Monday, 22 October 2007

Imogen Holst Day in Aldeburgh

While the rest of East Anglia was enjoying Apple Day on October 20th, Aldeburgh was celebrating the life and work of Imogen Holst. The day began with a concert in Aldeburgh Parish Church where the Navarra Quartet, augmented by Alasdair Tait, performed her Fall of the Leaf and String Quintet as part of a varied and thoroughly engaging programme.

Next the audience moved on to the wonderful local cinema, where Aldeburgh Music had organized a panel discussion with Chris Grogan (editor of the recent Boydell title, Imogen Holst: A Life in Music), Rosamund Strode and Colin Matthews (both contributors to the book). This was a unique opportunity to hear the reminiscences of two people who knew her extremely well, their contributions augmented by some well-chosen audio clips of “Imo” herself from the Britten-Pears Library archive. The 250 or so members of the audience - a large proportion of whom seemed to have known her personally - were entranced, and would have happily carried on listening to the speakers long after The Bourne Ultimatum was due to start.

There followed a signing session by all three, plus Christopher Tinker who analysed and catalogued Imogen Holst’s music in the book, at the nearby Aldeburgh Bookshop. Mary James handled the logistics of four signers extremely well, while John James handed out glasses of wine to those waiting to meet them. For those not already committed to watching England lose to South Africa in the rugby final, there was a second concert to round off the day in considerable style.

The only absence from the celebrations was Simon and Thomas Hewitt Jones’ eagerly anticipated CD of music by Imogen Holst performed by the Court Lane Strings. Unfortunately the criminal fraternity of South London have caused an unscheduled delay in its release (more on Simon’s blog) but it can be pre-ordered online and the group’s tour will go ahead regardless.

I think Imo would have admired their commitment.

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