Hello from sunny Denmark! (Above I’m with the ladies from FOD who are here on a course in Esbjerg)

Did anyone see the Northern Lights last weekend? Apparently caused by the interaction of the solar wind – a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun – and our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere (thank you for that, BBC).

I didn’t, unfortunately but the moon over East Dene, IOW on Saturday was soooooooooooo beautiful and slightly spooky.

Talking of things northern, I’ve been reading about Arctic Cathedrals and the biggest sauna in the world which are two things of the more bonkers nature which form part of a project called SALT



Meanwhile, after hopping over to Bembridge (for a tea party, playing with Mark Hickman) and then to East Dene for a lovely playwright’s birthday do  (yes, it does sound terribly civilised, doesn’t it?) at East Dene last week, I’m now in Esbjerg where I’m part of a tutor team of Danes and Swedes to teach 45 keen students from academies and colleges in Denmark and Southern Sweden. Some are studying at university / conservatoire level while others are not. It’s an amazing gathering – something like this never usually happens.

Sometimes in life you meet extraordinary people and Kristine Heeboll is one of those. Like Alistair Anderson, Niall Keegan and Sandra Joyce, she heads the folk music (university level) department here at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (Southern Denmark) in Esbjerg and, like them, is a brilliant musician (fiddler) and composer in her own right. We talked about the difficulties of being the head of a folk music department. ‘It’s important to remember that we can’t do everything; sometimes you think you can but it’s so important to be open to new ideas and allow others in. . . and of course, the better you are at organising the course content, the less time you have to perform, be creative or play yourself.’

She is a truly wonderful fiddler and so dynamic as an educator. This week is a pilot project in bringing students from all over together to work intensely on multi-instrumental & vocal ideas on a very wide range of topics. My groups have been exploring folk songs from the Isle of Wight (old and new) and new music (traditionally inspired) written by women in England, Ireland and Scotland. In the evenings there have been some tremendous student presentations and lots of dancing too. 🙂

The weather is beautiful, the food smashing and on Tuesday evening there was also a concert by De Temps Antan from Quebec (who also gave workshops the following morning that we tutors could also go to!).

I’ll be back but in Odense for FOD in a few weeks’ time; do check out some Danish folk music – it’s really beautiful and raring to go!

OK – now we have to rehearse for the final students’ concert which is here in the café at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Kirkegade 61, 6700 Esbjerg if you are near. Kristine said she wanted (this week) for the walls to vibrate with folk music – it’s certainly doing that and more.

Have a great evening,

Kt Dates:

For Karen’s teaching (UK) schedule, see



Around and about :

1. From Simon Mayor and Hilary James

Hilary and Simon have three new programmes for the Autumn. 

Details at www.mayorandjames.com

19 BASINGSTOKE. Upton Grey Village Hall, near Basingstoke, Hants 01256 862636
Simon Mayor & Hilary James present ‘Tears of Laughter’

Supported by Hampshire Rural Touring ‘Hog the Limelight’

20 ANDOVER. Tangley Village Hall, Nr Andover, Hants
Simon Mayor & Hilary James – ‘English Sketches’     Tel: 01264 735442    email

Supported by Hampshire Rural Touring ‘Hog the Limelight’

26 READING. The Progress Theatre, The Mount, RG1 5HL Starts: Tel: 0333 666 3366
Simon Mayor & Hilary James present ‘Tears of Laughter”

27 SOUTHAMPTON. The Greylaydes Arts Foundation, (GAF) Old Bursledon, SO31 8BX Tel: 023 8040 4649
Simon Mayor & Hilary James present ‘Tears of Laughter’

Supported by Hampshire Rural Touring ‘Hog the Limelight’

4 BRACKNELL. South Hill Park Arts Centre, Ringmead, Bracknell RG12 7PA      Tel: 01344 484 123
Simon Mayor & Hilary James

11 FARNHAM. The Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre, Bordon, nr Farnham, Hants GU35 0LR Tel: 01420 472664
Hilary James Trio – ‘English Sketches’

18 STEVENAGE. Holy Trinity Church, Weston, nr Stevenage, SG4 7DJ     Tel: 01462 790 573     email

25 WINCHESTER. Crawley Village Hall, Crawley, nr Winchester SO21 2PR.      Tel: 01962 776654
Simon Mayor & Hilary James present ‘Tears of Laughter’

Supported by Hampshire Rural Touring ‘Hog the Limelight’