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National folk arts library to undergo a major refurbishment


England’s national library of folk music and dance is to undergo a major refurbishment this summer to ensure it is fit for future generations to explore and discover the folk arts.

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML), the library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society based at Cecil Sharp House in London, will be closed from July 19 to September 5 while work is carried out.

The VWML is the country’s biggest dedicated library and archive of folk music, dance, and other traditions, and received Designated status from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2011.

It opened as part of Cecil Sharp House in Regent’s
Park Road in 1930 to make Cecil Sharp’s personal book collection accessible to the public.

The library was one of the few rooms in the Grade II listed property that escaped serious damage from a WWII bomb, and so it still features the original bookcases made by Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road and its Art Deco ceiling.

The seven-week programme will include the renovation of the historic bookcases by accredited conservators Bainbridge Conservation, painting the ceiling, new flooring, curtains, and readers' lamps.

A new display case to exhibit items from the archive will also be installed, along with facilities for browsing the VWML’s extensive catalogue and online resources. The National Folk Music Fund, set up by Ursula and Ralph Vaughan Williams to support the VWML, is funding the 50,000 cost of the refurbishment.

Laura Smyth, Director of the VWML, said: “The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library is the nation’s most prized resource for folk traditions and has been very well used by musicians, researchers, writers, historians, and other visitors over the years.

“The reading room has not undergone any major refurbishment since 1940, and the historic furniture has become chipped, tired, and cracked over the decades. This carefully planned refurbishment will ensure that the library can continue to serve our users and be a place of discovery for the folk arts for many years to come.”

Library staff will continue to operate an email, telephone, and letter enquiry service during the closure period. For more information, go to www.vwml.org.

 

Item added June 2017

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Duo to create a series of songs of Doncaster

Poet Ian Parks and musician Mick Jenkinson are creating a series of songs about Doncaster as part of new commission from Arts Council funded Right Up Our Street.  The duo are working on the project, called, Songs of Our Town, with a view to releasing an album later in the year of the songs and poems that they’ve written with the help of the local community.

Ian, from Mexborough, said: “Mick and I are so excited to be working on this project. We met a few years ago when we were both working on the Ted Hughes festival and knew that our creative styles would work well together. “I’d been looking for someone to collaborate with for almost ten years and then along came Mick from just down the road in Balby! Together we developed this idea to create an album of songs of our town and to work with the local community to hear their stories and memories of Doncaster to weave into the songs.”

The project aims to deliver an album about different elements of the town, people and places, unsung heroes and unexplored landscapes. “We’ve been taking the idea out and working with groups to help them to take their stories and write their own songs. “There is a strong sense of legacy about the project. We are developing people’s writing skills in special sessions, sharing stories and creating songs,” said Mick.

Rachel Ryan, from Right Up Our Street said: “This is one of our commissioned projects and we are extremely pleased with Ian and Mick’s proposal which will culminate in an event during DNweekeND in September where the songs are all performed. “The sessions they are holding around Doncaster are all free and there are no restrictions. They are for people off all ages who have a story to share.”

Other opportunities to work with Ian and Mick on Songs of Our Town will be:  The James Paine memorial event on June 17 at the Mansion House.

For further information about Right Up Our Street visit www.rightupourstreet.org.uk 

Item Added 1/6/2017

 

 

New project brings major folk song collection to the UK


A new project to incorporate a pivotal collection into the world’s largest online searchable database of folk songs and music has been announced.

 

The digitised collection of James Madison Carpenter, which has previously only been accessible by visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, will be added to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Digital Archive, thanks to a grant of more than 63,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow-on Funding Scheme.


Carpenter’s work includes a wealth of traditional songs, ballads and folk plays, collected from performers in
Scotland, England and Wales by the Harvard-trained scholar, mostly in the period 1929-35.

As well as more than 2,000 items of traditional song and 300 folk plays, it contains some items of traditional instrumental music, dance, custom, narrative and children's folklore.

The project is being delivered by the Elphinstone Institute, the centre for the study of Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at the University of Aberdeen, in partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, which runs the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and Archive (VWML) at Cecil Sharp House in London.

A new learning resource for teachers will be created for the online EFDSS Resource Bank using a selection of material from the collection. EFDSS will also deliver a series of creative learning projects with young people, adults, and in schools to introduce the collection to a new audience.

The project will culminate in a celebration concert at Cecil Sharp House in March 2018 featuring material from the Carpenter Collection.

Laura Smyth, Director of the VWML, said: “The Carpenter Collection will be a fantastic addition to our digital archive with collected materials from the early 1930s – a period with little activity from English based collectors.

“It also features a large number of audio recordings, allowing us to get even closer to the original performances.”

Dr Julia Bishop, leader of the James Madison Carpenter Collection Project, said: “‘The Carpenter Collection has been hidden for so long. This is a wonderful opportunity to return it to the communities and places where so much of it originated.”

Item Added 20/04/17

 

 

 

Nationwide search for next cohort of the National Youth Folk Ensemble

 

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has launched a nationwide search for talented young musicians to become the next members of the National Youth Folk Ensemble.

A series of Sampler Days will be held throughout England during May and June to audition musicians aged 14 to 18 for up to 25 places in the 2017 – 2018 Ensemble, which is supported by Arts Council England.

Led by the Ensemble’s Artistic Director, former BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year Sam Sweeney, each Sampler Day includes creative workshops with a team of professional folk artists, individual auditions, and a question and answer session with Ensemble staff.

Selected musicians will be invited to a final audition in London on July 8 or 9. To register for a Sampler Day, musicians have to be aged between 14 and 18 on 1 September 2017, live in England, be able to play confidently on any instrument and have an interest in folk music.

Places on the Sampler Days are free but limited and booking is essential at www.efdss.org/nationalyouthfolkensemble.

EFDSS launched the National Youth Folk Ensemble in 2016 to increase opportunities for young people and audiences to discover folk music and raise the profile of folk music in England.

During the year, members will take part in four weeks of intensive residential courses around the country, receiving high quality tuition and guidance from leading professional folk artists.

They will also develop skills in performance, arrangement and leadership and give public performances 

Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director
, said: “The first year of the Ensemble has been a huge success.

“It has been a chance for the young musicians to develop and challenge their own abilities and learn from some of the best musicians in contemporary English folk.

“We are now looking for more excellent instrumentalists who are dedicated to developing as folk musicians and excited about collaborating with others who share their passion. Whether they go on to make the final ensemble or not, taking part in a Sampler Day will be a valuable developmental opportunity for any young musicians interested in traditional music.”

Sixteen-year-old Cori Smith is a classically trained viola player who said she had been “transformed” since joining the National Youth Folk Ensemble.

“I’ve met so many talented people and it has been great to learn from them. I was a bit intimidated at the start, joining in the sessions with tunes that some other people just seemed to know, but by the end of the residential sessions, I had improved so much and was able to join in and play along by ear. It’s really developing my listening skills.

“It is such a warm and supportive environment, you can’t fail to be inspired,” she added.

National Youth Folk Ensemble Sampler Days 2017:

Saturday 27 May – Colston Hall, Bristol

Sunday 28 May – Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester

Monday 29 May – Sage Gateshead

Tuesday 30 May – University of Sheffield

Wednesday 31 May – Stamford Arts Centre

Friday 2 June – The Anvil, Basingstoke

Saturday 3 June – Cecil Sharp House, London

Sunday 4 June – mac Birmingham

Keep up to date with news about the ensemble at www.efdss.org/nationalyouthfolkensemble and tweet @theEFDSS #youthfolk

Item added 13/04/2017

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Lincolnshire Folk Forum

Brian Masson created a new forum for all things folk music in Lincolnshire. You can find it at: lincolnshirefolk.boards.net

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Changes at Swineshead

The Pig and Whistle, Swineshead, is under new management, and they have changed the name to The Green Dragon – address of course, remains the same. Session organisers Anne and Tom have also moved this year, so the contact phone number is now 01775 822569

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FiddleOn magazine merges with The Living Tradition

FiddleOn magazine, a specialist magazine devoted to the fiddle, is joining forces with The Living Tradition, the premier magazine for folk and traditional music with a primary focus on the UK and Ireland. This development, which brings further editorial expertise, additional subscribers and a wider reach is good news all round.

The fiddle is one of the dominant instruments in traditional folk music and is already well represented within the pages of The Living Tradition, a presence that is set to continue as contributors to FiddleOn join forces with existing Living Tradition writers and reviewers.

Jed Mugford, who has created and edited FiddleOn over the last 15 years, is delighted with the move. “The Living Tradition offers scope for enhanced fiddle related articles within its full colour A4 format and all subscriptions to FiddleOn will be honoured by The Living Tradition.”

Both The Living Tradition and FiddleOn have been fully committed to a physical printed magazine for a number of reasons, and that commitment is strengthened by this latest move. Over the last couple of years The Living Tradition magazine has been handed on to another generation, with Fiona Heywood and Jim Byrne taking over the reins from Pete Heywood. Both Pete Heywood and FiddleOn’s Jed Mugford will continue to have an interest in the future of the magazine, but both are now in a position to devote more time to other projects.

Since celebrating reaching its 100th issue back in February 2014, The Living Tradition magazine is going from strength to strength and, with this latest development, it is well placed to continue to deliver the best news, reviews and information from the traditional folk scene. If you are interested in this kind of music – The Living Tradition is the magazine for you!

If you would like to see a copy of this glossy, full colour, 68 page, A4 magazine, send the Living Tradition team your address and they will be happy to send you a sample copy. Email: admin@livingtradition.co.uk.

Subscription information and publication details are available from The Living Tradition website – www.livingtradition.co.uk

The FiddleOn website will remain live and various back issues are available - www.fiddleon.co.uk


 

 

 

Copyright Jim Hancock 2004 - 2015