AT the beginning of the 20th century, Cecil Sharp collected hundreds of folksongs from working people in Somerset and inspired many other composers and collectors, including Percy Grainger and Ralph Vaughan Williams, to do the same in other parts of the country.
In Dorset, brothers Henry and Robert Hammond were similarly inspired, travelling around the county on their bicycles in 1905. Over a period of two years they collected around 600 folksongs, many from the South Dorset Ridgeway area, from singers such as Marina Russell in Upwey and Robert Barratt in Puddletown. These songs are now available online and in manuscript form, representing a fantastic resource of local music, story and folklore.
In a special Artsreach event in July, The Ridgeway Singers, Musicians and Choir performed To Hear The Nightingales Sing.
Following the success of the Artsreach West Gallery carol workshops and concerts last autumn, Tim Laycock and Phil Humphries have been leading new workshops where participants have explored the repertoire of local folk songs and practised the art of solo folksong performance.
This concert was the culmination of the project and featured solo performances, choral arrangements and instrumental interludes drawn from one of England’s most important repositories of traditional song.
The project is part of the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership programme, and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.