Midweek Maestros: The Other SingFest Artists

Every week in the run up to SingFest 2015 I have written a blog focussing in on one of our amazing SingFest tutors. The last five blogs were about our 5 singing tutors, and this week I have decided to write about the other amazing artists that make SingFest the colourful festival it is. These are junk samba percussionist Paul Midgley, craft workshop facilitator Nonny Tabbush, ceilidh musicians Richard Jones and Belinda Bourquin and phenomenal guitarist and open mic host Tristan Seume. 

Paul drummingPaul Midgley…

Percussionist Paul Midgley started his career teaching junk percussion through working for Traditional Arts Projects (TAPs), a community arts organisation set up by Roger Watson to bring folk musicians from different cultural backgrounds together to educate others in traditional arts forms and cultural diversity. Through TAPs Paul worked with musicians and dancers from all over the world, each of them influencing Paul’s rhythms and drumming techniques.

When TAPs folded in 2008 Paul and TAPs’ General Manager, Jason Knight set up Drum Runners, an organisation that provides drumming workshops to a wide variety of community and corporate settings. Much of their work was in collaboration with Music In Detention (MID), a charity that brings music to incarcerated people, especially the men, women and children detained in Britain’s Immigration Removal Centres. Drum Runners now runs Basingstoke Live, a free music festival funded by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and attended by thousands.

SingFest LanternsNonny Tabbush…

Since graduating from her degree in Ceramics at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Nonny has run workshops in craft and music in schools, community centres and festivals around the country. As well as being a talented choir conductor and previous singing tutor at SingFest, Nonny sings and plays fiddle in a number of well-loved groups, including the Bristol Ceilidh Quartet alongside fellow SingFest singing tutor, Matt Norman.

No stranger to the festival scene, Nonny is currently spending her summer touring around England’s biggest folk festivals as craft and singing tutor for Shooting Roots, an organisation that delivers arts workshops to young people at folk festivals.

PEPublicityPostCardRichard Jones and Belinda Bourquin…

Husband and wife team Richard and Bindy have been playing music together since they met in the 70s as performers in psychedelic folk rock band Principal Edwards. They now perform in a number of well known folk bands, Richard with the Climax Ceilidh Band and MoltenAmba and Bindy with SE3.

This year they will be hosting our elastic ceilidh band on the Saturday night of SingFest where anyone who plays an instrument can join them on stage to play well known folk tunes for SingFest revellers to dance to. Together, they have perfected the art of leading scratch bands through their volunteer work as Lead Musicians at Folk Camps, activity holidays for families who enjoy folk music and dance.


Tristan Seume…

Tristan is not only a phenomenally good guitarist, he is also the composer of some beautiful tunes, many of which can be heard on his two solo albums: You Just Know and Middle Child. As well as performing solo he is also accompanist to award winning folk singer Jackie Oates with whom he has travelled Europe delighting festivals, folk clubs and arts centres.

When Tristan is not on stage he writes articles for the country’s two leading guitar technique magazines: Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, and lectures at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford.

This year Tristan will be bringing his many talents to hosting the open mic on the Saturday night of SingFest. It promises to be a truly magical evening.

Until next time…

Next week will be the final blog before we head down to Mellow Farm to set up for SingFest. These last couple of weeks are always eventful so I’m sure we’ll have plenty to blog about by then!

If you would like to join in the fun at SingFest 2015 you can book here. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter and join in the tweeting with #SingFest2015.

Anna x


Midweek Maestro: Anna Tabbush

Every week in the run up to SingFest 2015 we will be writing a blog zooming in on one of this year’s tutors. This week it’s the turn of conductor and SingFest director and co-founder, Anna Tabbush.

Anna Conducting 2012

Anna and choirs… Anna was born into a musical family. Her mother sings folk songs from her native county, Northumberland, and her father plays Northumbrian pipes, melodeon and fiddle. Anna learned fiddle from the age of 5 then later flute and piano, but singing was always the love of her life. She sang in choirs throughout her childhood, winning competitions, performing internationally and even appearing on Blue Peter with the Farnham Youth Choir. She started conducting her first choir while studying for her BMus in Music & Technology at Kingston University. Since then she has started over 20 choirs, many of which are still in existence today.

Anna currently runs 5 choirs including Guildford Vox Community ChoirHorsell Community Choir and Woking Carers’ Choir. A member of the Natural Voice Pratitioners’ Network Anna believes that singing is a birth right and no one should ever be told they ‘can’t sing’.

Anna says: “Singing with friends around you can heal the mind, the heart and the body. My aim is to bring the benefits of group singing to everyone.”

Anna B+W

Anna the performer… Anna’s first professional gig was playing for a PTA ceilidh with her family ceilidh band at the age of 15. Since then she has never really left the stage. In 2001 she was selected to join the European Youth Folk Orchestra as lead singer which took her all over Europe. Over the last 15 years she has performed at folk festivals, arts centres, folk clubs and ceilidh dances with some well loved acts including The Tabbush Sisters, the Climax Ceilidh BandMeridian, Anna & the Odd Socks and more recently MoltenAmba.

Anna Conducting 1

Anna and SingFest… Anna ran the first SingFest in 2007 with co-founder Rod Edbrook. Anna and Rod were both involved with local choirs at the time and thought it would be a nice idea to to get them all together for a party at Mellow Farm, a place they both knew and loved. This was the birth of SingFest. The first SingFest was funded by Awards for All and got off to a flying start. Since then the festival has doubled in size and changed in many ways, but the community singing, inclusivity and joyous energy has remained the same. Over the last few years Anna has brought a creative element to SingFest: She writes a round for participants to learn in the morning warm-ups and on the Sunday morning she gets participants writing their own group song inspired by memorable moments during the weekend with hilarious and heart-warming consequences. Depending on the time of year, Anna describes SingFest as “her baby” or “a bit of a monster”, but either way, she is proud of what SingFest has become and immensely grateful for everyone who has helped along the way.

Until next time… If you would like to join in the fun at SingFest 2015 you can book here. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter and join in the tweeting with #SingFest2015. Next week we’ll be blogging about some more SingFest 2015 tutors so watch this space!

Midweek Maestro: Laura Deal

Every week in the run up to SingFest 2015 I’ll be blogging about one of this year’s tutors. This week it’s the turn of witty young folk singer Laura Deal.

This is Laura’s first year as a tutor at SingFest although she has attended most of them, firstly as a participant, then as a steward and finally as Head Steward last year. She has sung solo and in choirs all her life and currently runs two of her own community choirs.

Laura B+W

A brief history…

Laura likes to credit her eclectic musical taste and passion for music to a childhood spent watching Sesame Street. Singing since she was a toddler, Laura has been lucky enough to perform in some fantastic venues with some wonderful people. She even got to fly as Wendy in a production of Peter Pan! A degree in music and a diploma in voice tuition nurtured Laura’s love of communal singing and it was while at University that Laura led her first choir. Laura strongly believes that everyone can sing and make music, and that music can help to encourage confidence and communication in people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Bellfields Community Choir

Laura the conductor…

In 2012 Laura took part in the Singing Surrey project, an Arts Partnerships Surrey project which saw the birth of seven new community choirs across the county. Through this, the wonderful Bellfields Community Choir sprung to life and was taken over by Laura and her unique teaching style.

Laura has made a name for herself with her enthusiasm and slightly wicked sense of humour which regularly has her choirs in fits of giggles. She specialises in teaching and arranging the music of the 1950’s and 60’s such as “Little Eyes” and “Blue Moon”.

Laura has run singing workshops across the country including Sidmouth and Towersey folk festivals. As well as Bellfields Community Choir she also runs St John’s community choir in Woking.

LauraMore about Laura…

Laura works as a music specialist and class room teacher during the day for children with special educational needs. She plays piano, piano accordion and ukelele and sings rude folk songs whenever the opportunity arrises. She is well loved as a teacher, choir leader and SingFest steward and we are very much looking forward to her singing workshops at this year’s SingFest!

Laura says:

“My two choir nights are my favourite nights of the week and I would run seven choirs if I could! I’m someone who believes that if you can help someone, you just should, and it has been crazy amazing to see people in my choirs blossom, gain confidence and shine – all because of the power of communal singing.”

Until next time…

If you would like to join in the fun at SingFest 2015 you can book here. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter and join in the tweeting with #SingFest2015.

Next week I’ll be blogging about another SingFest 2015 tutor so watch this space!

Anna x

Midweek Maestro: Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd

Every week in the run up to SingFest 2015 I’ll be writing a blog focussing on one of this year’s tutors. This week it’s the turn of Siberian songstress, Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd.

Polina led workshops for us a couple of years ago for Spring Sing at G Live, Guildford. Everyone who came loved her teaching technique, songs and harmonies so much that we’ve booked her for SingFest this year.

Polina has such a rich musical life that it’s quite hard to sum up in one short blog, but I’ll have ago.

Polina pianoA brief history…

Polina was born in Siberia to a family who regularly sang together. She learned music from her grand-father, a button accordionist, and her mother who was a singer. Her first step to becoming a professional musician was as piano accompanist to her mother in the theatres of Tatarstan.

Her singing is deeply rooted in Russian and Eastern European Jewish culture: as well as her own compositions she sings and teaches songs of the Steppes and the Shtetl with great energy and passion.

Polina choirPolina the choir leader…

Once principal Yiddish choir leader of the former Soviet Union, Polina has led many choirs over the years and currently runs 3: London Russian Choir based at University College, London, Brighton and Hove Russian Choir who were prize winners at the 2010 Russian Song Competition in London, and The London Yiddish Choir which sings songs of the Jews of Eastern Europe in their 1000-year-old language.

Like most of the tutors who teach at SingFest, Polina is a member or the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network, a community of singing leaders who believe that everyone can and should sing, therefor all of her choirs and workshops are accessible to everyone.

Polina fanfaraPolina the performer…

Since joining her first Klezmer band in 1990 Polina has collaborated with musicians from a wide range of musical and cultural backgrounds. For 16 years she toured internationally as a member of a cappella Jewish music quartet, Ashkenazim and recorded 3 albums with them. She now performs her own beautiful compositions as a solo artist on piano and vocals with an incredible 4-octave vocal range!

Her collaboration with husband, clarinetist Merlin Shepherd was described as “Led Zeppelin of Klezmer” by Seth Rogovoy of Forward.com. With Merlin, Polina currently fronts Fanfara, a Brighton based brass band which plays music from Serbia, Macedonia and Romania for dancing. They have studied with musicians from all over the world to create their unique sound including Roma musicians of Eastern Europe and carnival brass band musicians from Cuba.

To sum up…

We’re delighted Polina is able to tutor for us this year. She has a dizzying schedule of performances, tours, recording, workshops and choirs which takes her all over the world. Her love and passion for the music and traditions of cultures she as grown up with and studied throughout her career is completely infectious. SingFest punters are in for an emotional and inspirational treat this year!

Until next time…

If you would like to learn more about Polina’s music you can find gig and workshop dates, videos, CDs and much more info on her website. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @Polinashepherd

To book onto SingFest visit www.singfest.org.uk. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter and please do join in with the tweeting using #SingFest2015.

See you next week for another Midweek Maestro!

Anna x

Midweek Maestro: Hannah Rose Tristram

In the run-up to SingFest 2015 I have decided to write a post every week zooming in on one of our tutors. This week’s Midweek Maestro is the Brighton-based natural voice practitioner and Kripalu yoga teacher Hannah Rose Tristram.

Hannah Rosehanna_rose_tristram tutored for us last year and won over SingFesters with Alison Whittal’s composition, “Peace”. Many participants who enjoyed learning from her and meeting her talked about the inner beauty she exudes and this certainly came across in the performances of both groups of singers she taught at SingFest 2014.

Here’s are some lovely comments about Hannah Rose left in our comments book by last year’s SingFesters:

“I want to say a particular thanks to Hannah Rose for teaching us “Peace”, it was so beautiful and moving I wanted to burst into yummy happy tears. Incredibly graceful teaching style!”

“All of the tutors were excellent as always. Did a particularly good job of picking songs that were challenging but doable in the time. Really liked Hannah Rose’s song choice and teaching.”

“I loved the opportunity to learn all the different songs and especially enjoyed the song led by Hannah Rose “Peace”! Roll on 2015!”

Hannah Rose accordion
[Photo by Cythare Cooper]
Hannah Rose the performer…

Hannah Rose has toured internationally with world music choirs Village Harmony and Northern Harmony from the age of ten. She is also an accomplished accordionist, flautist, singer and poet.

She has a first class BA(hons) degree in Music & Dance from Kingston University as well as Grade 8 on flute.

Although Hannah Rose now lives in Brighton she often returns to Kingston to perform and teach workshops. You can keep up with her gigs on her Facebook page.

GLOWHannah Rose the Natural Voice Practitioner…

If you haven’t come across the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network yet you should check it out. One of our previous SingFest tutors, Frankie Armstrong started teaching with the belief that “everyone can sing” and set the up NVPN to provide support and training for other singing leaders with the same belief and principle at the core of their practice. Most of the tutors we employ at SingFest are members of NVPN and Hannah Rose is one of the best known practitioners on the network, having been trained by Frankie herself.

Hannah Rose co-leads GLOW choir Brighton. A community choir for LGBTQ folk and straight allies to come together in song. Glow stands for Gay Lesbian Or Whatever, and is open to everyone. We sing a cappella harmony songs of passion, protest, peace and celebration from across the globe.

HR_yoga_classHannah Rose the yoga teacher…

As well as being a wonderful singing leader Hannah Rose is an experienced yoga teacher. Her training includes Kripalu Yoga 200 Hour Certification, Well Woman Yoga Therapy Training (Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Ruth Gilmore), Yoga Therapy for Children with Developmental Challenges (Jo Manuel) and Pregnancy Yoga Teacher Training (Uma Dinsmore-Tuli).

Through her own organisation Kripalu Yoga Brighton she runs both Kripalu Yoga and Pregnancy Yoga classes.

This year she will be running the first ever yoga class at SingFest! So don’t forget your yoga mats, water, clothes you can move in, layers to keep warm and a blanket for relaxation. 

Until next time…

I am so looking forward to Hannah Rose’s singing and yoga workshops at SingFest. If you are too but haven’t yet booked your ticket book now at www.singfest.org.uk.

You can follow Hannah Rose on twitter @HanRoseRa, and you can follow SingFest, @singfest2015 or join the conversation #SingFest2015.

You can also find SingFest on Facebook: www.facebook.com/singfestmellow and join the event here.

Next week I’ll post about another Midweek Maestro so watch this space!

Anna x

Midweek Maestro: Lester Simpson

In the run-up to SingFest 2015 I have decided to write a post every week zooming in on one of our tutors. This week’s Midweek Maestro is Northern Folk Legend, Lester Simpson.

C, B & SLester the Musician…

Lester performs both as a solo singer and as a member of a number of well established musical ensembles the most renowned of which being a cappella folk trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson who were once described as “incomparable” by the BBC’s Mark Radcliffe.

His other singing projects include ‘Coope, Simpson, Fraser, Freya’ and ‘Voices At The Door’ a collaboration with Michael Murpurgo.

A little known fact is that, as well as being a phenomenal singer, Lester also plays the bagpipes. As well as countless weddings and funerals, Lester’s bagpiping career has taken him to Belgium to pipe at the opening of ‘The in Flanders Fields Museum’. His piping has entertained many National theatre audiences and has even been selected as a choice on Desert Island Discs!

Raise Your VoicesLester the Community Singing Leader…

Raise Your Voices, based in Wirksworth where Lester lives, is a 70 strong community choir who featured in the double Bafta award winning BBC 2 film ‘Marvellous’. They rehearse in a pub under the directorship of Lester and like most community choirs – new members are always welcome!

His other community singing work includes harmony singing classes for Derby City and Derbyshire County councils, Leek Peace Choir, a choir for Parkinson’s UK Derby branch, who call themselves ‘Movers And Shakers’, a workplace choir for ‘Unison’ at Derbyshire County Council, Music sessions on dementia wards at hospitals In Buxton and Bakewell and ‘memory and music’ sessions in Care Homes in Derbyshire.

C, B & S -In Flanders FieldsLester the Actor, Director, Broadcaster and …Sailor!

Lester has had a rich career in the entertainments industry so far which has taken him all over the world, as has his passion for tall ships. He sails with ‘The Tall Ships Youth Trust’ as a Watch Leader and Bosun, in fact he’ll be joining the ‘Stavros Niarchos’ in Southampton straight after SingFest!

While researching for this blog I have noticed a theme which keeps cropping up – the tragedy and death of the first world war. Lester has written music, directed plays, recorded albums, even started choirs with the aim of promoting peace and never letting us forget the heavy price the world paid a hundred years ago. This theme continues through into his current work and I believe will keeping driving him on to try to make the world a more peaceful place.

Until next time…

I am greatly looking forward to Lester’s singing workshop at SingFest 2015. If you are too but haven’t yet booked your ticket book now at www.singfest.org.uk.

You can follow SingFest on Twitter @singfest2015 or join the conversation #SingFest2015.

You can also find SingFest on Facebook: www.facebook.com/singfestmellow and join the event here.

Next week I’ll post about another Midweek Maestro so watch this space!

Anna x