Monday 18 March 2013

A new three year programme bringing together musicians, creative producers and practitioners from the UK and South Asia. Folk Nations has already included projects such as Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee travelling to Bangladesh to collaborate with local musicians and a week-long residency for folk artists from England and Scotland working with those from India, Pakistan and  Bangladesh. The programme will also include many professional development and networking opportunities such as Womex13 in Cardiff and Showcase Scotland in 2014.

The project explores traditional music forms and their place in contemporary culture, how younger audiences engage with  and adapt into new ways of presenting folk music. It’s next phase will take place on April 17  as part of the  Alchemy Festival at the Southbank Centre:  

Folk Nations – A musical conversation: 6.00pm – 7.15pm, 17 April, Purcell Room

This panel session will bring together folk musicians and practitioners from UK and South Asia to explore folk, identity, contemporary culture and collaborative practice. Taking part are Mercury Award nominee Sam Lee, Bangladesh artist Labik Kamal, Scottish fiddler Patsy Reid and Indian musician Suhail Yusuf Khan - all artists who have participated in collaborative work, alongside Neil Pearson, Artist Development Manager at English Folk Dance and Song Society. They will share some of their experiences about their folk heritage and collaborative process.

Arieb Azhar & Martin Simpson: 8pm, 17 April, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Arieb Azhar, a singer and guitarist from Pakistan, is immersed in the traditional music of his own country while Martin Simpson is one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world. This collaboration is the result of a partnership between the British Council and The Sage Gateshead.

As part of Folk Nations, the British Council has been working in partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and Banglanatak dot com to develop a week long music residency. The project brought together some of the most  outstanding folk musicians from the UK folk scene with counterparts from South Asia, and provided space for musicians to create a dialogue and learn from each other’s culture and musical traditions. Participating UK musicians included English banjo player Dan Walsh, Scottish fiddler Patsy Reid, Welsh harpist and chanteuse Georgia Ruth Williams, and singer and English clog dancer Hannah James. They will met and worked  with two musicians from India, viz. Sarangi Player Suhail Yusuf Khan and Vocalist Saurav Moni; two musicians from Pakistan viz. Shahid Hamid, a vocalist and Turab Ali Hashmi, a sitar player and two musicians from Bangladesh in a week long exploration of each others music and traditions.  This residency project was concluded by a work in progress style performance for a select audience in Kolkata.

Neil Pearson, Artist Development and Programming Manager at EFDSS, was facilitator and artistic director of the Kolkata Folk Nations Residency Project. An experienced project manager, he has been responsible for two major residential, collaborative commissions in the Darwin Song Project and the Cecil Sharp Project.

Katy Spicer, Chief Executive, EFDSS, said:

“EFDSS is delighted to be working with the British Council on Folk Nations.  A key element of the EFDSS Artists’ Development Programme is to foster opportunities for creative development and exchange between artists and so we are delighted to be expanding this element through this project. ”

Georgia Williams, harpist, said  

“I'm delighted to have been invited by the British Council to take part in the Folk Nations project. I can't wait to meet my fellow musicians. I look forward not only to being able to share my own Welsh folk heritage, but also to being able to discover new and exciting music. ”

Amitava Bhattacharya, Founder and Director of Banglanatak dot com

“Exchange and collaboration is the mantra in this internet driven global world and cross cultural exchange will strengthen people to people contact and music can be an important powerful tool in development and bridging the gap between nations.”


Projects have already included:

Jan 10  – 16 2013: Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee travelled to Bangladesh to lead a week of workshops allowing musical exploration with Bangladesh musicians and leading to a showcase of performances at Rabindra Sarobar Amphitheatre in Dhaka..

Jan 24 2013:  Arieb Azhar and Martin Simpson supported Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, as part of Celtic Connections.

Jan 30 – Feb 3 2013: The British Council supported an international delegation to the showcase.

February 2013: Scottish folk artists Ross Ainslie and Patsy Reid performed at Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai, India

February 12 – 20 2013: A folk residency in Calcutta , India in partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society to bring together musicians from across the UK and South Asia.

Notes to Editor

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Alex Bratt, Senior Press Officer, British Council +44 (0) 207 389 4872

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