You’ve heard of Bohemian Rhapsody – but have you heard of Essex Rhapsody?

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

A virtuoso performance of Essex Rhapsody was given on a piano at Chelmsford Rail station to mark the donation of the piano to the station.

The daughter of Yvonne Edkins, of Colchester, offered the piano to Greater Anglia and it is now in place at Chelmsford Station.

On Friday 22 November, Yvonne’s nephew, Duncan Honeybourne, played Essex Rhapsody, by Armstrong Gibbs, who lived in Danbury and died in Chelmsford. Next year, Duncan is due to make the first ever recording of the piece.

Duncan, a concert pianist and lecturer in piano at Southampton University, said: “I’m so happy that my auntie’s piano is going to be enjoyed by customers at Chelmsford rail station.

“Our family was no longer able to provide a home for it and were facing the prospect of it being discarded. I have happy memories of playing the piano in my childhood when I visited my aunt, and I remember she used to have it tuned when I was coming to stay. I’m delighted that it’s going to have a new lease of life!

“The piano was originally bought for my cousin, who now works for Greater Anglia, so she asked if any stations were interested in having it.

“The Essex Rhapsody is an obvious choice for the launch,” added Duncan. “Armstrong Gibbs wrote it in Danbury almost a century ago for the famous pianist Harold Samuel, but it was never published and hadn’t been played for decades until I took it up a few years ago. It’s rather special to be giving back to the commuters of Essex a piece that was composed for them by one of their own!”

Duncan recalls a memorable visit to Essex at the age of 11, when his aunt took him to several concerts in Chelmsford, “and it was there that I first heard of Armstrong Gibbs. He’s best known internationally as a composer of songs, but the Essex Rhapsody is wonderful – passionate, romantic and lyrical!”

Simi Tinubu, Greater Anglia area customer service manager for the Chelmsford area, said: “We jumped at the chance to have the piano at Chelmsford – and within an hour of it being brought to the station, customers were already enjoying it.

“We love to hear the variety of music that customers play on it – it’s really changed the atmosphere at the station.

Another station, Cambridge North, also wanted the piano. If anyone wants to donate a piano to Cambridge North, please get in touch with [email protected].