Dalriada School in Ballymoney has paid tribute to and congratulated their former Head of Music Bobby McQuillan who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to music.
Bobby came to Dalriada in 1982, having obtained a BMus Honours degree in Music and an MA from Queen’s University Belfast. At that stage, there was an Orchestra, a Senior and Junior Choir, an A-level class of one pupil and an O-Level class of five pupils.
Over the ensuing years, Bobby added a thriving Wind Band, a String Group and a Chamber Choir who participated annually in the UTV Choir of the Year competition.
He added additional events into the school calendar such as a Music in May Concert in addition to the annual Evening of Music spring concert and a Christmas Carol Concert.
During his time at Dalriada, the numbers taking GCSE and A level music grew steadily.
Heather Montgomery, current Head of Music at Dalriada and a former pupil of Bobby McQuillan, said: “Bobby was Musical Director of many school shows, some of which were created ‘in house’ (Song of Samson, written and directed by the late Roy Alcorn), while others were mainstream productions such as Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, and South Pacific.
“Dalriada School was the first school in the province to stage Les Miserables (School Edition). The orchestra was largely made up of pupils (as is the Dalriada way) and was awarded Best Orchestral Accompaniment at the Waterfront Hall.
“Bobby has inspired many pupils with a love of music and there is a legacy in the local area of several musicians and music teachers who have all been taught by Bobby and are continuing his ethos and example.
“He enjoyed curricular success also, as during his time as Head of Department, the department boasted two first places at CCEA GCSE Northern Ireland and two first places and a third place at CCEA A2 level.
“He was able to enjoy the new music suite for a few years before his retirement, which has enhanced every aspect of music making at Dalriada and would never have existed had it not been for Bobby’s vision, hard work and perseverance.
“Bobby is remembered with great fondness as a man who was always disarmingly honest and understated and who always had the interests of the pupils closest to his heart,” concluded Heather.
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