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Folk meets Classical

Friday 26 Jul 4pm — Sunday 28 Jul 4pm, 2024

To make a booking enquiry please complete the form below. We will contact you to confirm availability and complete your booking.


Full board per person (tuition, activities, all meals & accommodation):

£310– single ensuite room
£265– sharing an ensuite room
£265– single non-ensuite room
£210– sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (tuition, activities, all meals):


Non Resident (tuition, activities, all meals except breakfast):


This course will appeal to classical players who want to get off the page, improvise and exercise their imagination, and trad players who wish to push the boundaries out beyond what they might meet in sessions.

Paul Hutchinson, Sophie Renshaw and Gabi Maas bring their combined experience to this ‘crossover’ course. They are seasoned performers of folk music and dance, classical music and trad instrumental styles, ranging from Haydn, Brahms and Purcell, to Scandinavian polskas, Irish reels and Scottish airs. The trio offers a weekend of creativity and collaborative musicmaking.

Participants will be working in small ensembles, exploring a wealth of musical ‘ingredients’ that will enable them to take popular and less well-known tunes and re-invent them.

Every tune has a life of its own and can suggest a variety of flavours; much depends on the performer’s own imagination. Workshops will cover elements of musical composition such as working with chord substitutions, adding ‘spicy’ notes, layering counter melodies and improvising rhythmical accompaniments. Participants will create unique arrangements and perhaps invent their own tunes, leaving the weekend equipped to explore a variety of musical collaborations.

Please note that jazz harmony will not be covered.

Who is it for?

From musical backgrounds spanning traditional, classical and early music, Paul, Sophie and Gabi welcome all instruments, and players should be working at a standard equivalent to Grade 3 or above. Ability to read music is an advantage but not necessary.

We will send out music/recordings for the tunes a few weeks in advance so that everyone has had a chance to learn them before the weekend.

Participants need to bring curiosity and the courage to venture into unknown territory…

The Team

Sophie Renshaw is a Co-Founder of InsideOut Musician, a community of musicians and creatives started during lockdown, and enjoys a busy performing life as a leading violist, chamber musician and teacher. She has played in top level ensembles including Orford String Quartet and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Throughout her performing career she has sought to develop her own musical ideas through improvisation and composing, and in 2016 became curious about the musical connections between folk and baroque music. She joined with violinist Lucy Russell and cellist Ruth Phillips to form a gut string trio – Trio Mythos- to explore collaborations with folk artists, presenting programmes of original music in new arrangements alongside well-known baroque and folk works.

Gabi Maas plays modern and baroque violins, viola and nyckelharpa. Her passion for exploring different styles has led her to work with groups ranging from Concerto Caledonia and Istante Collective to Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

For the last ten years Gabi has been learning various traditional styles. She is particularly interested in fiddle music from the west of Ireland and Scandinavian baroque dance tunes, and took up nyckelharpa in 2013 in order to explore the Swedish and Finnish repertoire further. Since then she has worked with nyckelharpa maker Bo Falk on developing other string instruments with keys attached, including a cello-pitch tenorharpa, gambaharpa, and clog-fiddle harpa.

She has also collaborated extensively with Algerian Berber musicians, played nyckelharpa at Sharq Taronalari festival in Uzbekistan, and enjoys the occasional treat of a ‘study break’ to try something new. Most recently she studied the rudiments of Carnatic violin in Chennai for a month with Sri Vittal Ramamurthy.

As half of the much-missed Belshazzar’s Feast, Paul Hutchinson had, and occasionally enjoyed, 25 years of touring in the UK, and appeared on television and radio as well as receiving a nomination for Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards in 2010. He is regarded as one of the top accordionists in the country because of his unique, refreshing, and at times ‘classical’ approach to playing and is an experienced workshop leader.

Paul also has a keen interest in 17th and 18th century dance music which has resulted in appearances at festivals in UK, Europe and America. In 2019 Faber Music published his book – 60 Country Dance Tunes 1786 – 1800.

His love of fusion music originates from his days in the renowned Celtic jazzers, Hoover the Dog. Pagoda Project was the next exciting chapter in his musical journey providing a vehicle for his own compositions with more than a helping hand from the wonderful jazz clarinettist and improviser, Karen Wimhurst. Recently they have been joined by the multi-instrumentalist and singer, Anna Tam, to form Coracle.

During the various lockdowns of 2020, Paul completed Petrichor, an album of his compositions with musicians from around the world. He says “Collaborations are always exciting, but working with classical musicians of this caliber is a dream come true.”