In the midst of this excitement a quietness began to spread amongst the guests as a new kind of music was experienced which commanded a gentle authority which was impossible to ignore. It was strong but peaceful, creating a spiritual atmosphere which brought positive responses from both old and young, seasoned music lovers, teachers and those with little experience at all.
Her music was inspirational and simply beguiling which deserves a place amongst the greatest spiritual music we have been blessed with.Rev’d Canon Robert Law
What is your response to Canon Robert’s words?
They’re really rather humbling; I gasped the first time I read it. It feels like a lot to live up to!
I think playing the piano has always been a spiritual thing for me and I do very much view my pieces as prayers. In a way they’re like my own personal version of the psalms. They seem to speak to people and so I would like to share them more widely.
They sound quiet and peaceful from that description, is that typical?
It would probably be more true to say that the majority of my music expresses love, peace, joy and gratitude. As a complete body of work however, they do reflect a fully human range of feeling and experience, that being the case a few of them are naturally darker. Having said that prayers that begin raw often seem to end up in a much better place.
How do you choose the titles?
Usually a word or phrase seems to just drift feather-light into my mind sometimes the word comes first, sometimes the notes come first. The word that presents itself usually ends up being the title, it feels more authentic and well, just, right.
What are you hoping to communicate through your pieces?
Well, I didn’t set out to write for an audience so I find that a bit of a peculiar question to answer. They are musical outpourings, expressions of the moment, they are my prayers; but people have told me that they find consolation, peace and healing in my music and that’s wonderful. It’s because of this that I’ve decided to share them more widely. I think, I hope, that they reflect something of the breadth, depth and heights of emotion, spirituality and human experience. It is my hope that people will find something in them that they can relate to, that meets them where they are at, and that draws them closer to the divine, to a place of peace and healing and love.
I’ve always tended to play in bare feet or at least in my socks and there’s something authentic and grounded about being barefoot and I felt that that very much suited the nature of the music. Many people remove their shoes out of a sign of reverence and respect when they are praying or entering a place they have set aside as Holy Ground, the symbolism of which also seems fitting.
Later I wrote ‘These Shoes‘ which was inspired by an art installation called ‘In Her Shoes’ and that gave the whole playing barefoot thing an extra dimension and made it even more meaningful for me.
A brief biography
Originally from Wear Valley Catherine E. Holbrook has a BA (hons) in Music and an MA in Community Music with distinction both from the University of York where she focused her studies on performance, interpretation, contemporary music and composition. She studied piano with Stuart Insley and Stephanie Cant, both of whom she is eternally grateful to for their time and unending patience.
Catherine currently works as a freelance musician and artist in the North of England where she also gives private piano lessons & instrumental masterclasses, as well as being the Artistic Director of York’s very popular open-access community orchestra; the All Seasons Orchestra.
You can find out more about Catherine and her various projects, creations and work on her website.