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Hilary Brooks: Guest blog

The new buzzword in music conservatoires is ‘portfolio’. I thought that was something tucked under the arm of an art student in bygone times. However now, it is regularly linked with ‘career’. I guess that’s what I’ve had since leaving said conservatoire decades ago, back when it was still the RSAMD.

Hi everyone, my name is Hilary Brooks. I write songs, arrange and conduct music for theatre and I play the piano, so…composer, musical director and pianist. I’ve worked in theatre, TV and film for a long time and recently decided to set up a forum called SWIM – Scottish Women Inventing Music. It’s a new network that advocates for and celebrates women in music.

By aiming to increase visibility in a collaborative and supportive group we hope more women will become inspired to write music and be duly recognised/paid for it. Email me if you’d like to join us. E: 

Website coming soon!

I’m just back from a fantastic trip to Rotterdam, which hosted this year’s huge Classical:Next music conference. With a great bunch of composers from the Scottish Music Centre, we flew the tartan flag for all Scottish tunesmiths.

Along with my great chum and fellow (?! sic) pianist and composer Karen MacIver, we were in sell, sell, sell mode for our PIANOPIANO project – new music written, recorded and performed by us, each track being dedicated to a favourite heroine and performed on two grand pianos.

In 2007 I found another collaborator who subconsciously I had been seeking for over 20 years, the lyricist and book-writer Clive King. We wrote a mini musical together called Meeting Matthew, which cemented our joyous collaboration. It was commissioned by the late, great Dave McLennan for A Play, A Pie & A Pint at Oran Mor, the fantastic multi-purpose venue in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.

We returned to Oran Mor last year with a musical comedy, called Wee Free, the Musical!. Set in 1984 , the show tells the tale of a young musician who escapes the city to teach music on the remote Hebridean Isle of Munst. When she accidentally marries a pillar of the community, she finds herself at odds with the quirks of The Kirk and the strange ways of the locals. Despite the fact that I taught music on a distant Scottish island back in the eighties, there was nothing at all autobiographical about the story…

Wee Free was so well received by audiences and critics that we’ve been invited back to Oran Mor this summer!

From Monday 11 June, 2018 – Saturday 16 June at 1pm, for this year’s Mini Musical season and the West End Festival, we present our brand new musical comedy, Melania.

It’s a long way from the Eastern Bloc to the East Wing – and for one former glamour model turned FLOTUS it hasn’t been a happy journey. Can the ghosts of Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy lift our heroine’s spirits and show her what it really means to be First Lady?

If Trump and Kim Jung Un haven’t blown us all to smithereens before then, do pop by!