Tag Archives: Halsway Manor

Halsway European Music Weekend

I attended an extended weekend course for musicians to develop ensemble playing skills and make imaginative arrangements that are exciting to listen or dance to. 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 was 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 was fairly intensive and included all day ensemble workshop sessions with the aim of performing all the pieces created together at a public concert on the Sunday night. The course was 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.

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 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.

Queries?

If you have any queries about the course, have a chat with course leader Paul James 0788 794 8853 pauljames.eu@gmail.com

Gilles Chabenat and a hunt for the Hurdy-gurdy Blues

I’m booked in at Halsway Manor The national Centre for Folk Arts and will be studying with French Hurdy-gurdy maestro Gilles Chabenat. We’ll be working on these tunes:
valse à louis
dix petits grains d’or
bourrée prieur
allemande variations

Which are all pretty traditional Gilles Workshop covers the following areas:

Gilles Chabenat is regarded as one of the very best hurdy-gurdy players of his generation. He began playing the hurdy-gurdy at 13 with Les Thiaulins, an association devoted to folk arts and traditions. Following private lessons with Georges Simon, he won several music awards and subsequently devoted himself to his region’s traditional repertoire with a desire to branch out into other musical styles.

In the wake of Valentin Clastrier, he thus felt the need to reinvent the instrument and the playing techniques associated with it. Around that time and after several years of research, luthier Denis Siorat developed a contemporary-style electro-acoustic instrument which facilitated the integration of the hurdy-gurdy into the modern musical experience.

In 1992, Gilles Chabenat began a twelve-year partnership with the Corsican group I Muvrini. During that period, he met and worked with a number of renowned artists: Véronique Sanson, Stephan Eicher, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Sting, as well as Frédéric Paris, Edouard Papazian, Alain Bonnin, and Gabriel Yacoub to name but a few. More recently, he has been collaborating with jazz musicians and also works regularly with Eric Montbel, Didier François, a Nyckelharpa player, Gabriel Yacoub and Patrick Bouffard.

Gilles’ musical experience and evolution are thus constantly shaped by the people he meets. In his approach to hurdy-gurdy playing, he draws essentially on the multifaceted nature of an instrument which has been in constant evolution for more than one thousand years.

Recently Gilles has been working with the Muddy Gurdy project

Andrey Vinogradov has also been exploring the playing of blues on the Hurdy-gurdy

So this started me to wonder how does one approach playing the blues on the Hurdy-gurdy what are the stylistic elements of the form and approaches to leadlines chordal structures etc.