Opening Times

In light of the most recent Government advice, Sage Gateshead will be closed to the public until further notice.

The health and safety of audiences, musicians and staff at Sage Gateshead is our priority. Keep up to date here.


Opening Times:

In light of the most recent Government advice, Sage Gateshead will be closed to the public until further notice.

The health and safety of audiences, musicians and staff at Sage Gateshead is our priority. Keep up to date here.


 →  Tutor Biographies

Tutor Biographies


Tutor Biographies

We are proud to have some of the best folk players in the world teach at our Summer Schools. Find out more about our 2019 tutors below.

More tutors will be announced shortly!


Ruth Ball, Director

Lucy Farrell
Singer, Viola and Tenor guitar player Lucy is a founding member of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award 2017 Best Group The Furrow Collective, a member of Eliza Carthy and Wayward Band, and has performed as a duo with Jonny Kearney. Alongside her solo career, Lucy also performs as part of the Emily Portman Trio and was selected to participate in ‘The Estuary Song project’ and ‘Modern Fairies’.

Sarah Hayes
Sarah Hayes is a singer, flautist and keyboard player from Northumberland. Based in Glasgow since 2005, she leads a busy and varied musical life performing, writing and recording with Admiral Fallow, Field Music, Rachel Newton Band, Alistair Anderson & Northlands and more.  Sarah’s debut album Woven – a studio reimagining of her Celtic Connections New Voices commission – has received widespread acclaim.  She has recently recorded a collaborative album of original songs with Field Music’s Peter Brewis, scheduled for release in January 2019 under the name You Tell Me.

Bethan Rhiannon
Bethan Rhiannon is a full time traditional Welsh clog dancer and accordionist with the bands Calan, NoGood Boyo, and Pendevig. She has worked as a professional musician all over the world, from Wales to Europe, USA, Australia and Malaysia.  Over the past 10 years Bethan has developed a style of stepping which is unique, mixing standard Welsh repertoire with syncopated beats and modern rhythms. Her father was the first dancer to introduce syncopated rhythms into the tradition and many of the steps they have developed over the years have become standard repertoire for Welsh clog dancers. With the band Calan, Bethan has developed her own style of accordion playing, to complement the traditional Welsh repertoire.


Ian Stephenson, Director (Guitar)
Ian Stephenson is a highly regarded musician and composer known for his playing in bands such as Kan, Baltic Crossing and 422. His recent work to create a solo show utilising live electronics and looping is underway following a successful first performance at Sage Gateshead, where he is currently an associate artist.

Leija Lautamaja (Melodeon and Finnish Band)
Leija Lautamaja is a Helsinki-based folk musician and composer. Her instruments are 2,5-row melodeon, harmonium, mandolin and voice. She has grown up surrounded by the living tradition of Finnish melodeon playing and has graduated as master of music from the folk music department of Sibelius Academy. Lautamaja’s artistic passions are Nordic folk music and social folk dancing. At the moment she is active in the folky Finnish girl band ENKEL and the Nordic co-operation Floating Sofa Quartet. In addition to the bands Lautamaja is arranging Nordic Dance Helsinki clubs for creating a culture of social folk dancing in Finland.

Daoirí Farrell (Song and Band with Song)
It’s been a whirlwind for Daoirí (‘Derry’) Farrell over the last three years. In January 2016 he launched his solo career at Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. In January 2019 he will return to the festival, this time to lead an all-star line-up in one of the festival’s biggest venues. Following the release of ‘True Born Irishman’ he was invited to play Other Voices in November, toured Australia and Europe and received three nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, leading to him being invited to play at the awards ceremony at The Royal Albert Hall in London, where he won the awards for best traditional track and the Horizon Award best newcomer. That was a stop off date during another yet longer UK tour, and then the next week he was back in Australia to play the National Folk Festival. February 2019 sees the release of his next album made over many months in studios in Dublin and Donegal with Dónal Lunny. A first single ‘The Galway Shawl/Rosie Reilly’ was released to radio ahead in autumn ’18 ahead of the album itself and was immediately played on the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show.

Esko Järvelä (Performance Band and Improver/Intermediate Fiddle)
Esko Järvelä is a musician and a multi-instrumentalist from Kaustinen, a village known as the home of folk music in Finland. He started to play fiddle in age of four and grew up in the middle of a very unique and rich fiddle music tradition. Today he is living in Kerava, working as a freelance musician and as a teacher at Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department in Helsinki. Esko is recognised internationally as a creative and versatile fiddler but he also masters many other instruments such as keyed fiddle, double bass, piano, harmonium and guitar. Besides his work as a performing musician he is well known for his composing and arranging skills: Esko has written music for several dance- and theatre productions and his works can also be found on dozens of albums.

Hillary Klug (Americana Band and Int/Adv Fiddle)

Andy May (Northumbrian Pipes and Northumbrian Band)
Andy May started to learn the pipes in the late eighties, having been introduced to the instrument by his dad. He learned to play from Roland Lofthouse and Adrian Schofield, and from studying the recordings of Billy Pigg and Tom Clough. Throughout the 90s he entered many piping competitions and studied music at the University of York. He now tours with North East band Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, UK/Finnish/Danish ensemble Baltic Crossing, and the Andy May Trio.

Claire Mann (Irish Band and Wind Instruments)
Newcastle born Claire Mann is one of the leading exponents of traditional Irish flute, fiddle and tin whistle in the country. She has won numerous ‘All Ireland’ championships on flute and tin whistle and was honoured to perform for the renowned British Flute Society who described her performance as “astonishing”.

Her current projects include touring with bouzouki player, singer and guitarist extraordinaire Aaron Jones (Old Blind Dogs/Kate Rusby). She is also currently working with the Scots/German collaboration Litha, which features members of the award winning band Cara. Together we have produced two critically acclaimed albums, ‘2Duos – Unitl the Cows come Home’ (2010) and ‘Dancing of the Light’ (2012).

Alex Wade (English Concertina and Northumbrian Band)
Alex is a musician and teacher based in the North East of England. Regarded as one of the country’s leading English concertina players, Alex is renowned for her dynamic and energetic playing style. She is an experienced dance musician, playing and calling regularly with ceilidh bands including The Hedgehog’s Skin and Roughshod and dance teams, most notably Star and Shadow Rapper. She has twice won the Best Music award at the Dancing England Rapper Tournament.


Alistair Anderson, Director (Mixed Instrument)
Alistair Anderson is the co-founder of Folkworks and Director of all the early Summer Schools. As a touring soloist, with no less than 37 tours of the USA, 5 trips to Australia and countless European tours to his credit, Alistair Anderson is internationally acknowledged as the master of the English Concertina and a fine exponent of the Northumbrian Pipes. He delights audiences with the lyrical slow airs and lively dance tunes of Northumberland and with his own compositions, which have grown out of his love of traditional music.

Fay Hield (Song and Folkwords)
Fay makes new music from archival sources, weaving the old into new words and sounds that resonate with the people and places she encounters.She has toured and recorded with various BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning projects, including curating The Full English Band and her own group, The Hurricane Party. Her research at The University of Sheffield looks at the English folk scene to discover how it builds a sense of community, how artists play with traditional materials and how audiences receive them.

Paul Knox (Northumbrian Pipes and Beginner’s Band)
Paul Anthony Vinton Knox is a leading exponent of the Northumbrian pipes and is well rooted in the traditions and music of Northumberland. He plays traditional music from the area as well as more contemporary pieces and European pieces too. He has performed with people such as Ian McMillan at Sage Gateshead, for the Queen at The Great North Museum as well as at the House of Lords promoting the best about Northumberland.

Karen Tweed (Piano Accordion and Band with Dance)
Karen took up the accordion at the age of 11 and become one of the leading lights on both the UK and International folk scenes. She has appeared on over 70 albums and is known for being deft and dexterous as a musician; wacky and enchanting as a performer. She is sought-after internationally as a composer, arranger and collaborator; shining in the recent Secret North (2016/17) and Accordionesse (2018) projects – while being equally in demand as a teacher of music, accordion, arrangement, composition and more recently, artistic skills.

Simon Thoumire (English Concertina and Advanced Band)
Simon Thoumire is a concertina player, composer and the dynamic force behind the traditional music advocacy outfit Hands Up For Trad. A recognised virtuoso musician in his own right, Simon has performed all over the world, made many CDs with fabulous musicians including guitarist Ian Carr and pianist David Milligan His compositions for various ensembles have been performed at major festivals including Celtic Connections. The high profile Scots Trad Music Awards, and the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award are among his numerous and varied projects designed to put Scottish music on the map.

Lauren MacColl (Fiddle and Beginner Band)
Lauren MacColl is considered one of Scotland’s most expressive fiddle players. Her performances are emotive, engaging and informed by an equal helping of tradition and technique. From the Black Isle, she studied music in Glasgow before returning home to the Highlands where she draws much of her musical inspiration. A founder member of both chamber-folk quartet RANTand song-trio Salt House, Lauren also performs with Rachel Newton’s band and in a duo with Calum Stewart.

Katriona Gilmore (Mandolin and Americana Band)
Katriona Gilmore grew up in Knebworth, Hertfordshire, learned violin at school and started playing local folk clubs with her guitarist father at the age of 14. Starting her professional career with folk pop sensations Tiny Tin Lady and singer songwriter Rosie Doonan, she was invited to be part of a new lineup of The Albion Band in 2011 and subsequently joined Albion frontman Blair Dunlop on his solo tours. In 2017 Katriona joined established folk-roots band The Willows. Katriona has featured on many acclaimed albums as a session musician and has appeared onstage with such diverse acts as The Troggs, Kim Richey and Matt Berry.

Joey Oliver (Wind Instruments and Band with Dance)
Joey, from Hexham, has been playing and calling for ceilidhs for many years. He plays tin whistle and (occasionally!) oboe and piano, is a member of the ceilidh band 422, and the caller for The Hedgehog’s Skin, a Northumbrian dance band. He is also the caller for The Hexham Village Band’s popular regular ceilidh series. He is a highly experienced teacher, having been a tutor and director at many previous Folkworks’ Summer Schools, including as a founding director of the Junior Summer School.

Jamie Roberts (Fretted Strings and Band with Song)
Jamie Roberts was brought up in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in a musical family – his sister Kathryn Roberts is a well-respected singer on the UK folk scene. Jamie joined young English traditionalists Kerfuffle in 2007, formed The Dovetail Trio with Rosie Hood and Matt Quinn in 2014, and joined the critically acclaimed Emily Askew Band in 2016. Alongside his regular projects, he has performed with Nancy Kerr’s Sweet Visitor Band and Blackbeard’s Tea Party amongst others.

Ilana Cravitz (Fiddle and Intermediate Band – chromatic instruments only)
Ilana Cravitz is a performer, teacher and composer of klezmer, the traditional music of eastern European Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities. She has toured internationally and recorded four CDs with her group, the London Klezmer Quartet, and has taught klezmer to musicians of all ages and abilities, both privately and at venues ranging from folk festivals and community workshops to universities and music colleges. Her book, ‘Klezmer Fiddle – A How-To Guide’ is published by Oxford University Press. Ilana leads and calls for klezmer dances. She also plays the baroque violin and viola da gamba, and guests with long-standing Hackney ceilidh band The Muckers.

Sam Pirt
Sam Pirt plays the Piano Accordion and comes from Goole in Yorkshire. Sam’s early bands included Soup Dragon and The Barleycorn Band, where he first played with Ian Stephenson (422, KAN). He met guitarist David Wood (of CrossCurrent) at Folkworks, and they formed their duo AAAAG in 1996. Sam was a member of the first English group to go to the Ethno Folk Camp in 1996 and in 2004 Sam realized his dream of founding his own version of Ethno in England.

Sam is also part of The Hut People with percussionist Gary Hammond. They have since gone from strength to strength; with highlights including being voted Number 1 at the Musicports Festival poll two years running, a record deal with Fellside Recordings and generally going down well wherever they play.