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At the heart of English folk

Sam Partridge to lead National Youth Folk Ensemble

The English Folk Dance and Song Society is delighted to announce the appointment of Sam Partridge as Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble from October 2019, succeeding Sam Sweeney.

Sam Partridge 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 galvanised his musical ability through studying classical bassoon at Junior RNCM. After falling in love with folk music through local weekly sessions in Glossop, he 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 has recently formed an exciting duo with fiddle player and clog dancer Grace Smith. With broad musical interests, including jazz and composition, he is a highly skilled and committed educator who has experience teaching on the Folkworks programme at Sage Gateshead and at Folkworks Summer Schools; 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 at a number of National Youth Folk Ensemble residential courses.

Sam Sweeney (Artistic Director 2016–2019) said: ‘As my three-year position as inaugural Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble comes to an end in August, I’m delighted to be passing the torch to Sam Partridge as I move on to pastures new. Sam Partridge is an extraordinary musician, an inspirational leader and a really dynamic teacher. I can’t wait to see where he takes the National Youth Folk Ensemble next.’

The National Youth Folk Ensemble is an English Folk Dance and Song initiative, supported by Arts Council England.

‘The standard was excellent – their musicianship, stage presence, performance skills and enthusiasm made it an evening to remember for a long time’ – Songlines, June 2018.

National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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