For Solo Cello
(2002) 17 minutes

Commissioned by Thomas Carroll and premiered at the Wigmore Hall, October 2002. 

Programme note

Excelsus takes the form of a suite, each movement being based on a passage from the Requiem mass text. Although I spent many hours refining my interpretation of the words, the work is ultimately a more instinctive reaction to the evocative language of the excerpts.

Musically the entire work is based on two themes, one melodic (the Rex Tremendae or ‘King of Awful Majesty’ theme, which is heard at the very opening) and one chordal (the Lux Aeternum (Light eternal) chords, not revealed in their pure form until the pizzicato passage that concludes the suite). The order of the movements is as follows: 

Requiem Aeternum (Grant them eternal rest)

Kyrie (Lord, have mercy)

Tuba Mirum (Hark the Trumpet)

Sanctus (Holy, holy)

Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)

Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)

Quid Sum Miser (What shall I, a wretch, say then?)

© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2002


"In the premiere of Frances-Hoad's rhapsodic requiem, Excelsus, he [Thomas Carroll] and the music were as one in using the cello's natural temperament to explore telling emotion."

Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph

Performance history (post-premiere)

26th June 2019 - Timothée Botbol at St. Jame's Piccadilly, London, UK

16th April 2018 - Marie Macleod at Radiohuset, Stockholm, Sweden

2004 - Performed by Rebecca Knight at the Guildhall School of Music, London The Holywell Music Room, Oxford and St. Mary's Church, Linton, UK


Listen to a live performance of Excelsus by Thomas Carroll on Soundcloud