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Death of Major Peter Parkes

4BR has been informed of the death of one of the greatest conductors in the banding world.



4BR has been informed of the death of Major Peter Parkes, the former Musical Director of the Black Dyke Band.


His sons Jonathan and Christopher stated: "We are sorry to announce that our father, Major Peter Parkes, passed away in the early hours of this morning.

This was a great shock to us and happened very quickly, but we take some comfort that he was surrounded by his wife, Birgit, and family. We are likely to hold a quiet funeral in the next week or so, just for family.

We also understand that there will be many people who wish to pay their respects to him and we will try to organise a memorial service in the near future."


Speaking to 4BR in Norway, the current Director of Music at Black Dyke, Dr Nicholas Childs, spoke of shock and sadness of the loss of the man he respectfully referred to as, ‘The Godfather of Black Dyke’.

"We have been told of the news and it has come as a great shock to everyone associated with Black Dyke. It is an immense loss to the banding world.

He did more than anyone to bring iconic status to the band and everyone’s thoughts are with his family at this time. He was a musician revered throughout the musical world."

Black Dyke will perform ‘Deep Harmony’ as a tribute to the conductor at the Norwegian National Championship Gala Concert tonight in Bergen4BR

14 year tenure

Black Dyke will perform ‘Deep Harmony’ as a tribute to the conductor who brought numerous major titles to the Queensbury bandroom during his 14 year tenure from 1975—1989 at the Norwegian National Championship Gala Concert tonight in Bergen.

Other notable conductors who enjoyed long associations with Major Parkes also paid tribute to him.

True great

Garry Cutt was deeply saddened by the news. "It has been a huge shock. He was a true great—and someone who deserved every accolade and contesting success. He was magical in front of a band—at times unbeatable. I don’t think we will see his like again."

Finest musicians

Alan Morrison, who played under him at Grimethorpe agreed with the sentiments: "What a great conductor and man. It’s hard to believe we have lost one of the finest musicians to have graced the banding world."

Unprecdented record

During his tenure at Black Dyke, Major Parkes won the British Open on five occasions adding a further success with the Williams Fairey Band in 1993.

He also led the Queensbury band to six National titles including a legendary hat trick of wins between 1975 and 1977. He won another National with Fairey again in 1993.

His record at the European saw him win 8 titles—seven with Dyke and his last with Fairey in 1994.

He also won an unprecedented 30 regional titles with various bands and claimed his last major award in 2008 leading Sovereign Brass to the Pontins Championship on the one test piece many thought he was unsurpassed on, ‘Cloudcatcher Fells’.

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Christopher Bond

BMus (Hons), DipABRSM
Composer, Arranger, Conductor & Teacher