EcoCentrics - Confronting environmental issues with live performance and music

The Fruit of Paradise

Apple Journeys

Celebrating Common Ground’s 21st anniversary of Apple Day this evening traces the exotic journey of the apple from the Tien Shang mountains near Kazkstahn into our British orchards. This is a contemporary folk tale featuring ballad singer Emily Portman, accordionist Paul Hutchinson, violinist John Hymas, composer/clarinettist Karen Wimhurst and can include a children’s choir

The Making of The Fruit of Paradise

During 2010, Karen Wimhurst ran song writing workshops with the National Trust.  Children across the country came up with some great ideas for journey songs tracing the silk road through to the golden apples of mythology and the everyday  juicing  of apples in our local orchards.  In December 2010, Cecil Sharp House hosted a creative residency for the composer with ballad singer Emily Portman looking at traditional wassails, the children’s songs and germs of ideas for new pieces. Using all these sources, and working with the poet James Crowden, Karen Wimhurst created The Fruit of Paradise with support from the PRSF.  The final version was rehearsed at Halsway Manor (National Centre for Folk Arts). 

The Event

The Fruit of Paradise is an hour- long presentation.  If you would like a 2nd half we will do and inspiring set of numbers from the band repetoire  OR, we offer an apple-themed celidh!  Come and dance your socks off in celebration of Lord Lambert, Pigs Snout, Norfolk Beefin’, Barnack Beauty, Sunset and all the other local varieties we have growing in our orchards. 


This project can have an education package and workshops are available for schools who would like to  participate in the concert. The teaching of wassails and songs will be accompanied by a general ‘orchard’ teaching pack and will act as a creative catalyst for a much broader experience of learning about environmental issues, healthy eating, local food production, all in relationship to orchards. Where possible, a visit to a local orchard will be set up and teaching ideas given for a variety of teaching projects.

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CommonGround and Appleday

In order to stem this destruction of our orchards, the wild life and culture that they support, Common Ground instigated Apple Day in 1990 as a new calendar custom, celebrated on October 21st.  This festival has been so enthusiastically embraced that many people imagine it to be an ancient British tradition!  Highlighting the incredible variety of apples we can grow in Britain (from the Coul Blush to the Herefordshire Queening, you could eat a different kind of apple everyday for six years without eating the same variety twice) and the importance of our orchard heritage, we are now seeing a concerted effort to protect and replace our lost orchards. 

The Fruit of Paradise Flyer

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The Team

John Hymas

Composer, performer and teacher, John Hymas has worked as a professional musician for most of his life. Since moving to the Welsh borders he has written scores for Diversions Dance Company, Theatr Powys, Bisyoc, Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts and numerous community projects. John is principal composer and violinist with acclaimed folk crossover bands Hoover the Dog and Big Top. He also plays violin and accordian with roots favourites, Little Rumba. His music was recently used for the BBC's Imagine series.
He has over ten years of experience working in schools and with young people of all abilities.  He specialises in mixing composition and instrumental ensemble work, encouraging participants to make contributions towards the goal of performing a piece constructed during a workshop or series of workshops.
For the last 10 years he has run Sheep Music's highly respected youth music programme Black Sheep White Sheep and has led school workshops for the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra.


Emily Portman

A singer, writer and concertina player based in the North East of England. With her 2010 debut album gaining her two BBC Folk Award nominations, Emily is fast gaining a reputation for her songwriting talent and ‘lark-like’ voice. Emily first cut her teeth on the folk scene with harmony trio The Devils Interval and she now annually tours with Waterson:Carthy, with commendations from folk luminaries including Shirley Collins and Bagpuss’s own Sandra Kerr.
After years immersed in traditional songs, Emily's return to songwriting has already grabbed attention across the BBC, with a live session for Radio 6, airplay on Radio 2, and with Radio 3’s ‘Words and Music’ broadcasting live performances of songs from her album at their 'Free Thinking' Festival. Emily has recently appeared at Kings Place, London and she has toured summer festivals including Dranouter (Belgium). She is also fast making waves beyond the folk scene, being featured as a soloist on the BBC's adaptation of 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' as well as appearing on songwriter Alasdair Roberts’ latest album.
Emily’s 2010 debut album The Glamoury has received overwhelming critical acclaim, with The Observer hailing it ‘A remarkable and original debut’. Not only has The Glamoury propelled Emily onto the front covers of FRoots and The Culture Magazine, it has received high praise on national radio, with BBC 2 proclaiming it 'The raw stuff of the great ballads’. 


Paul Hutchinson

ow an expert in his own field, Paul's career began as an organist and choirmaster. For ten years he led the notorious dance band The Old Pull & Push, leaving to form folk/rock giants IQ40. Paul rejoined the folk world in 1995 as a member of Fieldwork Productions, enjoying international success with Mick Ryan's opera, 'A Day's Work'. In 1997 he teamed up with John Hymas and Tony Harris as Hoover the Dog, and accepted an invitation to join the highly acclaimed Country Rock band Ida Red. As well as leading workshops, Paul also freelances with various bands, features on a number of international releases by North Star Records and when time allows, presents the folk programme on Radio Maldwyn. He currently tours with the duo Belshazzers Feast.


Karen Wimhurst (Composer/Artistic Producer)

The composer’s work came to prominence with the Scottish theatre company Communicado, winning several fringe firsts as well as the Herald Angel Award in her recent production ‘Song and Dance Man’ with Mike Maran.  She has been commissioned by festivals and ensembles throughout the UK, most recently working as resident composer with Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University (2008-2009).  Versatile and eclectic, her work includes many cross-disciplinary collaborations; composer with environmental charity Common Ground 1999 – 2002 (winner of the Independent Award Best Environmental company 2010); fine art/music collaborations with artist Keith McIntyre (4 K Plot Baltic Galleries 2005); Fragility of Flight (gallery tour 2007-2009); music theatre ‘Darwin and the Barnacle’ 2009); guest speaker/composer at the Wellcome Trust conference 2009 ‘War and Memory’. Experienced in many different community settings she directed the Westminster Opera Team for English National Opera. Recent large scale works include ‘City Songs’ for orchestra, children’s choir, soloists- Welsh National Opera; ‘Alive and Kicking’ for improvising youth string orchestra and Manchester Camerata. 
In the 1990’s she founded the Cauld Blast Orchestra,  (twice winner of the Scottish Jazz Awards) She currently performs with the free-improvisation group Zaum, (‘ the most exciting group in Europe today’ Penguin Guide to Jazz ‘06), Misbehavin’ and the seven piece celtic band, Big Top.

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