Gaskell House Blogs

Constance Harper’s songs at Plymouth Grove

12th September 2019
in blog, Events

Maria Quinn knew Constance and Lilian Harper who lived in our house on Plymouth Grove after the Gaskells, and when she visited the House recently she told us about her friendship with the two Harper sisters – you can read about it in our recent blog here. After Constance died and when Maria started learning the piano, Lilian gave her a copy of  Magic Casements, a collection of five pieces composed by her sister and published in 1924,  And we couldn’t be more delighted that Maria has agreed to come to the House and play the pieces – bringing them back to the house where they were composed.

She will be giving two twenty minute recitals on Sunday 20 October at the House, on at 2 pm and one at 3 pm, when she will play the five songs from Magic Casements, followed by a selection of her own original songs.

Maria says: I was a young girl when Constance and Lilian Harper moved into the building where I lived. Constance lived next door to us and I can remember sitting with her at the grand piano learning the names of the notes and listening to her wonderful playing. Sadly she passed away soon afterwards, but her sister Lilian survived her by seven years and became a very good family friend. When I was ten and started having piano lessons, Lilian gave me a copy of ‘Magic Casements’. I’ve had these pieces for forty years and could never have imagined that one day I would be performing them in the Harper’s family home.

Maria is herself an accomplished musician and we are honoured she has agreed to perform. She started learning the piano with Mary Greenwood and later with Grace Wilkinson who played with the Halle in the 1960’s. In 1988, she moved to Glasgow to study with Bernard King at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In her final year, she became the first student in the Conservatoire’s history to specialise in jazz performance. Her musical interests widened further after completing her degree. Her improvisational skills led to work as a silent movie pianist and she is equally at home in the world of pop, where she has performed and recorded extensively with various bands. Her interest in songwriting emerged eight years ago and she continues to develop this aspect of her music making taking part in performances, workshops and festivals. in 2016, she released Thirteen Pianos, an EP of original songs. Her music is quirky and eclectic and reflects the range of styles she has embraced.

A musical event not to be missed! We look forward to seeing you on October 20 to enjoy the music of Constance Harper and to revel in Maria’s songs!


Plans are like a card-house-if one gives way, all the others come rattling about your head

Elizabeth Gaskell, 1864