Hester Dickson Martineau, who died last year aged 91, was latterly famous for being the mother of Malcolm Martineau, one of the finest piano accompanists of our time. However, Hester Martineau was a remarkable musician in her own right. She played at many of the early Edinburgh Festivals, and went on to be a great music teacher at what is now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, continuing until she was almost 90.
To celebrate her life, Malcolm Martineau has assembled a remarkable collection of singers and musicians to give a superb concert to a packed Queen’s Hall. All the proceeds of the concert are going to the Breast Cancer Institute at the Western General Hospital, a cause that was close to Hester Martineau’s heart.
There are so many musical gems this evening, it is impossible to detail them all. The concert opens with cellist William Conway playing the prelude from the Bach Cello Suites: a lovely, peaceful melody to settle us all. This is followed by a series of songs, including those by Howells, Burns, Bernstein, and Brahms, all accompanied by the expert piano of Malcolm Martineau, and sung by great singers such as Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Janis Kelly, Rebecca Evans, Jamie MacDougall, Anne Murray, Nicky Spence and Karen Cargill. The first half ends with 8 cellos accompanying Lorna Anderson in Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5.
The second half of the concert is much more operatic, with arias from Handel, Beethoven, Mozart and Britten, superbly sung by some of the best opera singers in Britain, and accompanied by a fine scratch orchestra of some of Scotland’s best musicians, expertly conducted by Patrick Broderick.
The concert ends with the Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, with 16 of the finest singers ever seen in the Queen’s Hall. It is rapturously received by the audience, and really this concert could easily grace the Edinburgh Festival or the finest concert halls of London. The music was chosen by Malcolm Martineau partly because his mother liked it: she would have loved this concert!