Sussex musician mums offer unique musical advent calendar

Freelance musician mothers from across East and West Sussex have combined to create a uniquely-beautiful socially-distanced musical gift this Christmas.

Friday, 4th December 2020, 5:49 pm
Sara Deborah Timossi

They are inviting you to buy their musical advent calendar for a friend and get yours for free while also supporting freelance musicians and spreading seasonal joy.

Sara Deborah Timossi, violinist and music director of the SouthDowns Camerata and Spirit of Music Festival, said: “Advent is a magical time, full of lights, decorations, bakery, anticipation… and yes, music!

“In this time we would usually hear seasonal music everywhere, played by buskers in the street, in every shop we enter, in the schools’ nativity plays and in pantomimes, the choir and carol concerts as well as the big seasonal favourites like Messiah and the Nutcracker Ballet. This year it will be different. But while you might not be able to go to the music, we think the music should still happen – directly into your home.”

Hence Sara Deborah and her collective of freelance musicians have come together to create a musical advent calendar that you can purchase for yourself and a friend for £24.99.

“Once you have obtained your membership, every day a video clip of music will become available behind the day’s window and will remain there to be viewed for three months. You will find everything from carol arrangements over fun 1920s Christmas tunes to excerpts from the big Christmas oratorios.

“Musicians featured include an award-winning concert pianist, a West End star, a Royal Opera House soprano, instrumentalists from some of the UK’s leading orchestras, new and established ensembles and a few fun surprises.

“For musicians, this is usually the busiest season of the year, but most work calendars have been wiped clean since March for the foreseeable future.

“The idea was born within the supportive community of musician mums who in the best times face the daily challenge of combining flexible work with family, and in times like this are often less eligible for financial support due to maternity leaves and missed incomes. So for us, this is a way to keep connecting to our audiences and keep sharing the joy we usually associate with Christmas while also providing a small income for all performers involved. By purchasing the calendar as a gift which will then automatically become available for yourself too, you are supporting musicians through this time of crisis.”

Head to to get a preview and find out more about the performing musicians in the blog and to purchase your membership.

“Whether you gift this to a child learning an instrument or your parents or friends whom you can’t visit right now, this gift is guaranteed to spread joy and fun for the whole of December and beyond, and will be a beautiful – and environmentally friendly – gesture to make your loved ones feel your care every day even across wider distances.

“We are all members of a strong and incredibly supportive community of musician mothers that spans not just the UK but the whole globe.”

Haywards Heath-based Caroline Tyler, the award-winning concert pianist who is featured with her own arrangement of Silent Night, has performed Mozart and Chopin concertos with Sussex-based Ensemble Reza, performed in Eastbourne for the Towner Society and won the Norah Sande competition that used to be run at Eastbourne College.

Violinist Holly Bhattacharya lives in Hurstpierpoint and teaches violin at Brighton College and collaborates regularly with Ensemble Reza who are based in Haywards Heath.

“I was also playing each week (until recently) at the West End and also freelance orchestrally including the Brighton Philharmonic. I love teaching and when not involved with music I am usually found running around a local park or field after my three young children!”

Trumpet player Jenny Jones lives in Eastbourne: “I was the music teacher at Moira House girls school before it closed down and I got made redundant in June. I teach trumpet at St Andrews and Eastbourne College and have played in the local panto for many years. Usually I do lots of freelance gigs, concerts and shows around the area and travel up to London to work too. I used to be head of brass for West Sussex Music Service.”

Clarinet and saxophone player Zoe Davies lives in Brighton and has taught and played in Sussex for more than 15 years: “I teach clarinet and saxophone at Brighton College and piano at Dorothy Stringer school and play locally with Brighton Chamber Ensemble and Sussex Symphony Orchestra as well as freelancing in a variety of other ensembles. Well, I did before Covid!”

Ros Hanson-Laurent, who lives in Brighton, teaches violin and viola Brighton College, Roedean, Brighton Girls and also for The Sussex Music School.

“I freelance around the south east as a viola player and my last big gig was playing Harold in Harold in Italy with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra just before the first lock down. I’m also a founding member of The Brighton Chamber Ensemble. Teaching and playing give me equal amounts of pleasure and when I’m not involved musically I’m outdoors somewhere on an adventure with my two small people!”

Sara Deborah (violin) lives right at the border between West Sussex and Hampshire.

“I've performed several times in Chichester, as a soloist with the Consort of Twelve and in the Chichester Festival. I perform as a baroque player with ensembles like the English Concert and Dunedin Consort, have won prizes in solo and chamber music including the Eastbourne Soloist Competition, Making Music Young Artists Award and the International Baroque Violin Competition Premio Bonporti, and I lead the SouthDowns Camerata and the Spirit of Music Festival.”