- Exaudite was set up by Andrew Higson to provide help for primarily church councils in making the best decisions for their individual requirements.
- The name Exaudite reflects its Latin roots indicating the importance it places on listening to and understanding each project’s individual needs.
- The shortcoming in accurate and comprehensible information for councils trying to make decisions on technical matters was identified by Andrew during his career in the bellfounding industry where it was apparent that many times decisions were made almost arbitrarily rather than reflecting the actual value of the proposals put forward by the trade.
Andrew worked at the world famous Bellfoundry of John Taylor & Co in Loughborough from 1985 to 2013. His first appointment was to take forward the semi-dormant handbell business both in the practical side of tuning new cast and old handbells and manufacturing new fittings for them as well as building a customer base to grow the business and its reputation within the handbell playing community. The foundations for a thriving business that is still ongoing were established during his tenancy of the position of handbell manager.
In 1987 he took up the post of Bellmaster in which he took charge of the foundry’s casting and tuning operations and quickly established a reputation for being able to asses the tonal potential of old bells, bringing out the best of their musical qualities. The new bells being cast by the foundry also benefited from his skill and the somewhat diminished reputation of the company was restored by the transformation in the quality of the bells being restored and cast.
In conjunction with the bell tuning work, Andrew undertook the upkeep of the foundry records and also had responsibility for the provision of automated bell ringing fittings. Inevitably this work brought him into contact with the company’s customers and suppliers where he further enhanced his reputation for clear and accurate information. He helped bring the tuning process up to date working on computer based tuning aids, teaching his staff to use these and how to interpret the information into a tuning scheme. This gave him more time travelling to churches to assess and report on the condition of these various installations. He travelled to the USA Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the pursuit of his job.
In 2005, the company merged with the local bellhanging business of Eayre & Smith and Andrew became one of the directors of the new company, retaining the same duties as previously. In 2009, this company was bought out by a consortium, Andrew being the sole survivor of the previous board of directors that was employed by the new company. Within this company, his responsibilities became solely those of business development. He parted company amicably with Taylors in 2013 to work independently of a single trading company.
Friend & Partner – Benjamin Sunderlin
(Owner at BASunderlin BellFoundry)
Benjamin Sunderlin was born in Lafayette, IN and developed as a fine artist throughout his high school years earning numerous national grants, awards, fellowships, and was even featured in an Oscar nominated documentary. After high school Benjamin enrolled in the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana where he discovered bronze foundry work. It was there that his fascination with bells and Campanology began.
While engaged in a travel and research grant to study traditional bell making in the United Kingdom, Benjamin learned many different aspects related to the bell industry, including: molding in swept-loam, casting practices, design, tuning, and the construction methodologies for frames and fittings. Upon Benjamin’s return, he constructed all of the requisite equipment and tooling necessary to mold and cast a traditionally made bell in the foundry. Metal for the project was sourced from an early eighteenth century bell that was originally cast by Thomas Lester in 1728. The casting of this bell marked the first time in history that a bell had been made in a swept-loam mold in the United States since most of the original foundries closed in the middle of the twentieth century. This bell was then later tuned under the guidance of Andrew Higson and marks the first time that a bell has been cast in swept loam and tuned to a five-partial standard in the United States.
Benjamin continued to research traditional bellmaking practices before graduating. During this period, Benjamin became active as a contractor in the United States bell industry. Further trips back to the United Kingdom as well as to France, Belgium, and as far away as Croatia, enabled Benjamin to learn different European methods for making bells traditionally. He then continued his education by enrolling in a master’s program at the University of Notre Dame, furthering his skills as a bell maker and Campanologist.
It was at this time that Benjamin received numerous grants and continued funding to travel throughout Europe. His most recent trip was to Basse-Normandie to study with Virginie Bassetti, noted sculptor who designed the decorations for the new bells of Notre Dame de Paris. Under her instruction, Benjamin gained personal insight and knowledge into this unique project.
Since graduating from Notre Dame, Benjamin has since established his own full-service bell foundry in Ruther Glen, VA, and remains the only bell foundry in the United States that continues to mold in swept loam. Here, Benjamin hopes to preserve the nearly lost craft of traditional bellmaking in the United States and to deliver a superior service in the bell industry to his country and the rest of the world.