AS A musical ‘son of Eastbourne’ I note with very mixed feelings, mainly of pride but some of regret, that there are big changes afoot in the town’s music scene this year.
Graham Jones, after several decades as Director of Music at Eastbourne College, is leaving that school.
He will still maintain his role as conductor of the Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra, but the ESO will no longer have that close relationship with the College which it has enjoyed since its foundation.
Graham’s part in the financing, design and transition to the College’s brand new arts facility, the elegant and classy Birley Centre, has been essential and fundamental over recent years - but his successor will be the first to see it in full swing. (I was an Eastbourne Grammar School boy, like my brother, in the 60s but have been closely and professionally associated with the College for 40 years!).
Spencer Freeman, after many years as the redoubtable Chairman of the 52-year old Eastbourne Festival of Music and the Arts, has just stepped aside from that important post. I wish him health and a long retirement.
I competed in the Festival from the very first year, my wonderful, legendary teacher Winifred Mills being one of the prime movers in getting it going back in the late 50s.
Together with some of her piano pupils I arranged, after her death, to set up a money prize in the Festival, but that has, sadly, run out of funds after some 15 or more years.
I am not in a position to subsidise it further having only recently retired from my teaching positions in London.
So things change and move on and one must not reminisce too sentimentally.
But as one of Eastbourne’s proudest supporters I just want to send my good wishes to Graham Jones and the ESO, to the College with its fabulous new centre, to Spencer Freeman and the Festival Committee and supporters - and to all who remember Winifred Mills as an important member of the Eastbourne arts scene over four decades.
The traditions they built must not be allowed to falter.
Caterham Road, London