Frederick (Fred) Tinsley, double bass player in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, passed away on September 19. In 1974, Fred joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic, then under the direction of Music Director Zubin Mehta, Fred and his family lived in Claremont, Calif. for 12 years when they moved to California from Connecticut. Since 1986, they have lived in Upland, Calif.
During his 42-year tenure, he also served as assistant personnel manager and as an instructor as part of the orchestra’s training program for minority students in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Los Angeles Philharmonic will dedicate a concert to Fred Tinsley’s memory at Walt Disney Concert Hall during the opening week of concerts with a piece selected to honor his life and work.
Fred was born on March 3, 1940 in Hartford, Conn., the youngest child of the late Mattie and Philip Tinsley, Sr. While growing up in Hartford, Fred attended local schools, where he excelled in both sports and music. After scoring extremely well on a musical aptitude test, Fred began studying cello in sixth grade.
He soon began studying at Hartt College of Music (known now as famed performing arts conservatory, The Hartt School), under the tutelage of the late Dorothy Fidlar, then a cellist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Fred later took up the double bass and studied with the great contrabassist Bertram Turetzky at Hartt. Other former teachers include the late John Schaeffer of the New York Philharmonic and the late Bill Rhein of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Fred also achieved excellence on the gridiron, serving as football team captain at hometown Weaver High School and then playing college football at the University of Connecticut, from which he obtained a bachelor of fine arts degree in music and where he was principal bassist of the university’s symphony. In 2010, he received the university’s School of Fine Arts Alumni Award.
Fred began his professional music career with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, of which he was a member from 1969 to 1974. He also served as assistant principal bassist of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra from 1971 to 1974, as well as a substitute musician for the New York Philharmonic.
While most people knew Fred for his musical talents, he was also a superb teacher and mentor.
He served as a string bass instructor and chamber music coach at a number of institutions, including Pomona College; California Institute of the Arts; University of California, Irvine; California State University, Fullerton; the University of Connecticut; and the University of Redlands, from which he received a Master of Music degree in Performance in 1993. Fred was also a true jazz aficionado, having worked with several noted jazz musicians, including: Blue Note recording artist Johnny “Hammond” Smith; Academy Award nominee Dexter Gordon; trumpeter Freddie Hubbard; guitarist Kenny Burrell; tenor saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Houston Person; and award-winning flutist James Newton.
Fred leaves to cherish his memory his wife Juanita Tinsley; his three children, Frederick Tinsley, Jr., Tania Tinsley Little and Karen Tinsley Williams; two grandchildren, Grant Alexander Tinsley Little and Daphne Loren Tinsley Little; two stepchildren, Danielle Acoff and Dion Acoff; a sister, Marjorie Tinsley Gordon; two sons-in-law, Philip Little and Slater Williams; more than 50 nieces and nephews; and a host of other relatives and friends. He was predeceased by his first wife, Daphne Callaway Tinsley.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 11am at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 600 N. Garey Avenue, Pomona, CA 91767. Calling hours will be Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 5-9pm at Forest Lawn—Covina Hills, 21300 Via Verde Drive Covina, CA 91724.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Fred’s memory to The Sphinx Organization, a national arts organization that supports young musicians of color. Fred was a member of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. Mailing address: 400 Renaissance Center, Suite 2550, Detroit, MI 48243 or online at http://www.sphinxmusic.org