James Jolly meets tenor James Gilchrist to discuss the 16 songs comprising ‘A Poet's Love'
Muriel Herbert: 'Forgotten Voice'
The noted biographer and writer Claire Tomalin has written a moving article about her mother, Muriel Herbert. The piece, which appeared in The Guardian on the 9th May, talks about the life of a truly gifted composer and musician who was "thwarted by life's duties and disappointments". Claire discusses her mother's love of music and the discovery of her compositions: "I needed to be an adult before I began to ask her about her music, and to realise how well made and individual her songs were. Then I wanted to hear more of them, and when I visited her we spent hours going through them. She sang beautifully in her clear soprano voice, her small hands darting over the piano keys with tremendous energy and power".
Claire talks about her mother's life, including her winning of the Liverpool scholarship in composition to the Royal College of Music in London. It was here she met friends and teachers who would help to inspire her compositions end encourage her to develop her own style; upon leaving the College she embarked on a prolific decade as a composer.
In the article Claire reveals how, with the help of BBC producer Bill Lloyd (who was taught by Muriel), the recording process for 'Songs of Muriel Herbert' began. "Now began an extraordinary time. Lloyd showed the songs to two outstanding singers, James Gilchrist and Ailish Tynan, and they agreed to record a group of them with Owen Norris as accompanist...We met at a recording studio in Monmouthshire and for three days I was with them as they worked. I was high with the delight of hearing such musicians giving their attention and skills to the songs, bringing them to life, many of them for the first time for me".