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At the heart of English folk

Sam Sweeney appointed Artistic Director of National Youth Folk Ensemble

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is thrilled to have appointed Sam Sweeney as the inaugural Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble.

Sam Sweeney

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 member of folk super-group Bellowhead for the past eight years. 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 already well known to EFDSS, having played in The Full English band, led workshops for the London Youth Folk Ensemble, and received an EFDSS Creative Bursary to develop his show Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: Made in the Great War.  

“Sam is such an exciting appointment.  He is a well-respected and highly sought after performer who has such an enthusiasm and commitment to develop the next generation of folk musicians.  We are delighted he is joining EFDSS and are so looking forward to working with him.” Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive

Sam is an experienced folk educator and passionate about passing on his love of English traditional music to younger players. He 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.

"I am thrilled to have been appointed the first ever Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble. English instrumental music has long been my passion and I cannot wait to start working alongside EFDSS and an incredible team of tutors in inspiring and collaborating with these young musicians to take our traditional repertoire to new and exciting places! This is a massive deal for the English folk scene and a huge opportunity for the musicians who join the Ensemble. I am proud to be a part of the inaugural year of this amazing venture." Sam Sweeney

As Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble, Sam will work closely with Rachel Elliott, EFDSS’ Education Director, and Sarah Jones, Programme Manager, to develop the programme in its first year. He will lead on the artistic vision of the Ensemble, collaborate with a team of professional folk artists, devise content for the residential courses and co-create repertoire with the young musicians by drawing on English regional traditions and styles.

In spring 2016 EFDSS will start recruitment for the first cohort of young musicians, who will join the National Youth Folk Ensemble in October 2016.  A series of Sampler Days will take place across England between March and June 2016, which will serve as the first level audition process for joining the Ensemble.

Keep up to date at and tweet us at @theEFDSS #youthfolk



National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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