08 October 2019

A Fond Appreciation of Bill Cook – SFO Leader and President


Bill Cook passed away suddenly on Saturday 05 October 2019.

Bill had been troubled with poor health recently but still managed to lead the orchestra with his customary flair at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 07 September 2019, shortly after his 80th birthday.

He will be a huge loss to the SFO and the traditional music scene in Scotland and will be sadly missed.

Bill was born in Alloa on 03 September 1939.

He was the eldest of three children, from a musical family, with his father being an accomplished violinist.

His brother played the guitar and his sister the piano, but it was to the violin that Bill was directed as a youngster, under the tutelage of his father, who was, at the time, the conductor of Stirling Strathspey & Reel Society.

This early association with Scottish music fuelled a passion within Bill which was to become a major influence in his life and was to take him all over the world.

His talent developed in the Army.

He played on a regular basis and matured into a fine violinist, attending classes at Trinity College London and earning plaudits for his arranging talents, as well as his playing ability.

He left after a 6-year spell and found himself looking at a return to Scotland, with his wife Teresa and their young family.

He decided against orchestral playing as he wished to be at home, and, quite by chance, found himself being offered the position of violin teacher by Clackmannan Council.

He accepted the position and, for the next thirty years until his retirement, he was the inspiration for many youngsters. He became a highly respected player, adjudicator, composer and publisher, with several successful books on Scottish fiddle playing to his name.

Bill’s talents reached far beyond music.

As a teenager, he was very active in sport and became an international standard tennis player.

He was an accomplished painter, with many fine works to his credit and he developed an interest in restoring old cars.

Throughout this time, Bill was playing, writing and becoming more and more involved in the Scottish music scene across a diverse range of musical genres.

Following the loss of his father, he took on the role of musical director and conductor of Stirling Strathspey & Reel Society.

John Mason, founder and Musical Director of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, recognised his talents and invited Bill to become the Orchestra’s Leader. Bill took on the challenge, with his usual enthusiasm and was Leader from 1983 up to the present day.

In that time, he became a much-loved and highly respected figure within the orchestra and it was with pride that Bill accepted the role of President in 2008.

That year he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Arts Award in recognition of achievement in the Arts in Clackmannanshire by Clackmannanshire Council and, in 2019, he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Hall of Fame in recognition for his life-long commitment and contribution to “enriching the lives of others through selfless service and charitable work”.

We will always remember him fondly.


Bill Cook presents Aly Bain with the tune Bill composed for Aly’s 70th birthday in 2016.