Organisers of the Illawarra Folk Festival are asking music teachers to encourage students — and teachers — to take part in the festival in January next year with a host of new activities pitched at young musicians in the Youth Folk Project.
The Project will give regular opportunities for young people to learn, perform and engage with professional musicians and each other.
The festival runs at the Bulli Showground, Wollongong, from January 15-18.
It will be preceded by a two-day Folk School (January 13–14) for musicians of all ages to build on their skills, enlarge their repertoire of traditional folk music from Australia and overseas and learn about projecting themselves professionally.
Applications close on November 1 for 20 Youth Scholarships (for those aged up to 18 years) to take part in the Folk School.
The festival also features the Youth Traditions Awards, which were introduced this year to celebrate young artists who perform folk songs and tunes. Applications for this close on November 30. Awards will be for in the categories of best performances of: a traditional Australian folk song; a traditional folk tune or tune set; an original song following a folk tradition; an original tune (or set) following a folk style. Award participants will receive a one-day festival pass and a one-day pass for a parent.
Musicians are also invited to be part of a new national big band, Folkaphonic, to be launched at the festival. Applications are open now.
There’ll also be a competition for the best original song or tune.
You don’t have to be “folksy” to apply to take part in any of the festival activities — “Not at all,” said festival artistic director David De Santi. “Essentially, we want to encourage all young musicians to experience performing folk music in our festival environment and gaining access to a wealth of music knowledge from professional artists.”
Mr De Santi said the festival will be celebrating its 30 anniversary and feature a costumed Pearl Ball on Friday night (January 16) with gypsy dance bands and a sea shanty session.
Artists who will perform at the festival include Eric Bogle, Ted Egan, Enda Kenny and Lindsay Martin, Stephen Pigram, Greg Champion, Guerilla Zingari, The Mae Trio, The Morrisons, Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, Allez-gator, and 14 international acts from Canada, Switzerland, Scotland, India, the United States and Israel.
Mr De Santi said the Mae Trio, who have been named the first Youth Folk Ambassadors, will share stories on how they have achieved success at performing folk in Australia and overseas.