Bella Hardy joins Camerata for Folk project

Posted on October 6, 2010

Folk Musician Bella Hardy is joining Manchester Camerata for a unique folk collaboration culminating in a performance at Band on the Wall in March.

Manchester Camerata’s Composers’ Project has issued a call for composers studying at the RNCM, Manchester University and Chetham’s to submit new arrangements of folksongs to be sung by up-and-coming folk singer Bella Hardy. Ten songs will be selected for the workshop day in January and a panel, including British composer Howard Skempton, will give feedback to each composer. A number will be selected for performance at Band on the Wall on Thursday 17 March.

Bella Hardy comes from Edale in Derbyshire’s Dark Peak and as a child was always singing. Edale was the ideal place to nurture this natural ability, with an abundance of communal song. Having played the fiddle a small amount at school, Bella attended a Folkworks Youth Summer School in Durham age 13. Motivated by the number of young people playing folk music, she was inspired to begin working on folk fiddle.

She also met many of her great friends and musical companions. Some of these new friends arranged to meet up again, and on New Year’s Day a year later The Pack was formed.

  Bella Hardy collaborates with Manchester Camerata 

Initially The Pack was a way for this group of people to get free tickets to festivals. The spirited performances and complex arrangements of the 12 piece band proved a resounding success, and they went on to play many of the scene’s greatest stages, including Cambridge Folk Festival main stage in 2003. In 2002, the only Pack album 12 Little Devils was released, with fRoots calling it “… a genuine feel good album. Get yours now!”.

At 18, Bella followed her love of stories and moved to York to study English Lit. She spent 3 years singing with trio Ola and in 2004 she entered the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards as a solo artist. She got through the semis as an unaccompanied singer and went into the finals as a fiddle singer. After a few years hibernation, during which she performed in many ceilidh bands, sung unaccompanied wherever possible, worked as an office assistant, and got a Masters in Music from Newcastle University, Bella decided the time had come to make singing her main priority.

In her mid-twenties Bella has already been nominated three times in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and has been well known on the folk circuit for many years, playing fiddle in a variety of popular line-ups as a teenager and reaching the finals of the BBC Young Folk Awards in 2004.  

After the launch of her debut album Night Visiting in 2007 that she quickly rose to become one of the shining lights of the folk scene, famed for entwining her hypnotic voice with her own fiddle accompaniment to stunning effect. Night Visiting secured Bella a raft of rave reviews, and 2008 saw a packed year of gigs and festival appearances.

In July 2008, Bella was invited to perform in two concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the first ever Folk Prom. She was given the privileged task of opening the event with a set of unaccompanied traditional songs and met the challenge with remarkable composure, winning over a host of new admirers. The programme was broadcast simultaneously by BBC4 and Radio 3. She also appeared on BBC2 on Christmas Day, singing the Coventry Carol in Howard Goodall’s ‘The Truth about Carols.

Visit Bella Hardy’s website