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Halsway European Music Weekend

Friday 30 Mar 12:30pm — Monday 2 Apr 2pm, 2018

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

Course Enquiry

  • Halsway Manor will not share your details with any third parties.


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

  • £260 – single ensuite room
  • £235 – sharing an ensuite room
  • £235 – single non-ensuite room
  • £190 – sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (all meals, and activities):

  • £180

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

  • £165

With Paul James, Anne Niepold and Gigi Biolcati, an extended weekend course for musicians to develop ensemble playing skills and make imaginative arrangements that are exciting to listen and dance to. We’ll be using music from European folk/traditional/popular music traditions as the raw material to make new arrangements that can go in any direction. The aim is to explore and combine all sorts of influences and ideas to make spine tingling music that is more than the sum of the parts.

The course includes all day ensemble workshop sessions – and some short workshops on a range of topics in the early evening – with the aim of performing all the pieces we create together at a concert on the Sunday night.

“One of the best workshop weekends I have ever been on, superb in every way. Again please!” 2017 Participant

The course is led by composer/arranger Paul James – saxophones, border bagpipes (Blowzabella, Evening Star), Belgian diatonic accordion virtuoso and composer/arranger Anne Niepold and Italian drums/percussion maestro, composer and singer Gigi Biolcati (Riccardo Tesi / Banditaliana).

Arrive in time for lunch (1pm) on Friday, and depart after lunch on Monday.

Click here for Welcome Information and Course Programme

Who’s it For?

This is an advanced/intermediate level course suitable for musicians of all ages (including 16-18 year olds), any instrument (acoustic, electric, ancient, modern) from any musical background (folk, jazz, rock, classical, early music). You’ll need to be able to read music or play well by ear.

If you play more than one instrument we advise you to bring it/them as this will help you to get the most from the course in terms of playing easily in different keys/modes, and also to be able to contribute in a way that is sympathetic to the style of the piece (bagpipes don’t sound great on everything!). During the course we will provide any music manuscript you need written out in Bflat/Eflat (for brass and saxes) as well as “concert”.

To get the most from this course you don’t need to be the greatest musician but you do need to be able to play confidently and be positive, flexible minded and a team player prepared to try things outside your comfort zone –  and have the energy for quite long intensive days of music making.

You will be in safe hands with a very experienced tutor team in a mutually supportive atmosphere. We’ll have a lot of fun too with time for relaxation and informal music making.

“Amazing, inspiring and inventive tutors who were very dynamic in the way they led each session and gave everyone the confidence to step outside of their comfort zone and create something that was so much greater than the sum of its parts!” 2017 Participant


Contact course leader Paul James pauljames.eu@gmail.com  0788 794 8853

The Team

Paul James is a saxophonist, bagpiper, singer and composer from Newbury who writes, arranges and performs music influenced by English and other European folk traditions. Paul was composer for the critically acclaimed production of John Milton’s ‘Comus – A Masque in Honour of Chastity’ at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in  2016. He has been a member of the hugely influential folk band Blowzabella since 1980, and plays with his pan-European band Evening Star. Paul composes and arranges music for theatre, film and TV and leads band/ensemble music workshops in the UK and across Europe.

Anne Niepold studied in the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and attended many courses and masterclasses. As a performer she is a true force of nature – brash, adventurous and phenomenally skilled, she takes the humble accordion in startling directions. Beside her solo projects, she performs with numerous arts companies at home and abroad, and has numerous recordings to her name.

“(Anne) shows us the right way, that of intelligence, respect, emotion and heart. Run quickly listen to her and see her in concert!”
Richard Galliano, Accordionist

Gigi Biolcati  – percussion, drums, body percussion – is from Santhià  (Piedmont, Italy). He began playing drums at the age of 11, studied with Enrico Lucchini and played blues, funk, soul and pop music with Aida Cooper and Cristiano DeAndré. He then started a collaboration with dancer Koffi Kokò from Benin, and it was here that he found his personal approach to music. He went to Africa to study music and to search for the original roots of rhythm which has influenced all his playing ever since. Gigi plays with celebrated Italian accordionist Riccardo Tesi in Banditaliana, in pan-European band Evening Star (and other groups and European music projects with Paul) and with many other musicians in the world of European jazz and world music.

For our other European friends

Ein 3-tägiger Intensivkurs für 16- bis 116-jährige Musiker. Ausgehend von europäischer traditioneller Musik können die Teilnehmer ihre Fähigkeit ausbauen, Stücke zu arrangieren und im Ensemble zu spielen und sie erarbeiten phantasievolle, ungewöhnliche und zeitgemäße Arrangements, die Lust zum Tanzen machen. Workshops, Diskussionen, Proben, Aufführungen – und Spaß mit Musikern unterschiedlicher Herkunft.

Stage intensif de 3 jours pour musiciens de 16 à 116 ans. A travers l’étude de musiques inspirées des musiques traditionnelles européennes, vous développerez des arrangements et jouerez en ensemble pour faire danser sur une musique innovante, inhabituelle et contemporaine. Stages, conférences, répétitions, restitutions sont au programmes de ces journées ainsi que le plaisir partagé de jouer avec des musiciens de toutes origines.

Un corso intensivo di 3 giorni per musicisti di età compresa tra i 16 e i 116 anni. Utilizzando musica ispirata alle tradizioni popolari europee potrai sviluppare le tue idee e le tue abilità strumentali e di insieme per dar vita a  nuovi, creativi ed inusuali arrangiamenti per far ballare la gente. Workshops, conferenze, prove, spettacoli e divertimento con musicisti di differente estrazione e provenienza.

Curso intensivo de 3 días para músicos de edades comprendidas entre 16 y 116 años. Utilizando música tradicional europea para desarrollar arreglos imaginativos, originales y contemporáneos para la danza y el baile. Talleres, charlas, ensayos, actuaciones con músicos de diferentes procedencias.

Een intensieve 3 daagse cursus voor muzikanten van 16 tot 116 jaar oud. Europese folk- en volksmuziek dient als basis om eigen interpretaties en bewerkingen te creëren. De melodieën die (nieuw…) gecreëerd worden nodigen uit om te dansen. De cursus bestaat uit repetities, workshops, overlegmomenten en optredens. Uiteraard is deze cursus een boeiende ontdekkingsreis in de cultuur en achtergrond van iedere individuele muzikant.