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Michael WRIGHT , biography, Jew's harper, United Kingdom

Michael Wright is rapidly becoming the most recognised player of the Jew’s harp in the United Kingdom today.

His expertise with playing this melodic, uncommon, yet historically important musical instrument is stretching the repertoire to its limits, both as a folk accompaniment and as a classical centrepiece.

His research into the social history of the instrument is ensuring that the full scope of the Jew’s harp’s contribution to trade and entertainment is recorded.

And his enthusiasm and talent for performing, including comedic interludes, well-known and seldom-heard songs, is helping secure Michael Wright a place in the English folk music scene.

His workshops have been described as ‘fantastic!’, and he was called the ‘King of the Jew’s harpers’ by John Campbell, while his playing on the ‘Des ‘n’ Mel Today’ TV programme was described as “amazing” by Des O’Connor himself!

* BIOGRAPHY
* ABOUT THE JEW’S HARP
* SELECTED WORKSHOPS, GUEST APPEARANCES
* ARTICLES & PAPERS

BIOGRAPHY

Michael Wright is a tradition bearer, taught to play the Jew’s harp by his brother, John Wright, who was himself inspired by the great Scottish player, Angus Lawrie of Oban.
Michael has played at various folk festivals, from Sidmouth to Whitby, and at the National Folk Music Festival.
He was a winner of the ‘Bob Bland Trophy’, competing at the prestigious Rothbury Gathering of 2003, and was the first player of the Jew’s harp to perform in concert at the Galpin Society and American Musical Instrument Society Annual Conference, August 2003.

At present, Michael is developing new multi-media talks and planning his debut CD. He is also looking to organise an Association with the aim of raising the profile of the Jew’s harp, including the UK’s first conference devoted to the instrument, to take place in Oxford in 2006/7.
Here, archaeologists, musicians, and ethnomusicologists will be brought together to study the historic significance and versatility of this important musical instrument.
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ABOUT THE JEW’S HARP

Up to the beginning of the 20th century, the Jew’s harp was undoubtedly one of the most popular musical instruments around. Manufacturer evidence shows that literally hundreds of thousands were made each year in the UK and Europe, and literary references consistently note that every child had one.

‘Jues Harpes’ or ‘Jues trumpes’ (1481) are the oldest names found for the musical instrument, which became known as the Jew’s, or jaws, harp – amongst others (see ‘Penning the Air’ article. Today knowledge of the Jew’s harp is limited, and misconceptions are rife. As a performer, researcher and teacher, Michael Wright is leading the resurgence of interest in this underrated musical instrument.
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SELECTED WORKSHOPS, GUEST APPEARANCES

Winter 2006/7- recording of CD

August 2006 – Whitby Folk Week
Illustrated talk, workshops and performances with Lucy Wright

July 2006 – Munneharp 2006
Performances with Lucy & John Wright
Elected as member of the Board of the International Jew’s Harp Society

May 2006 – Keith Summers Festival
Performances with John Wright (KentFolk site)

April 2006 – Morpeth Gathering, Northumberland
Performances

February 2006 – Pindrop Concert, Oxford
Performance with Lucy Wright

December 2005 – Elected Chair of the National Council of the English Folk Song and Dance Society

November 2005 – Re-elected as member of the National Council of the English Folk Song and Dance Society

August 2005 – International Council for Traditional Music Conference, Sheffield
Illustrated paper

May 2005 – Bate Collection, Oxford
Illustrated lunchtime talk

April 2005 – Morpeth Gathering, Northumberland
Illustrated talk, performances.

September 2004 – Sheffield University Archaeological Society
Illustrated talk

August 2004 – Whitby Folk Week
Illustrated talk, Workshop and quiet instruments session

July 2004 – Sidmouth International Folk Festival
Illustrated talk and Workshop

July 2004 – Warwick Folk Festival
Illustrated talk and Workshop

July 2004 – Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Illustrated talk and Workshop

May 2004 – Holmfirth Folk Festival
Illustrated talk and Workshops

April 2004 – Morpeth Gathering, Northumberland
Illustrated talk, Workshop, performances and quiet instruments session

March 2004 – National Folk Music Festival
Illustrated talk

August 2003 – Waltham College Chapel, Oxford
Concert performance for the Galpin Society, the American Musical Instruments Society and the International Council of Museums international committee for musical instrument museum curators

August 2003 – Whitby Folk Week
Workshop and performance

July 2003 – Rothbury Gathering, Northumberland
Winner of the ‘Bob Bland Trophy’

May 2003 – Oxford Folk Club
Featured guest

May 2003 – BBC Radio Oxford
Guest on the Dominic Cotter afternoon show

May 2003 – ‘Today with Des ‘n’ Mel’, Carlton TV
Interview and performance with Des O’Connor

April 2003 – Morpeth Gathering, Northumberland
Workshop and performances

April 2003 – The Musical Traditions Club, London
Main Guest

November 2002 – Elected as member of the National Council of the English Folk Song and Dance Society

August 2002 – Broadstairs Folk Week
Workshop

August 2002 – Whitby Folk Week
Guest performance at the Northumbrian Evening and Men’s Concert

April 2002 – National Folk Music Festival, Kegworth
Guest performer with John Wright

August 2001 – Whitby Folk Week
Performance and workshop titled, ‘The melodic Jew’s harp’
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ARTICLES AND PAPERS

For 2006 – Folk Music Journal
Submitted article ‘The Jew’s harp and the Law’

For 2006 – Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society
Submitted article ‘Trump manufacture in the West Midlands – Part One: 1800 to 1900’

For 2006 – Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society
Submitted article ‘Food, drink and Jew’s harps revisited’

For 2006 – Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society
Submitted article ‘Jolly Companions every one’

August 2005 – International Council of Traditional Music conference, Sheffield
Illustrated paper

Spring 2005 – Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society
Published article Jue Harpes & Jue Tumpes, 1481

Spring 2005 – Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society
Published article ‘Jews Trumps and their Valuation’

Spring 2005- Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society
Published article ‘The Mystery of the Jews harps and St Kilda.’

June 2002 – eds magazine
Published article ‘This insignificant instrument’

July 2000 – Traditional Music Maker magazine
Published article, ‘Jew’s harp – questions and answers’

May 2000 – The Living Tradition magazine
Published article, ‘Jew’s Harp -The Fool’s Instruments’
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BOOKINGS

Michael Wright is available for performances, interviews, or participation in folk workshops.

To book Michael, please contact:

Michal Wright
77 Beech Road, Wheatley, Oxon OX33 1UD
Tel: 01865 872161

“Bibliography”:

“Acknowledgements”:

http://jewsharper.info

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