glasgow Gaelic School. They are now named Glasgow Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra.

About the collection

The collection comprises mainly programmes & sheet music. It also includes pictures and cuttings from Canada tours of 1978, 1979 and 1980. Many photographs of the band are also included.

Finding aid

Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society Collection Listing (PDF, 112KB)

Further reading

Glasgow Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra Website

Glasgow Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra on Facebook

Glasgow Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society on Spotify

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