Prestigious Queen's honour for Leeds Symphony Orchestra stalwart

Ilkley Gazette: Martin Binks - photo by Photomidgley.Photography Martin Binks - photo by Photomidgley.Photography

One the longest serving conductors of an orchestra anywhere in the world has been award an MBE for services to music.

Martin Binks has been the conductor of Leeds Symphony Orchestra since 1970 - making him the longest serving conductor in the orchestra's 125-year history.

Mr Binks, who lives in Horsforth, was told of the impending honour several weeks ago but was sworn to secrecy until the official announcement at the weekend.

This week he said: "I am absolutely delighted about it. It is a great honour."

He stressed: "It is an honour for all the players - for those who play or sing- because a conductor can only be as good as his players. It is the players who do all the hard work."

Mr Binks, who was appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 1993, joked his British honour had been "a long time coming."

Now he is looking forward to receiving the award in the late autumn.

Mr Binks, who is married with two sons and two grandchildren, said his family were "very, very, delighted."

"My granddaughter has insisted that she wants to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen," he said.

The cricket loving 74-year-old conducted his 300th LSO concert earlier this year.

Born in Knaresborough and educated in Newcastle upon Tyne, and at Southampton, he studied music at Birmingham University, where he began conducting, and at University College, Cardiff.

He worked for 25 years at Aireborough Grammar School, leaving when the school closed. He became conductor of the LSO in 1970, and the 40th anniversary of his appointment was marked in 2010 with a concert at the Grammar School at Leeds.

During his time with the orchestra the repertoire has been very wide, with a noticeable proportion of French music, including nearly all the orchestral music of Berlioz being performed.

As Artistic Director and Conductor of West Riding Opera, he has conducted nearly two hundred and fifty performances of more than forty operas, with several operas being given their first-ever production in the North of England.

He has also conducted a number of choral societies including Knaresborough Choral Society. On the weekend of the Tour de France's Grand Depart he will be conducting the Cantores Olicanae in concert at St Margaret's Church in Ilkley.

He is also a guest conductor of the Oslo Conservatoire Orchestra and of York Opera.

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