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