|Save by an evil chance,|
|And the merry love the fiddle|
|And the merry love to dance:|
from The Fiddler of Dooney WB Yeats .
|Lost City Rambler Tom Paley|
The venue with its small basement cafe & bar and assorted meeting rooms has an austere but convivial air of a youth hostel.
The format was an afternoon and evening of workshops, informal jam sessions, a fiddle contest and finally a showcase concert to finish . There were three anchor tutors (sadly Ivor Ottley wasn't in the line up as expected) Chris Haigh is a self confessed plunderer of other musical traditions and his well researched trawl through Hungarian folk music was entertaining and informative . Veteran bluegrass fiddler Bob Winquist took us through the old timey, Roxanne's Waltz . It is always interesting to see how teachers approach the group lesson experience and the shared experience of playing tunes with a whiff of far flung places was fun.
|Sonic Violins Henry and Piotr|
Flame haired Elizabeth Flett from Dundee was a worthy winner of a surprisingly small pool of teenagers. Her rendition of a Scottish air displayed a very mature style. Youngest contestant was Billy Hill and I met both Billy and his mother who featured in this recent Guardian article I enjoyed David Protheroe's performance of the Butterfly and he spoke to me about the pleasure of coming lately to a whole new world of fiddle playing outside the orchestral sphere.
Winner of the senior contest was Henry Webster. What, I asked Henry, were the defining characterics of the English tradition. ' It's got to have bells on' he said. 'It's all about getting the foot stomping - getting the lift' said Henry and I cheered inwardly to hear his succinct summary, refreshingly down to earth and free of any guff about tapping the ancient secrets of the universe through gut strings that tends to be a feature of any 21st century folk blurb I read these days.
If the event was missing anything, it was feet. The main Hall of Cecil Sharp House is an enormous high ceilinged brightly lit space presided over by rather stern looking door stewards. Lined with a high bank of seating, it lends itself more to hordes of dancing feet than a resonant listening experience. I enjoyed the range and variety of styles and the sense of collegiality among the participants.
'We've had a lovely day' said Pete Cooper and indeed we did ! Looking forward to the next one. I'm off to practice my czardas!
|Jam Session Cecil Sharp Bar|
Thanks to Richard Roberts of Sonic Violins for facilitating my participation with the loan of a violin for the day .
http://youtu.be/ZeEiXjrYK2U Montage of videclips of LFC