Festival will mark war and peace

Morpeth Gathering 2014.

Morpeth Gathering 2014.

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War and Peace will come together in an epic celebration of Northumbrian traditions.

This year’s Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering will offer some 60 events, indoors and out, in a showcase of music, dance, craft and dialect.

There will be bell-ringing, stalls, puppets, competitions, workshops and orienteering, as well as the popular pageant and Storytellers’ Garden, with a War and Peace theme throughout.

Gathering committee chairman Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “While First World War commemorations are obviously going to be part of the festival – and there’s scope for plenty of music from that era, with music hall songs, pipe marches and tunes played by pipers during trench warfare, as well as mouth organs and morris tunes used by the dance teams which were so cruelly struck down when members volunteered to fight – the wider War and Peace theme brings in stories of conscientious objectors, peace songs from across history, and the ballads and melodies of the turbulent Border Reiver period.”

The three-day festival begins on Friday, April 10, and details of the programme is at www.northumbriana.org.uk

Digital sound artist Rachael Hales will present a piece inspired by stories of local war experiences, and a gala concert will combine items from 100 years ago with modern peace songs, performed by such artists as Jim Bainbridge, Steve Fry and Werca’s Folk.

Re-enactors will stage a recruiting scene and carry out military drills, while in family art workshops there will be the chance to make mini war horse puppets, doves or international flags for the Saturday morning pageant, which will also feature the Sheffield City Giants – two carnival figures portraying War and Peace.

The Winners’ Concert plays host to special guest Bob Fox, who played The Songman in the acclaimed National Theatre production of War Horse.

There will also be a lively barn dance to music by The Hedgehog’s Skin, while Gathering veteran Ray Stephenson will present a Geordies on Wax evening, featuring early sound recordings of local dialect and song.

Mrs Bibby Wilson said: “Funding has been an even greater challenge than usual so two new Patrons’ Schemes have been launched to give supporters discounted tickets, or simply to help provide plaques for the many competitions, which have been part of the Gathering since it began.”

Leaflets are also available from libraries, shops, tourist centres and attractions.