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Grapevine Review: Songs from Suffolk Project + Performance at Snape Maltings

“We received a warm welcome from the team at Aldeburgh Young Musicians who allowed us access to, not just Shorelark, but also the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners” The Young’uns”. Who along  with Mary Ann Kennedy (of BBC Radio 3 and BBC Alba), were running the afternoon’s workshop rehearsals.  The finished piece will be performed at FolkEast on Friday 19th August.

On arrival, the entrance to the Britten Studio was a cacophony of noise, not unlike a school playground.  There were instruments being tuned, laughter and dance – we were to realise later that this was not mere play but practice.

It was interesting to see the Young’Uns at work. For once they were not centre stage, they were there to mentor and encourage.  It was easy to see why FolkEast chose these young men as their patrons.  Add to the mix Mary Ann Kennedy’s infectious enthusiasm and you had the makings of a recipe.  All that was needed was to add over twenty talented young people and then the magic happened.

Having been working together for a week I had feared that the presence of a stranger with a camera might have been off putting.  But no, their concentration was total and their focus solely on the work at hand.  The piece tells the story of Suffolk singer Bob Hart.   Bob is well known on the Folk circuit and was, for a time, Benjamin Britten’s gardener.  Bob left us in 1978, long before any of the young musicians attending the workshop at Snape were even born.   Despite this the youngsters told his story with a reverence far outstripping their age.

There were songs of love, songs of nature, songs from the trenches and songs from the sea.  But for me it was the Gaelic that struck a chord, hearing “Grá Geal Mo Chroi” sung with such passion, in such a beautiful venue sent shivers up my back.”

Tony Bell, Grapevine Live