Donald Ross - Accordion and Bandleader
Donald is a skilled, passionate musician with an outstanding track record in virtually every area of the professional music business. Since his arrival in London from his native New Zealand, he has achieved admirable success as a musician, bandleader and musical director – See www.donald-ross.co.uk. His enormous experience coupled with his Scottish family background, more latterly led to the formation of The Highlanders which band provides him with an outlet for both his keen interest in Scottish dance music and his boundless enthusiasm for creating the ultimate party atmosphere.
As a freelance musician, Donald has enjoyed a highly-successful and enormously diverse career in music. He worked as Musical Director on The Sleeping Prince (starring Omar Sharif) at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, and has directed, produced, starred or performed in the orchestras of countless musical productions including Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Call me Madam - starring the late Noel Gordon - and Calamity Jane which starred Barbara Windsor. The pinnacle of his West End theatrical appearances was an on-stage performance as well as a chair in the orchestra of the musical La Cage aux Folles which ran for 8 months at the London Palladium. Orchestral credits number performances with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra whilst Donald’s bandleading credits encompass performances for several film premieres and awards ceremonies. He also devised and musically directs a cabaret of the music of Edith Piaf entitled, naturally enough, Les Chansons de Piaf.
The comprehensive experience and specialist knowledge which Donald has brought to The Highlanders has resulted in his band’s being widely-recognised as one of the UK’s foremost Scottish Ceilidh and Reeling Bands.
Johanna McWeeney - Fiddle
Johanna has been playing folk fiddle ever since she was introduced to the new Folkworks Initiative in her home town of Newcastle at seven years of age. She went on to win many fiddle competitions in the North East of England and to later study with acclaimed fiddle players Willie Taylor and, more recently, Brian Conway. In conjunction with her classical music career, Johanna has been playing for ceilidhs and dance competitions for over 20 years and has appeared along side musicians of the ilk of Ray and Cilla Fisher. She currently combines her love of folk music with a busy career as a freelance classical violinist, working with orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Johanna is frequently engaged to work with pop and rock artists such as Sting, Westlife and Barry Manilow.
Bob Winquist - Violin
Bob originates from Vancouver Island, on the west coast of Canada. Originally a student of the viola, Bob’s early musical education was classical which enabled him to secure engagements with a local symphony orchestra. After developing a strong interest in the Country Music then emanating from Nashville, Bob took up the violin (aka the fiddle) and shortly afterwards as a ‘gigging musician’ he joined his brother’s danceband, The Midnight Ramblers, which played at local dancehalls, military bases, etc. Deciding it was time to expand his musical horizons, Bob emigrated to London and began to freelance with orchestras including: BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Classical Players, the Hannover Band and various Chamber Music ensembles. He also ‘deputised’ in West End musicals, the most notable of which was The King & I staged at The London Palladium and where he met Yul Brynner! As well as his regular performances with The Highlanders, Bob continues to play in String Quartets and Baroque Ensembles. He is a founder member of Bluegrass Band: A Band Like Alice and from time to time tours with American Country singing legends such as Cathy Chiavola
Jennie Small - Flute and Piccolo
Jennie studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she won a place as a Postgraduate Student. Working initially as a neuroscientist, she soon came to realise that her true passion in life was for music. Since her change of career, Jennie’s professional Scottish engagements have included performances for The Royal Caledonian Ball and The Highland Ball ( both London-based ) as well as Reeling Parties in more far-flung destinations such as Hong Kong and Manila! As part of her busy freelance career, Jennie performs with her Flute and Harp Duo ‘Bagatelle’ whose more diverse engagements have involved performances at the top of London’s Gherkin building and playing to the sharks at the London Aquarium.
Laurie Wise - Guitar
Laurie Wise enjoys an admirable and distinguished career as both a lead and rhythm guitarist. After completing his studies with the legendary Ike Isaacs in the 60s, he went on to perform regularly on BBC outside broadcasts with ‘name’ Bandleaders such as Frank Cavez - from The Savoy - and the Cedric West Jazz Quartet. He has appeared in several Royal Variety Shows, has broadcast with the BBC Radio Orchestra and has held a chair in the orchestras of many West End shows, including 42nd Street and Fiddler on the Roof. Laurie brings a wealth of experience and musicianship to The Highlanders as well as a warm sense of humour. He can only be described as one of the finest Guitarists I have ever met!
Alan Boynton - Drums
Alan’s career was inspired by his Grandfather, a well-known percussionist! He is passionate about the specialist style of rudimentary pipe-band drumming which gives him the perfect sound for Scottish dance music. Alan’s long-standing success as a drummer is well-documented. During the 70s, he worked at the famous Caesar’s Palace in Luton where he backed a host of stars including Bob Monkhouse, Freddie Starr, Petula Clark and Shirley Bassey. He went on to play for the universally-known Johnny Howard Society Dance Band and was engaged to play kit and tune-percussion in West End musicals such as Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. In addition to his performances with The Highlanders, Alan continues to work for internationally-recognised American Jazz Pianist/Vocalist Buddy Greco.