Music of Somerset

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Somerset is a county in the southwest of England. It is home to many types of music.

Folk music[edit]

The county has a well-documented and still vibrant folk music heritage, as it was studied by one of the earliest British musicologists, Cecil Sharp, who cut his teeth on the rich vein of folk music tradition in Somerset. Sharp began his career of collecting folk songs in Somerset in 1903 with the editorial help of his friend Rev Charles Marson, vicar of Hambridge. Cycling around the county during holidays, Sharp ultimately collected more than 1,500 songs from Somerset. The folksinging tradition in Somerset centers on solo, a cappella singing and playing—at home, at work, and at gatherings, small or large.[1] Sharp's five volume collection of Somerset folk songs formed the basis for his English Folk Song: Some Conclusions, a seminal 1907 publication. Some of Sharp's collections formed the basis for Songs of the West (with Sabine Baring-Gould) and Somerset Rhapsody by Gustav Holst and the "March from Somerset" in Vaughan Williams' English Folk Song Suite.

Classical[edit]

The City of Bath Bach Choir (CBBC) was founded in October 1946 by Cuthbert Bates, who was also a founding father of the Bath Bach Festival in 1950. The choir gave its inaugural concert in June 1947 in Bath Abbey, a performance of J. S. Bach's great Mass in B Minor. Cuthbert Bates, as well as the founder, was also the choir's principal conductor.

Somerset chamber choir was formed in 1984 by former members of Somerset Youth Choir,[2][3] and typically gives two concerts annually. Initially, these were mainly around Taunton, but in July 1992 the choir gave it first Wells Cathedral concert.

Situated in Great Elm, Frome, the Jackdaws Music Education Trust was established by Maureen Lehane with the aim of improving participation in and enjoyment of Classical music and music making through weekend courses, concerts, a young artists programme and education projects. Their current projects[4] include Jack's Music Club — a music club for teenagers promoting social music making, supported by Somerset County Music — and OperaPLUS in May 2012, which will be staging Rossini's La Cenerentola working with locals schools and auditioned talent.

Venues[edit]

There are many music institutions that play a major part in the musical life of Somerset. Halsway Manor is the only residential centre for folk music and culture in the United Kingdom.

Youth groups[edit]

Youth groups include the Somerset County Youth Orchestra, the Somerset County Youth Choir and the Somerset County Youth Concert Band. The Taunton Area Centre and the Yeovil Music Centre are two affiliated institutions, as are the Cheddar Valley Music Club, the Yamaha Music School and COSMIC, the Centre of Somerset Music Club. Other groups include the Somerset Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1979, the Mid-Somerset Orchestra, the Winscombe Orchestra, the Yeovil Town Band and the Wincanton Town Band. Also the area of West Somerset has a unique feature in the fact that in the town of Watchet on the north coast this small town has 2 brass bands, both regularly perform in public. The bands are The Watchet Town Band and The West Somerset Brass Band.

Well-known artists[edit]

Well-known musicians from Somerset include Acker Bilk, a jazz musician from Pensford (who formed the Paramount Jazz Band), Weston-super-Mare-born Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and local folk artists Adge Cutler and The Wurzels (simply The Wurzels after Cutler's death), who were the most prominent Somerset band in the Scrumpy and Western music scene. The Wurzels began their long career in 1966, with the release of "Drink Up Thy Zider", which sold more than 100,000 copies. After losing their songwriter, they turned to novelty songs and eventually topped the singles chart with "Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)" in 1976.

Rock and pop[edit]

More recently, bands that have originated, or have some connections in Somerset include Reef, Kula Shaker and Toploader. All of these have played at the Glastonbury Festival—the largest and richest annual event in Somerset's music scene.

In addition to the more traditional style of music, Yeovil based progressive/indie rock band, The Pineapple Thief, released their latest album, Someone Here Is Missing in 2010, their eleventh album in a career spanning thirteen years. Their constant UK and International tours (particularly in Poland) attract a small but dedicated fanbase. Having played at London Venues such as “Underground” Camden, “The Half Moon” Putney and more recently “Shepherds Bush Empire” where they were supporting Steven Wilson’s “Blackfield” they receive persistently positive, and often glowing, reviews in stalwart magazines such as Classic Rock[5] and Rock Sound[6] for both their musical offerings and their energetic live performances. Their favourable comparisons to bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Muse and Biffy Clyro, together with Someone Here is Missing sleeve being created by Storm Thorgerson the man behind much of the iconic artwork for these industry giants, ensures that this bands reputation and popularity is maintaining its steady progress into mainstream awareness. The Pineapple Thief are regulars at The Orange Box a venue in Yeovil.

Portishead are a musical group named after the town of Portishead, Somerset. Portishead consists of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, and Adrian Utley, while sometimes citing a fourth member, Dave McDonald, an engineer on Dummy and Portishead.[7][8]

Gabrielle Aplin lives in Bath in Somerset and gained major popularity from her cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Power Of Love' that reached number one in the singles charts in 2012. She recently release her debut album "English Rain" and often mentions Somerset on her Twitter account.

George Shelley of X Factor Boy band Union J grew up in Somerset, in particular Burnham-on-Sea and Clevedon. George attended The King Alfred School, Highbridge, Kings of Wessex School and Weston College.

Festivals[edit]

The first Glastonbury Festivals were a series of cultural events held in summer, from 1914 to 1926 in Glastonbury. The festivals were founded by English socialist composer Rutland Boughton and his librettist Lawrence Buckley.[9] Apart from the founding of a national theatre, they envisaged a summer school and music festival based on utopian principles.[10]

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, commonly abbreviated to Glastonbury or Glasto, is the largest green field open-air music and performing arts festival in the world.[11] Organiser Michael Eavis stated that he decided to host the first festival, then called Pilton Festival, after seeing an open air Led Zeppelin concert at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music 1970 at the nearby Bath and West Showground in 1970.[12] The Big Green Gathering (BGG) was a festival with an environmental focus which happened during most summers between 1994 and 2007. It was held at various locations in Somerset and Wiltshire. The event grew from the Green Fields area of the Glastonbury Festival.[13]

The Bath International Music Festival, also known as the Bath Music Fest, is held each summer in Bath. Inaugurated in 1948, the festival includes many genres such as orchestral, contemporary jazz, folk and electronica.

There are also small festivals with a music focus within the county such as the Farmfestival, Frome Festival, Sunrise Celebration, Stogumber Festival,[14] Trowbridge Village Pump Festival and the Two Moors Festival.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Songs of Somerset Folk, Traditional Songs from the Sharp Archives performed by Eddie Upton, Folk South West, 1998. Halsgrove, Tiverton, Devon. Audio CD, ISBN 1-84114-011-2, ISBN 978-1-84114-011-7
  2. ^ "25 years for Somerset Chamber Choir". Somerset Times. July 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Sowden, Steve (12 April 2009). "Somerset Chamber Choir to celebrate 25th anniversary". Somerset County Gazette. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Jackdaws Music Education Trustq. "Young Artists". Young Artists. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Track Of The Day: The Pineapple Thief". Classic Rock. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Pineapple Thief — Someone Here Is Missing". Rock Sound. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  7. ^ The Rock Hard Times: Dave McDonald
  8. ^ A Portishead Fansite: Dave McDonald
  9. ^ The Rutland Boughton Music Trust
  10. ^ The first Glastonbury festival at Utopia Britannica
  11. ^ "http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/information/what-is-glastonbury/"
  12. ^ Smith, David, 2005. "Far-out Man." In The Observer.
  13. ^ Mark Adler (August 2006). "It's my party". Mendip Times 2 (3): 14–15. 
  14. ^ "Stogumber Festival". Stogumber Festival. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 

External links[edit]