The Halsway Manor Sessions are a new series of live recordings which will feature on Folk Radio UK. Halsway Manor is the National Centre for Folk Arts which can be found in Somerset at the foot of the Quantock Hills, a short distance from where we are based.
The first session was recorded on Wednesday evening this week during a very moving concert given by Julie Murphy who was accompanied by the very talented Ceri Owen Jones on trombone and harp. Many of the songs were taken from her recent solo album ‘A Quiet House‘. As I mentioned during a recent interview with Julie (read it here) ‘A Quiet House’ is a stunningly beautiful album that embodies a very independent spirit that is easy to lose yourself in. After her children had grown up and left home she found herself enjoying the quiteness of her house, rising early with the birdsong allowing herself time to get lost in books and her music. She began to play the piano for the first time, exploring it like a child would on being aloud to touch the keys for the first time…”Always with the loud pedal down so all the notes were ringing against each other and making a soundworld not unlike a harp or dulcimer, bell like.” As we sat watching Julie performing she played that piano with a child-like fascination which had me hanging on every note…as you’ll hear from the session tracks the audience held on every note as well, not clapping until the last one had sounded out to its end.
On that album you can feel the space of the house, the quietness, the solitude and the peace that you can always sense upon entering a happy home. Both Julie and Ceri re-created that space at Halsway Manor in a remarkable way. On the final recording which we recorded after the concert just before 11:00pm you can hear the actual space of the ornate room the concert was held in, it was quite magical. I’m sure the memory of the evening will endure in the minds of many of the audience for some time to come.
If you ever visit Somerset which is beautiful part of the British Isles make sure you pay a visit to Halsway Manor.