Free concerts for hundreds of children and the residents of five local care homes will take place as part of the Swaledale Festival.
The musicians, almost all of whom are also performing in regular concerts during this year’s festival, include violinist Emma Fisk, guitarists James Birkett, Alexandra Whittingham and James Girling, cellists Kristiana Ignatjeva and Rebecca Hepplewhite, percussionists Delia Stevens and Le Yu, viol player Susanna Pell, lutenist Jacob Heringman, flautist Meera Maharaj, and the popular Yorkshire folk duo The Hut People.
The Syrian musician Maya Youssef, who is a leading player of the extraordinary 78-string Qanun and an experienced music educator, will conduct performance-workshops in secondary schools which will introduce students to some of the rich musical and cultural traditions of her war-torn country.
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The aim of Swaledale Festival’s school sessions is to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to hear and learn about musical styles and instruments which they may not have encountered before.
This year’s programme brings a wide variety of musical genres to schools, including British and Middle-Eastern Folk, European Baroque, Classical, South American Tango, and American Jazz.
Performances will take place in these schools: Arkengarthdale, Gunnerside (with Reeth), Carnagill, Leyburn, Askrigg, Bainbridge, West Burton, Richmond Church of England, Hawes, Colburn, St Francis Xavier, Risedale Sports and Community College and The Wensleydale School.
Swaledale Festival’s artistic director, Malcolm Creese, said: “With curricular music provision disappearing from schools by the day, and with mainstream pop being so all-pervasive in the media, it is crucial that we enable young people to experience some of the beautiful and varied musical traditions from around the world.
“Hopefully this will inspire some of them to search for more, and perhaps even take up playing an instrument.”
The festival’s popular Wandering Minstrels scheme involves sending visiting musicians into care homes to entertain those who are not able to travel to the Festival’s regular concerts.
Swaledale Festival has received a clutch of local, national and international awards for its community and education work.
The schools and care homes visits are all arranged and paid for by the Festival, which receives some financial support from a number of funders, trusts and foundations, as well as donations from individuals.
Malcolm added: “We are extremely grateful for this support, which enables us to reach and make a difference to many more children and elderly people than we would ordinarily be able to.”
More details can be found on the Swaledale Festival website: www.swalefest.org