Moonrakers (www.moonrakers.net) is an Oxford-based group of four musicians, some from the classical and some from the folk tradition. Instrumentally, the group is sufficiently diverse to create different sound textures for each piece. The fact that the band "just OOZES quality" (Living Tradition) is down to the careful arrangements and selection of tunes and songs, presenting “exquisite music” (BBC).   The choice of material is largely from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English traditions, reflecting a love of traditional tunes and contemporary songs 'in the idiom'. Jon Bennett composes many of the tunes and songs, but the arrangements are down to the special talents of the group members. He explains: "We're not trying to stretch boundaries or join the Nu-folk brigade; and you're unlikely to find us in a session thrashing through tunes at breakneck speed. Rather, we weave a tapestry of sound around the tunes and songs both old and new, giving them an entirely fresh appraisal - and our audiences love it!"     Rowan Bennett's Celtic harp is very much a centre piece of the group, complemented with Liz van Santen’s fiddle, and Jon’s bouzouki, guitar, whistles and bodhran. The warm vocals of Sarah Fell combine with Jon’s rich baritone. Moonrakers now have four albums under their belt and have received glowing reviews in the music press (“highly infectious”- Maverick; "fine organic collection of apt musicianship" - Earbuzz). They've appeared at Cropredy, Oxford, Downley, Wantage, Witney, Lechlade, Wycombe, Wallingford, Alcester and Wolvercote festivals in the last couple of years, plus the annual Folk for MS Concert. They've also played to more than 6,000 people on their  "In-Spires" tour of churches in the Southern Counties.   Moonrakers have a strong following in Oxfordshire and often play in less-traditional venues. For example, their "In-Spires" tour has taken them to some of the beautiful churches across the southern counties. “Festivals and art centres would be our natural outlets, but it's nice to play to people who rarely hear this kind of music", says Jon. Moonrakers also have other skills to offer. Apart from experience in running song writing and guitar workshops, Jon has a back catalogue of self-composed children’s songs, several of which have been published in BBC books and even performed by a mass choir in Wembley!   Last, but not least, Moonrakers have produced their own multi-media show “A History of the Celtic Harp” with slides, narration and live music which can be either a stand-alone presentation, or an unusual and interesting addition to any performance. Look elsewhere on this site for a Moonrakers gig near you!  

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