Ron Walker: TSO founder and conductor

Ron Walker
Ron Walker

A memorial service will be held in Forfar this Friday to celebrate the life of Ron Walker, founder of the Tayside Symphony Orchestra.

He died suddenly in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, last Friday at the age of 74.

Born in Perth and brought up in Newburgh, Fife, Ron began piano lessons at the age of eight.

Educated at Newburgh Primary and Bell Baxter High School, Cupar, he went on to study music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

After his graduation he went straight into teaching, returning to Bell Baxter High where he met his wife, Marion, a maths teacher at the school. The couple married in 1971 at the Lochee West Church, Dundee.

He was appointed principal teacher of music at St Columba’s High School in Dunfermline and then at Stranraer Academy before moving to Forfar with his family.

Ron and Marion both took up teaching posts at Forfar Academy.

Ron was heavily involved with numerous musical groups throughout the north east including Angus Choral, Carnoustie Musical Society, Alyth Musical Society, Angus Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Aberdeen Opera Company.

In 1993 he established the TSO for a concert series to raise funds for the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association (Scotland) following the death of his father.

Since then the orchestra has played to enthusiastic audiences in Forfar, Montrose, Perth, Dundee, Pitlochry and Aberdeen. Two concerts are performed each year in the Reid Hall in Forfar.

Owing to ill-health, Ron was forced to step down and in the summer he attended a special tribute concert performed by the orchestra which contained some of his favourite pieces of music. Ron was also organist at St Margaret’s Parish Church for nearly 30 years and was similarly honoured at a special ‘Songs of Praise’ service in the church in September. He is survived by his wife, sons Euan and Fraser and grandchildren Charlie, Drew and Freya. Following a private committal there will be a memorial service in St Margaret’s on Friday at 1.30 pm. to which all relatives and friends are invited.