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Autumn Riches

Hello Cellists!

I do hope you are having some time to rest this summer. I find that when I step aside and change gear, I make room for new ideas to come into view to refresh me and help me re‐think and reshape.

I am looking forward to next year’s Summer School as people are enquiring in order to make plans. I have had requests from freelancers too and what has come out of this is that next July, the six-day Unsung Heroes Summer School will comprise two three-day courses. This will make sense for those needing a shorter course, and there will be a natural connection for the players who come for the duration.

We have a very wide-ranging repertoire now, from the 16th to 20th centuries, really able to affect your expansion as a musician and I find that playing this choral and vocal music does amazing things for your playing in so many ways.

Meanwhile, this Autumn, there are two in-­person 1-­day Unsung Heroes Cello Ensemble workshops here in Lewes, East Sussex and as always, we have experienced cellists playing alongside newer ones as there is a part for everyone to play in my use of choral music and it all works.

On October 21st we meet to play radiant music by Bruckner. Whenever we play this, cellists are very moved by this heartfelt and beautiful music. We always begin the day by looking at the composer, their time, and the context of the music as this informs our responses. We then develop the technical ideas that the music presents and go on to rehearse and develop. As we work, it’s interesting for people to watch and reflect on the changes that have occurred throughout the day by the time we culminate with a performance. We have such a good time working together and you leave these days with detailed notes so you can continue to evolve in your own time.

Our November 25th ensemble class is Winter Music. The familiar carols we have sung since childhood, are generally quite modern, but the music for this season has ancient roots and we play a group of beautiful carols on these days and gain some interesting and useful insights as cellists and musicians.

Since the pandemic, I have been running three online classes and am joined by players from around the world. They are on Saturdays, and all begin at 6 pm London time to be as accessible as possible.

The longstanding Online Timeline Series goes to the shorter Unsung Heroes repertoire. I send out your score and we bring the music to life using the mute button so you don’t panic! We do this in all the classes so you get the maximum content from each class. We are back with life-affirming music on September 16th.

All About My Bow returns on Saturday, September 23rd. In these classes, I take a particular piece of music which I send to you and we look in detail at what this means for how we express ourselves with our bow – our voice. We break things down to explore the techniques and pinpoint issues as we work through the music. Afterwards, you receive an information pack so you can continue to cook the ideas.

After a request from a relative newcomer to the cello for a slower, more detailed look at technique, I introduced the Bow Primer Series. At the time, I noticed experienced and professionals joining us too. We are all developing all the time. We are all in this together and there is no point of arrival in this infinite cello-playing craft. It’s thrilling for me to see this intuitive response and I’m so glad that in this crazily fast world, we can all slow down and examine together so we grow more deeply. So welcome all of you to our task and I hope this aids your practice skills. Again, I will send some material ahead, but I want people to have their eyes off a page so you give yourself room to absorb.

It’s important for you to know that if you have an injury, or are recovering from surgery, you are most welcome to join us. We learn away from the cello too; particularly when we have to. The next class is on October 7th.

My small publishing house Vaulted Sky Music is gathering pace this September when I will be releasing more of the Unsung Heroes scores for download to print or for the iPad.

Though many of the scores are for four and five cellos, there are some pieces in eight parts that will be great for cello choirs. As always, this music really addresses our true need to be able to play together and learn from each other. The top part will often use the treble clef; the second often uses the alto clef and newer players feel comfy with the bass while everyone benefits in rehearsal by playing from a score. Seeing more aids your hearing and you save literally hours of your rehearsal time too.

I know this is a bit long, but I wanted you to have the detail in order to make choices.

If you don’t already know about it, The Cello Museum has taken off and is the brainchild of the inspiring Dr Brenda Neece. Do take some time there as it’s heaving with interesting interviews (I was lucky enough to be asked) ideas and more for cellists. I think you will be intrigued by the articles by my friend Andrew Bellis, who is a star bow maker and a treasure trove of all things bow.

I wish you a really fulfilling time playing, enjoying, and evolving.

With Warm wishes,