Banff was a town with a musical tradition. In the 20th century this expressed itself in singing. Steadily from 1925 into the 1970s there were regular productions. We can safely say that every single Gilbert and Sullivan light opera was performed in Banff, starting with The Gondoliers in 1926, the year the Operatic Society was formally constituted. There was already a Choral Society, and the two overlapped for years, and then merged as Banff Choral and Operatic Society in 1955.

The leading light of the Society was Harold George, organist and choirmaster of St Mary’s Parish Church, nowadays simply called Banff Parish Church. He was Director of every performance from 1925 till his retirement in 1970, and his wife was Secretary of the Society. Once he had gone, things weren’t the same, and after two or three years the routine was broken.

Provost Rankine for many years was a tenor in the choir and then was Secretary and Treasurer, and indeed President. In the Museum we have a programme with a list of 72 Patrons, starting with the Countess of Seafield. The venues varied, sometimes St Mary’s Hall, sometimes the Drill Hall or the YMCA Hall, or even Macduff Town Hall.

Singing with a good local Society can be the start of a musical career. Muriel Rae went on to Covent Garden and Sadlers Wells, and Chris Donald to the BBC Singers. The Junior Branch of the Society flourished in Banff Academy for several years, and even more of these went on to sing elsewhere.

What a consistent annual delight it must have been to have all this light-hearted tunefulness, and the whole spectacle of a well-turned-out company, year after year.