An extended weekend course for musicians to develop ensemble playing skills and make imaginative arrangements that are exciting to listen or 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 is fairly intensive and includes all day ensemble workshop sessions with the aim of performing all the pieces we create together at a public concert on the Sunday night.
“Really challenging but in a positive way – more of the same please!” 2018 Participant
The course is led by musician/composer/arranger Paul James – saxophones, border bagpipes (Blowzabella, Evening Star), Belgian diatonic accordion virtuoso and composer/arranger Anne Niepold and we are delighted to welcome German harpist, composer and teacher Merit Zloch to the team for the first time this year.
Arrive at 12 noon Friday for lunch at 1pm; depart after lunch on Monday.
A detailed programme will be sent out in advance.
The participants will be divided into three ensemble groups and each group will work with all 3 tutors throughout the course. There will be at least one piece of music that involves everyone playing together as one ensemble.
Friday: Arrive from 12noon. Lunch 1pm. Introductions, what’s happening, questions. Ensemble workshops. Dinner 6:30pm. Informal music making in the bar.
Saturday: Early morning guided walk in the Quantocks for those who want to. Breakfast 8:30am. Ensemble workshops 10am – 5:30pm. Lunch 1pm. Dinner 6:30pm. Evening trip to the award winning Pebbles Cider Tavern in Watchet or free time to relax.
Sunday: Breakfast 8:30am. Ensemble workshops 10am – 5:30pm. Lunch 1pm. Dinner 6pm. CONCERT 8pm (course leaders and ensemble groups) followed by informal music making in the bar.
Monday: Early morning guided walk in the Quantocks for those who want to. Breakfast 8:30am. Workshops 10am – 12:30. Lunch 1pm. Finish.
“Halsway is magical, great fun and so inspiring!” 2018 Participant
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 (including for any transposing instruments – please let us know your needs on the Participant Info Form – please complete this once you have booked your place and paid a deposit).
To get the most from this course you don’t need to be the greatest musician. 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.
If you have any queries about the course, have a chat with course leader Paul James 0788 794 8853 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any queries about food, accommodation and how to get there, follow the Your Visit link above or phone 01984 618274 ext 1.
When you have booked and paid a deposit please tell us a bit about yourself and your musical needs (for example, music needed for transposing instruments) on the Participant Info Form.
“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
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 and has composed music for TV, documentaries, theatre and contemporary dance, as well as the bands he plays in. He has been a member of the hugely influential folk band Blowzabella since 1980, and plays with his pan-European band Evening Star and the folk dance band The Playford Liberation Front.
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
Merit Zloch is a harpist, composer and music teacher. She sees herself in the tradition of the itinerant harp players of the 19th and early 20th century, travelling with her harp throughout Europe charming people with her original compositions and arrangements of historical dance music.
She has played in bands almost as long as she has played the harp and is constantly fascinated by the interplay between musicians. She likes to arrange und develop pieces together with her band colleagues and to improvise.
Merit researches historical dance manuscripts and organises musicians meetings, bals and instrumental workshop weekends.
For our other European friends
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