Following a series of school and community storytelling workshops, as well as a pop-up story booth from which we successfully collected almost 40 tales and anecdotes from Huddersfield locals, hcmf// took to the road. We set off in a beautiful cherry red VW camper van, with the Nordic Master of Folk Music, Poul Bjerager Christiansen; contemporary classical accordionist, Andreas Borregaard; and Welsh fiddler, Christine Cooper, on-board. Having explored oral tradition through creating and collecting stories (which will be used not only by Christine to inspire the creation of new songs to be performed at hcmf// 2013, but also by Danish sound artist, Hans Sydow, to create an exciting audio installation to be housed in the Byram Arcade during the Festival week), it was time to move on to collect and make some music.
After a non-crash course in driving a VW by Bronte Camper Hire, I was off!
All three folk music sessions had their own unique character. We started in Leeds with a very warm welcome into a local folk musician's home, with not only people but a dog taking part in the session! This group had some great players and a wide array of instruments represented, with fiddles, accordion, whistles, flutes, and bodhráns introducing our travelling players to tunes known and unknown, in exchange for some Nordic music.
After a few hours of getting to know each other musically, the group had some food (and maybe a few whiskeys!) to fuel the rest of the session, creating a new dance tune which merged old and new influences from British and Nordic music that we had played that evening. A pretty late night...followed by an early start, at least for me, as I kept my date with Radio Sheffield's Saturday Breakfast Show to talk about Mytologier, after a generous 4 hours' sleep!
Up next was Shakespeares Pub, Sheffield, with some really skilled players with a particular interest in Scandinavian folk, and so this group included an enchanting Swedish instrument, the nyckelharpa (not too dissimilar to a hurdy-gurdy). We had some real success composing through improvisation, producing two tunes of very different styles. We even test drove the new pieces with some of us doing some Swedish and Danish dances whilst the new music was played! The afternoon kick started a late-night session back at the home of one of the participants. You can't stop this lot!
Listen to one of the Sheffield session's compositions, entitled The Weasel here:
Lastly was the Huddersfield session at the Grove Inn, which was very much Irish influenced. After a humble start with just a few players, it livened up considerably after an hour or so (it was Sunday, after all!) with a growing crowd of not just musicians but avid listeners gathering in the bar. The tunes in this session were played at top speed, and roused occasional crowd participation, singing along with some well-known Irish numbers. After an exchange of ideas from different regions represented in the group, another new piece was created, just in time for Poul and Andreas to depart...but we couldn't part Christine from the group and she carried on playing with them as the VW sped away to deliver the Danes to their plane! Perhaps she is still there now...
Each session produced original work, with four entirely new pieces being created in total, each of which will be used for the Dance Workshop which takes place at 10.30am-11.30am on Sunday 24 November, and is free and open to all - experienced dancers or, like me, complete novices.
Although based entirely in Yorkshire, the sessions provided a real tour around the British Isles for the visiting Danes, with Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England being represented musically. And thankfully they gave us Brits an unforgettable journey around the Nordic region!
When it was time to give the van back, well I'll be honest, I just didn't want to. So, if anyone is struggling to think of that special Christmas gift for me, our trusty hire company, Bronte Camper Hire, has a pretty little yellow van for sale...I'll keep my fingers crossed!
hcmf// Learning and Participation Officer
Mytologier is a free event which takes place on Sunday 24 November and celebrates folk culture and mythology from Britain and the Nordic region, through participatory events as well as performances from some of the best experimental artists working in new music today. Please see the brochure for further details. To take part in our activities, or for further information about our Learning and Participation Programme, please contact Sarah on 01484 471 116 or at firstname.lastname@example.org