Sand House Piano Piece

“Sand House” for Solo Piano

The Sand House Charity is fortunate to have Matthew Schellhorn as its Patron. Matthew is a highly accomplished concert pianist. He grew up un Doncaster and his ancestors lived very close to the Sand House. Whenever Matthew has an opportunity, he promotes the work of our Charity, for which we are extremely grateful.

Keen to use his specialist skills and knowledge to raise the profile of The Sand House Charity, Matthew had the idea of commissioning and performing a brand new piece of music inspired by the Sand House.

From Inspiration to Performance

Matthew Schellhorn had worked with Leeds-based composer, Ben Gaunt, previously and felt that he was just the right person to take on the challenge of composing Sand House. At an early stage it was decided that the sandstone carvings in the Cloisters tunnel, close to the Sand House, would provide the ideal inspiration. There was such a mix of unusual carvings in the tunnel that they provided lots of scope for Ben to use his creative skills to the full.

In due course, a total of six movements emerged.

  1. Cherub
  2. Biddy and Pat
  3. Elephant and Mahout
  4. Clown
  5. The Pope
  6. Royals and Grotesques

Anyone familiar with the positions of the carvings in the Cloisters will spot that the movements follow the route of an imaginary walk from the entrance at the north, through to the south. In fact, the final movement also incorporates a reprise of the earlier sections, as the visitor retraces their steps back to the entrance.

Sand House for solo piano was premiered by Matthew on Saturday 18 March 2023, at Cast theatre, Doncaster. It was met with enthusiastic applause and very positive comments afterwards. A few days later, Matthew performed the piece for a second time, before an audience of students and lecturers at York St John University. A a video of the York performance can be viewed below.

The future for the piano piece

In late-March 2023, Matthew Schellhorn led a music workshop with nearly 100 pupils at Town Field Primary School, Doncaster. This had the dual benefit to the children of not only learning some of the history of the Sand House, but also how such a subject could be translated into music. The workshop was a very useful template for subsequent music sessions with schools.