REVIEW: Funtington Music Group, Chichester University Chapel of the Ascension

Peter Medhurst
Peter Medhurst

Peter Medhurst presents My World of Opera with Jeremy Limb (Piano)

Peter Medhurst made a welcome return to Funtington Music Group at their February meeting, sharing and delighting his audience with a very personal view of his World of Opera. It proved to be a most interesting and amusing evening!

It soon became clear that a key influence on Peter had been Handel: “A hugely impacting” composer. Handel’s songs, organ and keyboard works had continued to astonish and delight him. Handel himself was an amazing performer and not, it seemed, averse to seeing off any competitors! We had an opportunity to enjoy arias, sung by Peter, from two of Handel’s operas.

Peter then went on to describe the development of the Venetian style that had so influenced Handel. He also stressed the importance of characterisation introduced by Monteverdi. This had given much greater depth to individual roles in each opera and to our understanding of their motivation and behaviour. Peter gave us some wonderful examples, a spirited one from from Purcell bringing first half to a close.

The second half of the evening began with one of Peter Medhurst’s latest discoveries, a very humorous piece by the American composer, Charles Ives. Wagner, and especially The Ring operatic cycle, was clearly another significant influence on Peter. It appeared that Faure and Messager had been present at the first performance of the Ring in Bayreuth and prepared a Souveniers de Bayreuth, a rather dubious piano duet of “all the best tunes”, played with great conviction by Peter and Jeremy!

Mozart “who lived and breathed opera” brought us towards the close of an excellent evening but it was A S Sullivan who Peter had discovered as a schoolboy who had the final word, appropriately enough, with The Nightmare Song from Iolanthe.

Jeremy Limb was a very able accompanist over a very wide range of music and performed a number of solo piano pieces. Particularly interesting and evocative was Ronald Stevenson’s Peter Grimes Fantasy, which had many of the brooding, threating characteristics of Britten’s wonderful opera.

David Tinsley, the outgoing Chairman of Funtington Music Group, said that the evening had been “quite remarkable, a wonderful demonstration of erudition, skill and knowledge, from both artists”.

Further details of the Funtington Music Group can be obtained from the Membership Secretary, Elizabeth Brooks on 01243 378900. For information about all our events please visit our website at