Memories of Emma

Dear friends,

Emma, long-time tutor and board member of EEMC sadly passed away on 27th August 2022. I know that most of you knew Emma, and that to know her was to love her, both as musician and as the radiant and joyous human being she remained until the very end of her life.

I first met Emma (with her mother, Eimear) while she was still a schoolgirl, and already a talented oboist, recorder-player and singer (including in the choir of Brompton Oratory). She came to what was then the Irish Recorder Course (now the Irish Recorder and Viol Course) where she was by far the best recorder-player and musician. Despite the disparity in skills, she played with other youngsters in her permanent group, as well as fitting in with each and every non-permanent group that fate dealt her, with grace, charm and always with consummate musicianship.

I was privileged to become Emma’s recorder teacher, and helped her prepare for her entry audition to Birmingham University (where she went on to excel), teaching her through her time there and later during her post-graduate studies at Trinity College of Music, where she shone both as recorder player and as a singer. Emma returned to IRVC as a tutor, as well as joining the faculties of the Easter Early Music Course, Cambridge Early Music Summer Schools and teaching on many other courses both nationally and internationally, all whilst having another career as a superb recorder player.

Emma leaves a gap which will never be truly filled: if that is the case for us, it is of course immeasurably more so for her husband Alex, her two children Eliza and Feargus, her parents Eimear and Conn and her wider family. Our thoughts are with them.

All of us at EEMC, staff and students, will miss Emma terribly in every way, but the music we make in future years (and the fun we have on the way) will be her best memorial. Next year’s course will be dedicated to Emma – as she rests in peace, we will celebrate her life with joyful music making and a lot of laughter.

Philip Thorby (Course Director)

We will all miss Emma Murphy, her smiling face around the course could never be replaced. Here are some quotes from course participants …

“She was such a beautiful person, musician, mother, wife, daughter and friend and she will be greatly missed by so many. ”

“I got to know Emma and her mother and daughter Eliza at an Irish recorder and viol course probably in 2014 or 15. I later sent Eliza a miniature recorder made for me by John Cousen, a great friend. Emma and I carried on a correspondence for a while. I so admired her and was terribly shocked to hear of her premature death. What a tragedy. ”

“We were standing next to each other in a queue one day at one of the Cambridge courses (probably for lunch) and we started chatting. In the course of our conversation, we found out that we had both been at Birmingham University – although I was there many years before Emma. We exchanged stories and reminiscences about our ‘mutual’ university and our experiences when we were undergraduates in Birmingham. Of such enjoyable and often unexpected connections are happy memories made.She is a great loss to her ‘music’ family and of course, so much more so to her husband, children and wider family.”

“Emma was wonderful on last year’s online EEMC weekend course. Her wonderful musicianship and her radiant personality shone out. Those who knew well her must be devastated.”

” I first met Emma as a tutor in the recorder course at Dartington Summer School, must have been around 2009 I think, where every standard of player was given equal time, praise and guidance in the masterclasses.  Emma’s posts on facebook were always joyous celebrations of her family life, and I loved her innovative online courses during and after lockdown. I learnt so much from her about breathing for recorder playing and singing, and her memory will live on and be celebrated in so many ways.”

“She was indeed a ray of sunshine and it is hard to think that we will never hear her voice again, or her amazing playing.”

“Hearing of Emma’s passing came as a terrible shock, much like hearing that a relative of mine had unexpectedly died in their prime – very hard to believe or to make any sense of. I can still hardly believe that I will never see her engaging smile or hear her voice again.

“I first encountered Emma in the 1990s when, on the suggestion of Theo Wyatt, she stood in for an absent tutor one year on the Woodford Recorder Course – I think she must have been at the beginning of her musical career around that time. However, I knew her mostly from the Easter Early Music Course, as a very popular, modest and well-loved tutor. She was eminently approachable, always ready to chat to course members and very willing to help with any problems, with a smile which really did light up the room.

Watching her perform in the tutors’ concerts was always a joy – she was such a natural musician and performer, giving the impression that her performances were effortless even when the material involved was highly complex. Her versatility, enjoyment and enthusiasm for music and for life shone through so brightly……

I am on the committee of London SRP, and Emma was a regular and very popular visiting conductor there, fondly remembered by all of us in the branch. She was kind enough to reduce her conducting fee considerably on one occasion a few years ago when the branch was struggling to make ends meet, and during the worst days of the lockdown in 2020 she gave us a Zoom concert completely free of charge, which was both an unexpected and very generous gesture.

Thank you so much, Emma, for all the memories you have given us over the years. You are very sadly missed, but your star burns bright and your influence will continue to be felt over the whole recorder world. It was a real privilege to have known you. Rest in Peace xxx”