The Scottish Brass Band movement is mourning the passing of Willie Tennant who died on Wednesday 9th June, aged 92.
A remarkable brass banding man he first joined the Kirkintilloch Band in 1937 on horn — heralding the start of over 70 years of service to the organisation in multiple musical and non-musical roles.
Life in banding
He made his first concert appearance with the band in 1938, but was forced give up playing after he contracted diphtheria. He returned in 1942 on cornet before moving to flugel horn and made his belated contesting debut in 1948 at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.
Following National Service where he played with the Staff Band of the Royal Army Service Corps including concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, and with Aldershot Town Band, he returned home to 'Kirky' in 1951.
The same year they claimed the Scottish Third Section title, with Willie moving onto euphonium by the time they performed at the 1952 National Finals.
Keen to ensure the band was well run and administered he served in various administrative capacities — starting at the tender age of 23.
In 1958 he stopped playing for a time to take up a youth training course, before enjoying a short period with Bo'ness & Carriden Band before his third spell with Kirkintilloch starting in 1961.
When he was made redundant from the Linwood Car Factory he took up a post of Brass Instructor with Lanarkshire Schools until his retirement in 1994.
It was a role that he loved — inspiring countless youngsters to take up brass and instrumental playing — the legacy of which remains to this day in Scottish banding.
Willie also took up the baton to direct both Kirkintilloch Senior and Junior Bands and enjoyed considerable success at Solo and Quartet Contests, winning the Scottish Junior Quartet Championships in 1971 and the Senior Quartet Championships in the 1980's.
Experience and knowledge
Having finished his playing career in 1986 he devoted his experience and knowledge to the administration of Kirkintilloch Band, enjoying their successes in becoming one of Scotland's foremost Championship contenders on the domestic, national and international stage.
As his great friend Peter Fraser stated: "Since 1954 Willie has travelled thousands of miles in the service of Kirkintilloch Band. He was a devoted servant to it and the whole of the Scottish brass band movement.
It is true to say that if it was not for Willie Tennant there would be no Kirkintilloch Band."
In 1994 he became involved with the formation Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass — the sibling ensemble of the organisation that arose from the need to accommodate the increasing numbers of young players that were coming through the ranks — many directly from Willie himself.
They went on to enjoy considerable success — rising from the Fourth to Championship Section — winning the Second Section National Championship of Great Britain title in 2000.
That was a particularly proud moment for Willie as his son Raymond who conducted the band has persuaded him to make a belated return to playing — this time on tuba, aged 70.
In 2008, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scottish Brass Band Association4BR
The contribution made by Willie Tennant to the Scottish brass band movement was marked both in 1994 with the presentation of his 50 Year Service Medal and in 2001 with the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, recognising 64 years of dedication and teaching of young people.
Throughout he was ably supported by his late wife Margaret.
In 2008, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scottish Brass Band Association.
Speaking to 4BR, a SBBA spokesperson said. "Willie Tennant's contribution to the brass band movement cannot be overestimated. His remarkable commitment, dedication, and love for it has been ingrained from the very first note he blew all those years ago and remained with him throughout his life.
He not only inspired his own family of which he was immensely proud, but countless others — players who have gone onto enjoy their own love of brass banding. That is a huge testament to a wonderful man."
Willie Tennant remained Honorary President of the Kirkintilloch Band organisation — incorporating Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass and Kirkintilloch Youth Band, whilst his two sons were also inspired by him to make their own musical mark on the Scottish brass banding scene.
He leaves sons Ronnie, Raymond, Scott and daughter Arlene.
Thanks to Peter Fraser