Sage Gateshead's FOLKWORKS Heads To The Sill This Summer

Applications are now open for Sage's Folkworks summer school
May 11, 2023

Folkworks, Sage Gateshead’s summer school retreat that has been creating generations of the country’s finest folk musicians, is returning this summer. 

The Folkworks Summer School from Sage Gateshead has been running since 1989, but found itself on pause since 2020 when lockdowns hit. Over the years it’s been a source of inspiration to musicians from different backgrounds to develop a love for traditional song, music and dance.  

This year the summer workshops take place in the beautiful surroundings of The Sill in Northumberland. There are options for children from age 9 up to young people aged 18 and the chance to attend day sessions or stay over in the historic Northumberland National Park landscape for up to 4 nights for a residential experience on the course. 

One of the many people who attended as a youngster was the 2015 Musician of The Year at the BBC Folk Awards Sam Sweeney, who is one of the many experienced and passionate musicians working as a tutor at this year’s school. He said: “Between the ages of twelve and seventeen I attended the Folkworks Youth Summer School every year. The overwhelming feeling of having found my tribe is still with me today. Indeed, I still have so many friends from those courses and without Folkworks I would never have joined Bellowhead! The Summer Schools were a huge part of bringing a new generation into the scene and I am so pleased they are back.” 

Sam is joined by tutors at this year’s Summer School including 2019 MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards Musician of the Year guitarist Jenn Butterworth and melodeon player Dave Gray.  

While the summer school is for children and young people who already have some experience playing their instruments, it actively welcomes anyone with no prior experience of folk and traditional music.  

Former attendee Rob Harbron said: “The Folkworks Summer School has had such a huge effect on the lives of so many young musicians. It was a formative experience for me and I might not have ended up as a professional musician without it. I’m delighted the summer school is running again this year and hope it can continue to inspire and enthuse young musicians for many years to come.” 

With a spirit of inclusion at its heart there are even bursaries available for those who may find finances a barrier to taking part. Alistair Anderson, Founder and co-director of Folkworks 1986-2009 and international recognised Northumbrian piper, will mark his 75th birthday with a concert at Sage Gateshead, with proceeds from the concert supporting these bursaries. Donations can also be made HERE

Applications are open now and close at 5pm on Friday 19th May. For more information please CLICK HERE

Header Image: The Sill - The UKs National Landscape Discovery Centre, Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland.