A Tribute to David Loukes
Given by Phillip Hunt at his Funeral on August 2nd 2014
I first met David at a Christmas Concert I was introducing, where he was conducting the St Austell and Mount Charles Bands at Redruth. The first thing he said to me was that I had been pronouncing his name incorrectly on my brass band radio programme and that he hoped I would get it right during the Concert.
That was David, direct and to the point, but with that little smile and a twinkle in the eye. Later when I became Secretary of the Cornwall Youth Brass Band, where he was Senior Tutor, I got to know him well and was pleased to call him a friend.
The Cornwall Youth Brass Band had had a couple of difficult years and when Leonard Adams became Chairman in 2002 he invited David to take on the important role of Senior Tutor. David accepted the voluntary role with alacrity and planned and oversaw the following 11 Residential Courses of the Band, along with the many monthly rehearsals involved. The Band was fortunate to be able to benefit from of David’s myriad contacts throughout the brass band world and the wider musical world in general.
Even after stepping down from the Senior Tutor’s role in 2007, he continued as the Trombone Tutor of the Band, inspiring his Section to greater things than they thought they were capable of. As one wrote to me after his passing, “He was a fine man who taught me a lot and had a significant impact on my playing”. Another, who he also taught individually, wrote that, “He was my absolute hero.”
David was born in Rugby and spent his formative years in Staines in South London, becoming a Solo Trombone of the Chalk Farm Salvation Army Band. From the City of London School, he went on to study Trombone at the Guildhall School of Music, where, in 1968, he was awarded their Gold Medal. The Guildhall School’s premier music prize was founded 1915, and David was the first brass player to win the Medal, which he held in the company of other such eminent musicians as Jaqueline Du Prie, Tasmin Little, Bryn Terfel and Ben Luxon.
From the Guildhall he went straight to the Halle Orchestra, playing as Assistant Principal Trombone under all the great conductors of the time, including of course the inimitable Sir John Barbirolli. This was a period which provided David with a large fund of anecdotes, but also developed his innate sense of musicianship which had a major influence on his conducting career, which was to follow, and to which he had always aspired.
This conducting career started in the North of England and included such eminent Bands as Wingates Temperance, Besses o the Barn, The James Shepherd Versatile Brass and National Smokeless Fuels among others. In 1977 he joined a select group of Conductors when he led the East Lancashire Paper Group Band to victory in the Grand Shield, a feat which he repeated in 1979 with the Rochdale Band.
The highlight of that Northern Conducting career came in March 1980 when he joined the Black Dyke Mills Band as their Resident Conductor, working with the great Major Peter Parkes, a role he relished and filled with distinction.
His enthusiasm for the teaching of young people came very much to the fore when he was one of the major forces behind the establishment of the ground breaking Course in Brass Band Musicianship at the then Salford College of Technology in 1976, now Salford University. This was a two year Course which led to a Diploma in Brass Band Musicianship that was recognised for entry into Teacher Training. As his fellow pioneer, Roy Newsome wrote, “The Salford Courses put the brass band fairly and squarely on the academic map and paved the way for other institutions to forge links with the brass band movement.” These days many famous institutions such as the Royal Northern and the Royal Welsh Colleges of Music offer both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in various aspects of brass band studies, all flowing directly from that initiative planned by David and Roy, who were joined by Goff Richards as the first lecturers on the Courses.
The year 1990 saw David commencing his major connection with us in Cornwall when he moved down to conduct the St Austell Band, with whom he quickly established a successful partnership. I remember no less a musician and lifelong Bandsman than the late Peter Minear, a man rarely given to lavish praise of other musicians, telling me of his admiration for David’s skills and knowledge as a Conductor and how much he had learned from him.
In due course those Conducting skills benefitted other Bands in Cornwall, including, Heyl, Mount Charles, Porthleven, Redruth and St Keverne, as well as many others on an occasional basis. In addition his teaching skills benefitted his many private pupils and those at Heamoor School in Penzance and at Helston College, as well as all his work with his beloved Cornwall Youth Brass Band. In addition his services as a talented Adjudicator were also often called upon.
He was in short an all round musician of great, and possibly sometimes undervalued, talent and integrity that we were fortunate to have among us here in Cornwall for so many years, before being sadly deprived of those talents at such a relatively early age.