The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are heading out for their annual summer tour.
Dates for the 50-piece group include their debut appearance in a cathedral, and conclude with the prestigious Festival Finale spot at Towersey Festival, one of the UK’s oldest music festivals.
Their appearance at Lichfield Cathedral – the country’s only medieval three-spired cathedral – is in aid of the magnificent venue and When You Wish Upon A Star, a leading charity which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Other tour highlights include hosting Power Folk 6, in their home city of Birmingham. A one-day mini-festival (and guaranteed sell out), this year sees the group perform alongside invited guests such as singer-songwriter Kevin Dempsey (Dando Shaft, Swarb’s Lazarus, Whippersnapper), new folk/ fusion band Gathering Tides, and trio Threaded.
The jaunt kicks off with a special two-set show at their Conservatoire HQ. Due to the logistical challenges of performing with such a sizeable company, this is the first time the entire ensemble have played their complete live set on home turf in several years.
Says band leader Joe Broughton: “Every year we bring something new to the ensemble’s shows, and this year is no exception. Throughout the summer we’ll be playing plenty of the old favourites, yet with some slightly different arrangements. But we also have some amazing new tunes, which are just getting better and better every time we perform them.
“With this number of musicians on stage at any one time, things never stand still. It’s just a joyous, joyous thing!”
The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble’s energetic and powerful live sets are indeed a sight to behold, presently featuring an 18-piece horn section, five cellists, seven percussionists and five electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, euphonium, and accordions! They also all sing too.
Though rooted in traditional folk tunes, the personal influences of each member steers the set, pulling in everything from full-on rock grooves, to funk, jazz, hip-hop and reggae, to sounds from Eastern Europe and Asia. It’s a sound they’ve dubbed ‘Power Folk.’
Formed in 1997 by fiddle player, arranger, producer and tutor Joe Broughton, they’ve played dozens of major music festivals, released four lauded albums, established their own annual mini-festival, packed out the Royal Albert Hall, become an online sensation, and provided the launch pad for countless other acts.
In the last 12 months, the ensemble have unleashed the exceptionally diverse Sleepy Maggie mini-album, recorded their first ever professional music video, and in March they brought shoppers to a standstill with a pop-up performance at the famed Bull Ring, in Birmingham – one of the country’s busiest retail centres.
Featuring dazzling work-outs with all 50-plus musicians alongside hushed solo performances, here’s a rare chance to really experience the shape-shifting collective in all their spectacular glory as they head out on tour …
Artists’ website: www.folkensemble.co.uk
‘Sleepy Maggie’ – live:
Friday 3 May 2019
Thursday 9 May 2019
Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 7LD
Gala Fundraising Concert in aid of When You Wish Upon A Star
Thursday 23 May 2019
Leek Arts Festival, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Market Place, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 6AD
Thursday 30 May 2019
Alexander’s, Rufus Court, Chester CH1 2JW
Friday 31 May 2019
Forest Arts Centre, Old Milton Road, New Milton, Hampshire BH25 6DS
Saturday 1 June 2019
Sutton Village Hall, 1A High Street, Sutton, Bedfordshire SG19 2NE
Thursday 6 June 2019
Ashcroft Arts Centre, Osborn Road, Fareham, Hampshire PO16 7DX
Friday 7 June 2019
Huntingdon Hall, CrownGate, Worcester WR1 3LD
7.30pm £17.50 (Concs £16)
Sunday 9 June 2019
Power Folk 6, Spotted Dog, 104 Warwick Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B12 0NH
With the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble and special guests, including Kevin Dempsey, Gathering Tides and more …
From 3pm £17 (TICKETS LIMITED)
Monday 26 August 2019
Towersey Festival, The Thame Showground, Kingsey Road, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3JL
Day Tickets: Adult £46; Youth £32; Child £21; U5 Free