Folkworks is a non-profit organisation based at The Sage Gateshead and a part of the North Music Trust. It runs many workshops, summer schools and festivals to promote and encourage the furtherance of folk music. It was begun in 1988 by Alistair Anderson and Ros Rigby and became part of the North Music Trust and The Sage Gateshead in 2002. As such, Folkworks no longer continues to exist as a separate entity, as it is now a part of the North Music Trust and based in The Sage Gateshead.
Folkworks was instrumental in the creation of the first BMus in Folk and Traditional Music in England which began in 2001 and still plays a part in its running at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, currently under the stewardship of acclaimed Shetland fiddler and teacher Catriona MacDonald. It was initially based in the Old Town Hall, Gateshead for three years due to the late opening of the Sage, Gateshead where it moved to in 2005. Past lecturers have included musicians Alistair Anderson, Sandra Kerr, Kathryn Tickell, Vic Gammon and Karen Tweed. Successful folk musicians who were among the first students to graduate from the degree course include Ian Stephenson, Fay Hield, Damien O'Kane, Tom Oakes, Jim Causley, Rachel McShane, Calum Stewart, Emily Portman and David Newey.
Folkworks is perhaps best known for the organisation of a series of summer schools run in Durham, usually during August. The original summer school, for musicians aged 12–25, was started in 1989 in Newcastle, and moved to Durham in 1991. Following the appointment of David Oliver as Folkworks' education director in 1993 the summer school grew in size and duration, and a second event for adults was created in 1996. The youth summer school has in previous years been held at the College of St Hild and St Bede, part of the University of Durham, and the adult summer school at a number of different venues in Durham city. As the events continued to grow, a junior summer school for musicians aged 10–13 was created in 2005. David Oliver and Alistair Anderson retired in 2009, and the youth summer school was subsequently headed by Kathryn Tickell. The current director is Ian Stephenson.
A huge range of folk musicians have been tutors at the summer schools. Regular tutors include Karen Tweed, Chris Wood and Andy Cutting, Brian Finnegan, Catriona MacDonald, Robert Harbron, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan.
Typically, a pupil at the summer schools receives two main types of teaching: instrumental tuition on his or her chosen instrument (or voice) as well as an ensemble group. The ensemble groups present performances to their peers and a public audience at the end of the week's workshops. Typically, a showcase concert featuring ensembles from both the youth and adult summer schools is put on at the Gala Theatre.
The youth summer school has become renowned as a meeting place for young folk musicians, and bands including 422, Kerfuffle and Last Orders have met at or attended the event. Many former students have also returned to the summer schools as tutors.
Until 2005, Folkworks, in partnership with production company Smooth Operations, was responsible for the organisation of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, a competition funded by the BBC and associated with Mike Harding's folk programme. For most of its history, the semifinals of this competition were held at Kendal Youth Hostel and the Brewery Arts Centre, and the finals at the Union Chapel, Islington. However, upon completion of The Sage Gateshead, Folkworks moved the finals there for the 2005 event. This would prove to be the last time Folkworks ran the competition.
The Northumbrian smallpipes are bellows-blown bagpipes from North East England, where they have been an important factor in the local musical culture for more than 200 years. The family of the Duke of Northumberland have had an official piper for over 250 years, and in more recent times the Mayor of Gateshead and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle have both re-established the tradition by appointing official Northumbrian pipers.
Kathryn Tickell, OBE, DL is an English musician, noted for her mastery of the Northumbrian smallpipes and fiddle.
Sage Gateshead is a concert venue and also a centre for musical education, located in Gateshead on the south bank of the River Tyne, in North East England. It opened in 2004 and is occupied by North Music Trust.
The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards celebrate outstanding achievement during the previous year within the field of folk music, with the aim of raising the profile of folk and acoustic music. The awards have been given annually since 2000 by British radio station BBC Radio 2.
Andy Cutting is an English folk musician and composer. He plays melodeon and is best known for writing and performing traditional English folk and his own original compositions which combine English and French traditions with wider influences. He is three times winner of the Folk Musician of the Year award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and has appeared on around 50 albums, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other musicians. He was born in Harrow, London and is married with three children.
The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO-GB) is the national youth orchestra of the United Kingdom, consisting of 164 members of ages 13 to 19 years. The players are selected by auditions which take place in the autumn each year at various locations in the country. The minimum standard needed to audition is ABRSM / Trinity Guildhall / London College of Music Grade 8 Distinction – though it is not necessary to have taken any examinations. The NYO's aim is to be "the most inspirational orchestra for young people" and at many of its concerts, all seats are only £5 for under 25s. In 2011, the orchestra was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society's Best Ensemble Award. In 2012, the NYO received the Queen's Medal for Music. In 2015 the NYO received the Royal Philharmonic Society's Ensemble award, which recognised particularly the launch of NYO Inspire as well as their other work.
Folkestra, formerly known as FolkESTRA North is The Sage Gateshead’s youth folk ensemble, formed in 2001. It is led by their Musical Director Ian Stevenson, a multi-instrumentalist playing folk and traditional music from Northumbria and Scandinavia. The former Musical Director was Kathryn Tickell, one of England's premiere folk musicians.
Tees Valley Youth Choir, or commonly abbreviated and referred to as TVYC, is the flagship choir of Tees Valley Music Service. Its members are made up of 13- to 19-year-olds and recruits from the boroughs of Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Darlington, and Redcar & Cleveland. It also draws members from further afield, particularly North Yorkshire, County Durham and surrounding areas.
The National Children's Orchestras of Great Britain, more commonly known as NCO, is a registered charity which provides orchestral training for children aged 7 to 14. The organisation comprises five age-banded orchestras and six regional orchestras. Entry is by audition and every year approximately 500 young musicians are selected to play in the orchestras. It offers a life-changing experience to talented young musicians.
Karen Tweed is a piano accordionist from London, England.
Will Atkinson was a noted traditional musician from northern Northumberland. He started off as a player of the English diatonic accordion, but was best known as a harmonica or moothie player. His playing was distinguished by a very clear sense of rhythm, with a definite lilt. He was a major figure in Northumbrian music. He was also the composer of several tunes that have entered the tradition and are played at gatherings and sessions.
Katie Doherty, born 1983, is a singer-songwriter based in the North East of England. In 2007 she won the Journal Culture Award for Newcomer of the Year.
Chris Stout is a Scottish fiddle/violin player from Shetland, now based in Glasgow. Stout grew up in Fair Isle and lived there until 8 years of age before moving to Sandwick on the Shetland Mainland, then on to Glasgow in the 1990s.
Catriona MacDonald is a musician and teacher from Shetland and is considered to be one of the world's leading traditional fiddle players.
The Avison Ensemble is one of England's leading exponents of classical music on period instruments. It is named after Charles Avison (1709–1770), the Newcastle-born composer, conductor and organist, considered ‘the most important English concerto composer of the 18th Century’. Comprising some of Europe's leading musicians and soloists, the Ensemble is directed by violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk. It varies in numbers depending on the repertoire being performed, and is typically of chamber ensemble or concerto grosso size, expanding to full chamber orchestra when needed.
Geoff Heslop is an English record producer and musician
Redesdale Studios was a Northumberland recording studio founded in 1996. It was situated in Elsdon in North Northumberland. It began as a partnership between Rubber and Black Crow Records manager Geoff Heslop, Scottish singer and songwriter Dick Gaughan, and the two partners in CM records, Dave Bulmer and Neil Sharpley. In the years between 1986 and 1995 it was the main studio in the county, recording many albums for its own labels, Black Crow Records, Acoustic Radio, Delta and Rede, as well for other labels.
The Wilson Family is an English folk music group from Billingham, County Durham, North East England. They have been singing and performing a cappella folk songs since 1974. They consist of sister Pat and five brothers: Tom, Chris, Steve, Ken and Mike.
Mariam Rezaei is a composer, performer, DJ and improviser. Mariam works predominantly with turntables, piano, vocals and electronics. She is producer of TOPH, a producing mixed arts space in Newcastle. TOPH direct TUSK FRINGE Festival for TUSK Festival.
The BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award is an annual competition for young folk musicians in the United Kingdom. It was first awarded in 1988 as the Young Tradition Award, taking its present name in 1998. Recent winners of the award include Brighde Chaimbeul, Talisk and Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar.