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Fergus O’Byrne schools local youth in folk music

Budding musicians age seven to 18 from Marystown and surrounding areas are getting an introduction in folk music through the Young Folks at the Hall program.

Britney Noseworthy, 18, will take the stage Sunday night with the group “The Rocky Island Gals” for the Young Folk at the Hall concert. The concert is the conclusion of a program offered by Fergus O’Bryne.

The camp, being offered locally for the third time, is run by musician and program founder Fergus O’Byrne.

 Last offered three years ago, he explained the latest camp was made possible with the help of The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, The Burin Peninsula Arts Council and St. Gabriel’s Hall Inc.

O’Byrne started the program in St. John’s, but expanded further after receiving inquires from other parts of the province.

“The whole idea was, it has been very successful in town in gathering young people who have an interest in folk music but don’t get an opportunity to develop that interest and meet other young people who are playing,” he said.

“There are choirs, fiddle camps and kids learning different instruments with private schools. … But there was no sort of loosely based idea of young people getting together just for fun — learning and having ownership of the project for themselves.”

 He said the program has been well received.

 Brittany Noseworthy, 18, who is taking part for the first time said she is enjoying the experience.

“I think it is a great opportunity. I am enjoying working with some of the younger kids  — they have lots of ideas,” she said.

 Noseworthy said it was nice spending time with like-minded performers.

 “It is helping get all the kids together who appreciate traditional music,” she said.

  About 28 students are involved in the camp this time.

Before the camp begins, O’Byrne divides the participants up into smaller groups.

 “As much as possible I get the kids to come up with their own material. They have to come up with the name of a band, and we put together a little program with their names in it.”

 O’Byrne said it is great to see how much the participants pick up during the camp.

 “All they have are two Saturday afternoon workshops… where they get together and get the material together,” he said.

“They don’t have much time to put the material together, but it is amazing to the adults who come just how quickly they do put the stuff together.”

 The Young Folk at the Hall program will celebrate its 15th anniversary in St. John’s in January and has been offered in central, Stephenville, Corner Brook and Conception Bay South.


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