Monday, 21 January 2008

Imo in the Gramo

The praise for Imogen Holst: A Life in Music continues. In this month’s (February 2008) Gramophone, a moving review by composer and writer Geraint Lewis deftly evokes the charm, pathos and brilliance of “Imo”. It opens with a telling snapshot:

During the scorching Cambridge summer of 1974 I happened across Imogen Holst in the shadows of the Tudor Great Gate of St John’s, directing a Holst centenary singalong with an infectious mixture of blue-stocking charm and dancing determination. Her physical gestures were unforgettable – an elderly tennis player trying to conduct – and she magically lifted standards and spirits. Afterwards I dared to ask her about Benjamin Britten (rumoured to be gravely ill). The radiant blue eyes suddenly clouded and with tears forming she gripped my awkward schoolboy hand in hers and said “but I’m sure he will compose again”. I immediately sensed that here was a woman who thought far more of others than she did of herself.

To read the rest of this entertaining review, including the story of E.M. Forster’s cats and Imo meeting the Queen Mother, go to your local newsagent and buy a copy of the Gramophone. Then on to your local bookshop for a copy of Imogen Holst, edited by Christopher Grogan.

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