AN ACCOUNT OF THE INTERNATIONAL PIPE AND TABOR FESTIVAL 2017
HELD IN STONY STRATFORD 29th SEPTEMBER TO 1st OCTOBER
This year’s festival was one of the most successful we have held, with greater numbers of attendees than in recent years. Our international guest was Juana Etchegoin from the French Basque country, and we also welcomed back Chuck Wilcox from the States and Michel Bellon from France. We were pleased to see first time attendees – Karen Ellis from the States, and several new English attendees.
Before the Festival proper began, 4 members met at a Stony Stratford infants’ school and gave a 20-minute presentation to 150 or so youngsters, before doing the same at a junior school nearby. All the children seemed to enjoy the experience, and the teachers thought it was a good way to spend the end of Friday afternoon! We hope we managed to spread awareness of pipe and tabor a little further.
Andy had booked a Thai restaurant and the 20 or so members who had arrived by then enjoyed a meal together before we all adjourned to York House where we were based for the weekend. We enjoyed a convivial evening gathering, talking and playing.
Saturday morning was time for the Symposium, ably organised as usual by Bill. There were 4 interesting sessions – Chuck talked about use of the lower register and then demonstrated foot percussion; Juana explored the history and role of the pipe and tabor in the Basque country. She also admitted that she was missing celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of the association of Basque tambourinaires! Bill then spoke about his researches into the position of taborers in 15th century Italy (when they were very well paid!), and Terry Carter finished the morning with a talk on improvising and playing by ear.
While many members browsed the makers’ market and sales table, a beginners’ workshop took place, with 10 prospective players concentrating hard!
The afternoon was given over to dance and dance music. Mary-Jo took a thoroughgoing workshop on playing for Morris, with Ollie Simons performing the solo jig. Andy then led a workshop in Renaissance dance music. When we had all practised the dance music, Andy’s daughter, Helen, taught the steps, and some danced while others played. We all then dispersed to local hostelries to eat before the evening concert. A number of locals attended this. Juana performed for us, along with many other players, while Bill with Barbara and friends, put on a display of Renaissance dance. Something for everyone.
On Sunday morning the AGM was well-attended and gave rise to much positive discussion. It was followed by workshops. Juana taught a traditional Basque dance air, before Tony brought us up to date with an entertaining session playing jazz and popular tunes to a pre-recorded backing. Terry then worked us hard on the practical side of his Saturday talk, getting us to work on improvisation.
Sadly, we had to finish at lunch time, and left York House to find a meal, followed by a drink and enjoying each other’s company until it was time for each person to leave.
All in all, it was an excellent weekend.