The English Folk Dance and Song Society announces its autumn education programme

Education

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has unveiled its programme of activities for the autumn season (September to December) at Cecil Sharp House in London.

Activities on offer include classes, courses and workshops based on traditional English folk arts for children, young people, adults and families.

Highlights of the season are:

·      The chance to try a sampler session for the London Youth Folk Ensemble on September 17

·      An Introduction to Folk Song in England workshop on November 19

·      October half term folk music making and dance courses for children and young people

·      A youth ceilidh for 12 to 19-year-olds on November 12

·      A chance to dance the night away and see in the New Year with a ceilidh on December 31

·      Regular music and dance classes, catering for all ages and skill levels

Cecil Sharp House, England’s national folk arts centre and home of EFDSS, is located between Camden and Primrose Hill within easy reach of public transport. It has step free access to all levels.

A full list of classes and courses at Cecil Sharp House can be found at: http://www.cecilsharphouse.org/csh-whats-on

Children & Young People

For more information about all the summer holiday courses and booking: https://www.cecilsharphouse.org/csh-learning/holiday-courses-cecil-sharp-house

Fun With Folk

A lively day of folk dance, music and song for 6 – 8 year olds
Monday 23 Oct, 10.30am – 4pm
Course fee: £30 | £20 concessions (advance booking required)

Enjoy a lively day exploring folk dance, music and song.  The course ends with a chance to perform your new skills to family and friends.  No previous experience of folk dance or music required.

Get Your Folk On! Juniors

An exciting introduction to all things folk for 9 – 12 year olds
24 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Course fee: £30 | £20 concessions (advance booking required)

Musicians of all instruments and levels are welcome to come and enjoy playing, singing, dancing and creating fantastic folk music. The course ends with a chance to perform your new skills to family and friends. No previous experience of folk music or dance needed.

Get Your Folk On!

A creative folk course for 12 – 19 year olds
25 – 27 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Course fee: £90 | £60 concessions (advance booking required)

Explore traditional folk music and dance from the British Isles with inspiring professional folk musicians.  Choose your sessions, with options to try new skills and instruments, learn and arrange tunes, songs or dances and much more. The course ends with an informal concert for family and friends. No previous experience of folk dance or music required.

Get Your Folk On! Plus

A creative folk workshop for disabled 12 – 24 year olds, their siblings and friends
26 October 2pm – 4pm
Course fee: £12 | £8 concessions (advance booking required)

Explore and create folk music and song together in an inclusive, sensory environment. All abilities and levels of experience welcome. No prior experience of playing music required.

London Youth Folk Ensemble Sampler Session

Sunday September 17, 2 – 5pm
Free but pre-booking necessary, as places are limited

If you are interested in joining the London Youth Folk Ensemble come to the sampler session, the first of the year. Meet the tutors, learn some tunes, and find out more about the coming year’s plans and events.

London Youth Folk Ensemble 2017 – 18

Various Sundays 2 – 5pm (17 weeks including Sampler Session)
For 12 – 19 year olds
For more details visit: cecilsharphouse.org/lyfe

Welcoming young musicians who want to create and perform amazing folk music together! The Ensemble meets regularly from September to July, led by professional folk musicians, and performs at exciting events across London and beyond. Open for improver to advanced level musicians of any instrument. London Youth Folk Ensemble is an annual commitment, for which there is a fee.

Youth Forum

For 14-21 year olds (disabled young people up to 24 years old)
Various Wednesdays 5 – 7pm

Are you passionate about the folk arts? Join us and get your voice heard at EFDSS and Cecil Sharp House!  Gain experience in producing and marketing youth events, meet folk artists, attend gigs and tell us what you think.  The Youth Forum meets monthly at Cecil Sharp House.

Membership of the Youth Forum is free but places are limited. Apply to join at: efdss.org/youthforum

Youth Ceilidh

Sunday 12 Nov, 6–8pm
For 12–19 year olds
Tickets: £6

Dance your socks off to some energetic English ceilidh music with musicians Nick Hart and Dave Delarre and caller Gwennie Chatfield. Come with your friends or on your own. Suitable for all levels of experience as a caller will show you the moves and the dances will be walked through. Refreshments available.

Family

Family Barn Dance

Sundays 8 Oct | 12 Nov | 10 Dec, 3-5pm
Tickets: £7 adult | £5 children | £2 for under 2s

Bring the entire family and take part in lively dances from the British Isles in a supportive and fun environment! Live music inspires the dancing and expert callers guide the moves with simple instructions.

Groups should include a minimum of one adult for every four children. Children under 5 should be partnered by an adult and may need guiding or carrying through the dances. No unaccompanied children or adults!

Advance booking recommended.

Dance

New Year’s Eve Ceilidh

Sunday 31 December, 8pm – 1am
£30 | £20 under 26s (tickets available in advance only)

Dance away the old year and welcome in 2018 to the irresistible sounds and lively dances of an English ceilidh! With driving music from the Will Pound Band, caller Sheena Masson will show you the moves as the dances are walked through and called. Come with your friends or on your own—suitable for all levels of experience. Recommended for everyone over 10 years (not suitable for young children). Bar open and refreshments available.

Classes, Courses & Workshops

Monday Folk Choir Workshops

Mondays 18 Sept | 2, 16 Oct | 6, 20 Nov | 4 Dec, 7 – 9pm
Term fee: £60 | £48 concessions
(advance booking required)

Explore choral folk song arrangements in a relaxed and friendly environment. These 6 sessions are suitable for singers of all abilities, without the pressure and commitment of public performance. All material is taught by ear.

Morris Dancing

Tuesdays 19 Sept – 12 Dec
Beginners: 6.30 – 8pm
Improvers and advanced: 7 – 9pm
Term fee: £91 | £71.50 concessions (advance booking required)
Carnet of 8 tickets: £60 | £48 concessions (advance booking required)
Drop-in: £8 | £6.50 concessions (payable on the night)

This mixed level class is based on the popular and lively Cotswold morris tradition, in which dancers perform with handkerchiefs and sticks. Led by tutor Andy Richards.

Please note: these classes are designed to overlap. This allows beginners to be taught on their own first, and then learn from more experienced dancers in a mixed session from 7 – 8pm

Cecil Sharp House Choir

Wednesdays 20 Sept – 13 Dec (no session 25 Oct), 7- 9pm
Term fee: £82 | £66 concessions (advance booking required)
Sing traditional songs from the British Isles and beyond, in a cappella harmony arrangements, by choir leader Sally Davies. For confident singers, who can hold a tune and are keen to perform.

English Country Dancing

Thursdays 14 Sept – 14 Dec, 7.30-10pm
Term fee: £98 | £77 concessions (advance booking required)
Carnet of 8 tickets: £60 | £48 concessions (advance booking required)
Drop-in: £8 | £6.50 concessions (payable on the night)

Learn the steps for English social folk dancing with tutor and caller Mike Ruff – country, ceilidh and barn dancing – and related styles from further afield such as American Contra. Musicians welcome to join the live band led by Ian Cutts. No need to bring a partner and open to dancers of all levels of experience including absolute beginners!

Saturday Folk Music Workshops

9, 23, 30 Sept | 14, 21 Oct | 4, 18 Nov | 2, 16 Dec, (the course continues Jan – April 2018); times vary depending on workshop
Term fee per workshop: £131 | £90 concessions (9 week term, advance booking required)

Discover your inner folk! Fun, welcoming and expertly taught workshops at different levels in accordion, banjo, fiddle, guitar, melodeon, penny whistle and mixed instrument classes, led by our team of expert folk artist tutors including Hazel Askew, David Delarre, Beth Gifford, Ed Hicks, Paul Hutchinson, Jacquelyn Hines and Laurel Swift.

An Introduction to Folk Song in England

Sun 19 Nov, 10.30am – 4.30pm
£45 / £36 concessions

Internationally published folklorist Steve Roud presents with Laura Smyth, EFDSS’ Library and Archive Director, this popular introductory level day exploring the history of English folk song. Topics will include: the many possible definitions of ‘folk’, the songs themselves, the singers, the places and times for singing, the music, cheap printed broadsides and other sources from which people learned songs, the folksong collectors, the scholars and the beginnings of the post-War revival. The course is aimed at beginners and will not presume any previous experience or knowledge.

Conferences

Traditional Tunes and Popular Airs: History and Transmission

Friday 6 – Saturday 7 October, 9am–5pm, £45 full weekend | £30 one day

Researchers have long been fascinated by the recurrence of tunes in all manner of musical styles and genres, performance contexts, levels of society, historical periods, and geographical locations. But how are we to understand this phenomenon?

The 21st century has seen a renewal of interest in the history and comparative study of melody, and the study of musical perception and memory. This conference brings together those working on ‘traditional’ and ‘popular’ tunes across multiple contexts. Topics include: tunebooks ; composers, arrangers and collectors ; song tunes in performance ; melodic traditions ; dance tunes, and much more.

Art

Kissing the Shuttle by Caitlin Hinshelwood

27 September 2017 – 28 January 2018

An exhibition of new large-scale textile banners created in response to research from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, the Working Class Movement Library and the People’s History Museum.

The work explores the qualities of protest and resistance present in working and industrial song and union and protest banners, as well as drawing on the folk practices, sense of community and forms of communication that come from work and the work place.

Imagery touches upon the use of gestures, signs, symbolism, speech ways, and customs performed primarily in the textile trades and industries of the North West and Northern Ireland, alongside folk traditions that came directly from the mills or were closely connected to those communities.

The banners are screen-printed on silk using embellishments of rosettes, ribbons, ruffles and fringing, adopting the visual language and craftsmanship of historic banners and associated folk costumes.

Caitlin Hinshelwood is a London based artist and textile designer interested in the narrative possibilities of textiles; how textiles can be used to communicate and how they act as repositories of personal or social history.

Entry: Free during opening times of the building

Booking information:

Advance booking is generally required for courses and workshops. Please visit www.cecilsharphouse.org to pay and enrol. (There are no transaction fees for classes and courses).

To pay for drop-in classes, pay the tutor cash on the night.

Tickets for events can be purchased from the reception desk at Cecil Sharp House (in person only), Monday – Friday, 9.30 – 5.30pm, with no transaction fee.

Adult Learning

Unless stated otherwise, classes are open to everyone over the age of 16 years. Advance booking is required for some courses and drop-in is possible for others – please check the details against each relevant course.

Youth

All youth courses must be booked in advance. Concessions are available to young people in receipt of free school meals.

Refund policy

All EFDSS courses are non-refundable unless the course is cancelled by EFDSS.

Concessionary Policy

You may apply for the concessionary fee for any EFDSS classes and courses if you are:

In full-time education
In receipt of Job Seekers Allowance
In receipt of Income-Based Benefit (including Income Support, Housing or Council Tax Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Pension Credit)

National folk arts library to undergo a major refurbishment

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library

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.

DARIA KULESH Live at Cecil Sharp House

Daria Kulesh live
Photograph by Tony Birch

February 23rd is a date that should be known in history.  On this day in 1944 the entire population of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, those who weren’t away at war fighting for the Soviet Union, were told they were being deported for alleged collaboration with the enemy.  Many were children and resistance was met with death.

Move forward to 2017 and February 23rd was the date chosen by Daria Kulesh to launch her second album Long Lost Home at Cecil Sharp House in London. The location was appropriate because, as Daria said, CSH collects and stores folk memories so that they are available for future generations and Long Lost Home is more than just an album of songs as Daria through her Grandmother, Fatima Akhrieva, is Ingushetian. The evening was a celebration of her journey to find that link to her past.

February 23rd 2017 will also be remembered for Storm Doris, which provided a suitably tumultuous backdrop to the event but unfortunately disrupted travel and meant some audience members were unable to attend. They missed an evening of powerful, moving emotion that was also uplifting with its message of hope for the future.

The evening began with two well received pieces from Timur Dzeytov, People’s Artist of Ingushetia, including a song about the deportations followed by a traditional tune.  He played the dakhchan pandar, a form of the balalaika, and it was obvious even to me that this was not “Russian” music.  There were resonances of the near- and middle-east in the sound.  It was a suitably exotic opening.

Daria then took to the stage wearing a most beautiful dress that had been hand made and decorated in traditional style. She opened, as does the album, with ‘Tamara’ a dark song about sorcery and death.  The simple accompaniment from Timur and Evan Carson (percussion) emphasised the words well.  Evan came in as an emergency replacement but it certainly didn’t look that way, the sign of a very talented musician.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen some of these songs before, at least one on its debut, often with just Daria accompanying herself on guitar or shruti.  For the album launch we were treated to a full backing band which allowed the music to be fully expressed.  At various points during the evening we were also introduced to Jonny Dyer (piano and guitar), Kate Rouse (hammered dulcimer and piano), Vicki Swan (double bass, nyckelharpa and small pipes) and Phil Underwood (various accordions and guitar).

Daria Kulesh live
Photograph by Tony Birch

The evening followed the album so we were quckly enraptured with the ‘The Moon and The Pilot’, the story of Daria’s great-grandparents, Diba Posheva and Rashid Akhriev.  Diba was one of the deportees in 1944, two years after Rashid died a Hero of the Soviet Union in the battle for Leningrad.  It could not save his wife and their two young children, one of whom was Daria’s grandmother.  It was impossible not to be moved by Diba’s story of resilience and love for her children.

My personal favourite on the album came not long afterwards. ‘Amanat’ is the story of a relative even further back in time, Chakh Akhriev, who was born in 1850 and essentially fostered to Russian parents as a hostage.  It’s a story of a different time and place, yet of a man who never quite fitted in.  The song appeals to me, maybe for that reason, and it is also a fine example of Daria’s incredible vocal ability.  There’s so much power, range and control in her singing she entrances a room in the way very few other singers can.

This is not a review of the album so I will only mention one more song, ‘Heart’s Delight’.  This is Daria’s translation of the Ingush ‘Song of Mochkha’.  She also wrote the gloriously uplifting tune.  The first time I heard it I thought it was the Ingush National Anthem, and it possibly should be.

What is yours by right, May you always hold/May your heart’s delight become your fate.

To show how music can cross boundaries this was the tune where Vicki Swan played her small pipes, a suggestion which originally came from Timur Dzeytov.  It worked so very well; the drone of the pipes adding a frisson to the words that raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

For an encore we were treated to ‘Fata Morgana’, the opening track from debut album ‘Eternal Child’ and the start of Daria’s journey to her Long Lost Home in the Caucasus Mountains.  To complete the journey Timur Dzeytov returned to the stage to play a lezginka, a traditional dance from the Caucasus.  In the dance the man (on this occasion Anzor Aushev, who was one of Daria’s hosts in Ingushetia on her research trip for the album) is an eagle and the woman, whose name I don’t know, is a swan.  It was a beautiful insight to a different culture, the dance involved no contact between the partners but the courtship aspect was more than clear.  This is the dance which is also referred to in ‘Like A God’, the story of Daria’s great-great-uncle, and Diba’s brother, Aludin Poshev.  It was said he could dance like a god.

We also had a speech from Khairudin, the leader of the Vainakh (Ingush & Chechen) community in London  and I was left with the impression that Long Lost Home is a folk memory of Ingushetia that will become important to a country and people who are trying to reestablish their identity after many years of turbulence and suppression.

Tony Birch

Artist’s website: http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk/

‘The Moon And The Pilot’ – official video:

Review of Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, James Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters concert in aid of charity for musicians

AN EVENING WITH MARTIN CARTHY AND DAVE SWARBRICK, JAMES YORKSTON AND THE CARRIVICK SISTERS AT THE CECIL SHARPE HOUSE  REGENT’S PARK LONDON ON 18th DECEMBER 2012

At the outset let it be known that folk gatherings have never been top of my list in Winter, however,  I was very pleased to have had the good sense to attend this superb concert at the ‘Mecca’ of British Folk and to patronise such a worthy cause.   This concert was sponsored by the Musicians’  Benevolent Fund, was most ably hosted by the one and only “Whisperin’ Bob Harris” OBE, and portrayed the musical talent of Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, John Yorkston and The Carrivick Sisters.

Bob opened the concert and, in his usual warm and relaxed professional manner, he extolled the virtues of The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and stressed its significance to musicians.   In essence, the fund was set up to “provide help and support to musicians and their dependants, and those in related occupations, when illness, accident or old age bring stress or financial burdens to bear.” During the evening the mellifluous Bob declared that tonight’s audience was the largest ever held in this venue and I sincerely hoped that The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund would benefit admirably from their generosity

This concert was, in my opinion, a concert of contrasts:  contrasts of music types from Bluegrass to Baroque, rhythms and time signatures, styles and origin. Contrasts in instruments (albeit all of the stringed variety) ranging from the banjo to the fiddle.  And contrasts in artists ranging from the young twenty somethings to the young seventy somethings!  There was, however, one issue in common with each of the headline artists…. they had, at some time in their career, sought and received the help of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund.

First on were …. The  Carrivick Sisters …… twins Laura and Charlotte seemed totally at home on such an occasion and they performed a series of their original songs and instrumentals using a variety of stringed instruments, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, Dobro, and banjo along with a several carefully chosen “covers”.  I particularly enjoyed listening to Laura’s compositions involving the Dobro which reminded me so much of Iris DeMent and marvelled at Charlotte’s nimble finger picking. In my opinion their overall stage presence, interaction with the audience and musical prowess belied their tender age (compared to Bob anyway!!).  During their set they made reference to financial support proffered by The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund to fund their latest album release.

Next we listened to James Yorkston who hails from Fife…..James  started out as bassist for a punk band  and then, as some would put it, “saw the light” to become one of Scotland’s most renowned singer- songwriters.  James opened his set by conveying to the audience his sadness for Douglas Paul who, as his bass player, had been with him since 2001 and had recently passed away.  James related also his past memories of this magnificent concert hall.  To me (and others) it seemed that most of his hour’s performance was a lament for “Doogie”.  Nevertheless despite the poignant occasion, James’ emotional music and lyrics were fascinating to listen to, more so when embellished by his two guest singers  Belfast-born, Chicago-raised Jill O’Sullivan from the group Sparrow and the Workshop and Mayo man singer-songwriter Seamus Fogarty.  James’s expounded and commended the vital work of The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and how it had helped him financially when one of his children became seriously ill…..

And finally after more stirring and passionate words in support of The Musicians’ Benevolent  Fund by Bob, the highlight of many peoples’ evening…..the high priests of British folk music and top of the bill, Martin Cathay and Dave Swarbrick both looking so relaxed and at home on stage in front of a very eager audience.  “I played here 54 years ago” quipped Dave……I noted that the majority of the audience weren’t even thought of then!

And then it began…..over an hour of remarkable and awe-inspiring music played by the Grand Masters.  It was incredible to listen to and a total contrast to anything before.  Their choice was significantly of the Baroque era but not in that style as we know it.  There were songs and instrumentals encompassing various compound time signatures and no hint of bar counting!!  It was wonderful to watch and hear the stirring fiddle playing by Dave neatly intertwined with  Martin’s guitar and his well-celebrated vocals….Dave’s “I left my Heart in New South Wales” was my favourite of the evening…..

Seemingly, in next to no time the concert came to a close despite the audience clamouring for more encores from Messrs. Martin and Dave. Finally, to each and every musician gracing that stage and beguiling a very enthusiastic audience we thank you for such a memorable evening.

Peter Burch – 25th December 2012

Speaking about his involvement, Bob Harris OBE said “I am delighted to be part of this wonderful event and hope that it raises the profile for the Musicians Benevolent Fund which is a vital lifeline for so many musicians, without which they would face a very uncertain future.”

Further information about The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund is available here: https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/

This event was made possible by everyone involved donating their time and The English Folk Dance and Song Society generously allowing free hire of Cecil Sharp House.

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