A Question of Taste: Musician and broadcaster Evelyn Grant

Evelyn Grant is a flute-player and presenter of Week End Drive on RTÉ Lyric fm. She is also musical director and conductor of the Cork Pops

A Question of Taste: Musician and broadcaster Evelyn Grant

Evelyn Grant, musician and broadcaster.
Evelyn Grant, musician and broadcaster.

Des O’Driscoll

Evelyn Grant is a flute-player and presenter of Week End Drive on RTÉ Lyric fm. She is also musical director and conductor of the Cork Pops Orchestra, and will host a number of ‘In Conversation’ events throughout the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (June 29 to July 8).

Best recent book you’ve read:

Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End really moved me, not just for the beautiful use of language, but there was the vivid writing of the scenes from the civil war juxtaposed with the incredibly loving relationships.

Best recent film:

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I will never forget the way he used the soundtrack of Renee Fleming singing ‘The Last Rose of Summer’.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately:

The Lyric Feature documentary on the Irish composer Elizabeth Machoncy. I hadn’t been aware of her output of string quartets.

Money is no object — what instrument would you buy?

I would buy a top-of-the-range instrument for each of our four children — all of whom are professional musicians, but who will never earn enough money through their music-making to purchase the best instrument.

First ever piece of music or gig that really moved you:

As a teenager, playing the flute in Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony on first ever Irish Youth Orchestra course in 1970. So inspiring. You never really get over that first experience of playing symphonic music with a group of people you really like.

The best gig you’ve ever seen:

Can’t pick just one — but two would be Gustavo Dudamel conducting Mahler with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, or Christy Moore at the Point.

TV viewing:

We didn’t own a TV until relatively recently. I am a current affairs junkie (but too much of that is not good for your health). I love a good court room drama, or detective show. So I have a soft spot for Lewis. And I am delighted that The Good Wife has now been followed by The Good Fight. On the homegrown front, I think Nationwide isaddictive, as is Reeling in the Years.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

You couldn’t do better than RTÉ Lyric fm! But, when I was a music student in Germany, I got hooked on The Archers on BBC Radio 4 — pre-internet radio, when it was broadcast on BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Station). I never miss the Archers Omnibus! Since the Trump election, I’m addicted to The Daily podcast from the New York Times.

You’re curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?

Maria Callas (dead), Glenn Gould (dead), Uri Caine (living, thankfully) .

Your best celebrity encounter:

I have always loved my encounters with the wonderful flute player James Galway. I loved the inspiring classes with him as a student.

Then, he joined the Cork Pops Orchestra on Patrick St with his tin-whistle for a Christmas celebration in 2005, when Cork was the European Capital of Culture, and Jimmy took part in a number of the city’s big events, in the North Cathedral and with the Cork Youth Orchestra in City Hall.

Of course, at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, I have the privilege of interviewing the celebrities of the music world each morning.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event?

I’d love to have been among the invitees or in the orchestra (except there were no flutes) in Handel’s Messiah in Georgian Dublin in 1742.

It must have been a fascinating place — especially if one were part of the upper class. And, apparently, a relative on my mother’s side of the family (the Roseingraves) sang a solo role in the premiere in Fishamble Street.

Unsung hero:

Francis Humphrysdirector of West Cork Music, whose tireless work, tenacity, determination and total passion for quality chamber music, has created in Bantry a world class festival.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree?

That West Cork should have a world-class chamber music performance venue.

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