And there’s more…

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Bill’s signed Paul Robeson programme

Bill’s passion for singing went beyond his major involvement in opera and Scots song. As a student he was inspired by the powerful voice and biography of Paul Robeson. In 1958, when Robeson came to perform at the St Andrew’s Halls in Glasgow, Bill managed to persuade Robeson to listen to him sing a negro spiritual. Robeson advised Bill to sing spirituals as if they were his own folk songs, and this was something that stayed with Bill for the rest of his life. He and his wife, Pat, who often accompanied him on the piano, worked together to create a programme called ‘Ol’ Man River’. This was a tribute to Robeson’s life and work and allowed Bill both to read and sing literature and songs connected with the great singer.

At home with his wife, Pat

As a duo Bill and Pat also undertook a number of tours with the National Trust for Scotland, where they devised and created a variety of programmes of songs from different nations and they regularly performed concerts at home together including some summer seasons in Oban, Argyllshire in the 1980s.

Bill had over 30 oratorios in his repertoire, and was in constant demand throughout his career, performing with a number of Scottish musical organisations, both amateur and professional. He was a regular guest artist with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and performed with them at the Henry Wood Proms. He retained close connections with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, narrating The Snowman for them the winter before he died.

He continued to have strong connections with the brass band world, often performing with Whitburn Burgh Band and the Kirkintilloch Brass Band and with a number of other smaller groups including Adrian Shepherd’s ‘Cantilena’, and the Scottish Bach Ensemble.

As Herald Diligence in The Thrie Estaites

In 1985 Bill made his debut as an actor, playing the part of the Herald Diligence in Tom Fleming’s Scottish Theatre Company production of Sir David Linsday’s Scottish play Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaites. This production was staged as part of the Edinburgh International Festival but also toured to Poland. His acting career continued on film as Karl Maraucher in ‘Silent Mouse’ with actors Hannah Gordon and Gregor Fisher. This told the story of the creation of the Christmas Carol ‘Silent Night’.

Bill’s connection with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama continued throughout his career and he taught singing, gave a number of masterclasses and worked with young singers on the opera course.