Visitor profile February 2018
Martha Louise, a recent visitor and donor to the Grainger Museum, shares her story about close family connections with Percy.
February 6 & 7, 2018
I am just back to Auckland from Melbourne last night. My first visit to the museum was quite emotional. Walking through the shaded Melbourne University streets to the delicate brick Grainger Museum still innovative in its rounded edged semi-circular brick design but now dwarfed to the size of a garden gnome amongst the towering concrete slab buildings around it. As I walked I imagined that I was seeing the same trees on this footpath that Percy and Ella would have sheltered under on equally hot days during its construction in 1935-38. I am bringing family memorabilia to donate to the museum which were kept by my father, Thomas E. Wilson, tucked in the book of Percy’s life I sent to him in 1987. Heather Gaunt the curator and Carl the archivist were generous with their time and showed genuine interest in the letters, newspaper clippings, concert program and family photos I brought of the times Percy was preparing concerts and performing with my father’s orchestra in Lafayette, Indiana in the 1950’s. I was about 7 years old when Percy & Ella spent a time in our home. I recall waking up to the lounge filled with a wooden structure holding chimes and bells and Ella teaching my brother James and I how to play and tune water goblets. And Percy breaking dry bread into his cereal bowl at the breakfast table which Mum poured warm milk over. My mother for ever more told of waking one night to hear Percy playing ‘Claire de Lune’ on our upright piano and it sounding like a whisper so light and fluid. A gift he gave to my mother.
As I completed this pilgrimage I talked to Dad as I walked carefully from one pool of shade to the next in the 36 degree heat! A few tears shed too. I know he would have liked to have delivered these carefully saved remembrances himself and I miss him. But somehow all the emotional letting go ceased as I realised how devoted these two people are about preserving these moments in time and (unexpectedly) my father’s life work as a conductor and my parents’ friendship over 20 years with Percy & Ella Grainger.
Thank you to all those involved in the preservation of this beautiful museum and it’s wonderfully presented displays of so many aspects of the lives of Percy & Ella Grainger.
Auckland, New Zealand
Martha Louise immigrated to New Zealand in 1973 where she is a singer/song writer.
James Wilson lives in Paris, France and is a guitarist, composer and music educator.