Bognor's popular 60 Minutes of Classical Music series celebrates ten years

Roger Clayden
Roger Clayden

One of Bognor Regis’s great musical success stories is celebrating its tenth birthday.

60 Minutes of Classical Music marks one decade completed with an anniversary outing in its usual slot, the first Friday of the month in the usual venue.

The celebrations will be on February 1 at 7.30pm in the Regis Centre’s Studio 1 when the performers will be a string trio comprising Jonathan Strange – violin; Jose Gandia – viola; and series founder and director Roger Clayden – cello.

Their programme will be Schubert – String Trio in Bb D471; Haydn – Trio Opus 53 No2 in Bb; and Beethoven – String Trio, Serenade Opus 8.

Roger is delighted to see his series reach such an important landmark, the monthly concerts supplemented by orchestral and opera nights during the year.

“The original idea was that I have got an orchestra in London in West Ham and I came back down here after a concert and thought that we never get the chance down here to hear the instruments of the orchestra in this way. I thought it would be good to have a performance every month with different instruments of the orchestra and bring it down to Bognor.

“First of all, I had to find somewhere to perform, and we had the Regis Centre just down the road. That was the obvious place. I asked a few other people, and I managed to persuade the Regis Centre into doing it. And I think it works because it is slightly separate from the other musical activities in the town and has managed to grow its own identity over the years. People like to come and hear the concerts here.

“We advertised and the first concerts went very well. We had 40 or 50 people there and it has stayed at that same level ever since apart from when we have the orchestral concerts and a couple of hundred people turn up.”

Over the decade, the series has offered well over 120 events: “We have done every single month, and we haven’t missed any at all. I think it has helped that I do know an awful lot of musicians in London.

“I have had an orchestra in West Ham for 25 years, and before that I spent a whole decade in London in the Guards bands. I do know a lot of people in music.

“And it has just been nice to give people the chance to really come along and hear a certain instrument.

“We have also had quite an interesting repertoire going through. We have had brass quartets and trombone quartets and now we are doing the string trio.”

For the monthly meeting, Roger is generally looking at two to four musicians; for the orchestral nights, it would be 15-20 people.

“And I love doing it. It is wonderful to do. If you are a musician, you need to perform once a month. It is nice to be able to put these events together, and I really don’t think there would be anything like it in Bognor Regis if we weren’t doing it. I just don’t think we would have those instruments there. It is great to have an opportunity for ordinary people in the town to just come along and hear them.”

Roger also organises trombone classes, at the Regis Centre from 5-6pm on Wednesdays – and he would like word of them to spread: “It would be great to have more people coming along and enjoying and getting to know the instrument.”

As for the future, Roger is keen simply just to carry on – but also to expand his orchestral and opera nights.

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