A Tribute to Sara Lovell
by Rachel Goodchild (Designer and Marketing Manager for Bristol Symphony)
On Saturday 24th March Bristol Symphony Orchestra will be celebrating the life of Sara Lovell. The concert is titled Brief Encounter and consists of an emotional and moving programme. The soloists are either related to Sara, or enjoyed a life-long friendship with her.
Looking through a folder of old reviews and articles that were recently lent to me, I stumbled across an old article written by Hazel Davis of The Guardian. Her first paragraph jumped out at me...
"In Sara Lovell's world, everything is 'great!' or 'Lovely! ' All words have exclamation marks after them and there is no room, I repeat no room, for negatives. It's not hard to see, therefore, why she is not only a successful cellist but also a very well respected pedagogue".
Sara's enthusiasm and positive outlook to life is how I will remember her. I first met Sara in 2009 when I was designing the artwork and programme for one of her concerts at St George's Bristol. As we lived near to the venue, we offered Sara a meal and a room to rest in before the concert. I had been so impressed by her playing at the rehearsal - she played so beautifully and with so much feeling. Then, over conversation at our home, I learnt that she had in the past also been an aviator, and was also a keen sailor.
Sara was also the author of a book called Cellotude - A Fast Track to Brilliance (2006, Beautiful Books Ltd). Cellotude is a unique teaching approach for students of the cello, although it does also apply to all young people learning string instruments. The book has been highly acclaimed by the conductors Peter Stark and Marin Alsop, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham's School of Music and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
In early 2015, I met Sara again when she attended a Marketing Course that I was running. I assumed she was there because she was wanting to learn how to market her music, but once again, Sara surprised me. I had no idea that Sara was also a talented artist.
Sara loved St George's Bristol as a venue in which to play. Although she did also perform in other venues, she performed in St George's Bristol in:
1991 (with Antonia Ogonovsky)
1993 (with Nicholas Oliver)
1994 (with Nicholas Oliver)
1998 (with Nicholas Oliver)
2009 (with Nicholas Oliver)
2012 (with Nicholas Oliver)
In 1991 Sara made a simple little sketch of St George's to decorate the cover of her own concert programme. It was this drawing that then became the main logo for St George's Bristol for quite some years to follow.
It therefore seemed right to host our Celebration of Sara's Life at St George's Bristol.
In May 2015, Sara was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. It was at this stage that most people would start to wind down, but instead Sara came back to me and commissioned me to design her a new website, and then had a series of new photographs taken (due to the fact that after chemotherapy, she now looked like a different Sara). She then set about planning her next project. She approached William Goodchild, conductor of the then, newly formed Bristol Symphony Orchestra, and then plans for a charity concert was then set in motion: Bristol Symphony with Sara Lovell.
Sara wanted to find a way of thanking the people that had helped her along her journey with cancer. As she said:
"Without the most amazing help and support from Weston General Hospital, Bristol Haemotology and Oncology Centre and Southmead Hospital, also Macmillan Cancer Care and in particular Help Musicians UK and Penny Brohn UK, I would probably not be playing and performing in 2016".
Sara performed with Bristol Symphony in June 2016 to a full house at Trinity-Henleaze United Reformed Church. As always, she gave a beautiful and moving performance.
The last time I saw Sara in the hospital, she was still thinking of others and talking about wanting to make a CD for those undergoing operations, to help them relax.
"When I am out of hospital, can we have a party at your house?", she asked me.
"What for?" I asked.
"Just because". she answered with a smile.
It seemed like a good enough reason to me! Sadly, we never did get to have that party.
Sara passed away on 23rd February 2017
Our Brief Encounter Concert at St George's Bristol was the idea of Sara's family, but I also see it as the party Sara wanted. Sara's family and friends, along with the players of Bristol Symphony and the audience, will all be there to celebrate Love, Life, Death and Transfiguration. Celebrating the Life of Sara. She had a very brief encounter with this world, but boy did she make up for it with love, enthusiasm, talent, family, friendship, and immense generosity and kindness for others.
Just as Sara's brother, Simon Lovell-Jones says in his welcome letter:
"We hope that this concert also reminds you of someone who lit up people's lives and made them more beautiful".
Soloists' Bios: Nicholas Oliver | Charlie Lovell-Jones | Rebecca Evans | Keith Tempest
Book tickets for the Concert via the St George's Bristol website: HERE
The Brief Encounter Concert is in support of Help Musicians UK - as a thank you for their support to Sara in her final year.
Video and Photo by Rosa Fay Photography