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Summer Folk

Posted on 12 July 2019


Folk musicians of all ages and abilities from across the region and beyond are being encouraged to sign up to Sage Gateshead’s popular Folkworks Summer Schools. The traditional Junior, Youth and Adult, offer an opportunity for everyone with an interest in folk music. The Folkworks Summer Schools managed by Sage Gateshead are held in Durham with the option of joining other participants for a residential.

Tutors leading this year’s Junior Summer Schools include Ruth Ball (Director), Lucy Farrell, Bethan Rhiannon, and Sarah Hayes, also a previous participant, at the prestigious Folkworks Summer Schools.

Sarah Hayes is now a professional musician with regular gigs throughout the country and has previously joined Sage Gateshead for the Great Exhibition of the North where she joined other musicians and poets to celebrate folk music in the North. Sarah tells of the Summer School:

“I first heard about the Folkworks Youth Summer School from Sandra Kerr, who lived around the corner from me and encouraged me to get involved.  I was 11 when I first attended (technically a year under the lower age limit at the time, but the Folkworks staff looked out for me…) My first Summer School was a totally immersive experience and I had never encountered anything like it. It really cemented a love of music-making early on, and I couldn’t wait to go back. I went back for six consecutive years after that!

The Summer School is a great place to make friends and it was exciting to me at that age to realise there were others around the country that enjoyed playing folk music as much as I did. I met so many people there who I’m still in touch with; we bump into each other at festivals, occasionally play gigs and quite often end up working together as tutors.

Some of my most formative musical experiences came from the Summer School, learning from inspiring tutors and playing music with others.

I went on to study music and have been freelance for eight years. I now live in Glasgow doing lots of writing, performing, recording and teaching, and am learning all the time.

To anyone considering attending the Summer Schools, I would recommend it wholeheartedly. I have great memories of the times I spent there and have really enjoyed being back at all three schools as a tutor over the past few years.”

 The Junior School is open to any young musician including singers and dancers, who can play their instruments at a basic level and are aged 9 – 13.   Junior Summer School is a perfect way to learn more about folk music, whether you have played lots already or are totally new to it. It’s a fun environment and a great way to meet new friends.

For those aged 14 – 20, there is the Youth Summer Schools, which, just like the other schools, offer a perfect way to get involved with folk music. The Youth Summer School offers a full week of tuition, repertoire building, songs, tunes and dancing. Tutors at the Youth Summer School include Daoirí Farrell, Esko Jarvela, Hillary Klug, Leija Lautamaja, Claire Mann, Andy May and Alex Wade. Youth Summer School participants work towards performances alongside the Junior Summer School participants on the evening of Friday 2 August.

The Adult School offers participants from 18 + to join in the summer folk fun. With first class tuition on a Main Instrument and Ensemble, sessions, ceilidhs, sing-arounds and concerts. The adult programme will be directed by Alistair Anderson with tutors Ilana Cravitz, Katriona Gilmore, Fay Hield, Paul Knox, Lauren MacColl, Joey Oliver, Jamie Roberts, Simon Thoumire, Karen Tweed and Sam Pirt.


Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.


Every year it welcomes more than two million visitors. More than 400 concerts featuring all kinds of local, regional and international music, take place all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region, with 190,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops.


The iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals.


As a charity, the support it receives helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music.