Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest
reviews National Youth Folklore Troupe of England by NYFTEThe National Youth Folklore Troupe of England (or 'Nifty' - which is easier to say and remember!) is a group of young people aged between ten and eighteen who share an interest in traditional music, song and dance. The organisation was originally formed in 1990 to (and I quote) 'foster and maintain the participation of youngsters through the critical teenage years and to promote the traditions of English music, song and dance to them.'
This year, 2014, there are twenty of them in the troupe and Doug Bailey has very kindly freely given his time and technical know-how to record them. This, their first CD, was released at this year's Chippenham Folk Festival to wide acclaim.
The troupe begin with a lively tune called School For Scandal from the Thompson collection and this sets the high standard of musicianship throughout this recording. I particularly enjoyed the performance of the Sea Songs Set based on Vaughan Williams' arrangement and the end track Tom Hark and Gloucestershire Hornpipe which has some intricate instrumental arrangements in it.
There are also a number of songs on this album the first of which is the well known pumping shanty South Australia. This is led by one of the older lads by the sound of it and on hearing this performance I think he'll develop into a very competent shanty singer. Later on in the album they also tackle Billy Riley, a difficult shanty to get right in terms of timing, but they do a very good job of it.
A version of Bright Phoebus is titled as Thousands or More on this CD and is another well performed song.
The whole production fairly rattles along with some excellent playing and singing and full marks to Doug Bailey for getting such a good balance considering the number of participants. It's a shame that the dancing couldn't be portrayed on an audio disc too! May I suggest that they do a video recording at some point in the future?
On listening to this CD I have to say that we 'oldies' should have no qualms about the future of English traditional music. Looking back at the quote in the first paragraph of this review I'm convinced that the aims have been achieved very successfully by the artistic directors led by Dave Leverton. This is a super tribute to the efforts of our future folk enthusiasts. Well done!