After two triumphal tours in 2014 and 2015, BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year 2015 winner Sam Sweeney takes his ‘Made In The Great War’ tour on the road for one final time.
Ten years ago, Sam bought a violin in Oxford. It had all the appearance of a new instrument but the label inside gave the date 1915 and the name Richard S. Howard and the words ‘Violin No. 6 Made in The Great War’. Research revealed that the violin had been made, but never finished, by a luthier and some-time music hall performer from Leeds called Richard Spencer Howard. He had joined the army in 1915 at the age of thirty-five and less than two years later fought and was killed at the Battle of Messines near Ypres. His violin had been left unfinished in his workshop, the pieces placed in an envelope and eventually wound up in an auction almost 100 years later, finally being finished by luthier Roger Claridge in Oxford 2007, where it was spotted in his shop and bought by Sam. Discovering the history behind Richard and the fiddle inspired Sam to create a multi-media performance telling the incredible story of the fiddle which took nearly 100 years to complete. Sam performs the show with the actual fiddle, alongside Paul Sartin, Rob Harbron and award winning storyteller High Lupton. (Photo Credit Elly Lucas)
Marking the centenary of Richard Howard’s death this final run of the tour includes a show in Ypres and a commemorative walk to the grave.
“Working on this show has completely changed the way that I see the First World War” says Sam. “By looking at it through the story of one man, I have begun to understand so much more about war and its impact on people”. Sam Sweeney.