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Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2019 31st May to 2nd June

Unisonus : Branschke Armstrong Duo

Yan Cozian : Jon Swayne and Friends

Chris Bacon : Chris Allen

Terry Mann : Pat Goodacre

plus … The Friday Tune competition!!

UNISONUS (Sat, Sun concerts)

Unisonus are a young ensemble from Salzburg and neighbouring Bavaria. Their main interest lies in exploring and interpreting old sources of popular music as well as contemporary Central European folk music. The aim of their work is to aid in completing the picture of historic folk music between the 17th and 19th century and to secure its place in the established world of Classical music. The group is guided by the methods of historically informed performance practice and uses traditional German/Austrian and Bohemian bagpipes alongside hurdy-gurdy, violin, flutes, and occasionally bass and viol. Unisonus stand for a vivid, lively and modern, yet historically rooted interpretation of the traditional music of the Third Estate – the large social group of the pre-modern era, whose musical traditions laid the foundations of today’s folk music.

Unisonus are: Anna Barbara Wagner – voice, violin, bagpipes: Lucia Wagner – voice, violin, bagpipes: Simon Pfisterer – flutes, bagpipes: Michael Vereno – voice, hurdy gurdy, bagpipes

Branschke Armstrong Duo (Sat, Sun concerts plus workshops)

This innovative duo pushes the boundaries of piping both musically and technically. “Their music is witty, lively and touching, blending different genres to create a unique sound and style. The close interplay of the two instruments can make the listeners forget that it’s not the sound of one, but the melding sound of two pipes playing. The duo plays original compositions by Callum Armstrong, using the splendid possibilities and sound effects provided by the instruments to create a music that is catchy as well as surprising”. You have never experienced drone music like this before!

Callum Armstrong’s questing approach to the hitherto unexplored acoustic possibilities of the smallpipes, the borderpipes and more recently double and triple pipes, has taken the instruments into areas most of us have never encountered. In 2014 he won the Solo Piping competition and in 2015 the Petites Formations competition (with Savage Prunes) at Chateau d’Ars.

Hailing from Berlin, Matthias is a highly respected musician and innovative piper. He is also the first state-certified bagpipe maker in Germany. He performs as Solid Ghost with harpist Merit Zloch and with the band Kvart

Yan Cozian (Sat, Sun concerts plus workshop)

Discovering Occitan song and traditional music over 40 years ago, Yan bought his first boha at the age of 20. Musician, composer and teacher, he is a key figure in the revival of the boha, as a founder member of the association “Bohaires de Gasconha” (1993). Yan is also associate creator, along with Jean-Paul and Ghislaine Saintorens, of “Cozian Saintorens Création”, developing and manufacturing bohas and caremèras. Yan last performed at the Blowout in 2001, so a return visit is well overdue!

Jon Swayne and Friends (Bal, Sat)

We are very pleased to welcome the return this fine band, which so impressed us when this outstanding combination of top musicians performed their first bal together at the Blowout two years ago. They are: Becky Price (piano accordion), Kate Moran (violin), Michael York and Jon Swayne (bagpipes)


Chris Bacon - Pibroch, what’s that all about? (Sat)

Musicians are re-examining this early form of bagpipe music. Can we unlock the secrets of this early art form with our 21st century consciousness and perspective? Playing small pipes and border pipes in the keys of A and G, Christopher aims to demonstrate how the introductory movements from selected pibroch can be better understood. The last part of the session is an opportunity to join in, with music transposed into the key of G. Music will be available in advance.

Michael Vereno - Chasing a phantom - Bagpipes in Antiquity (Sun)

A widespread report has the bagpipe being spread throughout Europe in ancient times by the Roman army. But what about the actual sources? What evidence is there for bagpiping in Ancient and Early Medieval times? Michael will be presenting some of the fruits of his research.


Please Note: All resource/preparatory material will be available via the website and will be updated when necessary

Unisonus. Crossing borders

Dances and songs from Austria and Bohemia (Sat)** Ensemble Unisonus will lead us on a musical journey through Central Austria and the neighbouring Czech region of Bohemia. The long shared history of both countries is mirrored by the often similar traditions in music. The workshop will include historic repertoire of both German and Czech speaking pipers of the 19th and early 20th century. Music will be available in advance.

Yan Cozian

Playing Gascon music for dance. Yan will be presenting a number of tunes covering the major dance types from the Gascon tradition and looking at how to give them “life and pulse”. Music will be available in advance.

Callum Armstrong

G bagpipes (Sat)** Callum will be leading a small group workshop looking at advanced technique: over-blowing, bag control and ornamentation. Please note that attendance will be restricted to a maximum of 12

Chris Bacon

Pibroch follow up session (Sat)

Chris Allen - Hurdy Gurdy (Sat)

Chris will be teaching French repertoire and trompette technique (beginner to intermediate level). The plan is to add layers of difficulty until we all have a good workout. “I would like to teach a pair of polkas, but they really have to be in D /G. I am likely to have a couple of D/G gurdies to lend out though. If you only own a G/C and would like to take up this offer, please indicate on the order form.” Chris and his partner Sabina Kormylo have been playing and building hurdy gurdies professionally for over 30 years. *Unfortunately, Chris will not have time to help set up instruments during the workshops but is happy to do so in advance. *

Terry Mann - Pipers’ Surgery (Sat)

Now a regular and much valued feature of the festival, the ‘piper’s surgery’, is principally for players of Southern English Border Pipes, but open to all, especially beginners and those at an intermediate level. Come with questions about technique, posture, repertoire, or practice and he will do his best to help!

Pat Goodacre – Gascon Dance (Sat)

Pat will be teaching us some of the dances from Gascony (S W France), accompanied by Yan Cozian on the boha.

Matthias Branschke (Sun)

Traditional German dance repertoire. This will be an open class for any instrument that can play the same range as G or D pipes. Music will be available in advance.

Ian Clabburn - Absolute Beginners (Sun)

This workshop is for anyone who has just started out and would like a bit of help in establishing good practice from the outset. The Bagpipe Society’s own student border pipes and small pipes will be available for use if anyone wishes to try them out.

The Competition!

Julian has taken full control of this and the details can be found on the website and in Chanter (Winter 2018).

Makers’ Stalls:

The following pipe makers will be exhibiting their wares: Jon Swayne, Julian Goodacre, Sean Jones, Jim Parr, Terry Mann, Matthias Branschke. Whistle maker Phil Bleazy will also be in attendance.

The Bagpipe Society’s Second hand pipes, books & CD Stall

Buy, sell, swap, donate - it’s up to you! There will also be an opportunity to acquire some of the last remaining paper copies of Chanter from the days of yore.

Blowout Menu:

Vanessa (The Blowout’s official caterer) will again be providing all the meals for the weekend – quality, quantity and value for money. Let us know on the application form if you require the low carb option. Please read: All meals must be booked and paid for in advance - there is an upper limit to the number of meals we can provide. The cut-off date for meal bookings is Saturday 25th May. We cannot guarantee that any spare meals will be available on the day – so book early! See the website for full details


These arrangements are changing, particularly for camper vans and caravans. Please check the website for updates before setting out


Postal address: Polesworth Priory, High Street, Polesworth B78 1DU. On arrival, please make yourself known at the reception area in the Memorial Hall.


There is a £5 reduction for current members who pay in advance. We are now ticket-less. Print off your PayPal or email receipt if you require proof of purchase. Please pay as early as you can. You can pay online by PayPal – just follow the link from the Blowout page on the website or by using this address: Ticket enquiries: General enquiries:

There will be updates, so keep an eye on our Facebook page and especially our website, where you can also read more detailed practical information and download timetables, music scores etc. (

See you! Ian Clabburn