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Taborers beat a path to international festival

Musicians from across Europe are lining up to perform at the first Gloucester International Pipe And Tabor Festival.

Organiser Steve Rowley, one of several taborers with Gloucestershire Morris Men, says he's already had several inquiries from overseas about the gathering from 7 - 11 June 2000.

Just over a dozen enthusiasts attended Steve's first celebration of the ancient instrument last year; it was successful enough to be re-styled as an international event.

It'll include a session on playing for dancers, and a trip to morris villages. Instrument makers are being invited to set up trade stands, and there'll be an exhibition of historic pipes, including those used for the morris at Chipping Campden and Bucknell. Festival-goers can also bring artefacts to go on display at Gloucester Museum.

The centrepiece of the festival will be a symposium on Friday June 9 for scholars of the instrument.

"Last year was just a one-day event," says Steve. "This year we move to five days. There are a number of speakers already champing at the bit to present their papers, and several players committed.

"We have a number of enquiries from overseas and we're inviting (and paying for) two players from Spain - a Basque and a Catalan. Last year we had an Italian musician turn up on the day, but this year we've already had enquiries from the US, Canada, and Netherlands."

The festival's a step forward for enthusiasts who'd like to see greater appreciation of the whittle-and-dub, as it was known to 19th century morris teams. A growing number of musicians are learning the trick of playing the three-hole pipe with one hand while drumming the rhythm on the tabor with the other. Few sides dance to pipe and tabor alone, though.

Gloucestershire Morris Men frequently dance to the driving rhythm of several taborers playing at once. They'll be dancing for a "whistle-about" on the Saturday of the festival, when there's a session planned on playing for the morris.

The morris connection will also be marked on the Thursday, June 8, says Steve. "We have a coach tour visiting Oxford, Bucknell and Chipping Campden.

"I'm hoping to get the Chipping Campden Morris to dance out for us in the evening, in return for which we will be bringing along the Chipping Campden pipe."

It's not clear whether there'll be time on the tour for a stop at Adderbury, where the parish church has a misericord depicting a pipe and tabor, as well as a celebrated stone frieze of medieval instruments.

Sadly, a Thursday visit would be a day too late to hear the church carillon playing one of the traditional Adderbury morris tunes, Bluebells Of Scotland - which rings out across the village at three-hour intervals on Wednesdays.

Steve's also considering a stop in nearby Deddington, home of the 19th century Adderbury taborer - but a refreshment break may not be needed after the trip to Bucknell.

"We want to meet the Women's Institute while we're there," says Steve. "They were instrumental (sic) in our search for the Bucknell pipe. And they might give us afternoon tea."

Pipe and Tabor Symposium: A call for papers
Gloucestershire Morris Men
"One-man-band" mit Trommel und Einhandflöte. Plus links to other sites
Pipe and Tabor, by Ishmael The Fiddler. Morris-related, with history, photographs etc
Pipe and Tabor, notes from a 1995 class at the University of Atlanta
Address to a Society of Morris Dancers by Sir Francis Darwin - Oxford, 1914

©2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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