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By February 4, 2014 Read More →

Bob McQuillen

Bob McQuillenToday Bob McQuillen left the world which he had so enriched through his music, character and love. Few people will need an introduction to this larger-than-life individual who has played piano for contra dances since 1947, who has written over 1,600 tunes, mostly named for people he has known, and whose legacy as a teacher at Peterborough High School (eventually Conval) changed and motivated the lives of hundreds of students. In July of 2012 I had the honor of narrating a Monadnock Lyceum entitled “A Celebration of New England Contra Dance Music, Honoring Bob McQuillen”. The program was a concert featuring Bob and his band, Old New England, interspersed with a bit of background about contra dancing, and then some comments about Bob. Below are two versions of a video recording made on that day. The first is a shorter video showing just the end of the program, which included a processional of about 40 musicians who came to honor Bob. The second is the full length program – just over an hour. Just above the videos is a link to the text of my narrative.

Over the next few days, all across the country, but especially here in the Monadnock region, I’m sure there will be countless remembrances of this remarkable man. And many of them will say for themselves what I will say for myself: Bob McQuillen was one of the most important people in my life: a friend, mentor, and an example of how to conduct one’s life. He was kind, non-judgmental, and generous.

I’m not sure what this means, but I suddenly realized today that Bob’s picture, on the timeline of Peterborough’s history, in the lobby of the Monadnock Center, is the last item on the timeline (which was installed several years ago). It is indeed the end of an era.

The narrative text: McQuillen_Lyceum_Program (PDF)

Final Segment, featuring musician’s processional.

A Celebration of New England Contra Dance Music: Honoring Bob McQuillen_Last Segment from Gordon Peery on Vimeo.

Complete program (slightly over 1 hour)

A Celebration of New England Contra Dance Music: Honoring Bob McQuillen from Gordon Peery on Vimeo.