Concert Videos

Our recent Brighton Fringe concert was videoed by William Ranieri. Some of the material is now on YouTube and there is a playlist here:-

David Hopper

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of David Hopper in January and he will be greatly missed by us all at FFMO.

David grew up in Hove, and has always lived in Brighton & Hove, most recently in West Dene. David had three sisters Jeanette, Josie and Barbara. By way of career, David was a senior civil engineer.

 We have known David as an FFMO member for over 20 years, a much valued player in our wonderful guitar section. David also played in quartets and  quintets, and in the Brighton Guitar Group. 

David enjoyed playing a wide range of guitar music, especially enjoyed the challenge of playing Bach, Villa-Lobos and Brouwer. Carolan’s traditional Irish folk tune Si Bheag, Si Mhor was also a great favourite of David’s, and the orchestra has the honour of playing this lovely piece at the invitation of David’s family at the forthcoming service.

Lucy Regan, a fellow guitarist and friend paid tribute to David. “I was shocked and saddened to hear about David.  Our guitar section is small but we have been long serving and none less so than David. I’ve known David for a long time through our mandolin orchestra, a guitar quartet we played in, various guitar weekends (and a week at West Dean) and in Brighton’s annual Springboard Festival as well as guitar trips both here and abroad and, latterly, the Brighton Guitar Group.  He was kind and a wonderful guitarist – we will miss him.”

FFMO’s long serving fellow guitarist Adrian Milarski added “I always enjoyed playing with David. He was a great guitarist, a very amiable person, and we always managed to have a laugh!”

Musical Director Lindsay Stoner added her tribute “David had been in the orchestra for many years and took part in every concert and performance he could. He also came along on our first overseas trip, our memorable trip to Holland in 2012 which was a lot of fun and also a wonderful musical experience. David was a very fine musician and a great asset to the orchestra. His kind demeanour, gentle sense of humour and beautiful guitar playing will be truly missed. We will remember him always with great fondness.”

Our chair, Nicki Lewkow succinctly summed up the feelings of the whole orchestra: “He was a quiet man whose guitar spoke eloquently for him. His voice will be greatly missed.“

David will be laid to rest on Thursday 22 February. The service will be at Woodvale Crematorium, Lewes Road, Brighton at 11 am. Getting to Woodvale Crematorium ( Donations will be to the British Heart Foundation.

May he rest in peace.


Mandolin Workshop


Chris Acquavella Masterclass comes to Town
Many of us have admired the virtuoso playing of American mandolin player Chris Acquavella, so the chance of a masterclass with such a world class player, teacher and composer proved an enticing prospect! Over 30 players of mandolins and mandolas filled the hall of the ancient St Helens Church in Hangelton, Hove, on Saturday 21 October. Players came from near and far, including Cambridge, London and the West Country to join with members of Brighton’s Fretful Federation Mandolin Orchestra to share in this unique event. All were treated to a selection of Chris’ playing from his newly published book of etudes, to opportunities to work on a range of left and right hand techniques, and to improve our deeper understanding of the instruments.
In addition to Chris’ outstanding skills as a player, he proved a lively and engaging tutor. Bringing the value of the work on techniques to life  for use across many musical challenges. Perhaps most surprising were the fascinating backstories behind each piece. Every etude had been purposefully created to support the personal learning journeys of some of Chris’ individual students back in the US. The result being a cross section of the most common – and some not so common – technical challenges for the dedicated mandolin player. The afternoon proved immensely enjoyable and productive for all concerned and created the perfect lead into the afternoon’s rehearsal for the public performance – including Vivaldi’s Mandolin Concerto in C major – with Chris, the FFMO and all the guest players to a full house the following day at St Georges Church KempTown. (See full report under Events)
Chris Aquavella’s “Kensington Etudes” his 30 etudes dedicated to his students is published via Trekel, and 10 of them have been recorded on a CD – “Recording of the Dawn” – available on Bandcamp and the usual places.


Chris Acquavella graduated First Class Honors from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance. Chris studied mandolin under the instruction of Alison Stephens and composition with Andrew Poppy. He won the Wolfsan Foundation Music Award; was awarded the TCM Trust Silver Medal for String Studies and won 1st Prize at the 2016 Call For Scores hosted by the Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra. Chris Acquavella has released five CDs. Chris has performed and taught workshops at the Classical Mandolin Society of America Conventions, River of the West Camp, the David Grisman & Mike Marshall Mandolin Symposium, the annual course of the Austrian Federation of Amateur Musicians (VAMÖ) and the Summer School of the British BMG Federation. He tours extensively in North America and Europe. Acquavella is a published composer of new mandolin repertoire through Joachim-Trekel-Musikverlag, Hamburg and Astute Music Ltd, UK.

The Lockdown Orchestra

Along with just about everyone else, the Orchestra activities in 2020 have been seriously hampered by the Covid19 pandemic. All our concerts were cancelled along with most of our rehearsals. We have managed just a few socially distanced physical get togethers when we have been allowed to. Most of the year we have been limited to weekly Zoom sessions. Nevertheless, we have not been completely idle and have managed to put together a few videos which have been fun to do. One was made in collaboration with our friends in Germany. Here they are:-


2019 – A busy year

2019 – A Busy Year

The year started with the airing of our performance of ‘the other ocean’ on BBC Radio 3 in January. We were proud of this as the project had been a challenging undertaking for the Making Music Adopt a Composer scheme and was a great achievement for all concerned. Since then we have performed the piece three more times each slightly more strongly than the previous one as we have grown into it.

Once more, we performed a concert in the Brighton Fringe Festival and then, in June, took part in the Making Music event at Brighton library which was great fun and something we hadn’t done before. After this we participated in the annual ‘Paddle Round the Pier’ event playing music on a bus! Our most recent concert was at St Luke’s Church where we received a lot of very positive feedback from the audience.

We move on now with a concert program for 2020 and participation in the Edinburgh BMG Festival. Also planned is an exciting trip to Italy with our German friends, Wanderclub Edelweiss from Dudenhofen.



National BMG Festival in Worthing

National BMG Festival in Worthing

In March 2018 the Orchestra hosted the National BMG Festival in Worthing. The weather was terrible but it didn’t stop everyone who got there from having a good time, including visitors from Holland, Germany and the USA. The weekend included some wonderful performances from professional musicians, workshops, trade stalls and contests. We seemed to end up with our fair share of the cups.

Our next announcement will be about the BMG Festival in Edinburgh next March.

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