Following in the footsteps?

The programme about Gustav Holst on BBC4 last Sunday was fascinating, not least because it had many interviews with his daughter, Imogen Holst. It was good to see the excellent Sian Edwards conducting the RCM orchestra, and then archive footage of Imogen Holst herself conducting a brass band in Holst’s Moorside Suite.

Imo, forever associated with the music of her father and with that of Britten, for whom she was an amanuensis, was a fine composer in her own right. The 2007 centenary of her birth, the publication of a book about her, and a CD of her String Chamber Music have raised her profile and re-introduced her music to the world. The chapel choir of Clare College, Cambridge, has revived some of her choral works; in its Christmas concert in Aldeburgh Parish Church some of Imo’s pieces shared the programme with Benjamin Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’. Both composers are buried in the graveyard there.

Imo wrote ‘Conducting a Choir ‘ and was often found wielding a baton in front of an orchestra. It’s easy to say that she followed in her father’s footsteps as a student at the RCM, as a conductor and as a composer. Actually, she made her own footsteps. It’s good that they are now more widely recognized.

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