Cellist Ben Rogerson maintains his Chichester summer festival tradition

Cellist Ben Rogerson has missed only one Chichester festival summer appearance in the past 30 odd years.

Monday, 22nd June 2020, 1:00 am
Cellist Ben Rogerson

And that was a couple of years ago when his son Harry had heart surgery (“He’s doing great now,” Ben says).

This year will be no different. Ben isn’t going to let the pandemic stand in his way. He is contributing three events to this summer’s Virtual Festival of Chichester.

Thursday, June 18 – Bach Two-Part Invention: a rendition of a sublime Bach piece.

Wednesday, June 24 – The Gadfly: Shostakovich’s Romance for violin and orchestra is the highlight of his film score, inspired by French composer Jules Massenet’s soulful Méditation from the opera Thaïs.

Tues, June 30 – Somewhere Over the Rainbow (cellos): Ben assembles a collection of musical friends for a special cello treat.

The virtual festival’s events are being posted on: https://festivalofchichester.co.uk/virtual-festival/ The day’s events are added at 7pm ready to be enjoyed at the traditional event time of 7.30pm. Events will stay online for the entire summer.

Ben is delighted to be part of it all: “I always like to come back and do a concert in Chichester. My dad (retired CFT general manager Paul) is still there, and he loves organising concerts… and it gives us something to talk about! There is always that panic about whether anyone is going to turn up, but people generally do… even if it is just his friends! But it is always lovely to see them.”

For Ben, 2020 had started well: “It had been an amazing year until all this happened. A highlight was playing on the new Bond movie. Outside of my work with the BBC and teaching, I like to get asked to do film sessions. It was hilarious. You were sworn to secrecy as soon as you arrived. You never know what film you have got. With the Marvel films, they will have a code name for the film, and so you might not know what you are playing on until afterwards.

“But with the Bond, it was pretty obvious. We had our confidential contracts on our seats, and there was 007 and a picture of a gun on the top. That was a bit of a give-away. But you were not allowed to say who the artist was until it had all been published.”

But yes, Ben is on that Billie Eilish song: “There were lots of cellos. (Composer) Hans Zimmer always likes masses of cellos. There were 27 or 28 of them.”

Then came lockdown – but for Ben it has been productive: “All the concert work stopped, but I am happy to say that I have been working full time from home, which sounds a bit weird.

“It has been extremely full on. I have been teaching. I have got my pupils at school and I have also got some private pupils. And I have been doing some cello workshops over Zoom for primary schools. That has been quite fun. And I have also made a video. The BBC asked me to do a short video on how to write for the cello.

“And we have also done lots of recordings from home,” says Ben, a member of the BBC Concert Orchestra. “We have done lots of stuff for television and Radio 2.”

And it is some of these pieces that we are getting for the Virtual Festival of Chichester. Some of them are pieces which were done for the musicians’ own amusement, in a spirit of just seeing whether they could do them. But they are delighted to offer the results to the festival.

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow is performed by members of the BBC Concert Orchestra cello section. The arrangement was one I had come across years ago, done by a guy called Charlie Martin who was a cellist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

“There are five cellos on there, all recorded in isolation. It was all quite complicated. We recorded it separately and sent it all to the guy playing the top line and he put it all together on his laptop.”

The virtual festival’s events are being posted on: https://festivalofchichester.co.uk/virtual-festival/ The day’s events are added at 7pm ready to be enjoyed at the traditional event time of 7.30pm. Events will stay online for the entire summer.

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