Music for 8 Cellos & 5 Timpani

Photo by Dominik Stelzmüller


In rehearsal

BBC Midland Light Orchestra

10th May 2005
13th Rencontres d’Ensembles de Violoncelles, Beauvais, France
L’Octuor de Violoncelles and Percussions de Strasbourg

More information and sheet music

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An account by Andrew's wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, posted on January 30th, 2022

MUSIC FOR 8 CELLOS & 5 TIMPANI opus i (1969)

1 continuous movement
More info

Andrew’s father, Frank Downes, was a professional horn player, who had played in the RAF Central Band during the war, then with Sadler’s Wells, the CBSO, the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and, to be closer to home for his growing family, the BBC Midland Light Orchestra.  As a teenager, Andrew used to like going to the BBC studio with his Dad and follow the scores which they were playing. 

Foreground: Frank Downes recording for the BBC, 1960s.

When he was 18 Andrew wrote a work for the cello section and the timpanist of the orchestra: his Music for 8 Cellos and 5 Timpani.  He took it along to the orchestra and the cellists and timpanists played it.  The players were very impressed and complimentary.
This was another of Andrew’s Works which was written out by hand in blue biro and so lay in our trunk until I typeset it.
In April 2001 we went to Paris, where Andrew’s music was to be played at the Conservatoire National de Région d’Aubervilliers.  Paula came with us to perform Andrew’s Songs from Spoon River with accompanist Laura Temim.  We took two days to get to Paris, stopping off at Beauvais, because of its connections with Jean Racine, whose works I had studied at University.  While we were there we saw a lot of publicity for a cello festival and L’Octuor de Violoncelles (‘The Cello Octet’).  I immediately thought of Andrew’s work.  It was then that I set about typesetting it and wrote to L’Octour de Vionloncelles in my best French, telling them about Andrew’s piece.  They wrote back and said they would be very happy to try it.  I duly sent copies, and shortly afterwards they wrote to say it would be included in their Festival in 2005.  The Octet was to be accompanied by the famous Percussions de Strasbourg.  We were thrilled!

Emails before the performance:


We were unable to go to the performance because it was during term time and exams at Birmingham Conservatoire, so the Octet sent us a recording.

After the performance:


Andrew Downes Composer · Andrew Downes: Music for 8 Cellos & 5 Timpani

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