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Tribute to Fran Hanley

Fran Hanley, Music Education Official at the MU, was a committed trade unionist and a great friend to so many in the music industry. Here she is remembered with fondness by some of her colleagues and musicians.

Portrait of Fran Hanley

Fran contributed so much to the work of the Education Team and has left a great legacy of initiatives that have made a positive difference to our work in supporting members who teach. Her work at the MU was a culmination of her vast experience and expertise as both a musician and teacher and we really benefitted from her knowledge of the sector. Fran had such a positive energy and was full of ideas as to what we should be working on. She was passionate about resolving injustices and represented members with empathy, kindness and patience. Fran was a great inspiration, friend and support to me and to the rest of her colleagues and she will be missed greatly.
Diane Widdison

Fran joined the MU in the newly created position of Education Official in 2012. To say that she hit the ground running is a massive understatement, she took on the role with style and enthusiasm and quickly moulded it into an effective way of organising and representing the cross-section of different types of musicians who teach that the MU represents. She was always cheerful, totally committed and massively hard working. She is a great loss to the MU and to the many teachers that she so ably represented.
John F. Smith

I feel as though I have known Fran for ever, but think I only first met her when she played pan pipes and various flutes in Ghost Dances at Rambert, and we did a lot of performances together. After that, I ran in to her quite regularly, often in the most unexpected places - taking one of my daughters to a recorder jamboree at Morley College, assessing some contemporary opera performance for the Arts Council, going to a training session or conference - and she always lit the room up with a smile, and enhanced the pleasure of the whole event just by being there and by being her. Most recently I caught sight of her across the grass at Garsington, and we subsequently had a number of happy emails and phone calls about the Ghost Dances revival over the autumn. Her bravery and attitude to her illness took my breath away. She regularly gave brilliant insights and pieces of wisdom, but always lightly and without even knowing that she was doing it. My favourite was her solution to not being able to get work done in a busy office full of interruptions: take your work outside, get on the first bus, and sit on it to the end of the line, turn round and come back. She was a genius, imaginative, disruptive in a good way, and so life-enhancing.
Paul Hoskins, MD, Rambert

Francesca was brilliant yet modest, possessing that special creativity which leaves composers weak-kneed. Playing with Fran was replete with discoveries; her solutions to problems invariably revived enthusiasm and could change your thinking forever after. The diversity of her performance credits through the ‘80s and ‘90s is striking, ranging between composers of new complexity to experimentalism, Rambert to Django Bates’ Band. Fran’s thinking was always original and destined to be shared even wider than performance could reach. Her work at CYM, ACE and MU has facilitated every age group, and she understood us all. Her love, wisdom and generous spirit will sit with me always.
Simon Allen

Fran was always ready to break new ground in whatever she did, surprising everyone with her next move. Hearing her play was one of life’s great pleasures, however this was just a tiny part of what she had in store for us over the years. She was a fantastic interpreter of other people’s work, but also an instigator of amazing ideas of her own. Together we developed our musical relationship through improvisation and composition. We swapped instruments, invented new ones, sang backing vocals, dressed in strange costumes and danced wildly on stage. Fran the musician, collaborator, innovator, poet, educationalist, artist…..Fran was an inspiration and example to us all.
Catherine Shrubshall


Published: 10/03/2017

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