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Folkestra at Celtic Connections - words from our participants!

Posted on 20 April 2012

Folkestra at Celtic Connections

Founded and directed by renowned Northumbrian musician and Folkworks Artistic Director Kathryn Tickell, Folkestra our outstanding and unique regional youth folk ensemble – part of the Young Musician’s Programme. Here’s a report from the Folkestra front line from one of the participants:

In October 2011, Folkestra found out that we would be taking part in Celtic Connections in January 2012, going up to Glasgow for a weekend. After three months of looking forward in anticipation, we wondered if the event was going to live up to our expectations. The short answer is no. It far surpassed them!!

We travelled up from Sage Gateshead on the Friday night, on a seemingly endless bus journey, finally arriving in Glasgow at about half past ten. As soon as rooms had been allocated Folkestra started a session in the breakfast room of the Holiday Inn Express. The leaders finally got us into our rooms around midnight.

Folkestra had a sound test in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday morning for a slot in a joint afternoon concert with some students from the Glasgow Traditional Music course. The concert was really well received by a sold out audience. The band really enjoyed playing in the concert, and it was a great experience listening to the other music students.

After the concert, Folkestra members went their separate ways in groups, some going back to the Holiday Inn to get changed, others going off into Glasgow, and the rest going off to find a session in one of Glasgow’s many venues. We all regrouped to go and see Breabach, an absolutely amazing Scottish folk band, with bagpipers/whistlers, a fiddler, a guitarist and a double bass player. After the concert, we went to another part of the Concert Hall to listen to the Late Night Session, a conglomeration of all that day’s performers, each playing a few sets. After a foray into Glasgow for a McDonalds, we discovered on our return to the Session that all persons under the age of 18 had to be out of the building by 1am (something to do with the licensing of the premises), much our disappointment.

Sunday morning was allocated as free time, for the band to have a lie in, although some of the more adventurous ones wandered into Glasgow to a music shop for one of the band members to try out an accordion. We eventually found the place… but that’s another story. Later, some of the band went busking, raising £90.37 in less than an hour on a cold January Sunday lunchtime in Glasgow city centre. We considered this quite an achievement!!

Folkestra then went to Glasgow Arts Centre to play in the Showcase Scotland Spotlight England concert. We really played our hearts out, on a tiny little stage – have you ever tried playing the fiddle when you are shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you? Everyone there seemed really impressed; we even got a standing ovation from one chap! Lots of international delegates were there, so we are hoping for future trips overseas. After the performance, we said a sad farewell to Glasgow, and boarded the bus for the long slog back to Gateshead.

Folkestra had an absolutely fantastic weekend. It was a great musical experience, and a chance to relax and socialise after (although in some cases before) exams. I am sure that everyone would love to go again next year! – Matthew Jordan

Applications are still being taken for the Young Musicians Programme 2012/13 – including Folkestra. Please note that the closing date for applications is 4 May 2012. Visit the Young Musicians Programme webpage for more information.

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