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News: 2016 - 2017

 

   

We are always pleased to receive news items relating to folk arts in the region, but we cannot always guarantee to include them here. Concise, relevant copy with full contact details is particularly welcome, especially if you can also supply a photograph or other illustration.

See Also Clubs & Sessions News

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

 


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 http://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


English Folk Dance and Song Society announces Gold Badge for Pete and Sue Coe

Gold Badges are given for unique or outstanding contributions to folk music, dance or song, distinguished service to EFDSS and/or exceptional contributions to EFDSS’ work.

This year, Pete Coe has celebrated more than 50 years of music making on the English folk scene. His contributions include traditional song research, song writing in traditional style, the founding of several seminal bands, plus solo and duo performances, dance calling, recording, field research, local folk activism in Ryburn Three Step and teaching at various levels.

He was the founder member and visionary force behind three particularly ground breaking groups – The New Victory Band, Bandoggs and Red Shift – all of which brought something new to the folk scene.

As well as developing a wide range of traditional songs for performance, Pete has had an illustrious songwriting career with many songs covered by other artists. His collecting of a single verse of Marching Down through Rochester with its Waltzing Matilda tune, and its subsequent expansion to a full song has made him the focus of attention by various researchers in search of the roots of the famous Australian song. Most recently Mark Radcliffe featured his rather personal Rolling Down The Ryburn on his BBC Radio 2 programme, sung by Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar.

Pete has contributed a number of field recordings including Caleb Walker (musician for Manley Morris), travellers Charlotte & Betsy Renals and Sophie Legge, and Willy Taylor. He has carried out extensive research into the work of Frank Kidson, which resulted in a touring show and a CD under the title of Five Finger Frank.

Pete has also worked extensively in schools throughout the country as a visiting musician both on his own account and for the EFDSS on the Take 6 Project. He was also a founder member of Ryburn Three Step, along with wife Sue.

Sue Coe came to English folk music later in her husband Pete’s career and added her enthusiastic contributions with huge administration efforts within Ryburn Three Step. Sue provided all the administration including early funding applications as well as teaching Appalachian dance and the longsword side for Ryburn Three Step.

Ryburn Three Step organises a range of regular activities for local people including clog and Appalachian step dance classes, a singing group, a longsword dance side plus an offshoot rapper side, a mummer’s side, monthly folk club and dance, occasional workshop days plus weekly music sessions in the local pub.

She developed Ryburn Longsword over several years, recruiting youngsters from local schools and ultimately including their mothers in the dancing, resulting in a junior and a senior team. Along with team members she developed new dances with a local flavour and has presented the Ryburn team regularly at dance festivals.

Sue continues to run weekly workshops for disabled and wheelchair bound youngsters, developing dances suitable for their abilities and providing for them a very necessary inclusion and off course we must not forget her extensive work for Yorkshire Folk Arts over the years.

Item added July 2016


 

EFDSS to receive international lifetime achievement award

National folk arts development agency, the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), has been named as one of the 2016 recipients of a prestigious international lifetime achievement award from Folk Alliance International.

Chief Executive Katy Spicer will receive The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of EFDSS during the opening evening of the 28th annual Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas, USA, on Wednesday, February 17, 2016.

The award is named for one of the founders of Folk Alliance International, which is the world’s largest gathering of the folk music industry. Each year, the awards are presented to a living recipient, a memorial recipient and an active organisation and are determined by a select international panel.

Past recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Awards include Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples, The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Robert Johnson, Bessie Jones, Alan Lomax, The Newport Folk Festival, Old Town School of Folk Music, National Council for Traditional Arts, and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, among others.

EFDSS Chief Executive Katy Spicer said: “As an organisation, we are thrilled to be recognised for our work in preserving, promoting and disseminating traditional English folk arts.

“To join such esteemed organisations such as the American Folklife Center and folk luminiaries as song collector Alan Lomax is a great honour.”


EFDSS has been showcasing English folk artists at Folk Alliance for the past four years? as part of its international programme,?The 2016 artists ?attending include Leveret, Nancy Kerr and Lady Maisery.

Item added 14/01/2016

 


Malcolm Douglas 1955 - 2009

We are deeply saddened at the loss of one of our number, Malcolm Douglas, an invaluable member of the Yorkshire Folk Arts' management team from its inception. In addition to designing, setting up and maintaining the YFA website Malcolm could always be relied upon to contribute thoughtful, knowledgeable and very sensible observations to all of our discussions and planning sessions. His fondness for good beer and debate were among the many other attributes that made for an enjoyable colleague and all-round excellent bloke. He will be sorely missed.

Three of Malcolm's good friends have written the following words which we are glad to reproduce below.

Martin Bull, Chairman, for all of YFA

Malcolm Douglas

Our friend Malcolm Douglas, who has died from cancer aged 54, had many talents, but two in particular brought him to national prominence. He had a compendious knowledge and understanding of traditional folk song (mainly, but not exclusively, English folk song), and he was a renowned illustrator and comic artist. He fell into these contrasting fields by accident, but he treated them with meticulous attention to detail and a professionalism that belied his lack of formal training.

He became an illustrator after volunteering to illustrate a student union newspaper at Sheffield University, and found that people were prepared to pay him to do what had hitherto been a hobby. His illustrations featured in a wide range of comics, of which the best known was Oink; he was also the illustrator of the footballing devilkin Fred the Red, for five years delighting both young and old readers of Manchester United match programmes.

For the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) he revised the evergreen song collection, The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, originally edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd in 1959. In his new edition, published as Classic English Folk Songs, he corrected previous errors and brought to the book a wealth of additional detail.

He did the same well-researched and comprehensive review of another of the EFDSS's most successful publications, Marrow Bones, a collection of folk songs from Dorset and Hampshire, originally edited by Frank Purslow. He was working on a third, The Wanton Seed, when he succumbed to illness. He was also well-known amongst folk music enthusiasts for his contributions to the on-line forum The Mudcat Café, where he hadposted almost 9000 detailed answers to questions about the most obscure aspects of folk song and music. He was happy to point people to the sources of his knowledge and help them to find answers for themselves.

Malcolm was born and brought up in South London, and after attending Trinity School of John Whitgift in Croydon, he came to Sheffield University to study French and English and stayed in the city, which he regarded as his home town.

Malcolm was committed to the principle of the people's ownership of their cultural heritage and was involved in many grassroots initiatives, even expressing concern about what he saw as the over-professionalisation of the folk arts. He was co-host at Sheffield's Red Deer folk club for a decade and was active in regional organisations such as the South Riding Folk Network (SRFN) and Yorkshire Folk Arts, bringing his literary and technological skills to bear in maintaining websites for both organisations, editing the SRFN magazine and designing the south Yorkshire folk magazine Stirrings.

Malcolm was also a performer, playing fiddle, mandolin and cittern with various concert and dance bands and was a familiar figure at music sessions in and around Sheffield. He never married, but is survived byhis mother and brother Ian.

Ron Day, Dave Eyre and Raymond Greenoaken.

 

 

 


 

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