Emotive music marks First World War centenary in Leadhills

Monday 27 August 2018

Thanks to 4barsrest.com  for this feature.

A new work inspired by an evocative brass band picture entitled 'Music for Distant Hills' is set to be premiered by the Leadhills Silver Band in November.

Leadhills Silver Band has been working with composer Alan Fernie on an emotive musical project to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.


'Music for Distant Hills' has been commissioned as part of an initiative that received Heritage Lottery funding. In addition to the new composition, the project has involved research into the wartime connections of the area in conjunction with the historic Leadhills Library and the Wanlockhead Museum of Lead Mining & Heritage Group.

This has included the band linking to their community through memory sharing workshops, guest lectures, poetry and art workshops. The band has also arranged other community initiatives such as planting daffodils, tulips and poppies at the war memorials in the villages of Leadhills and Wanlockhead.


The inspiration for the project came from an old sepia tinted picture of the band taken around 1907 (above).

It captures the members of the lead mining band proudly grasping their beautifully engraved instruments — some of which are still in use today.

Seen in light of the outbreak of the First World War the photograph takes on a poignant feeling as a number of the band would have surely have had a direct involvement in the impending conflict.

Working closely

Band spokesperson Christine Izzard told 4BR: "As part of the research, Alan Fernie was asked to compose a work to be premiered at Leadhills Village Hall on 10th November.

The band is also hoping to reprise it at the Scottish Championships in Perth in March next year, after which the piece will be published and copies offered to youth bands throughout Scotland."

She added: "Alan has worked closely with the band throughout the project, tailoring the music to the players available.

He has also attended rehearsals during the writing process — and now that the piece is complete, will be guiding them towards the premiere in November."

The inspiration for the project came from an old sepia tinted picture of the band taken around 1907

1907 instruments

Christine also revealed that research has found that there was a band in existence in the village from at least the early 1900s, and although it isn't clear when it initially ceased to perform, it was re-established in December 2010 after some years of silence.

The 1907 instruments were discovered in the loft of the local library, and since being reformed has expanded from a handful of players to a thriving band of about 22 mixed ability performers with ages ranging from 9 to 65.