The City of Dunedin, Florida has
had a long tradition of a Scottish heritage. The City of Dunedin
recognizes Stirling, Scotland as a sister city. The Highlander Band
also shares this same heritage.
In 1957, representatives of the
Dunedin business community, the Dunedin Junior High School, and the
Band Boosters united to transform the Junior High School Band into the
Highlander Band. These founding fathers were Mr. Bob Longstreet, St. Petersburg Independent
Newspaper; Mr. Dick Danford, Principal of Dunedin Junior High School; Mr. Bill Allen, Bandmaster of Dunedin
Junior High School; and Mr. Cliff Burris, President of the Band
The owner of the Independent, Lord
Thompson of Scotland, donated the first set of bagpipes for the band.
The Band Booster Association raised funds for the second set. An
experienced military piper, Mr. Matt Forsythe, came forward to help
condition the pipes. He also became the first instructor for the pipers
and thus, the Highlander Band was formed.
Mr. Bill Allen laid
the foundation for the Scottish heritage of the band and was an
inspiration to his students. One of those students was so inspired by
Mr. Allen that she later became the second director of the Highlander
Bands, Mrs. Mary Jo Blair. Mr. Allen guided the band from the time that
Dunedin Highland Junior High opened through the transition to Dunedin
Highland Middle School. He produced several outstanding recordings of
the band during his tenure. When he retired he was inducted into the
American Band Director's Hall of Fame and received letters of
congratulations from no less than Leonard Bernstein.
Blair, a former student of Mr. Allen's, was
band director of DHMS from 1988 until 2006. During those years the
Highlander Band had notable performances in Atlanta - Georgia,
Washington - DC and New York City. Mrs. Blair is listed in "Who's Who
Among America's Teachers" and was twice honored as "Teacher of the
Year" at DHMS.
David Bruce Mason is a graduate
of Florida State University. He became band director at DHMS in 2007,
after 18 years at Riviera Middle School in St. Petersburg and 2 years
at Fernandina Beach Middle School on Amelia Island. Mr. Mason's bands
have received "Superior" ratings at concert band evaluations for 17 out
of the past 19 years, including his first year at DHMS.
a former City Band
Piper and long time resident of Dunedin, Mr. Mason continues the long
tradition of the Scottish heritage of the band. Mr. Mason writes many
of the arrangements that the band plays, incorporating the Great
Highland Bagpipes within the concert band. Mr. Mason is proud to be
only the 3rd director at this school in its half century of existence.
While changing the Highlander Band into a completely kilted unit for
the first time, Mr. Mason continues the traditions established by Mr.
Allen and Mrs. Blair
Mr. Sandy Keith
started his piping at the age of 11 at
the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland. He immigrated to Canada
with his parents when he was 17. After having joined the Royal Canadian
Air Force, he became the Pipe Major of the Erskine Pipe Band. He led
them through the ranks of grade 3 to grade 1. Today he serves as the
Pipe Major for the City of Dunedin Pipe Band (Grade 2) and instructs
the Elliot Pipe Band (Grade 4), Dunedin High School Pipe Bands (Grade 4
& 5), and the Dunedin Highland Middle School Pipe Band (Grade 5).
All these pipe bands are in the small town of Dunedin, FL. Mr. Keith
has compiled a book called "The Florida Collection" of Bagpipe
Music, much of which is his own compositions over the last 25 years.