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At the heart of English folk
National Youth Folk Ensemble



Rachel Elliott, Education Director – overview of the programme as part of the EFDSS Education programme and national strategy

Sarah Jones, Programme Manager (National Youth Folk Ensemble) – responsible for the development and delivery of the programme

For further information please contact Sarah on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Artistic Team

Sam Partridge, Current Artistic Director  

Sam is an outstanding multi-instrumentalist and composer most often seen performing on timber flute, whistle and English concertina. Growing up in the High Peak, he studied classical bassoon at Junior RNCM and then chose to study on the Folk and Traditional Music Degree at Newcastle University. While in Newcastle Sam immersed himself in the strong woodwind traditions of Irish, Scottish and Breton traditional music. He spent time at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick and subsequently embraced traditional English music through a Masters degree at Newcastle University. Sam is a member of Pons Aelius, The Rachel Hamer Band, Jordan Aikin and Bad Phantom, and plays in a duo with fiddle player and clog dancer Grace Smith. Sam is a highly skilled and committed educator who has experience teaching on the Folkworks programme at Sage Gateshead; tutoring at Newcastle University; working as a music teacher in a secondary school; and leading other youth and adult folk music learning projects across the north of England. In 2017 he was involved in a teaching and performance project at Xiamen University in China, and he has taught regularly on National Youth Folk Ensemble residential courses. 

Sam Sweeney, Former Artistic Director (2016-19)

Sam Sweeney was the inaugural Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble and he continues to tutor on the Ensemble's residential courses and wider programme. Awarded the coveted BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year 2015, Sam is an exceptional fiddle player and multi-instrumentalist who has made his performing mark through his duo with Hannah James, as a member of Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings, and most notably as a member of folk super-group Bellowhead.  An exponent of English traditional music, Sam also performs with some of today’s most acclaimed English folk bands including Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party, Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band, and founded Leveret with Andy Cutting and Rob Harbron. Sam is an experienced folk educator who has taught at Folkworks Youth Summer School, Aldeburgh Young Musicians and the English Acoustic Collective Summer School, as well as running his own fiddle workshops for advanced players. 

Music Leaders:

Since 2016, we have worked with leading folk artists and educators from England, Scotland, Sweden and the USA to deliver National Youth Folk Ensemble residential courses. These include Jenn Butterworth, Archie Churchill-Moss, Andy Cutting, Dave Gray, Natalie Haas, Rob Harbron, Sarah Hayes, Benji Kirkpatrick, Rachel Newton, Ben Nicholls, Becky Price, Emma Reid, Patsy Reid, Saul Rose, Jack Rutter, and Miranda Rutter. We have welcomed guest artists to deliver one-off workshops: musician and theatre-maker Tim Dalling, storyteller Hugh Lupton, morris dancer Alex Merry, and contemporary composer Peter Wiegold. 


Pastoral Team

Jack Healy (Pastoral Lead)

Natalie Reid 

Bryony Bainbridge

Clare Elton

Martha Lloyd 

Lucy Duff





Arts Council England


National Youth Folk Ensemble on Instagram

See highlights from the Ensemble's residential courses and performances