FORGOTTEN pieces of music written by an 18th Century composer from the region are being brought to life by a North-East orchestra.

More than 200 years after the first cello concertos ever written by an Englishman were penned, the works are to be recorded for the first time.

In the archives of the British Library, in London, a single fragile copy of John Garth's six cello concertos was discovered by musicians from The Avison Ensemble.

The Newcastle-based orchestra, which is dedicated to North composer and organist Charles Avison, now plans two concerts to preview its recording of the work.

The musicians who made the discovery were delighted to find Garth's forgotten work, because of his connections to the region and Avison.

Garth was born in Sedgefield, County Durham, and his first known musical role was as organist at the village's St Edmund's Church.

He later became organist at Auckland Castle, the home of the Bishop of Durham.

It is thought he was one of Avison's first students and the pair become close friends - working together promoting concerts in Newcastle and Durham and preparing joint arrangements.

They were so highly regarded that they were invited to spend a week making music at Halnaby Hall, in Yorkshire, with Prince Frederick, Duke of York, who was a keen amateur cellist.

The week inspired Garth to write the six concertos, which he dedicated to the Prince.

Richard Tunnicliffe, cellist with the Avison Ensemble, said: "These concertos are a remarkable find and it is surprising they have never been recorded before, as they are really excellent works.

"It's fascinating for musicians today to realise what a wealth of talent and music-making there was going on in the North-East in the 18th Century.

"Garth's cello concertos are a great contribution to the cello repertoire and I'm sure many of my colleagues will be performing them once they realise the outstanding quality of these pieces."

The Avison Ensemble will perform the preview concerts in St James' United Reformed Church, Newcastle, on Friday, and in Paxton House, Paxton, near Berwick, on Saturday.

Tickets are £10 from JG Windows Ltd, Central Arcade, Newcastle, on 0191-232-1356, or at the door.