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Lichfield, Leek and home city dates for Birmingham's Conservatoire Folk Ensemble

By Leigh Sanders | Birmingham entertainment | Published:

Birmingham's Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are ready to head out on their summer tour.

The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble performing Photo: Greg Milner

Dates for the 50-piece former The Ticket Unsigned group include their debut appearance at Lichfield Cathedral, a home city date and an arts festival in Staffordshire.

The tour kicks off in the Bradshaw Hall at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - the venue that spawned them - on May 3.

It will be a two-set show at their base. Due to the logistical challenges of performing with such a sizeable company, this is the first time the entire ensemble have played their complete live set on home turf in several years.

READ MORE: Birmingham's unsigned Conservatoire Folk Ensemble talk tours, festivals and creativity

From there they head to Lichfield on May 9. Their appearance at the cathedral is in aid of the venue and When You Wish Upon A Star – a leading charity which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

Towards the end of that month, they are back in Staffordshire at the Leek Arts Festival at the town's Foxlowe Arts Centre.

And the following month they will be once again hosting their own festival – Power Folk 6 – in Digbeth's Spotted Dog. A one-day mini-festival it always sells out. This year sees the group perform alongside invited guests such as singer-songwriter Kevin Dempsey (Dando Shaft, Swarb's Lazarus, Whippersnapper), new folk-fusion band Gathering Tides, and trio Threaded.

Band leader Joe Broughton says of thgeir busy schedule, which also sees them playing around the country: “Every year we bring something new to the ensemble’s shows, and this year is no exception. Throughout the summer we’ll be playing plenty of the old favourites, yet with some slightly different arrangements.

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"But we also have some amazing new tunes, which are just getting better and better every time we perform them.

"With this number of musicians on stage at any one time, things never stand still. It’s just a joyous, joyous thing.”

READ MORE: Birmingham's Conservatoire Folk Ensemble announce new album and festival details

The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble currently feature an 18-piece horn section, five cellists, seven percussionists and five electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, euphonium, and accordions. They also all sing.

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Though rooted in traditional folk tunes, the personal influences of each member steers the set, pulling in everything from full-on rock grooves to funk, jazz, hip-hop and reggae, to sounds from Eastern Europe and Asia. It’s a sound they’ve dubbed "Power Folk" – hence the name of the festival.

Formed in 1997 by fiddle player, arranger, producer and tutor Joe, they’ve played dozens of major music festivals, released four lauded albums, packed out the Royal Albert Hall, become an online sensation, and provided the launch pad for countless other acts.

In the last 12 months, the ensemble have unleashed their diverse Sleepy Maggie mini-album, recorded their first ever professional music video, and in March they brought shoppers to a standstill with a pop-up performance at the Bull Ring in Birmingham.

Tickets for the various shows are available from the venues' websites or the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble site.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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