A tuneful blend of youth and experience is set to make this year’s Hexham Gathering particularly memorable, say the organisers.
Established folk performers such as Eliza and Martin Carthy, Robyn Stapleton, Laura-Beth Salter and John Somerville will be heading for the annual event along with those in the dizzy ascendancy, including Maz O’Connor and the group Pons Aelius.
Organised by Folkworks – one of Sage Gateshead’s founding partners – and Queen’s Hall Arts, Hexham, the event will bring hundreds of singers, dancers and instrumentalists to the town from May 20-24.
Simon Haworth, of Queen’s Hall Arts, says: “The Hexham Gathering 2015 has all the usual much-loved ceilidhs, sessions and concerts – both outdoor and indoor.
“But the really unique thing about the Hexham Gathering is the pairing of top folk and traditional performers with some of the brightest rising stars in the new generation of folk musicians, alongside school and youth groups from Tynedale and beyond.
“It is very much a repeating theme, in that so many of the artists go on to much greater success as their careers develop.”
The region not only has its own rich pool of home-grown folk performers but lots of events which inspire and nurture talented youngsters drawn to this type of music.
Just take Maz O’Connor who is to perform in satellite venue The Hearth at Horsley on May 22.
Brought up in Cumbria, she has recalled coming with her brother to Tyneside to play with Folkestra, the young people’s folk ensemble directed by Kathryn Tickell under the auspices of Folkworks, which has been championing folk music in the region for decades and was one of the founding partners of Sage Gateshead.
Maz has been singing regularly on the UK folk circuit since she was 13 and is no stranger to audiences at the Hexham Gathering. She was shortlisted for this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in the Horizon category.
The current Folkestra will be performing on May 23 at the Queen’s Hall Arts Centre with Eliza Carthy, Folkworks artistic associate, her father Martin and Tim Eriksen who is known for his interpretations of songs from New England and the Appalachians.
The Carthys’ album The Moral of the Elephant was shortlisted for best album in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards while Eliza and Tim have collaborated on a new album called Bottle, blending material from both sides of the Atlantic.
Spreading its wares across the county, the Hexham Gathering kicks off with a ceilidh on May 20 at The Alnwick Garden.
It will end in similar rousing fashion with an afternoon Gig in the Park on May 24 beside Hexham Abbey.
There will be music from Welsh group 9Bach (their album, Tincian, won the prize which just eluded Martin and Eliza Carthy) and Pons Aelius, the North East folk group which goes under the Romans’ name for Newcastle and won the Danny Kyle Award at this year’s Celtic Connections.
Laura-Beth Slater, who sings and plays mandolin, will perform with accordion player John Somerville at Stocksfield Community Centre on May 21.
Meanwhile you can catch Robyn Stapleton, BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year, at Allendale Village Hall on May 22.
To find full details of the programme or buy tickets, visit www.queenshall.co.uk or tel. 01434 652477.