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Young people join folk super group Bellowhead for Music Nation

  • Date: 29 February 2012
  • Area: South West
Children playing cellos

Superstrings are taking part in Music Nation. Credit: Superstrings

As part of the Cultural Olympiad, Superstrings 120 young string players together will be performing the world première of a specially commissioned piece alongside folk super group Bellowhead, recent winners of BBC Radio 2's 'Best Live Act' award.

The performers are brought together by Superstrings for the concert at Steam, Swindon, on 4 March is part of Music Nation, presented by the BBC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The concert is the culmination of a six month Arts Council funded Superstrings project with folk workshops across Wiltshire.

As well as £7000 funding from Arts Council England the project has received further funding from Wiltshire Council, EFDSS plus in kind support from STEAM Museum Swindon and the local community.

Rank Amateur Films and BBC Wiltshire have been following the project as it develops. Verity Sharp ( BBC Radio3 Late junction presenter ) is project advisor and co originator with Iona Hassan and Tanya Cochrane.

The new work, 'A Folk Suite', has been composed by Pete Flood of Bellowhead and is inspired by the life and work of Alfred Williams, the celebrated collector of the folk songs of Wiltshire and 'hammerman' in the workshops of Great Western Railways in Swindon. Courageous and determined, his life story embodies the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Young musicians all over the county are involved in learning this new music and the piece will remain for the benefit of future generations.

The Superstrings performance of Pete's composition will make up the first half of the show at Steam. The young players will be joined by violinist Miranda Rutter, concertina virtuoso Robert Harbron and harpist Steph West alongside Pete Flood and fellow Bellowhead members Ed Neuhauser and Paul Sartin. The full Bellowhead line-up will then take to the stage in the second half with their award-winning brand of folk.

At the heart of the Superstrings Folk Project is the desire to put young people in touch with English folk music, unleashing musical potential and enriching the players' sense of cultural identity. The piece incorporates traditional songs and tunes, helping to rejuvenate traditional music and develop knowledge of Wiltshire heritage and culture. It will also allow young musicians from across the county to play alongside one of the top folk bands in the country at a time when English folk music is experiencing a huge surge in popularity.

Young string players have been learning to play by ear and discover more about their local heritage and culture through the music and songs being researched for the new piece.

Verity Sharp, Presenter BBC Radio 3 Late Junction and supporter of the project said:
"The musicians involved strive to build self-esteem, confidence and a great sense of musical enjoyment in our young string players. Many achieve levels of excellence and all participate in a performance that they will never forget"