Music – Sam Sweeney: The Unfinished Violin – Ruskin Mill College
Sam Sweeney: The Unfinished Violin
Violin music inspired by the Great War
Inspired by his violin, carved but never finished by Richard Howard in 1915, Sam Sweeney has created a live show and album of instrumental music inspired by the Great War. Sam Sweeney is a veteran of the mighty Bellowhead, artistic director of the National Folk Youth Ensemble, founder member of the acclaimed instrumental trio Leveret and a superb instrumentalist at the forefront of the revival in English traditional music.
An expansion and development of his acclaimed live show Made In The Great War, The Unfinished Violin centres on a fiddle the 19-year-old Sweeney came across in violin maker Roger Claridge’s shop in Oxford, made but not assembled by one Richard S Howard of Harehills, Leeds, in 1915. Claridge had come by it at auction, in pieces, in an old manila envelope, put it together and put it on sale. It’s the instrument Sweeney has used for numerous albums and countless gigs, and in time he set about digging into its history, and uncovered the fateful tale of Richard Howard, a music hall performer called up in 1916 to the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment to fight and lose his life in the Battle of Messines on 7th June 1917.
Last summer, Sam visited the battlefield. “Playing over Richard Howard’s grave was incredibly emotional. We were all just stood there, sobbing. He was unknown, no one knew anything about him, no one would ever have visited his grave, ever, and all of a sudden, there I was, playing his fiddle to him.”
Anglo concertina player Rob Harbron, guitarist Jack Rutter, double bassist Ben Nicholls appear with Sam on The Unfinished Violin.
The Unfinished Violin was released on Island Records in November 2018.
“Sweeney’s playing is unearthly at times: the singular focus of this set and the level of its performance makes this an outstanding and deeply moving experience.” ***** - Songlines
"No jingoistic, flag-waving Last Night of The Proms triumphalism here…this is sensitive, fragile, emotive and extremely beautiful. An impressive work."
"It’s the finest, most moving tribute I’ve yet heard paid to the life of an individual soldier." Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3
Tuesday 21 May
7.30pm (please note earlier start time)
The Nailsworth Festival Richard Valentine Memorial Folk Concert
Venue: Ruskin Mill, Old Bristol Road, Nailsworth GL6 0LA
Booking: email email@example.com
Phone 01453 837537
Text 07977 174729
Payment: Please note we do not have card payment facilities at this time. Payment may be made by cash or cheque payable to Ruskin Mill College. Concessionary rate tickets are available for those under 25 years of age.
Parking at Ruskin Mill is only for disabled visitors. We strongly advise, where possible, that you walk the short distance from Nailsworth, where the nearest available public car park is next to the Town Hall as you turn onto the Old Bristol Road towards Horsley. For evening and weekend events, parking is available at Brookdale, 50 yards before Ruskin Mill on the left - bring a torch! The entrance is between large hedges on either side.
Parking is also available at Horsley Mill 400 yards after Ruskin Mill on the left.
Please do not use Gigg Mill.
All events were correct at the time of going to press but may be subject to change.