The Furrow Collective invite you to join them for a deep dive into folk songs from England, Scotland and beyond. This course is for people who would like the opportunity to sing together in harmony, both with and without instrumental accompaniment, and who are keen to develop their practical knowledge and repertoire of traditional songs, whether to perform as soloists or in groups.
The band will teach a selection of the songs that they have gathered from their decade of collaboration and four album releases, delving into their history, stories and contemporary relevance. As well as lots of practical singing opportunities, you’ll get an insight into the way they usually work together, from finding and adapting the songs to how they approach the practicalities of playing together.
There will also be some opportunities for instrumental & vocal tuition and guidance along the way. Participants will have the chance to work on songs together in large and small groups, and to engage with repertoire sourced from Halsway’s well-equipped library.
This course will offer you some new repertoire, new insights into old repertoire, and will aim to build on your pre-existing skills and techniques as singers and instrumentalists. You’ll spend the majority of the sessions being guided by the tutors in groups of various sizes, and there’ll be some opportunity for working in small groups on self-led collaborations, plus the chance for one-to-one vocal or instrumental guidance if it’s of interest.
Please note: Rachel Newton is currently on maternity leave and is not able to commit to the course dates at this time, but as Lucy is over from Canada, we couldn’t miss the opportunity for at least 3/4 of the band to share their week with you!
Who is it for?
This course is aimed at all singers and singer-instrumentalists who would like to learn unaccompanied folk songs and harmonies by ear, and learn more about how to put them together in large and small groups. You’ll be interested to find out more about the songs’ histories, relevance, and their place within the modern folk canon, and you’ll have the chance to explore the library in search of material that you’d like to bring to life through performance.
As long as you’re happy to learn songs by ear and sing them unaccompanied in a group, you’ll be very welcome. You don’t need to be able to read music. If you’re bringing an instrument in addition to your voice along, as you’re not a complete beginner, including those working on diatonic instruments. You’ll get a timetable in advance and further course materials once you arrive.
There will be an informal sharing event during the course to give you the chance to show off your collaborative creations, plus informal sessions in the bar each evening, so bring your best chorus songs, session-friendly tunes, and proudest party pieces!
Alasdair Roberts is a Scottish singer and guitarist. His work as a lyricist and composer of new songs is informed by a parallel practice as an interpreter of traditional songs and ballads. As such, much of his work is characterised by a deep engagement with the traditional song culture and folk idioms of Scotland (and beyond). Over a career spanning more than two decades and numerous album releases, Alasdair has enjoyed a wide range of collaborations, both with fellow musicians and with artists and practitioners from other disciplines. After ten years and four albums together, The Furrow Collective has been one of his longest-lasting and most rewarding collaborations. www.alasdairroberts.com
Emily Portman is an award-winning singer and songwriter with a passion for traditional songs. She has toured widely for over 15 years as a band leader, in a duo with Rob Harbron and with The Furrow Collective. Emily was awarded a BBC Folk award for ‘Best Original Song’ and has released three critically-acclaimed albums of original songs inspired by ballads and fairytales. As well as being a performer, Emily is an experienced educator, working independently as a voice teacher and workshop leader and as a guest lecturer for Newcastle University and Leeds Conservatoire. www.emilyportman.co.uk
A singer, musician and songwriter, Lucy Farrell has toured extensively in the UK, Europe, Australia and Canada, as a solo artist, in her duo with Jonny Kearney and in bands including The Furrow Collective, Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band and Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young. Songs are always at the heart of everything she does and, beyond performing, Lucy leads community choirs, organises grassroots events and has facilitated singing weekends with The Unthanks and The Young’uns along the way too. lucyfarrellmusic.com
The Furrow Collective consists of four talented and individually prominent performers: Lucy Farrell (viola, voice & saw), Rachel Newton (harp, fiddle, voice), Emily Portman (banjo, concertina, voice) and Alasdair Roberts (guitars, voice). The group formed in 2013, drawn together by a shared love of the traditional song and balladry of England, Scotland and beyond and an open, intuitive approach to collaboration. In recognition of their innovative approach, The Furrow Collective were awarded the accolade of 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Group’, hot on the heels of the release in late 2016 of their second album, Wild Hog (also on Hudson Records). Their fourth album, We Know by the Moon is the follow up to Fathoms (2018). The Furrow Collective tours extensively throughout the UK as well as in mainland Europe, delighting audiences with their uniquely beguiling approach to traditional song. www.thefurrowcollective.co.uk