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Family man and talented musician Drummond Cook passes away

By Garry McCartney

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The late Drummond Cook.
The late Drummond Cook.

The community gathered to say their fond farewells to a talented and much respected man of Forres.

The late Drummond Cook, a former watchmaker, serviceman, teacher and craftsman, perhaps most well-known as a musician, music producer and composer, passed away after a short illness and will be missed most by beloved wife Edith and children Carol and Calum.

Drummond was born in Fife in 1932. His mother taught music, his father was a keen amateur singer and violinist and his sister went on to become a music teacher.

Drummond first trained as a watchmaker in Glasgow then spent three years as an instrument technician in the RAF, stationed at Kinloss. In 1960, having identified the array of talent in the area, he entered Forres in the nationwide ‘Top Town’ competition in Inverurie. As producer, he was involved in writing the script, designing the set and costumes as well as arranging the music for shows. He required dancers, singers, comedians and a pianist to accompany the singers in the band. It was suggested that a young Edith Fraser would be the ideal pianist. Drummond and Edith were later married in 1970! Repeated success of the Forres Top Town team culminated with an appearance on Grampian Television. The shows ranged from Scotland (Mairi’s Wedding) to France, the Swiss Alps, the Romans, Upandoon(an adaptation of Brigadoon) and more. The unbeaten Top Town team performed three winning shows at Forres Town Hall to sold out audiences and had to add extra performances! The Scottish Dance Band which formed the backbone of Top Town went on to travel Scotland and beyond.

Forres’ Top Town team in the sixties.
Forres’ Top Town team in the sixties.

Drummond, Edith, Willie James and the late Bob Masson played together for Scottish Country Dancing for over 50 years. They recorded two albums, ae Gar Ye Loup and the second for Highlander Music.

In 1967, Drummond started teaching violin in Moray school. Sharing his love of Scottish music with his pupils,he formed the Forres Academy Strathspey and Reel group. Many pupils’ lives were enriched by the fiddle group, winning competitions and travelling to Germany to showcase Mair Licht, a piece Drummond wrote to mark the Forres’ twinning with Vienenburg.

Drummond composed many tunes with originality, sound harmonic structure and rhythm. He was also a talented craftsman and made instruments including seven violins, a viola, a cello, a five stringed violin, and even an electric violin and an electric cello.

Family trio Edith, Carol and Drummond practising together.
Family trio Edith, Carol and Drummond practising together.

A devoted family man, Drummond was proud of the achievements of his children. Carol is the Principal Violist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Calum is the Principal Cellist in the same orchestra. Both play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Rembrandt Chamber Players. It gave their parents great pleasure to view their recent chamber concerts streamed live from Chicago.

Drummond himself played viola in many local orchestras and chamber groups over the years.

Many will also know him as someone who solved practical problems and invented fixes for mechanical failures.

It has remained a puzzle as to how minimal education empowered Drummond to do such a variety of things. He designed and built the family home, created a wind-powered screw to solve the drainage problem in their garden, and in his 80’s was called upon to mend the town clock. A humble, unassuming man, Drummond Cook will be missed by all.

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