Annual Gathering of the West Country
By Alan Corkett (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Kilve Court, Somerset UK. 17th-19th March 2000
Pauline Wallace who runs this ever enlarging organisation, held its 20th (was
it ?) annual meeting, (early years when it was small were held at Halsway Manor
I am told) with over 125 contertina players arriving from all over the UK and
elsewhere (like Katy from Melbourne, Australia!)
The staff to attract this great number were none other than John Kirkpatrick
who plays anglo, (whom I had not seen since he was 14 yrs!) and Alistair Anderson
who plays mainly English concertina and Northumbrian Pipes too (whom I had not
seen since the memorable EFDSS training week at Newton Park college, near BATH
UK, in 1972 with all the greats of the period like Pat Shaw, Nan Fleming Williams,
Peter Kettlewell, Jim Coleman, Brian Willcocks & myself) and Andrew Purkis,
the incredible button accordion and duet concertina player.
After the Friday warm-up groups there was a bar session when everyone let
their hair down. Apart from being a very enjoyable social occasion and meeting
of old acquaintances, it is a very intensive weekend of workshops with a Staff
Concert during the early part of Saturday evening followed by a ceilidh dance.
Then on Sunday, more of the workshops with Show-case presented by all the groups
in the afternoon, followed by the inevitable cream-tea.
Anything from beginners to advanced orchestra seemed to be catered for. Meanwhile,
Barry Wallace did the instrument maintenance & rebuild and sold the odd tape,
book or CD in his little mobile shop.
I suppose there were 27 anglo players there, 20-plus duets and the rest (100+)
playing English varying from big basses to sopraninos. I even had a chance to
speak to the great Brian Hayden himself, designer of the Hayden system of fingering
for the duet. I understand these are in very short supply, due to the amount
of handwork involved and have an order-lag time of seven years!
Next year will be about the same weekend -- book now to avoid disappointment!
I went to the anglo workshop which covered morris tunes without reference
to any printed music notation, in various keys, as a means of learning chords
to accompany one's self & harmonising songs for accompanyment. All repeated
for G/D's as well as C/G's.
Brian set me thinking about the sound being good in an old building like Halsway
Manor, it was suggested that a concertina event was run for just anglos & duets
in 2001. So what do you think? If interested in this notion let me know and
I will get it organised before all the dates are gone, if there is sufficient
demand to get it off the ground.