Suffolk church cello recording

by Yalda Davis in Hitcham, England, United Kingdom

Total raised £6,882

raised so far



Hi, I'm Yalda and I'm recording a CD of cello music as part of my project to play in all of Suffolk's 500 medieval churches.

by Yalda Davis in Hitcham, England, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 17th April 2020 we'd raised £6,487 with 121 supporters in 28 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

Extra funds will go towards expenses for the concert in Orford, such as venue hire, musicians' expenses, programme printing and refreshments, allowing a greater proportion of the concert proceeds to go to The Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and Orford Church. 

In April 2017, I started a project to play my cello in all of Suffolk's 500 medieval churches. This summer, I plan to make a recording in a medieval church and produce a CD in time for the completion of my project in September (coronavirus permitting). It will be a lasting celebration of my musical tour and I would love you to help me make it happen! 

1584522228_dsc0450smallcropped.jpgFor those of you who don't know me, my name is Yalda and I live in an old farmhouse in the middle of Suffolk with lots of animals, where I run a B&B (though clearly not at the moment...). I spent all my holidays here as a child, and after my parents died I took it on. I didn't know what the future would hold; I just had to trust my instinct that, surrounded by what I loved most, everything would eventually fall into place.

That slow falling into place is still happening six years later. The process is exciting and sometimes unpredictable. To be frank, I never intended for my life to involve this much music! I didn't think the cello was important enough to me. But something happened to change this a few years ago: I realised it could express for me something that words could not, and might help me, gradually, to come to terms with loss. My relationship with the cello has become something entirely new and wonderful. Being able to share this with others is a privilege, and it has also brought me many new friends, acquaintances and colleagues, so that for the first time, I feel I have found my place in life, and I feel part of a community.


The background

1584722279_apa_secret_cello18resized.jpgIn April 2017, I started a project to play my cello in all of Suffolk's approximately 500 medieval churches. The story began, really, with childhood bike rides punctuated by stops at village churches, and continued with my first ever concert in a Suffolk church at the age of 13, in Wattisham. When I moved to Suffolk in 2011, I started to explore the county more widely, wanting to get to know it intimately and discover all the hidden corners that no one will every direct you to. Looking for churches seemed a perfect way to do this. The addition of the cello was the last, entirely personal, piece of the puzzle to fall into place. You can read the whole story in my blog introduction, or listen to the interview I gave on BBC Radio Suffolk in July 2017.

My project has raised money for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, the Churches Conservation Trust, and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. I have also given many fundraising concerts across the county for individual villages, which bear the financial and practical burden of maintaining their historic church buildings. I have been interviewed about the project on BBC Radio Suffolk and Get Classical, and articles have been published in the East Anglian Daily Times, Suffolk Free Press and The Church Times.

After three and a half years of wonderful adventures and music-making, on 26th September 2020 (coronavirus permitting) I will complete my musical journey around Suffolk. This occasion will be marked by a concert in St Bartholomew's church, Orford.


The CD recording

During my project I have played in, taken photos of and written about every church. I have often been asked, 'do you record yourself in every church?', or 'have you got any CDs?' The answer has always been 'No'. I only have the odd snippet of audio or video, taken by an audience member at a concert or by me on a pocket-sized sound recorder (such as in Chattisham church: listen to the Prelude from Bach Suite no. 2 in D minor here). The introductory video above was made spontaneously on a rainy September afternoon at Little Wenham church, with my friend Hala. 

The lack of a proper audio record of my musical tour is a glaring omission and - better late than never - I have decided it is time to change the 'No' into a 'YES'!

Please help me to make this recording happen!

The funding is only part of the story: my Suffolk church project has been a hugely sociable, joyful experience, bringing such a strong sense of community, and I would love for this recording to reflect these same wonderful qualities of my last three years of music-making in Suffolk's churches.

The money raised through Crowdfunder will enable me to:

  • make a recording of solo cello music in Badley church in late July;
  • commission a new piece of solo cello music, to be included on the CD and premiered at the final concert in Orford; and
  • produce CDs for sale mostly at concerts in Suffolk churches. A donation from each sale will go to the Churches Conservation Trust, to support their work caring for 20 redundant churches in Suffolk, including Badley.

1584722327_troston_scroll.jpgThe music on the CD will be:
Bach cello suite no. 4 in E flat major;
Bach cello suite no. 5 in C minor, and
A commissioned set of variations on a Walton theme (Tema per variazioni) by Benjamin Ellin.

I have chosen these two Bach suites partly because they are lesser known than the first three. But more importantly, I have chosen no. 4 because E flat major is my favourite key; and no. 5 because if I had to choose just one piece of cello music to pair with a medieval church, this would be it. You can hear the opening of this piece in the introductory video above.

The cost of the project will be £5650, which is broken down as follows:
£2050 Recording, editing and production of a master CD;
£2250 Commission of a new piece by Benjamin Ellin;
£360 Copyright & CD manufacture license fees;
£990 CD artwork, production and packaging.
My grateful thanks to the Churches Conservation Trust for offering the use of Badley church free of charge.


The Rewards

You can choose from a range of rewards on the right as a big THANK YOU for your support! Pre-ordering the download or CD is a simple and effective way to get involved, but if you have enjoyed my concerts or blogs over the last three years, perhaps you would like to look through the other rewards on offer, from live cello music (once the coronavirus crisis is past!) to tickets for the Orford concert.

I will be hugely grateful, whatever amount you are able to contribute - and please don't feel limited to the specified reward amounts! You can also choose simply to donate to the project. All rewards also include priority ticket booking for the Orford concert. 

You can also help by spreading the word!

Please tell friends, family and colleagues, and share this story on social media. It will make a huge difference - and the more people who get involved, the more exciting the project will be!

Thank you so much for your support.

Find out more at 





This project offered rewards

£25 or more

Signed CD & Digital Download

A signed CD will be sent to you after the launch concert, and you will receive a digital download and priority booking for the concert too.

£5 or more

Priority Booking for Orford Concert

You will receive a huge thank you from me and the chance to book tickets for the concert in Orford church on 26th September 2020 before they are available to the public.

£10 or more

Digital Download of the CD

You will be sent a download code when the CD is launched, great for the more technologically-up-to-date! You will also receive priority booking for the Orford concert.

£20 or more

CD & Digital Download

Preorder a CD and it will be sent to you after the launch concert. You will receive a digital download and priority booking for the concert too.

£40 or more

Signed CD, Download & 5 Handmade Greeting Cards

You will receive a signed CD, digital download, priority booking for the Orford concert and a selection of 5 handmade photo greeting cards of my Suffolk church tour (photo choices available).

£50 or more

Signed CD, Digital Download & 1 Concert Ticket

You will receive a signed CD, a digital download and a ticket to the concert at Orford Church on 26th September 2020, which will feature the premiere of a commissioned piece (also on the CD).

£75 or more

Signed CD, Download & Concert at Crossways Farm

Signed CD, digital download, and invitation to a private Sunday afternoon concert at Crossways Farm with tea, cake and stroll around the 2.5 acre garden accompanied by goats and chicken. Date to be fixed once the coronavirus crisis is past... Don't worry, I'll give more than one concert if not everyone can come on the same date!

£100 or more

2 Signed CDs, Digital Download & 2 Concert Tickets

Receive 2 signed CDs, a digital download and 2 tickets to the Orford concert on 26th September 2020 which will feature the premiere of a commissioned piece (also on the CD).

£250 or more

2 Signed CDs, 2 Concert Tickets & a Cello Recital

Receive 2 signed CDs, a digital download, 2 tickets to the concert in Orford church on 26th September 2020 and a solo cello recital of up to 45 minutes for any event you wish (private or public) on a mutually convenient date (limited to the county of Suffolk or 1 hour's journey time from Hitcham, Suffolk).

£500 or more

4 Signed CDs, 4 Concert Tickets & a Cello Recital

Receive 4 signed CDs, a digital download, 4 tickets to the concert in Orford church on 26th September 2020 and a solo cello recital of up to 45 minutes for any event you wish (private or public) on a mutually convenient date (limited to London or 2 hours' journey from Hitcham, Suffolk).

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