If you had told Hilary Glaisher (2009) that five years out of school she would be would be working in Belfast on the recording of an album of original music with the cutting edge Irish musician, Brian Finnegan, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.

Hilary was thoroughly immersed in music for 13 years at Girton Grammar with the Girton Singers, String Orchestra, Orchestra and string quartets. Her passion for making and playing music has never waned and now, as a member of one of Australia’s best traditional Irish acts on the Australian folk festival scene, Hilary and her band, Tolka, are busily compiling an album of original music that blends traditional Irish music in a modern context.

The band recently received a grant from the Australian Council for the Arts, which has provided them with the funding to write the album in Belfast, Northern Ireland over four months. They have chosen to make the album in Ireland owing to an opportunity to work with Brian Finnegan, legendary flute and whistle player who has long been a huge inspiration to the four Australians.

“It’s not often you get to meet someone who has been influential to your music, let alone work closely with them,” Hilary said. “In addition we have got to know the local session scene in Belfast and play at a variety of festivals in both England and Ireland.”

Tolka will be recording the album in mid-October this year, and launching it in Melbourne and at festivals across Australia in early 2015.

“The album will be a culmination of living and working together as a band in Belfast.”

This year, Tolka was awarded the Jimmy Moore Memorial Prize for outstanding new talent at the National Celtic Festival. The members of Tolka have also won multiple individual awards including the Port Fairy Folk Festival Maton award for emerging talent (Robert Hillman – 2012), the John Barker Award at the National Folk Festival (Allan Evans – 2010) and the Chris Wendt Award at the National Folk Festival (Hilary Glaisher – 2010).

Immediately after leaving school, Hilary played in a band called Evelyn’s Secret with her younger sister Brigid and Jenny McKechnie (both Old Girtonians) and a cellist called Anita Hillman. As a band they performed at folk festivals across Australia and released an album.

“The Australian folk scene was a wonderful place to learn and gain experience as a musician and performer”.

In between musical projects, Hilary has completed a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University majoring in Politics and International Relations and Anthropology. Next year she plans to start a Masters of Social Work in Melbourne at RMIT.

To find out more about Hilary’s band, Tolka, go to: https://www.tolka-music.com/

HIlary and boys