Edinburgh Fringe 2015
An hour of new music to celebrate the life and achievements of nine remarkable women, ranging from Emily Davison through to Katharine Hepburn.
Broughton School Hall is not your average school hall. This one comes with retractable seating on three sides, an impressive lighting rig and two brand new Steinway pianos, positioned centre stage.
Enter Hilary Brooks and Karen MacIver, a pair of award winning, concert trained pianist-composers who, in this hour long recital of new music, celebrate the life and achievements of nine dedicated women, each the subject of a piece of music encompassing genre from modern classical through to full blown jazz. And, whilst most of the music is scored, several pieces featured wonderful moments of improvisation, so seamlessly interwoven that you’d almost have not known they were there but for the helpful signposting by the composers in their introduction to each piece.
Emily Davison was celebrated with, as you might expect, a haunting refrain, conjuring up an image of that fateful moment when she flung herself in front of future King George V’s horse at the Derby. A tribute to Marie Curie beautifully captured the essence of scientific research with the music leading one way to no effect and then another and another until finally coming to a resolution in what is best described as a Polonial moment.
The tribute to Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, was suitably reflective, portraying the sense of someone looking back on earth in awe and admiration. The piece featuring Amelia Earhart drifted quietly into silence, again, appropriate given her disappearance over the Pacific as she sought to be the first to fly solo around the world. The celebration of Helen Keller cleverly played out variations on a theme using the notes d, e, a and f and the final piece, a homage to Katharine Hepburn, generated an image of her floating down the Nile accompanied by, who else, but Humpy.
Brooks and MacIver are two extremely talented composers and pianists and have produced a compelling suite of music as part of a project sponsored, amongst others, by Creative Scotland. Their playing is quite sublime and there is a chemistry between them that borders on the telepathic creating a show that might best be described as a “Fringe Treasure”. Try and get to see them in their final concerts on 23rd August if you can.