Minerva Ensemble once again grace Festival of Chichester

Ben Rogerson
Ben Rogerson
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The proud Chichester tradition of the Minerva Ensemble will be maintained at this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Cellist Benedict Rogerson – son of former CFT general manager Paul – once again assembles a group of friends and musicians to celebrate the very best in chamber music for the festival’s opening weekend. The concert is in St John’s Chapel, St John’s Street, Chichester on Sunday, June 18 at 7.30pm. Violinist David Le Page will lead the ensemble through masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire: the glorious F Major String Quintet, Opus 88, of Johannes Brahms; Shostakovich’s Quartet No 8, written under extremely-fearful circumstances; and Mozart’s famous G Minor Quintet K516. Violins will be David Le Page, Francesca Barritt; violas: Robin Ashwell, Francis Kefford; plus Ben on cello. “When my dad was working at the CFT, he used to get me to bring musicians from the Academy down from London,” Ben recalls. “There are quite a lot of people in the profession who have gone through playing these concerts in Chichester. “It is basically people I have asked that I have been hanging out with. When I was at the Academy, it was a lot of people from the Academy and other students of that generation. There was a time when it was a lot of people from Ireland coming. Now it is a lot of people from the freelance and chamber-music world. This year, the same as last year, we have got Robin who is with the Sacconi Quartet, and we have got David. He was the hero of my generation in terms of violin-playing and music-making. He is very thoughtful. He likes to do his own thing. He won’t be swept along by fashion. He is someone that has managed to stay true to himself, which can be difficult. He has stayed out of London and out of the rat race and carved his own niche for himself. “We are all trying to make a living in this crazy world of music. And I think the music we play with the Minerva Ensemble is us trying to hold on to that little thing about music that got us excited about it in the first place, and that is chamber music. It is that old joke: ‘How do you become a millionaire playing chamber music?’ Answer: ‘You start off as a billionaire!’ We are all trying to earn our living in different ways. Francis earns his living mostly playing at the Royal Opera House. But this music is that little bit, that little corner that you have got left. “For us, chamber music is that essential sustenance for the soul, and hopefully it is the same for other people.” Ben is delighted with the programme that has come together: “With the Brahms, the first movement is warm and open arms and nostalgic. The second is a bit like that poem by the young Spitfire pilot (John Gillespie Magee Jr) who got shot down and killed at the age of 19. But he wrote the poem about going up so high and touching the face of God. That’s like this. The second movement is just divine.” And the Shostakovich – written at a time when the composer was fearing, suitcase packed, arrest at any moment – offers the perfect contrast, as will the Mozart. “You might not think you know the Mozart, but when you hear it you will think ‘Oh yes!’” Don't miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live. Here are four ways you can be sure you'll be amongst the first to know what's going on. 1) Make our website your homepage 2) Like our Facebook page 3) Follow us on Twitter 4) Register with us by clicking on 'sign in' (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here. And do share with your family and friends - so they don't miss out! Always the first with your local news. Be part of it.