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Barefoot pianist forced to put a sock on it

18 April 2019

David Holbrook

Catherine Holbrook

Catherine Holbrook

A MUSICIAN dubbed the “barefoot pianist” has given a recital at Selby Abbey — in socks, because the chancel floor was so cold.

The musician, Catherine Holbrook, from Tadcaster in the north Yorkshire district of Selby, played her own piano compositions of meditative music for Holy Week, called Night Sketches, at a lunchtime recital, on Tuesday.

“Although the abbey is generally a warm space, the stone floor in the chancel is icy cold, and it is too painful to play barefoot,” she said.

She began performing barefoot, she explains on her website, “because I woke one morning with the word ‘barefoot’ in my head and liked it. There’s something about the groundedness of feet; something very authentic about barefootedness.

“That, and I’ve always tended to play in bare feet, or at least in my socks.”

Ms Holbrook said on Tuesday that the programme of music for the recital was an exploration of “the darker side of the human experience: the repressed feelings from the day that resurface in the small hours, the troubles and anxieties that keep us awake at night.

“But, running throughout the programme is the reminder that even in the darkest of times there is hope, there is light, and that if we can find that light and focus on it, it will grow and grow and keep growing.”

Ms Holbrook grew up in Wear Valley in Durham. She studied for a BA in music, and an MA in community music at the University of York, where she focused on performance, interpretation, contemporary music, and composition.

She is a now a freelance musician and teacher, and artistic director of the All Seasons Orchestra in York.

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