Colin O'Riordan Trust

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:39 pm on 24th January 2002.

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Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green 5:39 pm, 24th January 2002

I had the privilege of knowing Colin O'Riordan for 25 years—not well, but well enough. He was a man of great gifts, who had a great sense of humour. As Donald Gorrie said, he set out the seats for the orchestra as well as encouraging young people by conducting and teaching them.

I taught at Boroughmuir High School for a long time—nearly half my life. In addition to leading the sections of the orchestras, Colin taught many of the Boroughmuir pupils. The orchestras used to use the school annexe, and it was a delight to hear them practising and to know that Colin was there, encouraging them. I have not met a pupil who did not hold him in the highest esteem.

I was delighted to hear about the setting up of the Colin O'Riordan Trust. I went to the concert at the Usher Hall, but did not hear the last, grand finale, as I was busy in the corridor outside the hall, collecting money for the fund. I hope that the fund will make a significant addition to music opportunities for young people in Scotland.

Another good, long-lasting and much-needed testimonial to the enormous work that Colin did would be for the Executive to take a robust attitude to the teaching of music, art, outdoor education and all the subjects that have, over the years, been pushed to the periphery of Scottish education. Those subjects must be returned to the centre of Scottish education.

I support what those members who have spoken so far have said. It is wonderful to be here to hear their speeches. I wish that other members were here, so that they too could hear the debate. It was wonderful to hear what Donald Gorrie, Brian Fitzpatrick, Brian Monteith and Margo MacDonald said about the central place that the teaching of music should have in our primary and secondary schools and of the value that should be put on the work of music instructors. As Brian Fitzpatrick pointed out, there is nothing to replace the value of the one-to-one relationship with an instructor. What happens in music in Scotland is founded on the one-to-one relationship between music instructors and their pupils. Without that foundation, the big orchestras, small groups and the wonderful things that happen at the city music school would not happen.

I look forward to the fund swelling to the point where it makes a significant contribution. I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate.