Culture: A friendly premiére

Catherine Howells

A world premiere and a performance by a young soloist from Culford School are on the programme of the Bury Friendly Orchestra’s upcoming concert.

Sounds of Suffolk, a new commission for the orchestra written by composer David Sims, will be debuted at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds on March 4.

Talented cellist Catherine Howells, 16, pictured, will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto at the concert. Catherine, who is partially sighted, started learning cello aged 5 and currently studies on Saturdays at the Junior Guildhall School of Music in London. She was the string finalist in the West Suffolk Young Musician of the Year in 2016 and is currently principal cellist of the Suffolk Youth Orchestra.

Catherine, who lives in Moulton, has performed in many solo and chamber concerts in venues including the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Milton Court Concert Hall in London, Snape Maltings, The Apex and St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Her musicianship doesn’t end there – she also plays the oboe, cor anglais and piano. Catherine is from a family of musicians, her late father was an oboist in the BBC Symphony Orchestra and her brother was a chorister at King’s College Cambridge.

The concert wil also premiere Sounds of Suffolk which features five movements titled after places across the county – Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Lavenham, Framlingham and ‘The Coast’.

The music will depict each area, from the rising waves of the coast, a musical Tudor style to replicate the history of Lavenham, the equestrian heritage of Newmarket and the Bury movement is built around the monastic history of the town with a plainchant melody taken from the Bury Psalter.

Bury Friendly Orchestra is a community orchestra founded in 2006 with just 22 members. Today it has 64 musicians under the musical directorship of professional trumpeter and conductor Chris Parsons.

It’s minimum playing standard is Grade 5 and while it is looking for new members who play viola, double bass and bassoon, there is a waiting list for other instruments.

If you are interested in joining the orchestra, or would like to play with it as a soloist, email

Bury Friendly Orchestra, March 4, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. Call 01284 758000 or visit

More from News