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A celebration of peace is taking place at the Foxlowe Arts centre in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: April 03, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

  • The Bird Scarers.

  • Rick Ford

  • Rick Ford.

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A packed programme of events celebrating peace and marking the centenary of the First World War is on offer in Leek this weekend.

Singers, songwriters, musicians, artists, writers, poets and performance readers are all set to take part in '1914-2014 – In Celebration of Peace' at the Foxlowe Arts Centre with the aim of celebrating peace and reconciliation as a better option than aggression.

Saturday (April 5) will be a day of music with sing-a-rounds and harmony singing workshops in the afternoon led by former Mikron theatre director Janet Russell and an evening concert headlined by Janet who has worked professionally on the folk scene for more than 30 years.

Janet will be supported by local artists including The Bird Scarers, Rick Ford, Pete Shirley and Herbs and Leekies.

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Sunday afternoon will be devoted to the spoken word with readings from Roger Elkin, Pamela Brough Sandiford, Dave Bell and Phil Edmeades, a Meet the Readers and Writers session, plus films from local and national archives.

The Sunday evening concert will commence with readings and performances by local poets and writers, The Packhorse Poets, Borderland Voices and Leek Writers. That will be followed by the premiere of - 'Journeys - scenes in songs, images and film' – Rick Ford's new show featuring his own songs performed live with a backdrop of images, archive footage and newsreel, produced in collaboration with renowned documentary film maker Prof. Ray Johnson.

Jointly organised by Leek Quakers, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Foxlowe Sessions, Peace Through Folk and the British Legion, the weekend is intended to celebrate and promote peace, reconciliation and goodwill.

For tickets are £5 Saturday afternoon; £8 Saturday evening concert; £7 Sunday afternoon sessions and £7 Sunday evening performance. A weekend pass, giving access to all events, is priced at £12 while under-16s go free.

For tickets visit the Foxlowe Arts Centre or call 01538 386112 or visit www.foxloweartscentre.org.uk

FOR a more detailed look at the artistes taking part in this weekend's '1914-2014 – In Celebration of Peace', and for a full programme of events, visit our website at www.leek-news.co.uk

Here are some extra details of some of the acts who will be taking part this weekend:

Janet Russell

Singer, vocal workshop leader, arranger.

Janet has now worked on the folk scene professionally for more than 30 years, starting in Edinburgh pubs, in 1980/81, and has experience of folk clubs, arts centres, concert halls, church halls and village halls of all sorts and sizes in the UK, Europe, and the USA. She worked as musical director for Mikron Theatre for ten years, and is recognised as an accomplished vocal harmony workshop leader.

Also a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network, promoting the principle that everyone can sing, and it is their birthright to do so; at the end of 2001 Janet produced the first English performances of “The Christmas Truce” with Coope Boyes and Simpson, a show which received a standing ovation at the Sheffield Raise Your Banners Festival in November 2001.

In March 2005 the same team put on two performances of “Hearts of Coal” celebrating the lives of miners and mining communities with the Roses and Thorns choir, a magnificent group of 80 voices from across northern England.

Janet leads three community choirs, in Silsden, Burnley, and Settle, and continues to facilitate voice and harmony workshops at festivals and other events throughout the UK. She also performs with Sisters Unlimited, “celebrating the wit and wisdom of womankind” for over 30 years, and JigJaw “singing for dancing and dancing for singing” and also with the Anti Capitalist Roadshow collective.

Other projects include Yorkshire CND’s big annual “Day of Dance” fundraiser in Saltaire on many occasions, offering songs and rounds for peace. She is also working with her Burnley choir (East Lancs clarion community choir) on a small fundraising CD for a local Palestine support group.

Pete Shirley

Singer, song writer.

Pete is one of folk music’s best kept secrets. With a combination of great penmanship and a voice as clear and crisp as a moorland stream he holds an audience in the palm of his hand.

Rick Ford

Singer, songwriter, author, world traveller.

Rick's tradition is that of the singer/songwriter and storyteller. His influences can be detected in his songs and his playing but his work possesses a startling sense of originality and his musical influences seem to mesh together with a timelessness that, like the blues, folk and country music that he loves goes beyond fashion into that hard gut-bucket reality that forms the currency of our lives. His songs are often steeped in the wild beauty of the hills, valleys and moorlands of his beloved Peak District countryside; at once simple, raw and earthy and yet at the same time filled with an indefinable sense of poignancy and yearning. Though some of Rick's songs are heartbreaking in their unflinching honesty, the insight he brings into his portrayal of the human condition is riveting.

Herbs and Leekies

Led by Dave Rhead who all but invented Folk music in the moorlands. Always popular at their own club at The Red Lion Cheddleton and as the anchor band for the folk element of Leek Arts Festival.

The BirdScarers

Rosie Rushton,Val Williamson, and Jane Rushton. Three generations of singing, song writing, musicians who capture the hearts of all who hear them.

Their own compositions draw vivid images of their lives and moorlands ways and their close harmonies take other writers songs to new and exciting places. Yet another of the moorlands best kept folk secrets.

Pamela Brough Sandiford

Early work: everything from poetry to pantomime plus radio, short stories and features in magazines, based on life on a small hillfarm near Flash. Includes The Diary of a Moorland Winter with Prunella Scales (BBC Radio 4) and the farm-based series Moorland Matters (BBC Radio Stoke)

Later work: Dancing Round the Garden for Biggar Theatre Workshop (Scottish Arts Council); Forest on a Leaf: Writer in Residence for Year of the Artist, Halewood, Merseyside; Lune Valley Artworks, Lancaster City Council; The Storysnake, published Lancaster Litfest and written with children in primary schools along the river Lune.

2001: a commission to work with farmers in Cumbria, collecting their own words about the Foot and Mouth crisis and adding a response in poetry as part of a collection of word and images. The work is now part of a national archive.

Following this came an invitation to contribute to From Mayhem To Meaning; a book on the Foot and Mouth crisis, published June 2009 (Manchester University Press)

Local work in the community includes Leek Soup for Leek Arts Festival 2002, and two short plays, Wheregate and Playing Out, both made with writers at Borderland Voices in Leek and performed by professional actors from Circuit Casting in Stoke. Playing Out also included local musicians, young people, the U3A choir.

On-going: The Burma Play, commissioned by Lancaster City Council with Arts Council funding. Performances include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Black Box Theatre Belfast and Contact theatre Manchester, all with sponsorship from the Co-operative. A shortened version was performed for an all-party group of MPs in Westminster.

Roger Elkin.

Prize-winning poet Roger Elkin has 10 poetry collections in print. He was shortlisted for the Bloodaxe New Blood Book-length Competition (1987);

one of 10 shortlisted (out of 4,000 entries) for the Strokestown International Poetry Competition (2003);

and one of six shortlisted for the Keele University Poetry Prize(2007).

He has won over 150 prizes and places – 45 firsts - in (inter)national poetry competitions. His poetry has received

the Lake Aske Memorial Award (1982 & 1987) the Douglas Gibson Memorial Award (1986)

the Sylvia Plath Award for Poems about Women (1986) and the Hugh MacDiarmid Trophy (2003).

He became the first recipient of the Howard Sergeant Memorial Award for Services to Poetry in 1987; and was The Writer’s Rostrum “Poet of the Year, 1991”.

He was poetry tutor on residential weekend courses at Wedgwood College and Conference Centre, Barlaston.

He was literary advisor to the Leek Arts Festival, for whom he organized an International Poetry Competition (1982-1992); the co-Editor (1985-1988) of Prospice, the international literary quarterly, issues 17-25 inclusive; and sole Editor of Envoi 1991-2006, (issues 101-145) during which time prize-winning writers Julia Copus, Tobias Hill and Owen Sheers had their poetic openings in the magazine’s First Publication Feature.

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