This website exists simply to tell you a bit about my life in music, so that questions like ‘does anyone know more about this singer?’ don’t pop up on search engines. Music has always been part of my life. Growing up in glorious Donegal, my sister and brother and I strummed our guitars and belted out the latest hits, while my mother Nancy, a wonderful teacher and accompanist, took care of the classical side of my singing. A degree in Modern Languages from Trinity College Dublin included much extracurricular musical activity, and I soon abandoned teaching and decamped to London. Success in becoming a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music didn’t alas bring with it any clues on how to make a living, so I activated the typing skills acquired during my teaching years and contented myself with various office jobs while enjoying my singing as an amateur. All that changed when I joined the professional choir at Brompton Oratory, and made a few contacts in the singing world. I joined Ward Swingle’s new English group, Swingle II, and embarked on a new, steep learning curve in the world of performing on TV and Radio, in the concert hall and in the recording studio. Our repertoire ranged from Big Band to avant-garde, and we premiered operas by Berio at the Maggio Musicale in Florence and La Scala Milan. I sang the roles of Fire and Princess when the Swingles combined with the Netherlands Dance Theatre in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges, and I am soprano soloist on the Boulez recording of Berio’s Sinfonia. On the lighter side, our TV appearances included guesting with The Two Ronnies, Cleo Laine, Shirley Bassey, Nana Mouskouri, and even Basil Brush; an Aquarius special on Berio’s ‘A Ronne’, and a two-part showcase featuring the group on Rhythm on Two for BBC2.
After many rewarding years of touring the world with Swingles and having the nickname ‘Molly’ bestowed upon me by Ward Swingle, I rediscovered the world of classical performance. I sang and and recorded regularly with The Deller Consort, The King’s Consort, The Sixteen and the still wonderful Choir of the London Oratory. I can also be found on recordings by The Tallis Scholars, The Monteverdi Choir, The New London Consort, and many more (see Recordings list). As a soloist I specialised in Handel, Mozart and Bach. But I have always enjoyed close-microphone singing and studio work, and feature on many TV and Film scores by such composers as Nigel Hess, Colin Towns and Hans Zimmer. I am lead vocalist with the award winning MOR vocal group Chameleon, whose album ‘Saylon Dola’ was reissued in June 2005. Other solo recordings include fifteen albums with Swingles; ‘Tu Es Petrus’ recorded at The Vatican with The Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge; Steve Reich’s Music for Eighteen Musicians with Ensemble Modern, and his video opera ‘Three Tales’ with the Steve Reich Ensemble; ‘Food of Love’ – Music from Shakespeare, with Nigel Hess and the RPO; and a solo CD ‘Anyone for Music?’ with Dorothy Linell, Lute and Guitar, which includes favourites from five centuries of song.
The making of my solo CD back in 2002 necessitated creating this website – which in turn brought on my first laptop – and the unexpected by-product from all that technology was that I suddenly remembered I had learned to type many years ago in preparation for earning my living in London.
I have always enjoyed writing, so my next move was to investigate the drawer full of diaries that should provide a colourful and detailed account of many years of touring and meeting wonderfully talented and interesting people. Alas the truth is that they contain such unmissable gems as ‘didn’t sleep well – flight delayed – no time to wash hair’…yawn…
So I now have a library of unfinished pieces of literature which may or may not ever see the light of day. To console myself for that disappointment I started noting down the everyday happenings that keep me from being bored in the most exciting city in the world while simultaneously continuing to earn my living as a singer and manage the Victorian pile in Kensington that has now been my home for over 50 years. And lo ‘Molly’s Musings’ was born – closely followed by ‘More Molly’s Musings’ a couple of years later – and finally ‘Yet More Musings’ which covers the period 2019/2020 and was published in 2021.
My original plan was that such witterings should be a politics-free zone, but I was not to know that my accidentally chosen period would include Brexit – the biggest upheaval in UK life since long before I landed on these shores – closely followed by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Consequently these three volumes might loosely be described as BB, BC and ABC – and the fact that their content becomes progressively darker is unavoidable as they chronicle how life in London is affected over an extraordinary period in history.