Proving himself more than capable of stepping from the rather large shadow cast by his illustrious parents, Leslie and Norah, Christopher Regan was himself a well-
Born in Highgate, Christopher Peter William Regan spent his early years as a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Having won a Music Scholarship to Cranleigh School, in 1946, his prodigious talents took him to the Royal Academy of Music. There he came under the considerable influence of two musical heavyweights, C.H. Trevor and Eric Thiman. It was they who instilled in him the academic rigour that not only characterised his subsequent career, but in the more immediate short term brought him a whole raft of awards including the Henry W. Richards Prize for Organ Playing.
Appointed Organist of Christ Church, Marylebone while still a student, Regan then spent some time as a freelance bassoonist before, in 1951, moving north to Cumbria as an assistant master at Sedbergh School. In tandem with his school duties, he also made his mark in the local community, successfully reviving the fortunes of Kendal Choral Society. Having been elected an Associate of the Royal College of Organists in 1950, a Fellowship followed two years later. 1956 brought him a move to Merseyside as Director of Music at Liverpool College. Returning south six years later, for a time he served as Organist of St James’s Church, Westgate-
In 1963, at the invitation of his former Christ Church Choirmaster, Thomas Armstrong, then Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, Regan returned to his alma mater, initially as a Professor of Harmony and Aural Training. Elevated to Senior Tutor five years later, he proved an assiduous administrator with an ordered mind and a keen eye for detail. Direct but always discreet, able to maintain the respect and affection of students and professionals alike, becoming Director of Studies in 1973 and Dean five years later, he retired in 1991. However, as Honorary Treasurer of the RAM Guild, he never failed to keep a benevolent eye on his many former charges
Throughout 1972, Regan was at the heart of the Academy’s extensive 150th anniversary celebrations. Alongside a revival of a Donizetti’s opera at Sadler’s Wells and a vast range of concerts, he contributed to two impressive services, one at St. Paul’s Cathedral and another at Westminster Abbey. When, like his father before him, elected President of the RAM Club in 1980, he organised a concert series featuring the complete cycle of Beethoven Quartets, all performed by former students. Long in demand as a festival adjudicator, extensive tours as an Examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music also afforded him regular breaks from this exacting regime.
Some years earlier, in 1964, Regan had succeeded his former teacher, Caleb Trevor, as Organist to the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. Serving until 1988, his arrival proved propitious, coinciding as it did with a welcome opportunity to tonally refine and reshape the then somewhat venerable but increasingly unpredictable three manual Hill instrument. Though proving somewhat traditional in outlook, nevertheless the changes did much to enhance both the liturgical and cultural life of this historic chapel, so famously immortalised by the words by John Donne.
As a performer, Regan revelled in the unique opportunities afforded by the instrument. Fiery and impassioned, his sense of rhythm more than matched by a love of colour, underpinning everything was splendidly natural technique. While a particular Bach enthusiast, like his famous predecessor, he kept his Benchers sweet with a judicious blend of Handel and Mendelssohn. Equally impressive as an accompanist, here his sensitivity to nuance and colour allowed him to take great delight in the occasional grand gesture.
A vitalizing force in so many facets of English musical life, among the organisations he served with great distinction was the Incorporated Society of Musicians. While acting as Treasurer from 1977 until 1983, he helped the Society celebrate its 1982 centenary in grand style. Secretary of the Friends of the Musicians’ Chapel at St. Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn, and a leading light in the Christ Church Cathedral Old Boys’ Association, having retired to the West Country, he became a Trustee of Tewkesbury Abbey School Choral Scholarship Fund and Chairman of the Civic Society.
Married in 1973, he is survived by his wife, Daphne, and three step children, Sally, Jane and John.
Christopher Regan, musician, was born on 29 June, 1929. He died on 26 May, 2015, aged 85.