Friday, September 01, 2006

In Memoriam - Katherine McGillivray

We are reminded all too frequently of the mortality of great musicians, but the recent sudden death of Katherine McGillivray at the shockingly early age of 36 is still dreadfully difficult to accept. Here is the Guardian obituary:

The gifted musician Katherine McGillivray (left), who has died suddenly at the age of 36, was born in Paisley and brought up in Glasgow. Though she was obviously a talented violinist, her love of children and the practical side of her nature led her initially to Jordanhill teacher training college. Katherine was still playing the violin, but the lure of the viola proved irresistible. A lesson with the distinguished viola teacher, Jimmy Durrant, was the turning point - he bade her attend the viola auditions at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama taking place a few days later. Katherine interrupted her teacher training to take up the place offered.


Catherine Mackintosh was teaching baroque violin at the RSAMD and inspired Katherine's interest in the baroque viola, pursued in the European Union Baroque Orchestra while still a student, and then as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In no time at all, Katherine was a recorded soloist for the King's Consort and thereafter played for almost every other period instrument group in Britain, including Ensemble Sonnerie.

Appointed principal viola of Ton Koopman's Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Katherine played viola d'amore in a duet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the CD Simply Baroque. More viola d'amore solos followed for Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Cantata Pilgrimage. Katherine's love of folk music led her to take a year out at the Eric Sahlstrom Institute in Tobo to study the nyckelharpa, the Swedish national instrument. She came back to resume her teaching at the Royal Academy and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Katherine was naturally involved in Trevor Pinnock's newly formed European Brandenburg Ensemble. Its first rehearsals on July 31 are a memory to treasure. She is survived by her father, Iain, and cellist sister, Alison.

Servant and Master am I:
Servant of the dead
And master of the living.
Through my spirit the immortals speak the message
That make the world weep and laugh,
And wonder and worship.For I am the instrument of God:
I am music.

-Anonymous

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