Devoting music to faith

BHS Band Director Robert Peske will be retiring after this school year to devote his talent and passion to his church, Inspire Family Fellowship.


For the Cross. Retiring from BHS, Band Director Peske has been strongly motivated in his musical career by faith. He has been involved in the Bismarck Public School System for over three decades. “My favorite memory is when we performed Hommage this year along with the choir and orchestra. The way he smiled through the whole thing as if he dedicated his whole life to this moment,” Senior Jacksen Welle said.

When Gordon Knaak retired in 1989, it had a bitter sweet significance to BHS and current and former band members. Band director Robert Peske was one of those former students. Taking over the band soon after Knaak, he upheld BHS’s signature sound and energy, inspiring fans and athletes at sporting events, as well as taking the band night parade to a standard that no other school has matched.
Now after decades of influencing and encouraging thousands of young musicians at BHS, Peske is departing from the band room to perform for the Lord and give back his talents in the form of worship through music. He plans on devoting his time to his church, Inspire Family Fellowship.
“We are creating the Inspire Family Fellowship Arts Academy,” Peske said. “We want to create a place in which artists of all disciplines, music, dance, visual art, writing, can practice their craft in a Christ centered environment. Every class taught will begin with a devotional and participants will pray with and for each other. We believe that we are all works of art created by God to be works of art.”
Peske was at the forefront of the band when he took over after Knaak until 2001. After leaving to still teach music in other aspects, he returned in 2012 and has been guiding BHS since.
“God has gifted me with music,” Peske said. “In my quest to surrender all of myself to God, He has shown me what can be done with music when He is involved.”

BHS Senior Percussionist Jacksen Welle has been a part of the band since freshman year, and he recognizes firsthand the effect that Peske has on students and their performance.
“Peske did more than contribute to the band. His character was inspirational, not just to band kids, but everyone around him,” Welle said. “He was influential to the school and continually striving for excellence. Personally, the only reason I enjoy band as much as I do is because of the atmosphere of the band room which is due to Peske’s amazing personality. Additionally, he taught great musical lessons which translated into life lessons that I still hold onto everyday.”
With Peske’s retirement, Neil Tafelmeyer will be the new band director, and has held close bonds with many current band students.
“[Tafelmeyer] is one of the most brilliant teachers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with,” Peske said, “He loves kids – he has a deep understanding of music and a wonderful sense of tradition. Under his guidance, the BHS band will continue to flourish, strive for excellence, and serve the community around it.”
“Belong – Believe – Become,” that is the Inspire way. Those are the words that the Fellowship ventures for, a connection and relationship to God.
“Our church wants to have such an impact on our community that if we disappeared tomorrow, everyone would notice,” Peske said. “We do our best to create a safe place for families. We do our best to spread the gospel of Christ to everyone we encounter. It is our goal to inspire people to respond to God by making the invisible God, visible.”
Peske and his dynamic, patient and loving passion for music and students, are what makes people remember him best.
“I would love to thank Peske for everything he has done for me and my family,¨ Welle said. “His impact on Bismarck High School will not be forgotten. He will continually be an inspiration and an idol throughout my life.”
Peske could not think of anything better than retiring and giving back to Him.
“It’s weird. You think you’re giving something up by giving your gifts back to God but then you see what He does with you and your gifts when they belong to Him,” Peske said. “The blessings are indescribable. It makes one wish they had given everything to God sooner!”