'Amazing journey' as Suffolk cellist plays in 500 historic churches

Cellist Yalda Davis, of Hitcham, playing in St Clement's Church in Ipswich

Cellist Yalda Davis, of Hitcham, playing in St Clement's Church in Ipswich during her quest to play in 500 medieval Suffolk churches - Credit: Ipswich Historic Churches Trust

Suffolk cellist Yalda Davis is nearly at the end of a personal marathon, playing music in more than 500 medieval churches across the county.

Ms Davis, 41, of Hitcham, near Stowmarket, set out on her quest in April 2017 - and is now on the final lap, after the project was disrupted by Covid-19.

She has just played a recital in the redundant St Clement's Church, on Ipswich Waterfront, and aims to complete the tour by playing in Orford Church in September.

Yalda Davis in St Clement's Church, with Peter Brooks, chairman of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust

Yalda Davis in St Clement's Church, with Peter Brooks, chairman of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust - Credit: Ipswich Historic Churches Trust

“It’s been an amazing journey. When I started out, I thought there might be 100 to 200 of these historic churches, but there are more than 500, and I have played in some smaller chapels as well," she said.

The musical quest is raising funds for Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, the Churches Conservation Trust and also the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, which advises on churchyard wildlife sanctuaries.

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“I was inspired after I played for a friend’s funeral, in Bury St Edmunds, and there was something special about the experience. It was the start of a new relationship with my cello," Ms Davis said.

“I had always struggled with it and was nervous when I played. I felt I wasn’t nervous in any way there.”

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The musician, who has played the cello since she was three, added: "I also just wanted to see inside all the churches. I really like playing in smaller village churches - my favourite is Thornham Parva."

However, she added that playing in a large church like Blythburgh was also very special.

Ms Davis played her cello in redundant St Clement's Church on Ipswich Waterfront last week, performing Bach and modern music in a short recital.

Ipswich Historic Churches Trust has plans for the church to become a performance and arts centre for the area. Chairman Peter Brooks said: “It was absolutely lovely and great to hear music in the church again."

He invited her to return again when there could be an audience for one of her concerts.

The musician now has the final few churches to visit, which will bring the total number to more than 500.

“It was a great way to discover Suffolk, the countryside and these lovely old buildings and their history. They are beautiful places to play," she said.

To donate to Yalda Davis's fundraising for the three charities, visit her JustGiving page.

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