Folk Weekend Oxford 2021

February 20, 2021

As we’re still stuck on Plague Island, I’m afraid the Folk Weekend will have to happen virtually again this year, watch their website for exciting things coming up. I even had an email from the dance coordinator about some sort of remote Morris happening.

I also see online events, competitions etc announced from Galicia sometimes, such as this one, worth looking out for.

Personally, I’ll stick with musicking offline and playing solo works while people are off limits. Learning the Bach suites seemed a completely mad idea a year ago, but by now, slightly less so. Follow my updates: Plague Year Bach Project

Oh, and at the woodwind front, I’m following in the footsteps of the Cantigas de Santa Maria illustration used in the header of this blog:

song workshop

November 17, 2020

Oxford León Association

The very amazing Ethno England people, together with Oxford’s twin town partnerships, are organising a series of online workshops where we can learn traditional music from our twin towns:

It will be Nicaragua’s term on December 5th, I believe that participants get to learn a song from Nicaragua, whereas the French workshop on the same day will feature a folk tune. To register and get the access info, fill in this form.

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tambourine course

November 1, 2020

Xabier Diaz has just launched an online tambourine course on youtube, starting from scratch, find the first video here:

outdoor sessions

August 20, 2020
as it may still take a while before we can return to playing music in  pubs, Ray has floated the idea of an outdoor Euro session (ie a merger of French, Scandi and Galician sessions), if anybody’s interested in joining I can put you in touch.
Also, if anybody would like to reclaim the Florence Park bandstand for music making I’d be interested in that. There’s an octagonal bench in the middle of it (probably to discourage the use it was built for, making music), so there are essentially 8 spaces for people standing on each side (or sitting down and turning their backs to each other).
In other outdoor session news, there are occasional slow sessions happening at Grandpont Nature Reserve (
and English / Irish session in South Park (organised at short notice via a facebook group).

dia da matria

July 24, 2020

Galician culture always finds a cause for celebration, and tomorrow it’s the dia da matria, the day of the motherland. I can’t find this in the otherwise excellent Galician wikipedia, but I suspect it is not just a feminist word manipulation but a reference to the emigration experience, the country from which people’s lives emerged and then moved elsewhere.

So, anyhow, REGA UK is organising an online romeria (one of the 400 words for musical celebrations), which is advertised on Facebook:



I do believe they mean 6pm British Summer Time, not GMT.




Muiñeira do Chao

June 9, 2020

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here, I’ve been focusing on other musical adventures including some unaccompanied Bach which makes a perfect quarantine project for this plague year.

Jenny (who in normal times runs the harp session) pointed me to this one-hour harp workshop on the Galician tune, Muiñeira do Chao. It also includes some general raving and info about Galician music at the start:


In the caption of that video you’ll also find some links to performances (eg Susana Seivane) and a video of people dancing to the tune.

It is a nice and easy tune, and after scratching my head for a few minutes, I remembered that Nadia had done a gaita tutorial for it on her youtube channel, years ago, which at the time I hadn’t watched as it wasn’t one of the tunes we played. But maybe we should play it. Here’s Nadia’s take:


Nadia also provides a score for it, in C, very easy, only has 6 notes. Will try that on the alto recorder later.

Stay safe, and see you on the other side …



o maio

May 5, 2020

Oxford’s traditional May morning celebrations had to move off the streets and into cyberspace this year. The Oxford Pandeireteiras also recorded their traditional contribution, O Maio:


I reckon that here in the UK, which is on track to have the worst Covid-19 outbreak in Europe due to failure to respond in the early days, it will be 2021 before people can return to play in crowded pubs. Basically, as you can now see in Italy, Spain, France, the curves decay a lot more slowly than they went up before the peak, so for every day the UK didn’t act (let’s say 13.3. to 23.3. = 10 days) we’re now paying the price of an extra week of restrictions remaining necessary.

So, well, if you want to try folking around online , the Oxford Slow Session is running on Zoom now. There may be other Zoom sessions happening too, there certainly were some during the Folk Weekend.

Personally, I am staying away from Zoom and focusing on learning some more unaccompanied Bach. The cello suites should keep me challenged for three years of so. Stay safe and see you on the other side.



Folk Weekend Oxford happening online

April 17, 2020

In contrast to what I said in the PS to my last post, the Folk Weekend isn’t cancelled or postponed, it just moved to become a virtual festival.  See details on their website. There are even some “sessions” happening via Zoom – it has to be clarified though that Zoom sessions are a bit of a one-way experience – one person (or eg family gathered at one webcam) can lead the tune and broadcast it to everybody else playing along in their rooms, but the sound from everybody else coming back would be too slow so it has to be turned off.  So more like a performance where you can play along.  A few of the sessions are going ahead in this format, but I haven’t taken up the offer to do it for the Galician as well – I’m not keen on trying this and haven’t heard from anybody else who wanted to do it either. So if you want to try the experience, check the Slow session (Sunday 2:30) or the Euro session (Saturday 6pm)  – there are a few others on as well, check the PDF programme of the weekend.

In terms of dance events, there is a Covid kitchen ceilidh on Saturday, that sounds fun …

year of the plague

March 17, 2020

As the year of the plague is getting into full swing, I’m afraid there won’t be any folk sessions for the next few months. (Apart from crowding in pubs that may be more or less hygienic, I would also be worried about the age mix which we normally enjoy and appreciate – young people may carry the virus without even getting noticeably sick, while older folks may very well die if they catch it.) So please stay home and safe if you can, and keep sharing your musical inspiration online.

To keep the spirit up, I might post Galician related videos here every once in a while, so do send me yours if you have any.  Here’s Xabier Diaz’s tutorial for Baile de Noro to start us off with:



PS news just in after I posted this entry, the Folk Weekend Oxford is now off / postponed as well. It was due to be held on the weekend of April 18, but realistically there is no way it could have gone ahead at that time.

Galician Session Oxford February 2020

February 7, 2020

The February session will take place on

Tuesday 18.2. from 20:30 h (NB we can make music until 1 am if we want to !!!!)

at the

Bullingdon Cocktail Bar, 162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE

This is just opposite the Tesco supermarket, and very close to the James Street Tavern, so easy to walk from the St. Clements coach stop for people coming in from London or elsewhere on the buses. A car park is available behind Tesco if you have to drive.

This month, in the thirty-first session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals. In the spirit of international understanding, we are also open for input from other traditions, especially other Celtic and Iberian ones. The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines (pandeiretas) and sing some of their songs. Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There is plenty of space for dancing. A box full of miscellaneous percussion instruments (including the very Galician cunchas, i.e. scallop shells) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders I tend to send out a week before each session.


One of my photos of the January 2020 session, when we said farewell to Mick, who is now moving to California …

Looking ahead, the next session dates scheduled are:

Tue 31.3.

Sun 19.4. as part of the Folk Weekend with special guests, don’t go anywhere that weekend.