Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s impressive year continues with commission to write a
work in honour of the Queen for BBC Proms ‘Platinum Jubilee’ concert

The composer releases world-premiere EP to critical acclaim including FIVE
STAR review in BBC Music Magazine

British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad is celebrating a banner year as her music becomes
increasingly well-loved across the world. Excelsus, the new EP from Orchid Classics
featuring a world-premiere recording of her profoundly beautiful seven-movement suite
for solo cello, performed by Thomas Carroll, comes at a particularly fruitful time for the
composer, who has been working on numerous exciting projects with a range of artists and
Frances-Hoad’s affinity with the cello, so evident in Excelsus, will soon be showcased in
another new work: her Cello Concerto, a BBC Commission that will be performed next
season by former BBC Young Musician Laura van der Heijden, with the BBC Scottish
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth.
The spiritual themes of Excelsus have also featured in several recent works composed for
the Choir of Merton College, Oxford during Frances-Hoad’s tenure as Visiting Research
Fellow there. She has relished “a fabulous year” of being involved in the college community,
creating links between the arts and academia. This experience has played an integral part in
a commission for the BBC Proms ‘Platinum Jubilee’ concert, for which Frances-Hoad will
write a work in honour of the Queen, partly based on music by Byrd. Merton Chaplain
Simon Jones offered advice about which texts to use and the inventive result can be heard
on 22 July. The Merton role also gave Frances-Hoad the chance to discuss sources with
Oxford scholars of Medieval English, whose suggested texts made their way into The Wrath
of Troilus, a piece commissioned by the Presteigne Festival for saxophonist Amy Dickson
and the Bath Camerata. 
Choral music of a different kind will feature in Five Beacons of Light, a 90-minute work
written with librettist Di Sherlock for the choir Sonoro, who will be joined by community
choirs across the country. The work has the backing of the prestigious Genesis Kickstarter
Fund. Frances-Hoad is at home with such large-scale vocal works: her 80-minute song cycle
Scenes from the Wild, to words by Amanda Holden adapting Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist, was hailed by The Guardian as “a captivating work”. Nature is also the
theme of Everything Grows Extravagantly, the “beautiful, profound and subtle song cycle
from Cheryl Frances-Hoad and the poet Kate Wakeling celebrating the 400th anniversary of
the Oxford Botanic Garden” (The Times), co-commissioned by the Botanic Garden and the
Oxford Lieder Festival. Wild seascapes inspired A House of Light – The Ballad of Eddystone,
a new work for choir and flute that will be premiered at the Three Choirs Festival by Finnish
male-voice choir Valkia and flautist Sami Junnonen.
Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s ability to reach different audiences has also played a big part in her
recent LCO ‘Music Junction’ work The Exciting Marvellous Mars, which involved children
from different backgrounds and with varying degrees of musical experience and encouraged
them to participate in a thrilling musical adventure. There’s a sense of coming full circle with
this kind of project; a reminder of Frances-Hoad’s own musical roots and the way these fed
into Excelsus. Frances-Hoad’s first instrument was the cello, which she studied alongside
Thomas Carroll for 10 years at the Menuhin School. When Carroll requested this work it
represented one of Frances-Hoad’s first professional commissions. For the premiere, which
took place soon after they had graduated, one of the movements had to be cut – meaning
that, as Frances-Hoad says, “this recording is the first time that the Tuba mirum fast
movement has ever been heard.”
Cheryl Frances-Hoad explains some of the inspiration behind the work: “The Britten Cello
Suites were a model – I used to love playing the Bach and Britten Cello Suites – so this work
uses similar harmonic material. I picked different parts of the Requiem and reacted very
instinctively to them, trying to use every aspect of the cello. I played the cello quite a lot
when I was writing it. There is catharsis at the end of the work; it’s an emotional journey but
with a sense of resolution at the end.” For Thomas Carroll, Excelsus is “sincere and touching,
taking us on an incredibly powerful journey. These words are often used, but I don’t know
many pieces that take the listener on such an extraordinary journey in such a short amount
of time.”

Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s website
BBC Proms
‘Platinum Jubilee’ concert
Excelsus EP

Cheryl Frances-Hoad biography
Cheryl’s music has been described as “like a declaration of faith in the eternal verities of
composition” (The Sunday Times), with “a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also
with the discipline and artistry necessary to harness them” (The Scotsman). Classical
tradition, along with diverse contemporary inspirations including literature, painting, and
dance have contributed to a creative presence provocatively her own. Her works
include From the Beginning of the World, a setting of Tycho Brahe’s remarkably prescient
thesis on the Great Comet of 1577 (BBC Proms, 2015), Pay Close Attention, a homage to
electronic music gods The Prodigy, The Whole Earth Dances, a quintet influenced by the
local landscape and the poetry of Ted Hughes (Spitalfields Festival, 2016) and Game On, a
duet for piano and Commodore 64 inspired by Game Theory and the crimes of bankers
(NonClassical at the Dalston Victoria, 2016). 

Most recently she collaborated with librettist Tamsin Collison on Last Man Standing, a
28 minute work for baritone and orchestra to commemorate the Armistice, which was
premiered at the Barbican by Marcus Farnsworth and the BBC 
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins in November 2018.
Cheryl wrote her first piece within weeks of taking up the cello aged 7, and despite some
early disasters (her first string orchestra piece was thrown out by the school conductor due
to mistakes in her hand-copied parts) Cheryl’s desire to compensate for her chronic shyness

through composing remained unquashed. At 15 she won the BBC Young Composer of the
Year Competition, and it was during the first performance of her Concertino for Cello, Piano,
Percussion and Orchestra, by cellist Peter Dixon and the BBC Philharmonic that she became
convinced that her life had to be in composition. 

Twenty-three years on, Cheryl’s obsessive dedication, imperviousness to rejection, inherent
thriftiness and endless stamina for filling in funding applications has resulted in her working
full time as a composer. She has a Double First from Cambridge University, a PhD from Kings
College London and has been awarded many prizes, scholarships and residences: a full list
can be found here. Four CD’s of her work have been released on the Champs Hill Records
label, with a fifth due out next year. Her output addresses all genres from opera, ballet and
concerto to song, chamber and solo music, reaching audiences from the Proms to outreach
workshops. Recent and future works include Between the Skies, the River and the Hills, a
piano concerto for Ivana Gavric and the Southbank Sinfonia, Algernon for saxophonist
Jonathan Radford and pianist Ashley Fripp, and a new work for the Presteigne Festival,
where she is Composer in Residence this year.
Cheryl’s music is published by Chester Music.