Cellist Ben Rogerson keeps up his Chichester summer festival tradition

Ben Rogerson keeps up his proud record of Chichester summer festival concerts with a return to this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Ben Rogerson
Ben Rogerson

Fellow cellists Christopher Allan, Michael Atkinson and Adrian Bradbury join him on Sunday, June 26, 7.30pm as the Cellophonics in St John’s Chapel, St John’s Street, Chichester (tickets from the Festival of Chichester online).

They are promising a varied programme taking us from Puccini to Piazzolla and from the Renaissance to a brand-new work by jazz composer Guy Barker.

Sign up to our arts, entertainments and what's on newsletter

“We have played Chichester together before,” Ben says. “We are all good friends and everyone is from a different part of the music business.

"Michael is with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and he was studying at the Royal College when I was at the Academy and Chris was at the Guildhall. We knew of each other a bit when we were students and I knew Adrian who I sometimes dep for. He has a chamber music and a session career.

“When we have done this over the years people may have been a bit nervous that we were just four soloists playing for an evening but everyone is just bowled over at our concerts by just how varied they are.

“People say that the cello is the instrument that is the most like the human voice and of course it is. We are doing a William Byrd motet Ave Maria which goes back to my life as a chorister! Also doing a Puccini tribute, a medley of Puccini opera tunes.

"We do this a few times a year. It has been an indulgence and it is also fun because we just like hanging out together but recently we have decided that it is so much fun that we want to do it a bit more."

The Guy Barker commission adds special significance to this concert: “Guy is a famous jazz trumpeter and used to be the composer at the BBC Concert Orchestra where I work and I used to sit listening to his harmonies and thinking they were amazing. One day I summoned up the courage to ask him to do something for us and he did it and he has written this piece called Wood On The Tracks.

"And this will be the first performance at this concert. It has got two movements and each movement picks a different train in America. Guy really wants us to record it. We just have to raise the money to do it.”

As for Ben’s long record of Chichester summer concerts: “It certainly goes back a long time now, a concert pretty much every year and we even did something online during the lockdown.”

Ben, son of former Chichester Festival Theatre general manager Paul, said: “I was back at (former Mayor of Chichester) Tony French's memorial in Chichester and I met quite a few people saying ‘Are you going to come and play again like you always used to?’ I was just encouraged by old friends and old family friends and it is lovely to come back.”

Tickets £18, seniors £15, students £10, children £5.