West Sussex mourns fine pianist and accompanist

Fond tribute has been paid to popular pianist and accompanist Chris Coote who was also one of the architects of the new Chichester Music Society.

Monday, 14th September 2020, 2:24 pm
Updated Monday, 14th September 2020, 2:26 pm
Chris Coote

Chris, who lived in Tangmere, died just before CMS’s first lecture recital, featuring cellist Pavlos Carvalho.

Chris had worked closely with CMS chairman Chris Hough as the two of them remodelled the old Funtington Music Group as the new Chichester Music Society.

Chris Hough described CMS’s first meeting, which was streamed in the presence of the CMS committee, as a “bitter sweet” moment, just days after Chris’s death: everyone pleased to be offering music again for the first time since lockdown, but everyone desperately sad at the loss of Chris to cancer.

Chairman Chris is intending to pay more formal tribute at the next CMS next concert, a recital with soprano Erin Alexander on Tuesday, September 29.

“Chris very much helped Erin in developing her career. He accompanied her, and they were good friends. I have spoken to her and she is really going to miss him, as we all will. That will be the time to pay tribute; we were all very raw at that first meeting.

“Chris was a good personal friend of mine and of all the committee members. We would have meetings at his house, and we were just a small, close-knit bunch of chums whose passion was music. It is very much a personal loss for all of us.

“Chris’s background was that he was an actuary. He started playing the piano very young and was a keen amateur performer alongside his professional career. It was only fairly recently in 2005, I believe, that he started playing professionally.

“But he was the ideal guy to have as treasurer. He really was a first-class treasurer for us, introducing new ideas into the treasury side of things. But really his love and his enthusiasm was in promoting the younger artists. He ran the bursary scheme for us (where FMG/CMS runs an annual University of Chichester student showcase). He was really fundamental to the auditions process. He was a very sensitive musician. A student would come in and perhaps not have an accompanist, and Chris would immediately jump in and say ‘Let me play that for you.’ He would plonk the piece of music in front of them and would help the students in a really brilliant way. He wouldn’t make as much of his own musical skills as he should have done. When he did perform solo, he really was a very fine musician, really very much out of the top drawer.”

Chairman Chris also paid tribute to Chris’ work in transforming the Funtington Music Group into the Chichester Music Society: “It was such a shame that he was not able to be there for that first CMS concert, but he was there when we agreed it at the AGM in March.”

Chris was also chairman of the Bognor Regis Music Society.

“Our thoughts and sympathy go out to Alison and his family at this very difficult time.”

Due to COVID restrictions, the funeral will be for immediate family only; the family plan to hold a thanksgiving service for Chris’s life as soon as circumstances allow.

If you wish to remember Chris in a tangible way, the family suggest making a donation to St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester in his memory – or considering becoming a blood donor. Chris had many transfusions in his last few weeks, and family the expressed their gratitude to the donors who made this possible.