It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Geoff Balson last week. Geoff was the Musical Director of Lancashire Youth Concert Band for 20 years before his retirement in 2003 and in that time he took the band from its first tentative steps to become one of the finest youth wind bands in the North of England. His successful work with young musicians in Lancashire and his community involvement in Burnley resulted in the award of the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours of 1992. He leaves a substantial musical legacy in Lancashire and inspired hundreds of young musicians who went on to successful careers in the music industry.
One young percussionist upon whom Geoff had a significant influence was current LMS percussion teacher and concert band tutor Tony Harrison who shares the following memories:
“Having been, against my will, dragged along to join, what was then, the Lancashire Schools Symphonic Wind Band (LSSWB) I can truly say that it was one of the best experiences of my school years. This, in no small part, was due to Geoff Balson and I know from the many online messages I have read that I am not the only one who’s life was affected by him in such a positive way. His leadership and musical knowledge was second to none and he taught us how to give respect, which we all gave him in massive amounts. The opportunities we were given as young musicians and members of the band have set many of us up for careers in music, whether it was concerts, tours, courses, working on our own in small groups or even singing, these experiences gave us a solid grounding and Geoff knew the importance of this. Having been lucky enough to return as a tutor and work alongside Geoff he welcomed me back with open arms and I enjoyed every moment of my time working with him and the other tutors. I know I echo many past members sentiments when I say thank you Geoff for enriching our lives and giving us memories that we shall never forget, to you we shall always be indebted.”
Tribute has also been paid by LYCB Woodwind Tutor Margaret Turtington who worked alongside Geoff for many years:
“Geoff Balson was a compassionate kind gentleman and outstanding musician. He generated fierce loyalty and respect from both fellow teachers and young musicians who were members of the Lancashire Students Concert Band. His legacy is three generations of students and their families who give on going support to music in Lancashire”.
Our thoughts are with Geoff’s family, friends and everyone who’s musical journey he has inspired.