NEWS: Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: Made In The Great War @ The Witham, Barnard Castle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Fiddle maestro Sam Sweeney, Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year 2015, is perhaps best known for his role in beloved folk group Bellowhead. On his current tour of the UK, Sweeney is bringing along fellow Bellowhead bandmate Paul Sartin and concertina player Rob Habron, but they’re not the stars of the show. Instead, the limelight falls on Sweeney’s very special fiddle, one that has truly stood the test of time.

Eight year ago, Sweeney bought a violin in Oxford, thinking it was a brand new instrument. What he found was startling: the violin had been made in 1915 and was labelled ‘Richard S. Howard, Violin No. 6, Made in the Great War.’ Eager to solve the mystery, research revealed that the instrument had been started but never finished by Richard Howard, an occasional music hall performer and amateur luthier from Leeds. He was conscripted into the army when he was 35 and killed in the battle of Messines. Just over a hundred years later, the parts of the violin were bought at auction and finished by luthier Roger Claridge before Sweeney spotted the item in the Oxford shop.

Accompanied by award-winning storyteller Hugh Lupton, Sweeney’s show explores the story and how the violin came to lie unfinished in a manila envelope for a century. With the narrative still unfolding – another of Howard’s violins was discovered just last year – Sweeney’s show is set to be a magical and intriguing exploration of the instrument and the war itself.

Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: Made in the Great War comes to The Witham, Barnard Castle on Sunday 13th September.

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