Stellar Quine of the Month: McIver & Brooks

Two women two grand pianos – Karen MacIver and Hilary Brooks are the award-winning duo who are bringing PianoPiano to the Fringe in August. Here they tell us a bit about the women behind the pianos

How would you describe your current work and what do you like best about it?

KM: At last I have found my own personal nirvana! A balance of playing my piano and writing music.

HB: Ditto! – Our paths are so similar, as well as our playing styles.

What do you like best about working together on performances like Piano Piano?

KM: Well apart from eating a lot of cake n coffee and laughing a lot we put in hours of practice, learning to play in complete synchronicity.

HB: Writing and playing together feeds our creative souls.

What was your first ever job?

KM: My first ever job aged 18 was playing at the Pavilion Theatre for the Callum Kennedy summer season! Followed by my first ‘proper’ job with Scottish Opera Education.

HB: Age 14, washing dishes in a wee restaurant in my home village of Eaglesham.

Has there been a particular person or an opportunity that you feel has made the most difference to your career?

KM: There was a marvelous woman called Ann Baird at Scottish Opera who had such vision…. trying to help young musicians achieve their best. The greatest opportunity I had was to work with Scottish Ballet as a repetiteur and it lead to me working with the great ballet companies from all round the world – coming to the Edinburgh Festival.

HB: I was mentored by a truly gifted piano teacher through my final years in school, Betty Emslie-Smith. A harsh critic but opened my mind to a world of infinite musical possibilities.

What has been your favourite theatre production or concert?

KM: War Horse- Lincoln Center New York.

HB: Frank Sinatra in Glasgow 1990.

What do you like the best about working within the arts?

KM: Honesty. Laughter. Creativity.

HB: Storytelling with actors and musicians.

What advice would you give emerging female musicians in theatre today?

KM: Be yourself! It’s the only way to find your true ‘voice’. To achieve this be totally relaxed and believe in your skills and talent.

HB: Let your talent and art drive you and chase your dreams.

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?

KM: Apart from Hilary?!….Alyth MacCormack from Isle of Lewis, now touring the world with her extraordinary voice. Or Scottish dancer Mikah Smillie, the brains behind many Matthew Bourne productions and Commonwealth and European Games choreographer. Both the loveliest women at the top of their game.

HB: Apart from Karen?!.. Morag Fullarton the Scottish writer/director and the power behind ‘Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas’ – celebrating secrets, songs and love lives of five legendary divas – an all star female cast on at The Fringe.

Award-winning duo Hilary Brooks and Karen MacIver’s show PianoPiano is playing at Broughton High School on 22 & 23 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Made in Scotland Showcase 2015. 

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SQ of the Month