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At the heart of English folk

Alan James Creative Bursaries 2019

Four projects will create new music rooted in and inspired by English folk, funded by The English Folk Dance and Song Society – England’s national development agency for the folk arts.

The bursaries are named in memory of Alan James, former Chair of EFDSS, who died suddenly in April 2019. In the spirit of Alan’s eclectic musical tastes and his ability to foster exciting artistic collaborations, the call for applications particularly welcomed projects which explore English folk music in the context of cross-genre or cross-art-form collaborations and explorations.   

Four Creative Bursaries have been awarded, all of which are funded through the PRS Foundation’s Talent Development Partner scheme. They come under the umbrella of EFDSS’ Artists’ Development Programme, which provides professional development support, both creative and business, to artists at all levels of their career.

Each bursary is worth up to £2,000, and supports established artists’ creative research and development together with use of rehearsal space at Cecil Sharp House and access to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

Bursaries have been awarded to:

Oliver Cross

Oliver Cross in field, facing camera and playing harmonica wearing dark glasses

Oliver is a harmonica player, folk singer and film maker who grew up on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens and now lives in Preston, Lancashire. He experiments with electro-acoustic music using harmonicas, tape delays and loop pedals.

In 2018 Oliver visited Romania, where he researched folk music with photography and filming for his Drake Music PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner commission.

Oliver is a Drake Music trainee and is also part of the National Open Youth Orchestra and British Paraorchestra.

This bursary is awarded in partnership with Drake Music

Hannah Dunster, Akhila Krishnan and Fernando Machado

Akhila Krishnan headshot
Lambrego: Fernando playing guitar and singing and Hannah playing flute

Lambrego and Akhila Krishnan have joined forces to create a project of shared stories of migration, home and belonging –exploring the role that folk music has to play in migrant stories, through its transformative and ever-evolving qualities. 

Akhila Krishnan is a multi-disciplinary designer and director, working across fine art, graphic narrative, moving image and projection design for live performance.

Lambrego is an Anglo-Brazilian songwriting duo formed of Fernando Machado and Hannah Dunster. A unification of two distinctive cultures, it mixes polyphonic melodies, storytelling and evocative poetry, combining the Portuguese and English languages.


Kate Huggett

Kate Huggett headshot

Kate started to sing folk songs with her Kentish mother as she grew up in Suffolk. She went on to study Sean Nós song in Ireland and folk song in the Republic of Georgia. She has performed as a soloist in theatre and new music projects and has held performance residencies in the UK, Germany and France.

Kate regularly records with contemporary musicians, appearing on Nils Frahm’s All Melody (2018), and is a founding member of Shards voices, whose debut album will be released on Erased Tapes in Autumn 2019. In Summer 2019 she is working with Melanie Wilson and the Royal Opera House Engender initiative on a new opera idea about the Birthstrike Movement.

She is also currently writing and recording an EP of folk songs and new compositions, to be released in 2020.


Tom Kitching

Tom Kitching with fiddle

Tom is a fiddle player and writer from Cheshire. He has performed with numerous bands and singers and is a founder member of folk-award-nominated Pilgrims’ Way.

Tom’s first solo album, Interloper, is an exploration of the contemporary English instrumental tradition. It has received accolades, including being awarded five stars and placed in the albums of the year list by the Sunday Express.

His latest project, Busk England, has seen Tom busk right across England, using his music to better understand a country divided by class, economics, and history. The stories, details, triumphs and tragedies of this England are recorded in his blog, and has led to a book contract with Leeds publisher Scratching Shed.


Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director, said: ‘Our bursaries are designed to kick-start projects, giving artists time to bring their ideas to life. We are delighted to pay tribute to Alan James with these four exciting and eclectic projects.’

PRS Foundation supports organisations from across the UK which have been selected as PRS Foundation Talent Development Partners. These organisations are working at the frontline of talent development in the UK, supporting a broad range of individual music creators across different music genres and UK regions. This reflects PRS Foundation’s commitment to supporting composers and songwriters of all backgrounds either through direct investment or by helping organisations which nurture music creators and promote their music to audiences at home and overseas.

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National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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