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Breathe in me

The Lit & Phil has many hidden corners and one such is The Silence Room. It’s the library of your imaginations (or nightmares) where old old books line the shelves and quite probably hold arcane conversations between themselves when no-one’s listening. It’s one of the few rooms that are only open to members of the Society and the only place where you are expected to work silently. It’s also one of the most haunted rooms in the whole building (allegedly).

And it's got great acoustics, which keyboard player Kate Halsall recently took advantage of by recording parts of her latest album there. Kate is well known to the society’s concert goers as she has given many concerts there over the years, often with other musicians.

“Tender and heroically controlled” Ockeghem Octets, Antoine Beuger. Kate Molleson, Guardian

“..wry, fond, understated and slightly bonkers.” Guardian

“Clever and lovely” Leo Chadburn, Kate Halsall Vapour Descriptors Maya Carlyle, Late Junction.

She is a great advocate of new music and actively promotes it both by her own performances and by projects and commissions.

Her latest project is the album “Breathe in me” which began in 2018 with Sound Scotland commissioning composers Pippa Murphy and Diana Salsazar to write pieces for Kate's harmonium. With composers such as Fumiko Miyachi  and Eleanor Cully also writing for her the album was created.

To celebrate the release, Matt Jamie has filmed the recording of the album in the atmospheric and evocative environment of the Lit and Phil’s Silence Room and Loftus Room. This limited release film shows not just the skill of Kate as a musician but also shines a spotlight upon some fantastic composers working today. The title track by composed by Pippa Murphy won the  EVM Award for Electroacoustic/Sound Art Work at the Scottish Awards for New Music.

The album is available from TQ-Aut ( at their bandcamp page here

 Kate has been selected for Sage Gateshead summer studios where she will will be working on a piece called Understory. It  will develop ideas around evolution and ‘evolutionary niches’ and investigate the meanings behind ‘understory’- the low-level plants that grow between forest canopy and floor.  

This could not have been possible without Andy Wood at TQzine, whose magazine covers a wide range of contemporary music.

Many thanks to Matt Jamie for his recording skills and Kate Halsall for the magnificent performance.

Composer links 

Diana Salazar

Rose Dodd

Fumiko Miyachi

Ailís Ní Ríain

Eleanor Cully (

About the author

Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is a composer and arranger, is a member of the Board of the Lit & Phil and chair of the Marketing Committee.

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