The guard is changing at Funtington Music Group as long-standing chairman David Tinsley steps down after guiding the society through important years of growth and success.
A membership society, the FMG offers lecture recitals at the University of Chichester Chapel. The university hosts the society in return for which the FMG offers bursaries to students. It is also building up a significant instrument library and holds an annual student showcase competition with cash prizes for the student winners.
“It has been 14 years I have been organising the group at the university, and before that I was on the committee before that for two or three years when we were meeting at the old place, Funtington Lodge, the home of Robert Headley (after whom the student showcase competition is named).
“Robert had started the group by inviting friends to his house and artists to come to talk to them about the music they performed, and that really set the pattern for our lecture recitals.
“But after the first three years, Robert died and we had to move. I managed to secure our move to the university. I had heard about the university chapel being good acoustically and a good place to go. Ben Hall and Laura Ritchie at the university had played to us at Robert’s house, and Ben, head of music at the university, welcomed us to come there. We arranged it very carefully with him how we should proceed. I was very interested in some form of student-prize contest, and Ben was very interested in having bursaries.”
And so the move was made: “It is a unique partnership. The FMG is independent. We are not on the faculty or associated with the university in any way other than through friendship.”
From the outset, David was keen that the FMG should be a membership society, with members paying an annual subscription – an arrangement which gets around the need to be constantly selling tickets. It has also given the FMG the stability to plan for the future and also to raise money for the university’s benefit. Over the years, it has given £14,000 in prize funds, spent £27,000 on bursaries and spent more than £27,000 on the instrument library – more than £68,000 in total.
But now David feels it is time for him to stand down: “I am getting older! But really the important thing is that I have had serious health issues and the family has decided that my wife and I really need to move nearer to them. We are going to be moving to Tunbridge Wells.
“ It has been a labour of love over 14 years. I will miss it, but quite frankly, having handed over to the new committee, I have realised what an enormous amount of work was involved!”
The new FMG chairman is Chris Hough.
Ring Elizabeth Brooks on 01243 378900 for membership details.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2