An afternoon of Power Folk with Joe Broughton

Sunday 2 July 2023 saw young musicians from our Furthering Talent programme in Hull and Bradford come together for a very special afternoon of music-making.

Every term, Furthering Talent students have the opportunity to meet with others to share a musical experience. We call these ‘Get Togethers’ and they are typically a hands-on session lasting from a few hours to a whole day. They could be anything e.g. a musical masterclass, a workshop or a trip to a performance with live music.

This session was led by Joe Broughton, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and educator based in Birmingham. His compositions have been performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican Centre in London and his workshops in performance and ensemble playing are legendary amongst the teaching community.

He was joined by his Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, also known as ‘the UK’s biggest folk band’ which sometimes involves up to 50 musicians. The ensemble push the boundaries of what is thought of as ‘folk’ and ‘traditional.’ While rooted in those genres, they embrace Latin, Eastern European and Asian influences, as well as more contemporary genres, creating a sound they’ve christened ‘Power Folk.’

The Furthering Talent students sat side by side with the ensemble which provided an incredible opportunity to meet and perform alongside professional musicians. They weren’t just performing with the band, they were part of it! The Folk Ensemble were incredibly friendly and supportive, breaking down any barriers to turn the room into one giant instrument.

Not only were young people introduced to a multitude of musical styles, but they were given important advice on how to perform for an audience. The energy and enthusiasm of the ensemble players was infectious, and it didn’t take much cajoling to get their newest members moving to the music. Laughter, dancing, and even a bit of screaming followed!

The afternoon culminated in a final performance for friends and family where the young musicians had an opportunity to share what they had learnt. To top it all off the Folk Ensemble were kind enough to give the young people one final performance to send everyone home smiling.

“The enthusiasm that the young people brought to this workshop is a clear sign that there’s a successful local eco-system for music. I enjoyed delivering the workshop very much because the attitude of the young people and their ability to pick things up quickly was a joy to be part of.” 

Joe Broughton,

The day was arranged by Bradford’s Furthering Talent Connector, Helen Borg. She chose to host a folk session as it allows all sorts of instruments to play together and, as everything is learnt by ear, it helps young people to develop their aural skills and encourages those of all playing levels to join in. Aware of Joe’s reputation, Helen was expecting an active and engaging session and he did not disappoint. Joe alone is a huge bundle of energy and enthusiasm, so she was delighted when he offered to bring his whole Folk Ensemble from Birmingham Conservatoire.

“The day was fantastic, the young people were fully engaged all afternoon and played with a smile on their face. It was great to see young vibrant musicians passing their knowledge onto slightly younger enthusiastic musicians. Joe taught them about the importance of playing with energy and I am sure they will take that message forward with them on their musical journeys. “

Helen Borg,
Bradford Coordinator

Joe is an engaging, inspiring workshop leader that ensured all the young people, regardless of previous experiences, learnt and experienced something new as well as having a lot of fun.  I have heard from numerous teachers how the young people have taken their experiences from the day back into their lessons and shared their new skills.

Shelley Gabriel,
Hull Coordinator

We would like to thank Joe, the Folk Ensemble, Titus Salt School, Helen, Shelley and all the young people for a wonderful day.

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