Meg Hamilton has performed in every single Festival of Chichester so far.
In the first year, she appeared as part of Kosmos; in the second, as part of She’Koyokh; and then in the third festival, last year, as part of Kosmos again. This year, keeping up the alternation, she is back with She’Koyokh, but this time She’Koyokh in quartet form as they kick off the Amici Concerts series in the last week of the festival at St Pancras Church, Eastgate Square on July 12 at 7.30pm.
Meg on violin will be joined by Susi Evans on clarinet, Živorad Nikolić on accordion/vocals and Paul Moylan on double bass: “We are an organic line-up and have always performed in different combos, and our quartet set this year will centre around Jewish and Serbian dance music, ballads and improvisations,” Meg says. “We first started off busking in Columbia Road Flower Market in the east end of London every Sunday morning. That was about 2005 but for quite a few years, we have gone on to perform all over the place. People heard us and started to book us for weddings and bah mitzvahs and birthday parties and then for concerts and arts centres and then for bigger places. It has definitely been organic. There have been changes of line-up over the years. Our first bassist was Italian. We have had quite a few bassists now. We got another one last year, but the line-up has been pretty much the same these last few years. We have gone from strength to strength. But this year for the festival we are coming as an instrumental quartet. It is a really nice combination, but actually we are going to come back next year with full seven-piece line-up to help launch our fourth album. We are hoping it will be ready soon and that it should be out by the end of the year.
“This will be our fourth album on a label. We recorded two CDs of concerts, so this is really our sixth album. They do well. We sell them at our concerts like hot cakes. The last one was on an international label. Hopefully they will take our next one on.”
For the moment, though, the focus is on the Festival of Chichester: “This year we are coming as a smallish group to focus on Serbian music because we have a really fantastic Serbian accordionist. A lot of Serbian music is very fast with a lot of ornaments which are very specific to the country. We are quite diligent. We really do study each individual style of each area of the Balkans because we are really into playing it exactly how it should be played while also giving it our own flavour. We really study the music, and our accordionist is really great at capturing it. He really does know how it should sound.”
As Meg explains, She’Koyokh is a Yiddish word meaning “nice one!” – in the sense of “you passed your exam”, “you played that well”, “you’ve just played a nice concert”, all very appropriate for a band which has been hailed as playing the best Balkan and klezmer music in Britain.
Meg is delighted to be passing her love of music on to the next generation – her own next generation. Her baby Clara, born last August, will also be at the concert on July 12: “She is a bit of a touring baby! She has been to most of the She’Koyokh concerts over the past year. She loves the music.”
Also coming up in the Amici series: July 13, 7.30pm, Karolos Ensemble with Harriet Mackenzie; July 14, 7.30pm, guitarist Mark Ashford; July 15, 7.30pm, Baroque Encounter; July 16, 7.30pm, Mystic sounds of the Alevi and Yarsan.
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