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“Everybody learns something but over to Scotland some years
perhaps the greater achievements before to play at the Girvan Folk
“In my view too many organisers, and I include
are on the social side. One of Festival. That summer school was
the weeks in the Living Tradition Common Ground on the Hill, held
myself, have played it too safe.”
Summer School series is Common at a University in Westminster, an
Ground. Although traditional hour or so from Washington. To the organisational approach in one musician interviewing another
music is the core element of that be honest it was not the summer the UK.” musician. These have proved
week, it may be best described school I would have attended to be popular with audiences as
as a multi-arts week. I have often by choice – given a free choice I “We started in 2002 with one week they give them an insight into lives
referred to Common Ground would have headed for something of summer school that we called of people they only really know
as a diversion from my plans, like Celtic Week at the Swannanoa Common Ground Scotland. It about from their stage persona.
but it could be one of the most Gathering – but in the grand was a multi-arts week with a quite I would credit ‘the Whitby
important and fundamental scheme of things it has worked amazing range of tutors. It was Interviews’ during Whitby Folk
elements of the various weeks. out well.” financially crazy but artistically Week with some of the inspiration
Somewhere in the Common wonderful. It took five years for these. ‘The Whitby Interviews’,
Ground ethos is the notion that “Common Ground in America before we were able to move to far from being dull talk sessions,
music and the arts have relevance was quite challenging at times. I the Augusta and Swannanoa often have to turn people away
to our daily lives and to the society think that most people would have model of a series of weeks.” at the door and are as popular as
that we live in.” some tale of how their emotional many of the concerts.”
barriers were breached at some “I often wonder what would have
“Back in 1992 when I started point during the week.” happened if we had done it the “The first year of our summer
working though ideas for summer other way round, starting with schools in Scotland was a
schools, I had quite focused ideas “That experience at Common traditional music and following wonderful year of creative activity.
based on reading brochures from Ground gave me the push I on with Common Ground, but I Somebody recently pointed out
American projects. Augusta, in needed to re-establish our feel that we have benefited from that the most creative activity
West Virginia, and the Swanannoa summer schools in Scotland. I laying the foundations. Some of takes place on the edge of chaos.
Gathering in North Carolina are returned to America the following the dialogue elements of Common The trick is to stay on the right
the models that I would give the year. Heather again attended as Ground are now permeating side of the line, if you step over
most credit to. In 2000, Heather a tutor, but I asked not to have a into the other weeks. We have you lose it. In my view too many
and I went to America for our specific role and I went with the taken the opportunity to take the organisers, and I include myself,
first hands-on experience of an specific intention of researching dialogue down a more musical have played it too safe.”
American summer school, having the organisational background to road. One of the things which
been invited over to teach by the event. I found many things has worked well has been a “I am not an advocate of mixing
Walt Michael, who I had brought which were subtly different from ‘Desert Island Discs’, often with musical styles too much. I tell
The Living Tradition - Page 34
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