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Halsway European Music Weekend

Friday 14 Apr 1pm — Monday 17 Apr 3pm, 2017

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

Develop your arrangement and ensemble playing skills to make imaginative arrangements that are exciting to listen and dance to.

Using music inspired by British and European folk music traditions,  this is a long weekend of intensive workshops, discussions, rehearsals and performances in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. Musicians of all ages (including 16-18 year olds), any instrument, any musical background (folk, jazz, rock, classical) are very welcome. You’ll need to be able to read music and /or play by ear.

Course leader Paul James – border bagpipes, saxophones (Blowzabella, Playford Liberation Front, Evening Star) leads a crack team of Belgian diatonic accordion virtuoso Anne Niepold; Italian drums/percussion maestro Gigi Biolcati (Riccardo Tesi / Banditaliana); and top bassist and improviser Victor Nicholls (Evening Star, Playford Liberation Front).

(We regret that Niopha Keegan will no longer be able to tutor on this course due to a conflict of work commitments.)

The aim of the course is to use British and European traditional dance forms – for example, jigs, polkas, bourrées and waltz melodies –  and use that as the raw material to make new arrangements that can go any direction, combining all sorts of influences and ideas to make spine tingling music that is much more than the sum of the parts. Participants will take part in small and larger ensembles – listening, contributing and experimenting with ideas – towards a public performance on the Sunday night. It will be intensive but there will be time to relax and make new friends too
Supported by The Anvil Trust.


Contact Paul James pauljames.eu@gmail.com  0788 794 8853
Please fill out this questionnaire Halsway Manor European Music Weekend – 14-17April 2017 and bring it to the course.

Who’s it For?

  • Participants from any musical background (folk, jazz, contemporary, classical, world…).
  • Players of any musical instrument who can either sight read and/or play by ear.
  • People of all ages. Young people 16-18 are very welcome.
  • People who wish to:
    • develop new and existing performance and arranging skills through collaboration with other musicians from different traditions/backgrounds.
    • Develop performance, ensemble and arranging skills.
    • Build networks/contacts, with the potential for future performance opportunities.

The Team

Paul James – border bagpipes, saxophones and whistles. Paul is from Newbury and has been playing folk, dance and rock music since he was a teenager. He joined the highly influential and ground breaking band Blowzabella in 1980, and has been organising their activities ever since. Paul also plays new music inspired by European traditional music with his band Evening Star (with Patrick Bouffard, Luke Daniels, Carlos Beceiro, Victor Nicholls & Gigi Biolcati) and contemporary arrangements of traditional English dance music with the Playford Liberation Front. Paul has composed music for television, radio and the theatre and appears on albums by other folk, world music and rock artists.. www.pauljames.eu/

Anne Niepold – diatonic button accordion. Anne is a truly remarkable diatonic accordionist and composer. She studied in the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and attended many courses and masterclasses. Alongside her many solo projects – currently she is touring with her one woman show “.. alone on stage” and “Musette is not dead”, she has performed with numerous arts companies at home and abroad. http://www.anneniepold.be/

Gigi Biolcati  – percussion, drums, body percussion . Gigi 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 Banditalian, in pan-European band Evening Star and with many other musicians in the world of European jazz and world music.

Victor Nicholls – Bass guitar, electric guitar, tuba, electronics. Using electronics, Victor has developed a unique approach to the fretless bass, creating abstract soundscapes that are often beautiful and violent. An experienced improviser, he has challenged preconceptions about the instrument, expanding the musical colours used in ensembles in free improvisation and traditional music settings. Victor has over forty years experience working with an eclectic range of musicians including theatre orchestras, military and brass bands, and post-punk groups. He was a member of Anglo-French group, Scarp, whose fiery, rhythmic and contemporary take on traditional music earned the World Music Album of the Year in France and one of the Bands of the Decade for Radio 3’s “Mixing It”. Victor is one half of duos with Harry Dawes (trombone and theremin) and Jo Freya (voice). Currently he is a member of Evening Star with bouzouki player Carlos Beceiro (La Musgana), accordionist Luke Daniels, and hurdy hurdy star, Patrick Bouffard (La Chavanee, Giles Chabanat).  www.evening-star.eu/

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.