Folkestra Information

Age 13-19

With two successful CDs and a growing national reputation, Folkestra have performed at numerous concerts and festivals across the country from Towersey to Edinburgh. In July 2008, Folkestra performed at the BBC Proms first ever ‘Folk Day’; following this success they performed at The Sage Gateshead’s 5th Birthday celebrations in December 2009 when Folkestra members (old and new) played alongside Sting, Andy Sheppard and Thea Gilmore in Kathryn Tickell’s Surprise Concert. More recently, Folkestra wowed audiences at Celtic Connections, on the Newcastle Quayside in celebration of the Olympic Torch Relay and at the BT River of Music Festival in London’s Trafalgar Square. In April 2014 the band spent a week in residence at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, USA.

Founded by renowned Northumbrian musician Kathryn Tickell, the group now works with some of the finest folk tutors in the country, including Kathryn Davidson, Dave Wood, and their new Music Director Ian Stephenson. Folkestra’s repertoire includes traditional music and members’ own compositions.

The musicians are aged 13 – 19. No previous experience of folk music is required and players of any instrument (including singers) can apply to join the ensemble.

Application and Auditions

Application for Folkestra takes place between February and April each year, with auditions in May and June.

2017/18 Auditions will be on 21st May.
We may be able to arrange auditions outside this date, but only in exceptional circumstances, please let us know if you are unavailable on this date.

Candidates will be asked to:

  • prepare two contrasting pieces to perform
  • prepare a short extract on any second instrument / voice if applicable

The audition should last no more than 10 minutes in total.

Please note we are unable to provide an accompanist for your audition. You are welcome to bring your own.


Folkestra rehearse fortnightly on Sunday afternoons during term time at Sage Gateshead and the band enjoys performing in various concerts and festivals throughout the year with a residential weekend at the beginning of the year, and a further residential in February half term which helps to bond the group musically and socially. The final schedule for 16/17 is available in the downloads on the left and by following the link below.

Final Schedule 16/17

First Draft Schedule 17/18

To participate fully students must be available for all the dates within each designated project as this is the only way the ensemble can reach the high standards for which it strives. If students are unavailable for any rehearsal or concert it is extremely important that the YMP team are notified at the time a place is offered so that they can plan accordingly to the benefit of all

Folkestra Course Fees 17/18 £850 (Includes residential accommodation and meals, transport where provided, tutoring and other staffing costs)

Financial Assistance is available through Sage Gateshead’s David Goldman Programme. Means tested grants are awarded following a panel meeting each July and students can apply for these once a place in Folkestra has been offered following audition. For more information on the David Goldman programme please see the downloads on the left of this page.

(Younger and less advanced students may be interested in our non auditioned folk ensemble, Folkworks Saturdays)