Paul Parkinson

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Our very dear friend and colleague Paul passed away this first weekend of July after a long period of illness.

Paul worked for the British Council for 26 years and was a much-loved member of the music team there.

He was an accomplished musician, a fine composer, and a highly-respected and distinguished member of the music community in the UK.

In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List Paul was awarded an MBE for services to British music overseas and in 2015 was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

He gave great service to the British Council and to the music community and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Many of you will have fond memories of him and we hope you can join us in sharing them here.

If you would like to share, please leave a reply using the form below.

120 thoughts on “Paul”
  1. Philip White 19th July 2016 on 12:13 pm Reply

    Paul was a gentle giant, a lovely fellow-student at RAM and a really fine composer (with, probably, the neatest music scribing I have ever seen). I was delighted to see him after so many years when he returned to RAM for his much-deserved ARAM award. He will leave a hole in many lives. RIP.

  2. Lisa Whytock 18th July 2016 on 2:45 pm Reply

    It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Paul. He was always supportive and encouraging and for that I am grateful. He was a long supporter of Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections and involved in helping us build the programme. A sad loss indeed.

  3. Pauline Ebner 16th July 2016 on 1:28 pm Reply

    Reading all the memories here shows how much Paul meant to so many people. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.
    I too consider myself very lucky to have been a friend for about 36 years. He was extremely kind, generous, sensitive, interesting, talented, complex and above all “gorgeous”. An invaluable friend in my life and I will miss him greatly.
    I feel so saddened by his leaving. I did LOVE our sharing of thoughts and his visits and it certainly feels a special LIGHT has gone out but I remind myself of all the LAUGHTER we had, and apologise for when I made him dance on his knees with me!
    I hope he has found the peace he truly deserves.
    A true citizen of the world (and beyond!) I will not forget him

  4. Beth Ponte 16th July 2016 on 2:26 am Reply

    I had a brief but lovely contact with Paul as part of the Brazilian delegation for a British Council’s activity in 2014 in London. He was so kind and generous with all of us, sharing his experience and his time. I’d like to send here my better thoughts to his relatives and friends.

  5. David Baxendale 15th July 2016 on 12:42 pm Reply

    Paul was a life force and he had a special place in my life since the late ’70s. His generosity of spirit and vigour with which he applied himself to everything he did, or did for others, was remarkable. The standards he set himself were the highest, and yet it was human weakness he had the greatest empathy for.

    For someone who could be so intense about himself and the world around him, his sense of fun and humour were irresistible. I will never forget us reading to each other the letters of Henry Root with uncontrollable tears of laughter.

    Conversations with Paul would be delightfully wide ranging. On the subject of music alone, the quality Cilla Black’s intonation in her heyday, Julie Andrews’ last outing at the O2, or the recorded versions of Bruckner Symphonies (a more recently acquired taste) were all suitable topics.

    Goodbye Paul. I miss you now, and will always remember you.

  6. Hilda Paredes 14th July 2016 on 9:16 pm Reply

    It is with great sadness that I receive the news of your departure. I cherish the memories of the time we spent in Mexico during the planning for the UK/Mexico year and the journey we shared going to the Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato, our deep and fun conversations about music and live.

    May you have found peace.

  7. Carol Main 14th July 2016 on 11:45 am Reply

    So sad to read this news. I didn’t know Paul terribly well, but he was always so warm, especially in his smile, when we did happen to meet from time to time. He leaves a wonderful legacy of work and will be deeply missed.

  8. Penny O'Connor 13th July 2016 on 9:16 pm Reply

    I knew him but little and yet he touched my heart and I loved his energy. For such a little meeting he left a very big impression – of kindness and humour and curiosity and open-ness. Very sad to hear of his passing.

  9. Nod Knowles 13th July 2016 on 12:23 pm Reply

    I don’t remember when I first met Paul or worked on projects with his help. He just always seemed to be there. And not just seemed, but was, always, always, helpful, positive, considerate and endlessly supportive. There have been many good and supportive people at British Council over the years – and I think they would all acknowledge that Paul personified the best, most human and empathetic qualities that the Council, at its best, has always stood for. Even when the Council’s changes and mistakes sometimes raged all around him and his good-intentioned colleagues, Paul was a calm, decent, positive voice that gave everyone a sense that good sense and cultural values would prevail.

    Along with so many others, I’ll miss him very much. Getting underway with new projects and collaborations just won’t be quite the same if Paul Parkinson isn’t there, giving his quiet blessing to people working, as he always did, in a belief that all of our efforts were simply for the benefit of music.

    RIP Paul. Your spirit remains to inspire us.

  10. Penelope Kombothekra 12th July 2016 on 9:16 pm Reply

    Paul was a very dear colleague: a warm and genuinely kind person, very knowledgeable, always ready to offer his valuable advice, unique! He will be missed

  11. Penelope Kombothekra 12th July 2016 on 9:11 pm Reply

    Paul was a very dear colleague; a warm and genuinely kind person, very knowledgeable, always ready to offer his valuable advice his valuable advice, unique! He will be missed.

  12. David Alderdice 12th July 2016 on 4:54 pm Reply

    A true gentle man. Sorely missed – the world needs more like Paul. Condolences to family and friends.

  13. Claire Moran 12th July 2016 on 12:53 pm Reply

    Paul such a beautiful man who made me smile on every meeting with him – oh and that wicked sense of humour which was delivered with such kindness. You will be very very dearly missed xxx

  14. Harry Jepson 12th July 2016 on 12:24 am Reply

    I first met Paul as a very green 17 year old from a North Manchester council estate auditioning for a place at the Royal Academy of Music in 1977. As an older student he was helping to administer and welcome prospective new students. After my audition he gave me a cheeky wink and joyfully broke the rules by telling me I’d been successful. Little did I know that this was to be the beginnings of 40 year friendship.

    I could write a book about my colourful relationship with this extraordinary man over the years, and well might at that.

    Suffice to say that I was in contact with him until the very end.

    His last six months were a period of intense emotional pain and fear. His glorious sense of humour had completely abandoned him.

    We last spoke a week before his death, when I was able to make him laugh at some casual politically incorrect vulgarity; and I thought: Oh, he’s going to pull through. I was looking forward to his recovery and planning to spend time with him in August. I tried to reach him on the day of his death, but was too late

    Paul and I would speak by telephone almost every day. He knew not to call me when Eggheads was on, so would be punctual at 6.30. We talked about our work, hopes and fears. Often about our shared views on music and art. Sometimes we would speak in satirical character for over an hour and hang up without resolving it. Our favourite was two elderly pompous art professionals trying to get one over on each other. Hilarious!

    When Paul would tell me that he was going on a business trip, I had to brace myself and endure the lack of contact for a couple of weeks. I guess he’s not coming back from this one.

    I am shattered by this unexpected loss.

    Let us all review our relationships with those we love and not take them for granted. Paul will be forever a part of who I am.

    • David Imrie 18th July 2016 on 11:41 am Reply

      Dear Harry

      As one of Paul’s oldest friends I found your message of some comfort .

      I had sporadic contact with Paul over the last few months but I am so glad to hear how you were there for him .

      Do you know what the funeral arrangements are?

      With best wishes


  15. Stuart Bruce 11th July 2016 on 6:38 pm Reply

    I first met Paul in 1984 shortly after I was appointed as Education & Community Officer with the English Sinfonia. Paul had been commissioned to write Dream Gold, a string quartet which was premiered in Boston, Lincolnshire. A few years later our paths crossed again when, as Director of The Firebird Trust, I appointed him Composer in Residence at Stamford Arts Centre. Around the same time we got together to record a pop song he had written in my home studio. On all occasions I greatly enjoyed his company, his warm personality and his infectious sense of humour. Over subsequent years we would always have a chat at conferences and music industry gatherings, and he was always the same – pleased to see you and keen to hear your news. Paul was one of a kind and I shall miss him. Rest in peace.

  16. Pamela Sookdeo 11th July 2016 on 5:25 pm Reply

    Dear Paul, I have missed seeing you in the office before I get in at 8am…I will miss your lovely smile, humour and small chats…be at peace now. Pam xxx

  17. Lindy Cope Elson 11th July 2016 on 2:20 pm Reply

    We met on flight somewhere above the world a few years ago and our souls recognised each other. That long hug has remained in my heart, just as you have Paul. The world is a sadder place without you but a better place just because you were there.
    With love and light

  18. Jonathan Barker 11th July 2016 on 2:05 pm Reply

    Memories and impressions: Paul roaring with benevolent laughter while telling me a story; Paul the best organizer ever of any event you could name, always far ahead of any dreamed up corporate strategy; Paul possibly the least affected person I can think of and certainly the least patronising in his musical tastes; Paul teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal and choral music; Paul who knew everyone you could think of in the outside musical establishment; Paul sending me a revised astrological chart in an attempt to explain a change in the mental weather; Paul at our annual Wild Boys Christmas dinner acting the part of Chair attempting to put some order into our proceedings; Paul always prompt to help another in a quandary; Paul’s neat orderly hand writing; Paul in serious discussion with me on how Marguerite Patten’s basic wartime recipes were still the best anywhere; Paul first man in the office – even before me; Paul listening to the mandolin I brought into the office to show him; Paul telling me of his favourite Beatles middle eight; Paul who has left a vacuum in the space he filled with more life than seemed possible; Paul the kind gentleman who was my friend and who I and many others will never, ever forget.

  19. Richard Stoker 11th July 2016 on 12:04 pm Reply

    Please see my message on Paul’s FACEBOOK page & reprint it here too RICHARD STOKER

    • pp Richard Stoker 12th July 2016 on 4:51 pm Reply

      Richard Stoker’s message from Paul’s fb page: It was a terrible shock to hear of the death of my wonderful composition pupil Paul Parkinson yesterday. We first met when I was one of the two examiners at his entrance exam to the RAM … then months later I remembered him when he came as a composition pupil. Staying five years at the RAM he turned out to be one of the most loving outgoing thoughtful individuals I have yet come across. He always put others first before considering himself, having a wonderful grin and smile most of the time. He would have made an excellent social worker or samaritan as he had a generous understanding outlook on all of life, also he was a good listener. Paul continued to bring sketches or finished manuscripts to show me for a long time after he both graduated from the RAM and returned from California. He would write and send scores and recordings by post or telephone me. (He seemed to like the internet later on … I noticed that he failed to send the usual ‘likes’ towards the end. Nothing was too much for him if asked – doing it with great attention and ability, many other people will have noticed this. It was sad that Paul shared with most artistic people many long periods of depression that were often hidden by his alway cheerful friendly manner…this depression was so deep in Paul’s case that only he could live with it … I think it was this that caused him to suddenly stop composing … however hard I tried to encourage him to carry on was hopeless … Paul obviously knew best. We often bumped into each other in the city, where he worked enjoying the people he met and the travel. It was as if the creative work had been too much of a burden for him as I noticed a new warmth and that he was more than ever cheerful enjoying life to the full. I did hear that he may have returned to composition near the end. Whenever we met he would talk about his happy home life and what he owed to the assistance of his sisters mother and brother – both in his work and his life … Paul Parkinson was a very rare example of all the finest human qualities a person can achieve in his sixty or so years … I am so proud to have known him.

  20. Will Dutta 11th July 2016 on 11:49 am Reply

    Paul was such a wonderful, talented, generous and humble man and I am so very sad to hear the news. It is fair to say he was my biggest champion and through his recommendations I was incredibly privileged to go to Venezuela three times and Spain once; the last in November 2015 after which we had a wonderful lunch to catch up. These trips were vital and formative experiences for all of us involved and his guidance and support impacted my life more than he knew. I will miss him.

    Only Paul could begin an email with ‘You featured in a dream I had last night – alongside Marshall Marcus! There must be some kind of philosophical connection!’ What a brilliant man.

  21. Christine Bardsley 11th July 2016 on 9:02 am Reply

    One of my first and strongest impressions of Arts on joining in 2001 was Paul’s joyous laugh – as striking as his appearance with those long graceful limbs and cornflower-blue eyes. He was an exemplary colleague in every way – thoughtful, helpful, knowledgeable and a delight to talk with. Paul, your kindness, humour and humanity will be sorely missed, the world’s a poorer place without you.

  22. John Daniel 10th July 2016 on 3:47 pm Reply

    Dear Paul

    You were a man of great depth, warmth and wisdom. You gave love, light and laughter so effortlessly yet struggled sometimes to hold onto the light and love for yourself. I appreciated your wit, generosity and open heart when I worked in Spring Gardens from 2003 and 2008. I always enjoyed talking to you. You were so honest and so utterly without guile. You were so dedicated to your craft and curious about life. I found a kindred spirit in you, with your love of astrology and the esoteric. I’m sorry we didn’t keep in touch after I left. You were always so welcoming on the few occasions I returned to Spring Gardens. I hope all who knew and loved you will find comfort that your suffering is at an end. It was a privilege to have known you.

    With love, light and laughter, gorgeous man.


  23. Nelson Fernandez 10th July 2016 on 2:04 pm Reply

    Dear Paul, you were a gentleman in the truest and best sense of the word: kind, courteous, immensely compassionate, and impecable in your treatment of others. You also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music, something that I, as a near illiterate in music, could not fail to appreciate and respect. How many times you helped me, when I had queries relating to music! How much we laughed together when you made some mischievous comment! I can only thank you for all we shared, dear friend. Rest in peace, my dear. Know that you were greatly loved by many.

  24. Juan Toledo 9th July 2016 on 8:15 pm Reply

    Music was the perfect vehicle for Paul, an spiritual man but not a very religious one. Horoscopes were a manifestation of that spirituality. He laughed loudly when I told him I would read the one he did for me in a marxist way. I was surprised he was still at the British Council after all these years because of -as everyone else has commented- his public dislike of bureaucratic parlance. I suspect he stayed simply because he believed in what he did. In fact he was the only colleague in Arts Group championing new classical music. “I am gorgeous” was his common reply to “How are you?”. He was also capable of big talk and small talk something that is more rare than people imagine in the somewhat parochial world of arts managers and even art practitioners. I wonder how surprised he would be seeing these samples of genuine affection and love that many people are feeling for him right now.

  25. Graham McKenzie 9th July 2016 on 6:32 pm Reply

    I have tried to write this many times over the past day or two – but always the words and language seems inadequate to express how privileged I feel to have had Paul as a dear friend and colleague; and how absolutely devastated I feel now to know that he is gone.
    I last saw Paul in Huddersfield last November during the festival where once again – as every year – he had persuaded colleagues in British Council Offices across the world the value of sending a key delegate to hcmf//. With Paul’s support and advice over the past decade hcmf// has been significantly able to strengthen our international partnership working. The last project we worked on together was planning an hcmf// event in Philadelphia which just took place at the end of June. Well Paul my friend – it was a great success! So many times during the process though I so missed your wise counsel and advice.
    I remember being in Mexico with Paul in 2014 on a research trip to develop a new music programme for UK – Mexico Year 2015. We had so many laughs and shared moments. My favourite memory must be that despite being taken to so may great restaurants and sampling terrific Mexican food – how delighted we both were one lunchtime to find a cafe in a department store that would make us two fried eggs each and a cup of tea!
    I hope you have found peace Paul.
    Love and hugs
    Graham x

  26. Nicola Sani 9th July 2016 on 5:45 pm Reply

    I met Paul in the nineties, when we started to work together to spread the new British music in Italy and to develop and increase contacts between the young members of the music schools of our two countries. Beyond the professional meetings, which has always been intense and constant over the years and that has led to extraordinary results for cultural and musical exchanges between Italy and the United Kingdom, I found in Paul a great friend and an extraordinary person. Every time I went to London was a great pleasure to find and follow him in the most incredible places in town that he made me discover. I immensely miss his friendship, his visions, his extraordinary ability to identify new talents, his refined tastes, his deep British humor. But above all, I will miss the great musical culture, his immense openness to new musical horizons and the great friend with which to share ideas and projects to be launched “towards unknown regions”…Ciao Paul, ciao amico mio e grazie per questi anni bellissimi e per tutti i nostri incontri indimenticabili…

  27. Teresa Carty 9th July 2016 on 9:37 am Reply

    Dear Paul……
    We first became friends in our ‘Theory of Music’ lessons when we were 11 yrs old – then continued our friendship in Youth Orchestra and on to University / Music College and our first jobs….
    Although we didn’t see each so much in recent years. you were always in my heart Paul and you always will be.

  28. David Imrie 9th July 2016 on 7:28 am Reply

    Paul and I were close friends for over 50 years . Our friendship began at secondary school on the Wirral where we acted in school plays and wrote our own . I remember going to the family home for tea with other friends . There was always fun and laughter.
    We kept in contact through our college days and when I moved to London it was Paul who helped me move and settle in . In more recent times we would meet regularly for a pizza .
    Paul had the amazing ability of still making me laugh and helping me with my problems.
    II send my love to his family .

    Paul my dear wonderful friend you have now found peace .

    Love David

    • Ray Sparvell 10th July 2016 on 8:25 am Reply

      Well said David.

  29. Laura Alos 8th July 2016 on 9:24 pm Reply

    Paul, really? Am I returning from maternity leave and you won’t be there seating opposite my desk? I always felt privileged to have such a fabulous neighbour in the office. I used to love secretly observing some of your rituals including eating your 11am apple. You had such a wonderful voice, smily eyes and always full of brilliant advice. I’ll miss you deeply x

    • clare whistler 8th July 2016 on 10:03 pm Reply

      I saw you last at Peters edition ‘s carol service and we talked again of our adventure in Porto , you were as friendly as always and I felt so happy to see you again. So sad to hear this news

  30. Joshua Caley 8th July 2016 on 7:38 pm Reply

    Cant beleave your gone , so many memories , like christmas and birthdays , very talkative , one of the best uncles i have ever had , R.I.P Uncle Paul

    • Amelia Caley 8th July 2016 on 9:32 pm Reply

      So nice supportive amazing memories with him I cant believe your gone I loved you Best uncle ever R.I.P :,( Loved You

  31. Stu Lorente-Cronin 8th July 2016 on 6:38 pm Reply

    Very sad news. Paul was such a warm, gentle person. It’s awful to know that he suffered.

    Over the years, I came and went from various jobs at the British Council, but Paul always remembered me and extended the same warm welcome; despite the fact that by the time I usually arrived at work he always seemed to be more than halfway through his working day. He will be sorely missed.

  32. Cathy Al-Ghabra 8th July 2016 on 5:47 pm Reply

    Paul was first a colleague at British Council and then a mentor to me after my time there. He helped my through some really tough times in my work and personal life, up until early in 2016.
    What a kind, generous, funny and caring man. I will always remember him as a gentle giant, and someone who inspired me to carry on plodding up that mountain no matter how difficult things get. Thank you for being in my life even for a short amount of time you wonderful person.

  33. Sam Rawlings 8th July 2016 on 5:31 pm Reply

    Deeply saddened by this news. Since the first day I joined the British Council Paul was a welcoming and engaging presence who brightened my day in the office and made me feel like one of the team from the off.

    He will surely be missed by so many in the organisation, but his passion for music will continue to shine through the work he has done. He was an absolutely delightful character and it was a pleasure to have known him.

  34. Sue Sturrock 8th July 2016 on 3:53 pm Reply

    Rarely have I known such knowledge and perspicacity in a man so kind and gentle. The world of music is a poorer place without him. Fond memories of you, Paul.

  35. John Kieffer 8th July 2016 on 3:29 pm Reply

    I had the joy in working with Paul and a wonderful group of people for 6 years at the British Council. He was everything that the fine words above say he was. Kind, intelligent, knowledgeable and gentle.

    He was very good at what he did. During the time we worked together, his famous two hours in the morning before everyone else arrived were spent carefully crafting projects with an incredible attention to detail. The superb work over years on music education in Portugal with his colleague Rodrigo Miquelino, and the extraordinary project with Peter Maxwell Davies and British Council Croatia were two stand-outs for me. Whilst Paul quite rightly had little time for the nonsense of contemporary management speak, he was an instinctive strategist and long-term thinker.

    Paul could also be fierce when he wanted to be. Yes he buckled down and always moved forward with good grace, but he felt things deeply, and when he decided to have a rant about the state of the world – it was delivered with the same kind of devastating precision as one of his projects.

    After I left the British Council, I had the occasional random email exchange with Paul full of astrology, humour, great musical and personal insight, dietary tips, and the odd rant.

    One ended: “We should all be more GORGEOUS, Mr K!”

    We’ll try our very best Paul.

  36. Andrew Burke 8th July 2016 on 2:06 pm Reply

    I can’t quite accept that Paul is no longer here. I remember our last conversation so clearly as if yesterday, although it was before Christmas. We happened to meet on the upper deck of a bus, and he told me of his wonderful and unusual working habit of a very (very) early start and breakfast in a traditional formica-clad café off Trafalgar Square which was chosen because it knew how to make a great cup of tea.

    He was such a dedicated and staunch supporter of our new music cause – and made so much happen for our group.

    As importantly, he made a profound impact on me as a person. His integrity, enthusiasm, good humour, good grace and generosity of spirit came together in his personality in such a wonderful way. He always had time for me (and no doubt for everyone), which I deeply appreciated in him.

    Given what he stood for in his chosen work – the closer contact between people and nations forged through the making and expression of art – this very personal and individual loss seems to add to the national tragedy of the last couple of weeks.

    Very very sad news.

  37. Emily Sloan 8th July 2016 on 1:41 pm Reply

    Paul, or should I say Mr P! I am heart-broken…

    I will never forget you, and will miss you for as long as I listen to music.

    I am honored to have had such a great friend, and to have worked with such talent in the music team between 2010 and 2013.

    It will be cheese toasties and soup all the way, long live the lunch break!

    L. Emily.

  38. Lena Milosevic 8th July 2016 on 1:38 pm Reply

    The passing of big hearted Paul is very sad.
    He was the best of our advisors – knowledgeable, caring & always ‘in tune’…
    RIP Music Man

  39. Jenny White 8th July 2016 on 10:27 am Reply

    Paul was a dear friend for many years. An encyclopaedic music advisor, on projects with Japan, his fastidious emails were pitch perfect and admonishing if I was sloppy in detail or tardy in reply. We worked together again with Cuba. His unfailing professionalism and dedication to human relationships were unsurpassable. I trusted him completely. How can I respond? I didn’t want to write because it makes it all the more final, but this untidy collection of thoughts came as I try to make sense of it:

    On a day called ‘aphelion’ we learnt you’d gone, where earth is furthest in orbit from the sun.
    and felt the chill of missing your sea blue eyes and hearing your whoops of joy
    the readjustment of your jaw as you laughed a little too hard at bureaucratic absurdities,
    your raging at petty pusillanimity and arrogance
    and our many talks of spirituality in steamy Orsini’s.
    your cupping of your ear to hear words we uttered, of no real consequence.
    your tussling with acceptance of, or fighting with, destiny.
    your loyalty, your unbearable perfection, your fireside jumpers, your discovery of the musical sublime and
    your existence on a higher celestial plane that we could only glimpse up at in wonder.
    your terror that this was all going to come to an end.
    Dear tall Paul. Now you’ve gone there’s no joy at all
    except our memory full of your love, light, and laughter.

    • John Willan 8th July 2016 on 12:40 pm Reply

      When I was chair of IAMA, Paul was particularly supportive and encouraging, It was always a pleasure to spend time with him which, fortunately, I was able to do on many occasions both in the UK and abroad. He will be very much missed…

      John Willan

    • Jennifer Jones 9th July 2016 on 11:07 pm Reply

      Thank you for sharing your memories of our wonderful brother Paul. It is very much appreciated at this very sad time. We were very proud of him and all he managed to achieve during his lifetime.

  40. Judith Robinson 8th July 2016 on 10:23 am Reply

    I had the privilege of working with Paul during the Britten centenary. Right from our very first meeting, he was warm, supportive, enthusiastic, excited about the plans for international outreach and the musical encounters for children and young people we were planning. Underpinning that was a wonderfully creative musician and an enormous intelligence, with no ego at all, but a passion for what matters. The world needs people like you, Paul, and I am really I’m really sad that your light isn’t shining any more.

  41. Jane Davidson 8th July 2016 on 9:26 am Reply

    Although there must have been about 10 years between our meetings, I remember Tall Paul at a conference in Glasgow and how he immediately recognised me and enthusiastically remembered so many things about the project we had worked on initially. As so many others have said, Paul was a class act; a formidable intellect made approachable and engaging by a wit and gentility that few others can match. His musical talent was prodigious and the respect he & his work garnered was worldwide.
    Just think about it; how many people must he have engaged with in his life and career ? and yet he unfailingly made one feel so special when speaking with him. It was this particular gift – of the many gifts this lovely man possessed – that will remain with me.

  42. Maria Clemencia Perry de Bohorquez 8th July 2016 on 1:27 am Reply

    Dear Paul, you touched and influenced many of us. You really understood our cultural relations work. I remember all the projects we worked together, Colombia and the UK.
    I deeply regret that I did not know he was ill.. We will miss him sorely as I already have done since my departure from the BC.
    Rest in peace, dear Paul.

    • Nicolas Jackson 8th July 2016 on 8:36 am Reply

      I’ve tried to write a message here a few times but I’m kind of stuck in denial that Paul isn’t actually coming back. I’m also feeling guilt that I didn’t even know Paul had been ill or ask about him once this past year. It’s strange to have felt close to someone without actually knowing them very well and having spent little time with them. I’ve known Paul for over ten years but if I added up the hours I’ve spent with him or spoken to him on the phone, it probably amounts to just a few days in total. And yet i had glimpses of who he really was. Just glimpses. And they have left me sad that I never followed up on them to know him better. I think that his relationship with his own creativity as a composer might have been a complicated one. He gave me some of his music, if anyone would like to hear it. Here was an intellectual and an artist in an administrative world. There always seemed to be a contradiction in that. I have never liked that expression “rest in peace” or talking about death like it was sleep. What if someone doesn’t want to rest or sleep? What if they aren’t tired? Once, when I was over in London, Paul and I went for tea in Hampstead and a walk up past the duck pond to the top where you get the view over the city. So, Paul, I’ll see you up there and we can catch up, and I can ask you all those questions I never asked you.

  43. Richard Slaney 7th July 2016 on 11:22 pm Reply

    Paul and I shared a trip to Kazakhstan for a (eventually unrealised) project a few years ago, I learnt so much from him even in those few days – it really stuck with me how he put everyone he met at ease immediately, and was able to get straight into interesting conversations and discussions, as if he’d known them for years. Love to his family and friends

  44. Richard Burden 7th July 2016 on 10:57 pm Reply

    It has been decades since I last saw Paul but, as I remember him, I recall the laughs we had all those years ago in that wacky friendship group we shared at school. Those fond memories will always stay with me. Rest in peace, Paul.

  45. Shona Harris 7th July 2016 on 9:18 pm Reply

    Oh Mr. P, Oh Paul, oh Paul such a lovely, kind hearted, sensitive soul. Intelligent, creative, witty, lanky, generous, spiritual, divine and complex. I met you at the British Council, and we became fast friends when we both recognised our dramatic artistic tendencies and kindred spirits. Lunches in the cafes during your lunch hour, tea with you in beautiful spots I would have never knew existed. Long legged city walks and me panting to keep up, and amusing concerts, pre dinners, and amusing, insightful conversations. Paul, I have always admired you, and looked up to you (pun intended). You have inspired me to transgress the banalities on this world and to seek something greater. something more profound, that we both know exists. I hope that you have found your peace and happiness that you so longed for… and are in a more evolved existence. Light, love and laughter Mr. P. Perfect Mr. P, with your beautiful, soulful, clear eyes. With great love and tenderness, I will miss you but you will always be in my heart, thoughts and prayers. I love you very much Paul. Shona x

  46. Frances M Lynch 7th July 2016 on 8:15 pm Reply

    It’s hard to know where to begin to say how much Paul did for everyone he met. He was someone who seemed to work not for himself or even his organisation but made you feel he was there for you and would always be straight with you, and always do whatever he could to help. He is ir-replaceable.
    How terribly sad to think that our world, which is so much in need of people like Paul, will have to try and get along without him.
    We will all miss you Paul

  47. Isabel Fernández 7th July 2016 on 7:47 pm Reply

    So many wonderful things could be said, and have been said, about Paul. He started advising me in literature when he joined the British Council and continued doing so in music over the years. I always loved talking to him, long talks over the phone, about work or about anything.
    Life could be shorter or longer, but one main aspiration for everyone should be to nurture people around us, so what remains afterwards is what Paul left in our hearts. Love, Light, Laughter, Paul.

  48. Andrea Addison 7th July 2016 on 7:23 pm Reply

    Paul was that rare animal : a real person.
    Conversations could easily range through the trio of love, light and horoscopes, to skip to the complexities of contemporary music compositions , and then about turn to how to make a good cup of tea, or indeed to the superiority of Tesco’s Finest Christmas puddings over any other supermarket’s. (So right!).
    All these expertises were in his competence, along with travel tips, the waywardness of the National Health service, the foibles of lovers – always spoken kindly of – and what should one say about the foibles of bureaucracy? Probably better left to smile enigmatically as he would have done and then give a hoot of laughter which, in his case, came from quite a height.
    Tall Paul, kind Paul, profoundly good Paul, elegant and generous Paul, knowledgeable Paul, but also troubled Paul. Paul with open arms, Paul with his heart on his sleeve – Paul, a real person.
    For those of us who have known him, who have worked with him, he was ‘our Paul’. My guess is he always will be.
    I called him Starry Paul.
    So goodnight Starry one. Shine bright wherever you are. Mine are the tears. May your’s be the light.

  49. Michael Garvey 7th July 2016 on 6:59 pm Reply

    What terribly sad news. Tall Paul was always an inciteful and wise advisor drawing on his huge experience and list of contacts. The epitome of what the British Council stands for. Our music world is the poorer this week with Paul no longer being a part of it.

  50. Tanya 7th July 2016 on 4:44 pm Reply

    I am so sad to hear this news. I absolutely cannot imagine Spring Gardens without him. I wish I’d known him better, but what I did know of him, was that he was a lovely, funny, kind and clever man. Rest in peace, Paul.

  51. Herbie Clarke 7th July 2016 on 3:47 pm Reply

    Paul was amazingly helpful to me when l started working with electric voice theatre. He gave me lots of advice which helped us to get concerts all over the world. He was a great fan of the music of Frances M Lynch and electric voice theatre and attended several gigs.

    He was always enthusiasm and always had time to talk to you when you called.

    Sad news.

    • Paula Silva 7th July 2016 on 9:41 pm Reply

      Dear Paul,

      I always had to stand on tiptoes to greet you (because I think, had I tried to look at you straight I’d inevitably end up staring at your navel), and I almost felt you had to talk to me as all adults do when talking to preschoolers: by sitting down or crouching in order to achieve eye contact. Every time we had a conversation we touched on two topics: how you towered above me like a big friendly giant, and your lack of spanish vocabulary.

      You were a great co-conspirator. I will forever be grateful for helping me materialise the most important project I’ve ever done in my eight years at the British Council.

      I remember your long fingers, your tidy desk (the tidiest in the entire arts floor, of course) and your impeccable turn of phrase.

      You are sorely missed.

  52. Atholl Swainston-Harrison 7th July 2016 on 3:46 pm Reply

    IAMA was sorry to hear about the sudden death of Paul Parkinson MBE, Specialist Adviser Music at the British Council. Paul had been a great friend to many of the members and his knowledge and charm will always be remembered. If one had to create a person who embodied a British Council representative, he would be it. We will miss him.

  53. Florian Scheding 7th July 2016 on 2:39 pm Reply

    “Love, light, laughter.” This is how you signed your emails to me. And this is how I will remember you. You were so full of light, my dear Paul, so full of that rarest and finest of sensitivities: when we spoke about your love of Tchaikovsky, to whose symphonies you went walking through London, with that animated, bouncing pace; when we marveled at Tennstedt, who you admired for having found fame late and never quite believing how it had happened; when we laughed about the composers you called administrators of notes. You were generous, so very generous, with your love, always interested, forever interesting. And that laughter, bursting out until it made you cough. You could laugh about the smallest things, and find delight in the beautiful little moments. Love, light, laughter. Oh Paul.

  54. Kate Arthurs 7th July 2016 on 2:12 pm Reply

    Paul Parkinson had the most amazing blue eyes. Over early morning conversations in the kitchen I would crane my neck and stare up at his face. I was mesmerised by his eyes, those pools of clear, luminous blue.

  55. Gary Hopkins 7th July 2016 on 1:40 pm Reply

    I have had the joy of being a friend of Paul’s for over 50 years since we hit it off on our first day in the same class at secondary school. We shared the typical schoolboy activities of scousers growing up in the 60’s, including the occasional punch-up, but mostly we just laughed and had fun. I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for introducing me to classical music at the age of 11, giving me a priceless gift which has enriched my life ever since. We have stayed in touch, which I think says something about Paul’s extraordinary capacity for friendship. He leaves a wonderful legacy to the world of music in general, but also to so many individuals who loved him and who will never forget him. I’m so lucky to have been his friend. RIP, Paul.

  56. Clare Taylor 7th July 2016 on 12:52 pm Reply

    My last home in London was in Allan road. My husband Sam and I lived there so so happily on the middle floor between Paul and Ashley, Andy and Maysie. Paul was the kindest, funniest warm neighbour you could wish for. We often exchanged left over bits of cake, moaned about our days and laughed about the madness that is Dalston. My favourite memory was when we all planned the assassination of the bees over a glass of wine in the garden.

    You were also the first person I saw after Sam proposed, your face when I dragged you up to see the front room filled with live Ducks was hilarious!

    You will be missed BFG.


  57. Phil Catchpole 7th July 2016 on 12:07 pm Reply

    Having a chat with Paul was often the highlight of a foray into Spring Gardens. Sharing a laugh and seeing the twinkle is his eyes always shed a new light on a subject. He was hugely knowledgable, witty and driven to just make great stuff happen. His dealing with the drones and systems of the British Council was an inspiration, using levels of tact, diplomacy and prose I can only dream of possessing.

    The office has been a much poorer place this year without Paul’s warmth, wit and wisdom. I’m beyond sad that he won’t ever be returning to his extra high desk.

    Sleep well Parky x x

  58. Bob Ness 7th July 2016 on 10:42 am Reply

    Shocking news, at least to those of us who hadn’t seen Paul for a while. He was one of the most charming, insightful and authoritative colleagues and advisers we will ever have in the British Council. He wrote brilliantly polished prose – apparently effortlessly – that’s was never pretentious and always right. And he possessed a twinkly sense of humour. I was always addressed as ‘His Bobness’, which wasn’t really THAT funny but never failed to make me feel good.

    Paul, you’ll be sorely missed.

  59. Sally Cavender 7th July 2016 on 10:27 am Reply

    Every contact I had with Paul over a period of at least 30 years resulted in a positive outcome. He was one of the most intrinsically helpful people I have met, and of course because he was totally almost evangelical in highlighting the value of ‘classical’ music around the globe, his input was always productive. This was because he was a real musician himself and he understood. Nothing had to be explained to him.
    We will miss him sorely, as I already have done since his departure from the BC, which he served with such loyalty for so many years. I deeply regret that I did not know he was ill, and was not recently in touch with him.

  60. Fiona Harvey 7th July 2016 on 10:21 am Reply

    Paul, ‘Tall Paul’, you were one of the kindest, most generous and friendly colleagues I have had the honour of working with. I was in awe of working with a famous composer when I first met you at the British Council but you never sought that profile, or made me feel any way other than an equal. Throughout my life with the Association of British Orchestras we have worked together to arrange study visits for a variety of visiting groups from around Europe and more recently Brazil. You were always inspiring, fun, so ultra intelligent and intuitive in your observations of people. I will always remember our lunch with Mark P to celebrate your MBE, your knighthood as I liked to think of it! I loved your constant creative battle against bureaucracy and how you made your working life work for you rather than the other way round. We all have a lot to learn from your example. I will miss your always welcoming greeting – big hug and big smiley face. RIP.

  61. Robert King 7th July 2016 on 9:50 am Reply

    Paul was enormously cultured, gentle, intelligent, free-thinking, diplomatic yet determined. One of the “old school” of British Council arts managers, I often wondered how he had managed to survive the massive changes that the BC made to its policies and ways of working. Maybe it was because he was so very tall that everyone had to look up to him. And so they should have done: if ever there was someone with a more comprehensive and erudite knowledge of the British classical music scene, I’ve yet to meet them.

    With his passing we lose one of the most passionate advocates and champions of British classical music. And life will be so much the poorer without Paul. I treasured our chats and always came away with a broad smile on my face. One conversation when Paul was in a self-declared “cosmic state” was one of the most wacky and delightful half hours I’ve ever spent: utterly unforgettable.

    Requiescat in pace.

  62. Sinead 7th July 2016 on 9:36 am Reply

    I’m desperately sad to hear Paul is no longer with us. I have very fond memories of him: his booming voice across the empty seats first thing, energetically sharing news with me as he settled into his desk; the hugely detailed horoscope he read for me and his surprise at its contents, and his ‘aside’ whispers in and around meetings. I will miss him, his kindness and his warmth.

  63. Eric Lawrie 7th July 2016 on 9:34 am Reply

    Hi Paul. You touched and influenced many of us. Be it the pomp and circumstance around the 1998 opening of the British Council in Bolivia where through music you got us to win massive audiences for the new Teaching Centre, to creating almost daily front-page news in Mexico at the Cervantino Arts Festival and last, but not least, the use of song to build education links between schools in the UK and Senegal. You understood the totality of our cultural relations work – you really did embody it. I will very much miss not being able to catch up with you again. You were a wonderful colleague.

  64. Will Todd 7th July 2016 on 7:47 am Reply

    I worked with Paul on and off at the British Council. Definitely a scholar and a gentleman. So kind and gentle in his ways with individuals whilst cutting through organisational absurdity and outlandishness with a determined panache. The world needs people like Paul. One of his many legacies is that he has inspired so many other to behave in a similar way.

  65. Paul Hughes 7th July 2016 on 7:26 am Reply

    So much has already been written about you dear Paul that your ears will be burning for many years yet to come. I will miss your towering presence on the music scene and your ability to drive things forward often through a mire of beaurocracy. but mostly what I will miss is meeting you, asking how you are,
    and getting the response ‘FABULOUS’ or ‘GORGEOUS’. You were both of those and that is how you are etched on my memory. RIP dear man.

  66. CRISTINA BECKER 7th July 2016 on 12:02 am Reply

    My dearest friend Paul, what I am going to do without you?

    Believe me or not I still have the tea box you gave me when we last met in Vienna in May 2014 at ClassicalNext. You came specially to see the panel in curated on Brazil.

    I was just keeping some of the tea bags in case you would visit Rio again and we would not only have a proper brew but certainly some caipirinhas together. What a TREAT if we meet up here!
    Ah, you loved the caipirinhas….

    And I loved being your colleague when I first joined BC in 2000 and then when I worked in London during the Olympic year. Your timing and wise suggestions for the development of Transform program, discussions that I will never forget. How lucky I am to have such dearest memories.

    I miss you so deeply, will do a toast to you,
    Love, Light, Laughter

    C xxx

  67. Luiz Coradazzi 6th July 2016 on 11:56 pm Reply

    Paul, always so warm and welcoming. Always a pleasure to work and have fun with. Aways a rewirer of my brain and ears. Witty to the extreme, sometimes grumpy (for only the blink of an eye!), and the sender of long, precise, beautifully crafted emails.
    At times, in greeting him in Spring Gardens, he awarded me (and whoever was in the room or corridor) with a flash impersonation of Carmen Miranda, from the top of his 2 meters +. Being a Brazilian, I felt honored and happy with the musical reference.
    The difference he made in our music programme in Brazil is not to be measured. Dozens of musicians, managers, producers and composers have been touched by him. And even being the star he was, he never claimed or accepted credit.
    Paul is and will always be missed. The world is smaller without Paul Parkinson.

  68. Andrew Bennett 6th July 2016 on 11:34 pm Reply

    Paul was a citizen of the globe, distinctively British but an internationalist through and through. And thus he was loved around the world, trusted as a professional and unstintingly loyal to his many friends.

    He was fiercely intelligent, extraordinarily cultured, and yet wore those accomplishments lightly. He navigated tidal waves of organizational change, always interested primarily in what he could keep doing to ensure that British musicians were connected to the rest of the world.

    Paul was generous, kind and wise, dispensing his well-measured advice with humility and charm. When being considered for my present role in Canada, I was asked for a reference for someone who really knew my work. The obvious person was Paul, who had supported me for so many years, who somehow found the time and energy to engage with everything I did for and with the British Council, and whom I trusted to be meticulously fair in his appraisal of everyone and everything.

    I will forever treasure our working together, across Latin America, in Bath, Netherlands, Croatia and finally in Portugal. He was the most reliable of colleagues and the most fastidious of professionals. Paul planted seeds of hope and aspiration across so many countries and in so many musicians’ hearts. May a continued flowering of musical achievement around the globe be a just tribute to him.

  69. Gill Graham 6th July 2016 on 11:00 pm Reply

    I first met Paul at the BC. He came to meet me and Chris Fox at reception. He stepped out of the lift and immediately sat on the floor “ooh” he said “forgive me, I stood up too quickly”. That was it, a lofty friend was made. Over the years his kindness and interest, both personally and professionally, was a constant. He also engineered many a cheeky debate around the fringes of many a “taking itself too seriously” conference- Rosie Pickering, often his ally and partner in commentary crime. Whether it was lunch and the “doing of” astrological charts, a BC conference or trip away, he was always the same Paul. A gentle, beautiful man with a cheeky sparkle which, when caught at the wrong time, could get one into gentle trouble. He was a true musician too, he knew his subject and brokered everything with diplomacy and a sensitive hand. Taking Tavener to Istanbul with Paul and BC colleagues was an unforgettable experience. John and Paul, our two tall cosmonauts surfing the spiritual thermals. Paul touched people. A good soul. I’ll miss him.

  70. Tatiana Ilyina 6th July 2016 on 10:57 pm Reply

    It’s just unbelievable and unbearable to hear that our cheerful, witty, wise Paul is no longer with us. We will remember your enthusiasm and passion for music, it will continue inspiring us. It was such a great privilege to work with you. Let your kind heart and soul inspire other worlds and we will carry on our duties and do our best for music as much as we can so that you could be proud of us.

  71. Robert Perdomo 6th July 2016 on 10:56 pm Reply

    Paul fue mi amigo, padre, hermano, fue la persona que llenó toda my vida y sin el habrá un vacío que nadie podrá llenar. Lo voy a extrañar toda mi vida y sé que donde este ahora él me guiara como lo hizo desde el día que lo conocí.
    Paul siempre te recordaré como el hombre elegante, educado y sobre todo humano.
    Te amo y siempre te amare. Descansa en Paz.

  72. Maureen Powell Davies 6th July 2016 on 10:56 pm Reply

    Lovely Paul came to Lincolnshire as Composer in Residence in about 1983-4, with a commission to compose a choral work for local schools and to support teaching of composition in local schools in the earliest days of GCSE exams. He spent 6 months lodging with my musician husband and me, and brought his love, light and laughter into our simple household. Paul worked in my music department at Boston High School, and the pupils were engaged and entranced with his energy, passion and gentle humour, which culminated in his lovely multi-school choral work, called Dreamgold, performed in Boston Stump. He prepared very accurate astrological charts for my children at birth, and we wrote at length each Christmas and messaged in between. His letters were wonderful. He appeared without fuss or advance warning in Shrewsbury at my husband’s funeral in 2005, but slipped away because ‘he didn’t want to intrude’. His letters, emails, messages all reflected the warmth, empathy and special sensitivity of this wonderful kind man, whose human qualities touched everyone he knew, and whose modesty belied his professional and musical skills. You told some of the sadness of your final months, Paul, and we were praying for some restoration of your former self. Rest in peace, dear Paul – I will really miss such an extraordinarily empathetic friend.

  73. Graham Jeffery 6th July 2016 on 10:34 pm Reply

    I didn’t know Paul well, but I was struck by his absolute integrity and commitment, as well as his encyclopaedic knowledge and his extensive networks. He was one of the ‘good people’ and will be sadly missed.

  74. Susanna Eastburn 6th July 2016 on 10:18 pm Reply

    Paul was so very much loved and rightly so. He was unfailingly kind and interested, deeply thoughtful, a great champion of music (and how wonderful that he was recognised as such with his MBE) and also the most wonderful company with a very wry and sometimes naughty sense of humour. I had a coffee with him last year and he had a bad back. “Susanna,” he said, “when cutting your toe nails: You Must Bring The Foot To You.” I actually can’t yet come to terms with how much I’m going to miss him. And I send great love and condolences to his family and colleagues worldwide. Xx

  75. Adam Jeanes 6th July 2016 on 10:17 pm Reply

    Paul Parkinson MBE was a lovely man – I think everyone agrees. We worked together in the glory days of Portland Place. He did my horoscope – which was oddly accurate. When I heard about his untimely death one memory came back to me which I hadn’t thought about for ages – it was about that other stalwart of the British Council Hannah Horowitz. Shortly before she died she asked him to contact her family after she’d gone (she was estranged from her sister I believe) and tell them about her achievements. I can see his huge eyes as he described the awkward telephone conversation he had with the indifferent sibling. It really struck me how NOBODY else in world would have done something like – a really remarkable sense of justice. It upsets me to think that some one who was so vivacious and energetic ended their life in such personal pain. And at time when Europe needs wise people like him to help repair the damage. And I can’t get the image of his empty extra-high desk in Spring Garden’s out of my head. Lovely Paul, thank you.

  76. Andrew missingham 6th July 2016 on 10:14 pm Reply

    When I came to the British Council in 1998 everyone told me it was dry, dusty, dull place. They couldn’t have known you were there. You made me so welcome, helped me, advised me and showed me the ropes (so we’d renamed ourselves: you were “Fletch”; I was “Godber”). Thank you, Paul. You were a lovely, funny, kind, expert, quirky, principled, mischievous, and wonderful man. You not being in it makes the world a darker place. Love and light, Parko. Love and light. Andrew. xxx

  77. Claudia Toni 6th July 2016 on 8:15 pm Reply

    I lost a wonderful fellow and very dear friend.

    Paul was a committed professional and with his energy and vision, amazing projects started in different points of the globe. Brasil is one of the countries he devoted time, intelligence and love for music to create strong relationships and beautiful results.

  78. Louise Higham 6th July 2016 on 6:32 pm Reply

    I was very sad to hear this morning that Paul had not survived a long winter of the spirits. He was my adviser, guide and link in the music department for 17 years. Many people who knew him well have already spoken with great warmth of his many qualities, among them his extraordinary kindness and warmth, his erudition, his loyalty and his tireless promotion of UK music and musicians.
    Those of us not in daily contact with him at the hub, had at least the advantage and privilege of seeing him in action when activities he helped to bring about came to fruition. The pleasure, respect and appreciation with which he was always received by our local partners made us all proud to work with an organisation that valued such a person and represented it so brilliantly.
    Last night, and before I knew of his death, I was at the opening night of an international music theatre event at a summer festival here in Barcelona. It was one of those enchanted early summer evenings, warm and carefree, the sort that many of us have probably passed in the company of Paul at one or other event: excited, animated and hopeful that everything would turn out as well as it possibly could. The work was very interesting and I remember thinking how Paul would have enjoyed it, asking myself what Paul would have thought of it, what he would have said afterwards to the organiser – a person he knew well.
    This is what happens when one has the luck to cross paths with a person such as Paul. He was of the type you try to sit next to at a supper or really want to listen to in a conversation; that type of person who enriches you, marks you and makes you see things in a radically different light. Something of their way of being and thinking becomes part of you.
    Music was his business but he was a great master and champion of language as well. His e-mails were a delight and of the old kind: full of wit and wisdom, perceptions and ideas, nuanced, flawlessly elegant and eloquent. I am sure he inspired many of us to try to honour ideas and language in the same way – to fight in the tearooms, in the internet, in the inboxes – and never surrender.
    Paul used to sign off letters to many of us with “Love, light and laughter”. That is exactly what he gave us and will be a part of the Paul that we will always have.

  79. Rosemary 6th July 2016 on 6:02 pm Reply

    Paul was just wonderful; charming, entertaining, thoughtful and wise and a real individual. I loved hearing him talk about horoscopes, his holidays, how he loved listening to the radio at home, I loved gossiping with him too. A lot of these chats took place while he was peeling his daily orange in the kitchen, I think it was always 11am. Rest in Peace Paul, I feel honoured to have me and worked with you x

  80. Diomar Silveira 6th July 2016 on 4:47 pm Reply

    It is with great sadness that I write this message just to share my deep sorrow for the death of my dear friend Paul Parkinson. I remember, vividly, the first time we met here, in my home town Belo Horizonte, and his enthusiasm for the first meeting of the Multiorchestra Conference. We became very good friends and I had the chance to learn so much about music with him. Not only that, as his broad knowledge of art and astrology fascinated me. Two months ago, I called Paul on the phone and got really worried about his health as he told me of his depression and the severe psychiatric treatment he was undergoing. I had promised myself to visit him but, unfortunately, was not able to take a trip to London. I believe he left a great contribution for the work and mission of the British Council and his positive and beautiful energy will always remain expressed by the three words that he always liked to use when finishing his writings: Love, Light and Laugher!

  81. Claire de Braekeleer 6th July 2016 on 3:38 pm Reply

    So very sad to hear this. When I was moving to Moscow to be Head of Arts, I asked Paul for his advice on Russian music. He said that if he was me he would buy a season ticket to the Bolshoi and go every night, and then obliged with an enthusiastic, detailed email documenting all the great names and great works of 18-20th C classical Russian composers. I was so grateful, and then so surprised the next morning when a flurry of follow up messages appeared with subject lines like: ‘Q: Are there contemporary Russian composers? The answer is YES!’… repeat with jazz, independent music… all before 8:30am, of course.

    We then went on to work together on promoting some British greats in Russia, with our wonderful Britten 100 season in 2013, and a series of concerts ‘From Taverner to Tavener’ at Moscow Conservatoire in 2014 (you can imagine the kind but firm email I received to ensure I had the small but important difference in spelling of their names correct). His responses were always as informed, thorough and witty as those original briefings on Russian music. And he was always held in such high regard by any British music organisation we were working with.

    I always thought of him when I was lucky enough to go to the Bolshoi, and hoped he would approve of my growing love of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich; and what a big part concert-going played in my life in Moscow. With thanks and love to you, Paul; you’ll be very much missed.

  82. Rosana Besednik 6th July 2016 on 3:30 pm Reply

    Paul was an amazing person and colleague who introduced me to other amazing people and we jointly worked on some truly life changing projects. Life changing for children who discovered the joy of creating and performing the music and for us who worked jointly to give them this experience. Paul was a dear friend. His voice and laughter still resonate in my ears. His hugs are still very much felt.

    Dear Paul, you were and I am sure are now, more than ever – love and light. I miss you.

  83. Ruth Sinclair-Jones 6th July 2016 on 3:23 pm Reply

    I am grateful to Paul for so much – his patience, his wisdom and thoughtful advice on Music activities and relationships whenever my overseas responsibilities included the Arts programme. He wore his knowledge lightly, and shared it generously, making a generalist like me feel musically competent when I needed to. Thank you Paul – you have been a great colleague and will be greatly missed: requiescas in pace.

  84. Mark Pemberton 6th July 2016 on 3:05 pm Reply

    Paul was one of the first people I met professionally when I joined the ABO nine years ago. Invited to a Prom, I shyly slipped into the box and was greeted by the most delightful man, who announced in a loud voice “hello, I’m tall Paul!”. From then on he was ever present, and I hugely enjoyed getting to know him even better when we spent time together in Brazil in December 2013. He was a great friend to British orchestras, and I, my colleagues, and the orchestral sector, will miss him hugely.

  85. Paul Howson 6th July 2016 on 2:34 pm Reply

    Ah, dear Paul. We’d cross paths in the lobby of Spring Gardens – he was always off somewhere just as the rest of us were arriving – and we’d say ‘Good morning Mr Paul’ to each other and metaphorically lift our hats. Sometimes we’d bump into each other on the streets of Stoke Newington – again, he’d be striding somewhere on a mission – and would stop and chat about hipsters and 4WD buggies and single-estate south-facing latte and other horrors of gentrification. He was such a lovely, funny man. I wish I’d known him better.

  86. Eric Klug 6th July 2016 on 2:29 pm Reply

    A huge loss for the British Council and for the music world. Always great to see a big man with a big smile talking about good art and music.

  87. Sophie Travers 6th July 2016 on 1:55 pm Reply

    My memories of Paul are full of the light and love of which he regularly spoke and I will miss him very much. He was a wonderful colleague with whom I enjoyed many a chuckle over absurd burocracy and colourful colleagues. Paul was my counterpart in music at the British Council and so I deferred to him on all things and always learned from the great good humour, tolerance and respect he brought to his work. I will miss the thought that there is a hug there for me in London and share the feelings of everyone here that the world is a little less beautiful without Paul in it.

  88. David Elliott 6th July 2016 on 1:49 pm Reply

    I knew Paul since he first joined the Council, and benefitted from his wisdom & professionalism in my years overseas, right up to last year when he helped programme UK in Mexico inc nine nights of music & dance in Guadalajara.
    Whenever I visited Spring Gardens I’d always get their early and he was always there, backed by the rooftops of Whitehall, his big sonorous voice scoffing at bureaucracy one minute and passionately championing an obscure composer the next.
    I will miss you Paul.

  89. Maya Darchia 6th July 2016 on 1:07 pm Reply

    So sorry to hear the news that Paul Parkisnon left us. We never met but we had intensive coorespondence and even through the e-mails I could feel a brilliant, dedicated professional and above all, a warm, considerate person. Rest in Peace , dear Paul.

  90. Sarah Giles 6th July 2016 on 12:23 pm Reply

    From my very first day on the arts floor, Paul was incredibly warm and welcoming, always ready with a huge smile. With his endless knowledge of horoscopes and music and his love for his morning coffee shop (and the particular mug they kept free for him there!) I will miss him very much x

  91. Andrea Rose 6th July 2016 on 12:08 pm Reply

    Ah Paul, last of the scholar-gentlemen, and scourge of mangled managerialism wherever it existed! KPI’s and deliverables were anathema to him, but he gave hugely of his passion, knowledge and dedication to music. A generous, warm and loving individual.

  92. Narek Tovmasyan 6th July 2016 on 12:05 pm Reply

    Dear Paul, You will stay in my heart forever. We pulled together most impressive programme of Britten 100 Anniversary in Armenia covering a wide spectrum of music performance, poster exhibitions, DVD screenings, a youth music education collaboration and high profile public events. Live stream of the Simple Symphony performed on cable car was the highlight! We will definitely meet in next life Paul.

  93. Jacob 6th July 2016 on 11:59 am Reply

    Takes me back to my first day here, waiting apprehensively in reception, and seeing a tall, animated man approach arm outstretched, “Ahhh Jacob!” he bellowed, grinning from ear to ear “I’m Tall Paul!”… he gave off a warmth which instantly put me at ease, and I knew I was in good hands.

    It’s been an extremely sad few days since hearing the news, and it’s going to take some time to sink in, but I feel so lucky to have had Paul as a friend. He was a one of a kind. The wisest man I’ve known.

    He had an indefatigable passion for music, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of it, and I learnt such a lot from him in our time working together. But most of all Paul was a kind, sensitive soul, who always had time for you, and as many have already mentioned, he had a laugh so infectious it could light up a room on the darkest of days.

    It’s been strange coming into the office and not seeing him here these past few months. Even stranger to now know he’s not coming back. I’ll truly miss him.

    Much love to you Paul. RIP.


  94. Antony J. Chan 6th July 2016 on 11:57 am Reply

    Paul was the first person I have ever known in the British Council, even before I joined the Council. I was invited by the British Council to speak at the ABO conference in Brighton in 2009. It was a terrifying experience because I didn’t expect at all that i would be speaking in front of such a big audience. Paul’s smile, warmth, and generosity made me feel very welcome and it calmed my nerves. We had such a great time during that trip, and I thought to myself, ” wouldn’t it be nice to work for British Council and be surrouded by lovely people like Paul?” Who knows, I did eventually joined the Council a few years later.

    I did not see Paul much at all, in fact, not as much as I’d have liked to. Another time I met Paul was in Edinburgh, when we did not know each other was in town at all, but ended up hanging out and having a drink in a bar. I remember him as a very kind man who gave me sound advice, and we laughted a lot.

    Over these few years, we communicated through emails but he never told me that he had not been well. He told me some awful things that had happened to him, which shook me to the core. I feel utterly sad that I wasn’t there for him.

    Paul is one very kind man who I wish I had known better. I will always remember his smile, his soft-spoken voice, and his kindness. A gentle and kind soul


  95. Brendan Griggs 6th July 2016 on 11:55 am Reply

    Paul was a good friend and a marvellous colleague, very funny, thoughtful and highly knowledgeable. No matter how early I managed to get into work in the morning he was always already there, usually guffawing over some bureaucratic absurdity or wildly unrealistic request. But once the hilarity subsided, he would just get on and deal with it. I benefited so much from his expertise during my time overseas where the mere mention to partners that a musician or ensemble had been “suggested by Paul Parkinson” was enough to open doors. I owe him a lot, as do many musicians, agents and programmers. Love and light, Paolo.

  96. Sheena Macdonald 6th July 2016 on 11:45 am Reply

    I got to know Paul through being a fellow ‘early bird’ when I had the pleasure of working in Arts a few years ago. We often enjoyed a chat as the early morning sun shone through the windows of the 3rd floor, before the day began. He was always great company – such a wise and gentle man, with a mischievous sense of humour. I can’t believe I’m not going to see him again.

  97. Peter Brown 6th July 2016 on 11:36 am Reply

    So very sad. Never was the epithet ‘a gentleman and a scholar’ more aptly applied. Paul will be sorely missed by many. RIP.

  98. Alison D 6th July 2016 on 11:28 am Reply

    Dear Paul,

    You were my music advisor but became more of a mentor during my first years as an arts manager. Geographical distance didn’t prevent a close bond from forming between us, nourished by your kind heartedness and patience and my ever-growing respect for you. This respect developed thanks to the lengthy replies you penned in response to my emails soliciting your advice. You always answered patiently, with thought-through words of sage advice coupled with your philosophy of our work within the arts. I very much appreciated the in-depth reflection you shared, it provided a compass and a grounding in how other colleagues view our role – not something that is necessarily evident or universally-shared and very rarely explicitly stated. This is why you became more than an advisor and more of a mentor.

    We arranged for you to visit me, so you could meet local contacts and this provided the opportunity for us to get up close and personal. I hope friendship springs partially from respect – from then on you called me dear friend and allowed me to call you Parko – a childhood nickname.

    Parko, I’m going to really miss your long emails, your shared reflections, your voice on the phone, your compassionate nature, your lanky frame, your kind spirit, your blue eyes, your angular hugs, your sensitive soul, your wise words, your precious friendship.

    Parko, I’m going to miss you but I’m not going to forget you, it won’t be possible for me to forget you, you have played too large a role for me to do that. Instead, I’ve thought about how I can continue to appreciate what you gave to me, to celebrate your life, your friendship, your wisdom.

    Ciao caro amico.


  99. Gill Caldicott 6th July 2016 on 11:28 am Reply

    I encountered Paul when I was in Portugal and Paul was the music lead for Europe. He was such a wise and kind and gentle person. I remember hhim especially advising us on how we were working with the Gulbenkian. He helped us tremendously to understand what we could do, to great effect with little money.

    Thank you Paul you will be remembered


  100. Joel Mills 6th July 2016 on 11:20 am Reply

    When I first joined music team, Paul went out of his way to make me feel welcome and ‘showed me the ropes’ at the British Council.

    He soon asked for my date and place of birth, and a few days later produced an incredibly detailed horoscope – which I still have somewhere! I know he made a horoscope for a few people, and it was his way of giving something lovely back to people. He was incredibly generous and kind. He was a beautiful man – clever, talented, and so knowledgeable. I knew he grappled with his demons sometimes, and his mental health deteriorated rapidly over the past few months.
    I’m just devastated he lost that inner fight. However, I will ever keep a picture in my mind – much like the one in the photo – of a sparkle-eyed man, radiating warmth and love.

    Our loss in music team of Paul will take a while to sink in. He was not only a colleague, but a friend to many of us, and we loved him dearly.

  101. Rebecca Simor 6th July 2016 on 11:12 am Reply

    Paul had great warmth and made me feel welcome and happy when I first arrived on the third floor of Spring Gardens. He had such a strong sense of what mattered in life. I remember talking to him about the trials and joys of learning to play the violin and the delight he took in his early morning breakfast at the same Italian cafe every day. I will miss him a lot.

  102. Martin Fryer 6th July 2016 on 11:11 am Reply

    I can’t tell you how many times in my long British Council career I benefited from Paul’s professional support and advice, and enjoyed his warmth and sense of humour. His prolific knowledge of music, musicians, and of the international scene was phenomenal. Rarely have I come across someone who was so committed, so diligent, so thorough. How he sustained a composing career alongside his dedication to British Council work was always a mystery, but somehow he did. He will be hugely missed.

  103. Haining Zhu 6th July 2016 on 11:07 am Reply

    I only met Paul a couple of times when I was on business trip to London many years ago- but everytime felt like I was seeing an old friend. It’s hard to forget his warmness and tall figure…Have a good trip to heaven Paul.

  104. Diana Eccles 6th July 2016 on 10:58 am Reply

    The death of such a lovely person is so unutterably sad. He has been such a big presence in my British Council life in Portland Place and here in Spring Gardens that it seems impossible to think he will not be returning. Diana xx

  105. Michael Bird 6th July 2016 on 10:53 am Reply

    I never worked with Paul as much as I’d have liked, but over the years, in Scotland, Germany and Wider Europe, whenever we did work together, it was invariably a joy because his love and knowledge of music were so abundant. There aren’t many colleagues who cause me to pull myself up to my own full height, but Paul was obviously one of them, and he always left me feeling happier, as well as taller, such was his generosity of spirit and appreciation of others. Requiescat pacem.

  106. Nadine Patel 6th July 2016 on 10:51 am Reply

    Paul was someone I hugely admired, enjoyed working with and could always rely on for a few wise words. Our early morning starts, knowing that he and Andrew would definitely be vocal in any meeting…it was just so lovely to have such talent as part of the team…so very sad

  107. Cortina Butler 6th July 2016 on 10:49 am Reply

    Early mornings in Spring Gardens, the sun shining through the windows and in the background Paul’s expressive bass voice, punctuated by his wonderful laugh, as he exclaims, applauds, commiserates, chivvies, encourages his listener – a special experience that will not be forgotten.

  108. Adam Pushkin 6th July 2016 on 10:46 am Reply

    Oh this is desperately sad news. I never worked directly with Paul, but chatted with him many times – he was one of those people who brightened up a visit to Spring Gardens: charming, funny, and blessed with an extraordinary knowledge and enthusiasm for music. One of the good guys.

  109. Gregory Nash 6th July 2016 on 10:42 am Reply

    I first met Paul when I joined the (then) drama and dance department in 1997 and we were one performing arts team. This gentle giant of a man made me feel so welcome and so at home and for the three and a bit years I was there he was just upstairs when I needed him. And always first thing in the morning as he was famous for his early start. When I rejoined arts in 2011 there he was on the third floor of Spring Gardens, always ready with a huge, enveloping hug. In 2012 he and his partner came to my flat in Istanbul and we gossiped over gins and tonic. I will miss his big heart and those huge hugs and I know his loss will be felt throughout our global team. Play on, dear Paul.

  110. Will Massa 6th July 2016 on 10:37 am Reply

    Wise and kind, Paul was one of the first people I met when I started at British Council. He made it feel fine to not know things and his experience was extremely comforting. I will miss his extraordinary laugh and his collegiate warmth; the world will be a duller place without him,

  111. Isabel Lopes 6th July 2016 on 10:36 am Reply

    he is and will be always in my heart…such a lovely, gentle, talented, kind, knowledgable person … why? why? … Love you Paul

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