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Kathryn Tickell


Northumbrian Voices

If you’re at any of the Northumbrian Voices shows — Berwick, Liverpool, Cirencester, London — we’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment! Watch this space for news of touring work next year. Earliest information is always sent to the mailing list first, so if you’re not on the list, do sign up!

BBC Radio Scotland, 17 November

Kathryn is interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk this Thursday, 17 November. She talks about her early musical influences, current favourite artists and her new show Northumbrian Voices.

Grainger Festival at The Sage Gateshead

The Sage Gateshead hosts a special Percy Grainger Festival this weekend. The festival spans three days and revisits some of the BBC Proms Grainger night with Northern Sinfonia and the Kathryn Tickell Band on Friday 11th November. Also some fascinating concerts such as Lincolnshire Posy, on Saturday 12th November, with songs collected by Grainger who dedicated his “bunch of wildflowers” to “the old folksingers who sang so sweetly to me.” Kathryn’s been working on this concert with the fabulous Folkestra who, with Mike Wilson (voice), Damien Barber (voice), Emily Portman (voice), David Murray (piano) and Eileen Bown (piano), promise a memorable evening. 

BBC Radio 4 Midweek, 12 October

Kathryn talks about Northumbrian Voices tomorrow on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek, live at 09.00 and repeated at 21.30. Some lovely comments from audience members at Chelmsford, Halesworth and Farnham recently. Hope to hear from more of you at performances coming up at The Stables Milton Keynes, Chipping Norton and Turner Sims Southampton.

Northumbrian Voices touring

Some lovely comments posted here from audience members at Chelmsford, Halesworth and Farnham – thank you!

Northumbrian Voices

If you’d like to come to one of the Northumbrian Voices shows touring the UK this autumn please  contact venues as soon as you can; some performances have sold out and others are getting very full. The show is based on recordings Kathryn’s done over the years with family members and the older generation of musicians from whom she learnt. Kathryn says, “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. When I play tunes I am very aware of their context and of the people I learnt the tunes from. 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.”  If you’re at Sage Gateshead this Friday or Saturday we’d love to know what you think about the show — please do post a comment! A few responses from the audience at a work in progress in August:

“Absolutely blown away… It was just terrific. So powerful.”

“So moving, so special.”

“A night I will remember for a long time. I was totally transfixed.”

“I was hooked from the first second. The whole piece was so rich and perfectly paced.”


The author David Almond (Skellig, Kit’s Wilderness) was moved to comment: “History, ecology, music, myth… the local and the universal. This is beautiful and important work.”


The ensemble:

Kathryn Tickell — Northumbrian pipes, fiddle, voice

Mike Tickell — voice

Kit Haigh — guitar, piano

Patsy Reid — fiddle

Julian Sutton — melodeon

Hannah Rickard – voice


Northumbrian Voices is directed by Kathryn Tickell and Annie Rigby (Unfolding Theatre) and is supported by Arts Council England.

BBC Proms reviews

A fantastic night at the BBC Proms for Kathryn and band (Peter Tickell, Joss Clapp, Amy Thatcher), The Wilson Family, Northern Sinfonia, the ‘transcendental’ June Tabor, and the BBC Singers. A five star review in The Guardian, a great review at and some lovely Tweets: “her great great band raising the roof — the standing Prom goers don’t move like that for anyone. The BBC Four crew were totally enthused by the performance and you can see the broadcast on 14 August.

BBC Proms, TV & radio

Kathryn’s live on TV BBC Breakfast on Tuesday 2 August. She’s then on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour in advance of the BBC Proms that evening. If you’re at the Prom or hear the TV/radio broadcasts, please post a comment! Wish Kathryn luck in advance, or share thoughts about the concert!

Kathryn leads the way into the musical world of Percy Grainger and his fascinating and varied responses to folk music. June Tabor, The Wilson Family, Northern Sinfonia, the BBC Singers and the Kathryn Tickell Band join forces for an entertaining night!

The concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, online live and ‘listen again’ options at and recorded for TV broadcast on BBC Four on 14 August.

Kathryn was interviewed earlier this year for the Proms programme:

“The thing about Grainger is the exhilaration you get listening to his arrangements. The way he treats folk music is never twee.” The Northumbrian smallpipes player and the guiding force behind this celebration of the Australian’s folk-music explorations could be forgiven for her opinion that some composers used the traditional music of these islands to present a ‘chocolate-box’ view of the peasantry. “There’s a tendency to treat traditional melodies in a rather worthy and slightly patronising way. Grainger absolutely did not have that attitude. He would choose tunes that maybe weren’t the most beautiful but use them as vehicles for his creativity. The way he orchestrates and arranges this music makes me listen to it with absolute awe and admiration — and jubilation.”  Since beginning to research Grainger, Tickell says she has found his approach to folk music “quirky and outrageous and very unconventional,” which suits his material well. “His music can have quite a bit of aggression about it, of fierceness, but at the same time a lot of humour.” And it’s addictive, too: “The only problem is that there’s so much material I was desperate to include. I could do a whole week of Percy Grainger and his folk music!”

BBC Radio 3 ‘Hear and Now’

Saturday 23rd July at 22.30, BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now features Kathryn’s performance at Bath International Music Festival earlier this year, where she and Joanna MacGregor, with the Navarra Quartet, played new music based on Northumbrian folk tunes by composers Howard Skempton, Peter Maxwell Davies and Michael Finnissy. The presenter Sara Mohr Pietsch also travelled up to Kathryn’s home in Northumberland to talk to her about traditional tunes brought into contemporary composition.

BBC Radio 3, ‘In Tune’

Kathryn plays live on BBC Radio 3, 15 July at 17.30 in a special broadcast of ‘In Tune’, from the Royal College of Music. Alongside other featured Proms artists Kathryn will be talking about the Prom on 2 August when she will be hosting an evening of Percy Grainger’s work. The programme is streamed live on the BBC Radio 3 website, and will be available as ‘audio on demand’ for seven days after the broadcast.

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