Unsung Heroes has become a central part of my working life, but it came gradually to me. I had just had my son, moved from London and, soon after arriving in East Sussex, we were flooded and had to move away to West Sussex. While living away from our new home, I had found myself going to a music library and looking at vocal & choral music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. I borrowed scores, went through my own, searched online and began arranging for cello ensemble. I wasn’t sure where this was going, but I kept following my nose! I started with music by Tallis and Byrd - music I’d grown up with.
As things progressed, I realised that I wanted to get future students (that I hadn’t yet met), of all standards, playing great music together. In choral music it means everyone has a line that is equal to their current standard and it is also a role to be played. It works. I have changed very little in the scores over the years. I want this true music to be in its rightful state. I wanted players to be thrilled, inspired and to become obsessed in a similar way I am!
On returning to Lewes, I set up Cellocourses.com and in 2005 I devised the first Summer course for Unsung Heroes Cello Ensemble. It scared me witless. For 5 days we studied, rehearsed and played soaring Palestrina, alongside music by Dowland, Tallis and a Morales Graduale from a Mass for the Dead. In the concert rehearsal at my lovely local church, I could see the music working its magic. Two cellists were discussing quietly, their own losses: one of a sister, the other of a mother. Spanish Renaissance music has an other - worldly, slightly austere, eastern quality. It is impassioned this sound of Morales, and it had moved each of them to tears.
It’s now observed and pointed out by regulars, that the tissue box is in the centre of the group.