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Kathryn Tickell

“History, ecology, music, myth…
the local and the universal.
This is beautiful and important work.”



Northumbrian Voices is based on interviews and recordings Kathryn has done over the years with family members and old shepherd musicians from whom she learnt tunes and songs, including mouth organ player Will Atkinson and fiddler Willie Taylor. Three generations of musicians perform in this reflection of immensely strong communities, their music and collective stories.

“It’s not just a nostalgic look back to the past though. Many of the people whose words we are using are still alive and very much of the modern age: my neighbour, my cousin – both Northumbrian farmers. I always wish that audiences could meet some of the people I learnt from — they were such characters — and this show feels as if we are letting those people speak.”
Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell (co-director, composer, performer).
Kathryn’s work is deeply rooted in the landscape and people of Northumbria. She has released 14 of her own albums and has recorded and performed with Sting, The Chieftains, The Penguin Café Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie, Andy Sheppard and many others. In 2009 Kathryn was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music, for artists judged to have made an exceptional contribution to British music. This past year she has collaborated with Joanna MacGregor, curated an evening for the 2011 BBC Proms, continues work with Sting, as well as touring with the Kathryn Tickell Band. Kathryn is the Artistic Director of Folkworks, and founder and Director of Folkestra, the north east’s dynamic young folk ensemble.

Annie Rigby (co-director).
Annie Rigby is founder and Artistic Director of Unfolding Theatre. Past productions include the award-winning Building Palaces, where audiences took a journey through palaces made of gongs, teacups and songs at The Stephenson Works (Newcastle upon Tyne), Let Me Tell You, an installation made with recovering addicts and Noah and the Fludd, written by David Almond. Unfolding Theatre makes theatre with a North Eastern spirit: a wild sense of humour, strength of character and a delight in bringing people together. Before founding Unfolding Theatre, Annie was Resident Director at Northern Stage. Her directorial work for the company included On Top of the TownTattercoatsThumbelinaHow the Sea Came to Be and The Golden Bird. Annie was Northern Rock Foundation Fellow (2007/08) on the Clore Leadership Programme.

Mike Tickell (composer, performer).
As a child Mike learnt songs from the few remaining singers of his area in the North Tyne Valley and won many Border Ballad competitions. At one time his parents ran a hill farm, Willowbog, which had earlier been run by Kathryn’s mother’s parents. Leaving school in the 1950s he worked for the Forestry Commission before joining The Horse Guards, then worked in the education sector while studying at Newcastle and Cambridge Universities. In 1995 he released his solo CD Warksburn; he sings on the Northumbrian compilation album From Sewingshields to Glendale and has recorded a radio series on Border Ballads. Both his father and grandfather were singers and musicians.

Julian Sutton (composer, performer). Julian is a melodeon player, composer and teacher, hailing from Tyneside. As an accompanist of traditional song he has also recorded and performed with Karine Polwart, The Unthanks, Nuala Kennedy, and Kate Rusby. Outside the folk realm, he has performed with The Brazz Brothers, Kuljit Bhamra and recording and performing with fellow Geordie and celebrated rock musician Sting. Other on-going adventures include The Auvo Quartet (an Anglo-Finnish group), The Wendigo (with medieval music duo Misericordia) and working with French bagpiper Fabrice Besson.

Patsy Reid (composer, performer) is from Knapp in Perthshire. She remains the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship and released her debut solo album With Complements in 2002.  She was a founding member of Scottish folk band Breabach. Patsy graduated form Strathclyde University in 2004 with a 1st class Honours Degree in Applied Music, then at Royal Northern College of Music she gained a Post Graduate Certificate of Education with Specialist String Teaching and a Post Graduate Diploma in Classical Violin Performance. In 2008 she was commissioned by Celtic Connections and Bridging the Gap was recorded and released on Vertical Records. Patsy currently performs with The Unusual Suspects, Vamm and The Cecil Sharp Project.

Hannah Rickard (performer).
Hannah is a Newcastle-based singer and fiddle player. Hannah was three years old when she decided to be a musician, inspired by her dad’s love of bluegrass and country music. Graduating from Liverpool University in 2009 with a 1st class Honours Degree in Music and Popular Music, Hannah went on to complete a Masters degree in Community Music. She plays in her family rockabilly band as well as bluegrass band The Kentucky Cow Tippers. More recently, Hannah has co-founded jazz/blues inspired group Hannah and the Narrators, and is currently working on their debut album.

Kit Haigh (composer, performer).
Kit’s professional playing career began in the 80s with rock band The Flaming Mussolinis and he was a member of the Kathryn Tickell Band between 1997 and 2003. He has also toured with Maddy Prior, featuring in her 2008 performance at the BBC Electric Proms. As a composer Kit has scored numerous films and network TV programmes, notably the EMMY & BAFTA award winning documentary The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off. He is a co-director of Falling Cat, producing digital interactive art installations that combine new technology, movement, sound and visuals, and a founder member of the Guild of Northern Media Composers.

Northumbrian Voices was supported by Arts Council of England


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