Professor Chris Green formed Trianon Music Group in Ipswich in1959 and has been Artistic Director ever since. Chris was awarded the OBE in 1995 for services to communities in East Anglia. He was the Founding Director of Essex Radio FM and Breeze AM, Founding Director of the Chelmsford and District MIND Centre and was among the first academic staff appointed to the Open University
What was it like growing up in Suffolk?
I was born in Suffolk – Ipswich in particular – and although we were briefly evacuated to the North Yorkshire coast during the Second World War, growing up in Ipswich was a pleasant and sometimes, exciting experience. It was possible to see groups of children playing in their streets with few thoughts of passing traffic and there were places like Ipswich Docks to visit, then a hive of commercial activity.
What’s special about the county?
I share my time between Essex and Suffolk. Comparisons are easy to make but the pace of life in Suffolk is generally slower and the ability to get to the coast from Ipswich in about 20mins is something I miss when in Essex. I also miss the Suffolk accent (and particularly the Ipswich twang) which has a richness which the Estuary drawl of Essex does not have.
Why did you set up Trianon and how have you celebrated your anniversary?
I and two friends formed a youth group which included some musicians. They started meeting in holiday time and Trianon evolved from that. It really emerged rather being set up. It was never intended to last especially when most of us left home. But it did and now 60 years later has become part of the musical landscape of the region. We have celebrated 2019 as our Diamond Jubilee year with major concerts, smaller-scale concerts in local communities across Suffolk, a tour of the West Midlands, the production of a book, six new commissions, many former members journeying back for a weekend of events and more.
Why are the arts such an important part of Suffolk life?
Actually, I think the arts are vital to any community because gradually people are realising that they not only provide entertainment, but also participation is a way of combating poor mental health and loneliness. Certain forms of art – especially music – bring people from different backgrounds together and creates a sense of community. Our activities also have economic value because of the business passed on to local companies, and bring visitors into Suffolk.
Do you have any hobbies?
There is a simple answer to this. No hobbies, because music has been and still is that hobby. I also lecture a great deal and write.
Do you support any charities?
Through Trianon we have supported many local charities besides which I am Chair and or Trustee of at least three local charities, so we have to maintain our own activities. If I was to single out any cause it would to support those charities concerned with mental well-being.
What one picture would you choose to represent the county?
Well this is difficult because I have recently been presented with a portrait of myself painted by a talented local young Suffolk artist, Ania Hobson, winner of the 2018 youth national portrait prize. I really ought to choose this, but I do not think that level of self-indulgence is appropriate. Instead I would choose one of the lithographs of the Suffolk coastline by Glynn Thomas.
If you had to take newcomers on a tour of Suffolk where would you take them?
I have had to organise so many of these tours, but on this occasion I would start at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Shotley Parish Church to remind us that the United Kingdom has embraced its enemies – albeit in death – for here in the graveyard lie the bodies of British, Commonwealth and German service personnel, but the setting is so peaceful. We would have to take in two or three places in Ipswich: Christchurch Park as a great example of a great green space in the heart of a town and then the Unitarian Meeting House, an oasis of calm and a reminder of so much history. A visit to Snape is a “must”, and we could have access to the Concert Hall then I could recount many of my experiences conducting there, and also of the many people I have interviewed for radio and the press, and then rounding off the visit with a brisk walk along Felixstowe prom.