Funtington Music Group student showcase

“Sparkle!” will be the final word of advice to the students taking part in Funtington Music Group’s annual student showcase concert.

Once again, the event will offer music students at the University of Chichester the perfect performance platform on which to shine. The showcase concert, which this year falls on April 15 at 7.30pm in the Chapel of the Ascension on the university’s Bishop Otter campus, is one of the ways the FMG offers its thanks to the university for allowing it to meet there.



As Laura Ritchie, co-ordinator of instrumental/vocal teaching and MA performance at the university, says, it’s a symbiotic relationship from which both sides gain hugely.

The Funtington Music Group moved to the University of Chichester in January 2004 where it meets free of charge, in return for which it has donated more than £30,000 to the students. It has also set up a music instrument library. with its eyes now set on funding the instruments for a string quartet: “It’s very rare to have that kind of relationship,” Laura says. “The group doesn’t pay anything to come to us, and students and staff here can go free to all their events. There is a growing culture in the university of attending not only your own fellow students’ events, but also other, wider events. The whole thing acts as a huge draw for the artists coming. Everyone benefits.

“The showcase concert started because the FMG wanted to give something back and also to recognise the talent and developing music here on the campus. It is good for the FMG members to learn what is going at the university.”

The annual process began last December when Laura sent out an email inviting applicants: “They apply to me for an audition, and that is just such good experience in and of itself. In life you don’t get much practice for real job interviews, and this year we had 30 students, groups or individuals. They are assigned a time, and it is up to them to bring everything they need. There is a panel of six or seven, so it is quite scary for them. They don’t know who these people are. They just know they are responsible for running a professional, prestigious concert series.”

Laura sits on the panel with FMG committee members and members; each applicant gets to play for five minutes: “And that’s enough. What comes into it is the presentation as well as the performance. First impressions are very important. When a student comes in and doesn’t have the music ready or mumbles their name, these things matter. The standard of performance is so high, these other things come in account.”

Afterwards the panel makes its decision. Each member puts forward their dream six names, and as Laura says, fortunately, there is generally a good degree of cross-over. This year, they emerged with a list comprising two singers, a jazz trio, a string quartet, organ and French horn. Now they all go forward to the showcase concert which will be adjudicated by Chichester Cathedral organist Charles Harrison. The total prize fund on the night will be £1,000 with the winner of the first prize taking home £500.

So what will Laura say to them just before they perform? “Sparkle! They have got to sparkle and enjoy!”

The showcase is open to the public. Tickets on the door £15 or may be reserved on 01243 379335.