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Bree has a charming weekend of Manx music, song, dance and drama!

Thu, 05 Nov 2020


Culture Vannin’s youth music movement, Bree, held its 14th annual weekend of Manx cultural workshops for youngsters last month (25-26 October).

Based in St Johns this year, the two days of activities centred on an eco-friendly online app recently launched by Culture Vannin called Manannan’s Charms. A little like Pottermore, the children took a fun personality quiz to be sorted into their ‘Cleins’ manannanscharms.im and as well as having a go at the Manannan’s Charms badge-making and making St Bridget’s crosses, the overall content of the music, song, dance and drama was themed around the folklore characters from the App; the Phynnoderee, Fer-Marrey, Fer-Obbee and the Mooinjer Veggey.

At the end of a very busy two days, the students and tutors took part in an enthralling concert for family and friends. Kicking off the show was the costumed drama group who performed an interpretation of a local St Johns’ fairy tale about “The Lost Wife of Ballaleece”, who was stolen by the ‘little people’. The play, which was directed by Jo Callister, also included the lively wedding dance, “Car y Phoosee”, accompanied by some of the Scran and Bree musicians. Next up was a folk group called Manannan’s Sandwich, who performed “Arrane Ben-Vlieaun”, “Manannan Song” and the “Flitter Dance”. The Nasty Nurdles were after that, with a reggae-style song called “Dooinney Marrey – the Merman of the Sea” which they’d composed over a new backing track produced by Rory Murphy as one of Culture Vannin’s lockdown Treisht projects. The composing group followed with their new tune called “Y Thollag Faiyr Litcheragh” (The Lazy Shrew!) The dancers then took to the stage to perform an adapted version of “Car ny Ferrishyn”, re-worked especially for the occasion by their tutor, Caroline Helps. Paul Roger’s folk group followed with their set of tunes; “Arrane y Fee – Y Polca Ffrengig”. The choir, conducted by Caitlin Bennett, sung a Bunscoill Ghaelgagh favourite composed by Aalin Clague, called “Fenodoree”, and a brand new venture for a Bree weekend was the brass and sax quintet, Prash, with their performance of “Shooyl Inneenyn” (AKA Myr Hooyl Mee Magh Moghrey Laa Boaldyn or The Nimble Mower) and “The Fairies’ Dance” (Come the Fairies). The improvising group then performed their instrumental creations over a new backing track by David Kilgallon (another Treisht project to be released soon). Finally, the whole cast of singers, dancers and instrumentalists came together for a grand finale based on the hiring dance, “Shooyl Inneenyn”, which shares the A tune of a folk song about the hard-working giant, the phynnoderee, called “The Nimble Mower”. (NB there are a LOT of different spellings for this folklore creature!)

Coordinated by Dr Chloe Woolley, Manx Music Development Officer for Culture Vannin, the Bree weekend included over 30 children from all over the Island; some of whom had never performed Manx music or dance before. The workshops were led by local music and dance experts Greg Joughin, Paul Rogers, Jo Callister, Caroline Helps, Caitlin Bennett and Clare Kilgallon, with student helpers, Jack Mclean and Xander Shirtliff.

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