Svend and Neil
About the Duo
“20 years old, and 60 years young”
Neil and Svend are a storytelling and musical duo based in Central Scotland. They are a collaboration between Scottish musician Neil Sutcliffe and Danish storyteller Svend-Erik Engh . They met on the Isle of Lismore in 2017, during the Taproots Literary and Music festival. Talking, sharing stories and playing music during the week (as well as the long train journey home) sparked a keen friendship which has grown through their work together.
They first worked together on their show Walk the Oars, a viking adventure exploring shared culture, music, stories and language between Scandinavia and Scotland. Since then they have travelled to Denmark and Sweden, as well as performing extensively around the UK as a duo merging storytelling with music and songs from around the world.
The key to their work is exploring how music and storytelling can combine to plunge the an audience into each tale, song and tune. As well performing, they have delivered workshops on storytelling and music for all levels.
Oh, and Svend’s the Tall Danish one 😉 …
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Neil Sutcliffe is a young musician and singer from Stirling in central Scotland. He has a wide background in several styles, including jazz, classical and traditional Scottish music and is currently studying a classical music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Music in Glasgow. His principal instrument is accordion, which he first picked up from his dad, but he began his musical career on the piano playing everything from Blues and Boogie-woogie to Chopin and Scriabin. But above all he is passionate about traditional music, with a repertoire incorporating Scottish, English, Irish, Welsh, Norwegian and French melodies.
From his mother Jo Miller, the wonderful singer and important figure in Scotland’s music scene, he developed a joy for singing traditional songs and ballads. He has been working over the last few years to expand this repertoire of songs in Scots, English and Scottish Gàidhlig. It was initially through this that he became interested in storytelling, through his love for the stories behind the ballads and songs.
Neil has a great interest in particular in working on cross-disciplinary shows: music, theatre and dance all coming together. Meeting Svend-Erik Engh by chance in 2017 at the Taproots Music and Literary Festival on the Isle of Liosmòr, the two began their wonderful relationship combining Neil’s music with Svend-Erik’s storytelling.
Svend-Erik became a storyteller in 1994. Since then he has tried to find methods to expand the use of storytelling. He has told stories in classrooms for children, for business people at The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. and the last three years he lived in Denmark he told stories to mentally disabled people. He found the exploration of the use of storytelling equally interesting whether the audience was a group of leaders or the group of non communicative patients.
Svend-Erik Engh was the founder of the danish/swedish storyteller group The Storytelling Academy. In 2003-2006 they toured the southern part of Sweden with a special form of storytelling, where the children are unprepared for the visit in the classroom. They organized ”Stories under the Tree”, storytelling under the branches of trees in parks where people could sit, enjoy the spectacular view and listen to some of the best storytellers from Denmark and Sweden. He is always searching for new ways of bringing stories to the public.
Svend-Erik moved to Scotland in 2017. He has created the performance GIANTS together with partner Alice Fernbank, where they explore the world seen from a GIANT perspective. Every summer he organises Stories under The Tree under the branches of a sycamore tree next to the Prince Albert Victor Sundial in the Edinburgh Meadows.
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