Bognor’s Regis School of Music marks 25th anniversary with concert

Bognor’s Regis School of Music celebrates a quarter of a century of existence with a concert 25 years to the day after its very first concert.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 9:05 am
Alina Ibragimova

Violinist Alina Ibragimova will offer a recital at the venue at 46 Sudley Road on Sunday, September 19 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £15 (£14 in advance) on 01243 866462 and [email protected]

School principal Alexander Levtov is delighted that the school has reached this landmark anniversary in such good health – despite all the difficulties the pandemic has presented.

“We had our very first public performance at the school which we had just renovated, on September 19 1996. It was Richard Baker, the famous TV newsreader, who passed away a few years ago. That was our first show and he opened the school for us with a performance with a lovely musician and a programme of music and poetry called Scenes of Childhood.

“We have been teaching for almost 40 years since we came to this country in 1980. A couple of years were spent learning English and adjusting, and (my wife) Nina was giving occasional concerts, but at the time we were doing the teaching from our own home. I taught classical guitar and Nina taught piano, and after a while our home became too small. We started having difficulties, and eventually we found a dilapidated Victorian school in South Bersted that we were given access to. That was the beginning of the guitar club and we started our regular performances and professional concerts.”

A few years later, when they needed to move again, the current premises came up, at the time a Christian Science church: “Originally it was a bomb site for many years. There were two houses there that were destroyed by German bombs, and in 1956 the Christian Science church raised the money to build up this lovely building.”

By 1996, with the congregation dwindling, the church was desperate, Alexander says, to sell: “With very little hope, I went along and found a couple of shivering ladies sitting there. By then, they were desperate to get rid of the building, and a couple of builders were interested in destroying the building and putting up flats.

“To cut a long story short, we found an educational trust that believed in us and they bought it outright and appointed me as the headmaster. Again, to cut a long story short, in 2014 we managed to transfer ownership of this trust to the Regis School of Music. We set up our own trust.

“It is hard to believe that we are now 25 years old and that the school is still here and that we are actually thriving. When I was putting the diary of events together for this term, I can say that we have never had so many different events and so many different organisations using this school, and a great deal of our work goes into organising performances and festivals.”

Alexander is delighted Alina Ibragimova will help them celebrate: “She is regarded by connoisseurs as one of the top violinists in this country.”

As for the pandemic, Alexander admits they went into “pandemic panic” to start with, but they soon found ways to cope, Zoom for instance, though Alexander isn’t a fan: “Teaching by Zoom is absolute torture, but fortunately we have not lost any students and as soon as we could, we started one-to-one teaching again, as soon as we were allowed, and during this time, we managed to do all the events that we normally do.”