Choir still singing after half a century together

The Edinburgh Kevock Choir performing in Belfast
The Edinburgh Kevock Choir performing in Belfast

The Edinburgh Kevock Choir has been entertaining crowds all over the world for the 50 years since it was set-up for former pupils of Lasswade High School.

Although in a new building, the choir still practices at the school to this day, with the choir taking its name from the wooded valley between Bonnyrigg and Loanhead, the two towns where most of the original choir came from.

Today, the choir recruits from a much wider area, with members from all over the Lothians. It was decided to add Edinburgh to the choir’s name a few years ago, to reflect this wider membership, which currently sits at around 60.

Edinburgh Kevock Choir president David Hogg (70) said: “I have been in it for 49 years, my brother was a founder member so I knew about it through him. Another member asked me to come along so I did.

“Robert Alnwick was the principal music teacher at Lasswade then, he had come down from Aberdeen where he had a successful choir, so he started one here.

“It gradually expanded to take in other folk as a lot of former pupils went elsewhere for work and university. ”

David spoke passionately about the “Kevock family”.

He said: “When you have been in it as long as I have, you have to sit down and think about it, it’s just a way of life now. Most of the members have been in the choir for a long time, 20, 30 years.

“It’s a Kevock family, I met my wife in the choir, there have been generations in it, my daughter sang in the choir for a while before work took her away.

“It’s ingrained in me now, I look forward to rehearsals and concerts.”

Over the years the choir has had many memorable moments singing across the globe with military bands, orchestras and jazz combos, with other choirs and with soloists. These include; singing ‘Scotland the Brave’ and ‘Flower of Scotland’ in the Stade de France, taking part in a broadcast from Glamis to mark the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday, then in a special Songs of Praise on Easter Sunday, following her death.

The choir also performed at Live 8 at Murrayfield Stadium in 2005, singing with soprano Katherine Jenkins.

The choir has performed in such varied settings as the Tivoli Gardens, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Basilica of St Stephen in Budapest.

Although the 50th anniversary is officially in August, the choir recently marked their half century with a special concert in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall and a dinner, with current and former members making the most of both events.

David said: “The concert was very good. We invited back previous members to join us, had a quick rehearsal of three practices and then got on stage. It was great for them being back and it was a marvellous night.

“We focused the anniversary celebrations on the concert, this August will just be the start of the new season so we will be too busy.

“We had the concert and a dinner at the Brunton to mark the milestone. The dinner was fantastic too.

“In some cases folk had travelled a long way to be there, that sense of family shone through again.”

In their 50 years the choir has only had three conductors: Alex Elrick MBE 1967-95, Norman Adam 1995-2000 and Graham Lovett from 2000.

“There is a stability about the membership here at Kevock,” added Allan.

“Our current conductor, only our third conductor, Graham Lovett, has been in charge for 18 very successful years, and has carried us on through all that time with the skill and accomplishment of the gifted teacher that he is.

“It’s only when you look back and think about it you realise how special that is.

“He is also the one who will lead us ever onwards into our next 50 years.”

Now on its summer break the choir will return in August, with practice in Lasswade High School on Tuesday evenings, 7.15pm-9.30pm. To join, email enquiries@edinburghkevockchoir.co.uk.