Peter Parfitt, Aberdeen Bach Choir Musical Director

Musical Director Peter Parfitt

Peter Parfitt was educated at Bristol Cathedral School where he received his early musical training as a chorister in the Cathedral Choir.  At the age of sixteen he won a scholarship to the University of Durham where he read Music and Latin and sang in the Cathedral Choir as a Choral Scholar.  Three years later he became the youngest person ever to graduate from the Music Faculty with an honours degree.  Following this he spent 8 years as a Lay Clerk in the Choir of Winchester Cathedral.  During this time he appeared with the choir as a soloist on Radio 3.  He also toured with the choir to Brazil, Australia and the USA and gave concerts in Paris, on the south bank, and at the Barbican as well as on television and radio. 

Peter held teaching posts in Winchester, and positions as Director of Music in schools in Hampshire, London and East Sussex before taking up the post of Director of Music at St Margaret’s School for Girls in Aberdeen.  Peter has directed a number of choral societies and operatic societies and appeared with many others as a soloist.  He is an external examiner for the Oxford and Cambridge examinations board and also for the Scottish Qualifications Authority.   Peter served for twelve years with HM Royal Naval Reserves where he specialised in submarine data communications.

He was appointed Musical Director of Aberdeen Bach Choir in 2010.

Rehearsal Pianist Jeremy Coleman

Jeremy Coleman Rehearsal Pianist

Jeremy Coleman is a musicologist and pianist based in Aberdeen. An alumnus of Aberdeen Grammar School (2007), Jeremy read Music and Musicology at Clare College Cambridge (2010, 2011) and received a PhD from King's College London (2016). He currently lectures in the Music Department of the University of Aberdeen and previously held the 2017-18 Visiting Fellowship at the Ernst Bloch Centre for German Thought (Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London). His first book Richard Wagner in Paris: Translation, Identity, Modernity is forthcoming in October 2019 published by Boydell & Brewer. Jeremy holds an LRSM in Piano Performance and is active as a collaborative pianist in various ensembles. He has had the pleasure of accompanying rehearsals of the Aberdeen Bach Choir since 2015.


To mark our 60th Anniversary, the choir has followed the example of many other musical ensembles and appointed patrons. We are delighted that two very distinguished musicians, leaders in their own fields, have accepted our invitation to fulfil that role: Professor John Butt O.B.E. and Dame Emma Kirkby.

John Butt is a distinguished Bach scholar and author of a number of books on Bach and the music of the Baroque period. He is the Musical Director of the Dunedin Consort with whom he has made a number of highly acclaimed and award winning recordings including all the major works of JS Bach. He is also a Principal Artist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  

In 2011 he was awarded the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize, for his work in the performance and scholarship of Bach. In 2013 John Butt was awarded the medal of the Royal College of Organists and the OBE for his services to music in Scotland.

An internationally renowned soprano whose distinctive voice is particularly suited to her specialism in early music, Emma Kirkby is very popular with Aberdeen audiences where she has performed numerous times in the Music Hall, at Aberdeen University and twice in recent years in St Machar’s Cathedral with Aberdeen Bach Choir. She was a founder member of the Taverner Choir and in 1973 began a long association with the Consort of Musicke. She has made well over 100 recordings. 

In 2007 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and then in 2010 she was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music an honour awarded for her “contribution to the nation’s musical life”.

She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by Aberdeen University in 2012, where she is a Visiting Fellow in Performance.


Conductors & Musical Directors

James Lobban, Conductor

Former Conductor - James Lobban

Willan Swainson 1956 - 1957
John B. Dalby 1957 - 1960
Graham R. Wiseman 1960 - 1967
David Murray 1967 - 1969
James G. Lobban 1969 - 2006
Gordon Jack 2006 - 2010 (Musical Director)
Peter Parfitt 2010 + (Musical Director)

An accomplished musician, our longest serving conductor James Lobban was educated locally at Mile-End Primary School and Aberdeen Grammar School before graduating from Aberdeen University with an Honours Degree in Music in 1964. In 1959 he played organ in a performance of the 'Messiah' at Inverurie West Church and in 1962 James became organist at Rutherford Church of Scotland in Aberdeen. 1966 saw James become Principal Teacher of Music at Inverurie Academy and despite this new challenge, he still managed to fit in a solo performance of Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in G minor with the University Symphony Orchestra the following year. He moved on to become Principal Teacher of Music at Hazlehead Academy, a post he held until shortly before his death on Friday 10 November 2006. A dedicated member of St. Machar's Cathedral Choir, James sang bass and in 1981 was promoted to the post of Organist and Choirmaster of the Cathedral, which he held until his death. James was Principal Examiner in Music for Scotland from 1987 until 1995. 

James joined Aberdeen Bach Choir on a part-time basis in the 1960s and was promoted to the position of conductor in 1969, becoming largely responsible for the varied repertoire performed over the years. He continued as conductor until, after the December 2005 concert, illness forced him to give up his duties.

Tributes to James, whose contribution to the life of the Choir is incalculable, have been written by Robert Wilson and Alison Shiel. An obituary by Gordon Casely appeared in The Herald on 15 November 2006. Alan Falconer, Minister at the Cathedral, delivered a moving tribute at the funeral service held in St Machar's Cathedral on 16 November 2006.

Elma Reid 

Elma Reid

Elma Reid

Elma Reid, who passed away on 15 January 2008, was our last remaining founder member, having sung under six conductors. Elma had been a member of the choir for over fifty years; she is sadly missed by all who knew her.

Elma was a Primary School teacher, ending her career as Head Teacher of Kirkhill Primary School. She was a keen golfer and was Captain of Murcar Links Ladies Golf Club.

There was a memorial service for Elma in Queen's Cross Church, Aberdeen on Friday 25 January 2008 at 12 noon. During the service, members of the Aberdeen Bach Choir, conducted by Gordon Jack, sang the Bach Passion Chorale and President Ros Grant gave a tribute to Elma. 

Aberdeen Bach Choir
Scottish Registered Charity Number SC008609

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