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