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International folk celebrate the art of the ballad at Aberdeen University

Date: 8 August 1999
Our ref: 453

Experts in the song tradition of Europe and North America will meet in Aberdeen next week for a major international conference.

Ballads from throughout the world will be the subject of the week-long 29th International Ballad Conference, which is being hosted by the University's Elphinstone Institute. It is the first time the conference will have been held in Scotland and will consist of papers by academics from 15 European countries, as well as North America and Mexico.

The conference, which runs from August 9-15, will highlight the living tradition of Scotland with special events each day featuring conference delegates and outstanding local tradition bearers such as Elizabeth Stewart, Stanley Robertson and Jock Duncan.

Papers will deal with all aspects of international ballad studies. Themes include living with ballads, traveller and Gypsy connections, performance and repertoire, genre and motif studies and the James M. Carpenter and Greig-Duncan Collections.

As usual, there will be a strong Scottish content to the papers, with topics including song repertoires, learning songs, specific ballads such as 'The White Fisher', 'Lang Johnnie More' and 'The Twa Sisters', ballad motifs and music, and themes such as violence and men's and women's roles in the ballad tradition.

Conference organiser Dr Tom McKean said that Aberdeenshire's position as one of the richest ballad areas in the world meant it was ideally placed to host such a prestigious and high profile event.

"Ballads are an exciting and dynamic medium of communication, a point that is sometimes forgotten in this day and age, and the art of ballad performing and making is still a strong thread in communities throughout the world," he said.

"During the conference, we will be looking at all areas of Balladry old and new and what makes this traditional art form so powerful."

Members of the public are welcome to attend paper sessions, as well as several entertainment events. These include a ceilidh dance with Lorna McLaren and step dancer Pat Ballantyne, an informal singers' night, which is usually a highlight of the conference with songs and music, serious and sad, from France, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, the USA, Canada and Scotland, Wales and England. There will also be a ballad concert, featuring the outstanding ballad singers, Jock Duncan, Elizabeth Stewart and Gordeanna McCulloch.

For more information on these events and the conference, members of the public can call the Elphinstone Institute on (01224) 272996.


Further information:
Dr Tom McKean, Conference Organiser (01224) 272996/272997


Further information

Please contact Alison Ramsay on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email