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Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2019

That was another great weekend! Next year’s Blowout will be 5-7 June 2020. See you then

  • Unisonus
  • Branschke / Armstrong Duo
  • Cozian, Yan
  • Jon Swayne and Friends
  • Chris Bacon
  • Chris Allen
  • Terry Mann
  • Pat Goodacre


Unisonus (Sat, Sun concerts, workshop)

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 its 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!

Armstrong And Branschke Colour

Callum Armstrong

Callum’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.

Matthias Branschke

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 belonged to several groups: Camacruda, Civada, Garluche, Alios. He currently plays in Dancem, PassAires and as a soloist. He has participated in many festivals such as the Festival interceltique Lorient and the festival of Saint-Chartier/Chateau d’Ars . A key figure in the revival of the boha, he is a founder member of the association “Bohaires de Gasconha” in 1993. Yan is also associate creator, along with Jean-Paul and Ghislaine Saintorens, from the “Cozian Saintorens Création” association, which develops and manufactures bohas and caremèras Yan last performed at the Blowout in 2001, so a return visit is well overdue!

Yan Cozian

Jon Swayne and Friends (Bal, Sat)

We are very pleased to welcome the return this fine band which so impressed on all levels 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 - bagpipes, Jon Swayne - bagpipes

Jon Swayne Band


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?

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 hopes 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

Lament For The Old Sword


Please Note All resource/preparatory material will be made available via this page and will be updated when necessary

Unisonus. Crossing borders - Dances and songs from Austria and Bohemia (Sat.)

Ensemble Unisonus will lead 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.









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”.

Branle Aus Termis

Congo de Luxey

Congo Victor Gouyats

Courant A noste maison

Rondeau Gleyzes

Rondeau Larrazet

Callum Armstrong – advanced technique (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. This workshop is aimed at players of the modern border style bagpipes pitched in G or D.

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.” Unfortunately Chris will not have time to help set up instruments during the workshops but is happy to do so in advance. Chris and his partner Sabina Kormylo have been playing and building hurdy gurdies professionally for over 30 years.

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.

German Tunes For Workshop

Notes For German Tunes For Workshop

Chris Bacon – Pibroch follow up session (Sat)

Terry Mann - Pipers’ Surgery (Sat)

Now a regular 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!

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 borderpipes and smallpipes will be available for use if anyone wishes to try them out.

Pat Goodacre – Gascon Dance (Sat)

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

The Competition!

The Bagpipe Society Blue and Green Piping Planet Awards The precise details for the 2019 Competition have yet to be finalised but the general theme is Animal Life. All competitors now have until 31 May to prepare; practising their fish scales, gluing feathers onto their pipe bags and clothing, or whatever, and practising suitable repertoire such as The Birdy Song, The Hens March to the Midden, Nellie The Elephant etc. Let your Natural Animal Instincts run wild! There will be positive discrimination for bagpipe- playing pantomime horses or cows and undoubtedly there will be classes for endangered, extinct and mythical animals. No entry must involve live animals. For those mindful of such things, further rules, regulations, restrictions, and other words beginning with ‘r’, can be found HERE

Makers’ Stalls

The following pipe makers will be exhibiting their wares and will be glad to help you draw up your wish list: Jon Swayne, Julian Goodacre, Sean Jones, Jim Parr, Terry Mann, Matthias Branschke, Geert Lejeune, Ross Calderwood.

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

Buy, sell, swap, donate - it’s up to you! There will also be a final 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. Most of the food will be bought in the village to support the local economy and reduce food miles.


The cut off date for meal bookings has passed and we can not accept any more. There is no guarantee that any spare meals will be available to buy on the day.



The grounds of Polesworth Learning Centre are no longer available and we have negotiated the use of two alternative sites, both within a very short distance of the Memorial Hall. Spaces remain limited, so if you are intending to bring a motorhome/caravan, it is important that you contact for pitch reservation and practical information.

The Church driveway is strictly no parking. There are only a few spaces available for cars, next to the Church, but they are solely for disabled visitors to the site. There is no problem with the usual drop off and unload, either by the Refectory door or by the garage, which is probably an easy way into the garden. After drop off, re-park behind the Memorial Hall. Please note that these spaces are for cars only and camper vans are not permitted to park there overnight


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

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