Corrie bad lad Nigel Pivaro to star in The Commitments at Grand Opera House

Nigel Pivaro: Committing to The Commitments for nine months

CORONATION Street legend Nigel Pivaro will play Da in the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments, visiting the Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 12.

“I’m thrilled to be marking my return to the stage in this production,” he says. “It’s an iconic story that resonates across the years, about people who, though distant from the music’s origins, find communion and expression in the Motown style.

“A musical genre which was borne out of oppression and which the characters embrace as their own. The Motown Sound is as vibrant today as it was when it first burst through in the Sixties.”

Thirty-five years have passed since The Commitments first leapt from the pages of Roddy Doyle’s best-selling novel with its story of the hardest-working and most explosive soul band from the northside of Dublin.

Now comes a new stage production that will kick off a nine-month British and Irish tour in Bromley in September and run until July next summer, taking in more Yorkshire runs at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre from October 17 to 2022 and Hull New Theatre from October 31 to November 5.

Doyle says: “I’m delighted that The Commitments are coming back in 2022 and 2023 and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Nigel Pivaro tackles the part of Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da.”

Pivaro, 62, who played lovable Corrie rogue Terry Duckworth from 1983 to 2012, will be directed by Andrew Linnie, whose West End debut came in the original production in 2013, playing the role of Dean, the band’s sax player. Linnie later starred in the lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte in the 2016/2017 UK tour.

Joining the cast as Deco will be Olivier Award nominee Ian McIntosh, no stranger to this role, having previously played Alternate Deco during the original West End run. His past credits include Galileo in the UK tour of We Will Rock You, Sid Worley in An Officer And A Gentleman and Barry in Beautiful – The Carole King, for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in the Oliviers.

Further roles will go to James Killeen as Jimmy; Stuart Reid as Joey; Ciara Mackey, Imelda; Michael Mahony, Outspan; Ryan Kelly, Billy; Conor Litten, Dean; Guy Freeman, Derek; Stephen O’Riain, James; Ronnie Yorke, Mickah; Eve Kitchingman, Natalie, and Sarah Gardiner, Bernie.

Maryann Lynch, Alice Croft, James Deegan, Callum Martin, Joshua Barton, Ed Thorpe and Colm Gleeson will make up the ensemble.

Pivaro last appeared at the Grand Opera House in September 2003 in the role of hot-headed Judd in John Godber’s nightclub comedy Bouncers in a face-off with fellow soap bad boy, EastEnders’ John Altman, who played the pontificating yet pugilistic Lucky Eric.

York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York; Shefield, 0114 249 6000 or sheffieldtheatres.co.uk; Hull, 01482 300306 or hulltheatres.co.uk.

A past production of The Commitments. Picture: Johan Persson

Back story of The Commitments

THE musical has been adapted from the novel by Booker prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, showcasing more than 20 soul classics performed live on stage.

Among them are Night Train; Try A Little Tenderness; River Deep, Mountain High; In The Midnight Hour; Papa Was A Rolling Stone; Save Me; Mustang Sally; I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Thin Line Between Love and Hate; Reach Out (I’ll Be There); Uptight; Knock On Wood and I Can’t Turn You Loose.

The Commitments tells the story of young, working-class music fan Jimmy Rabbitte, who transforms an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act that becomes the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a haphazard heap of wannabes before finalising the members of his new band, which he names The Commitments.

Humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, grappling with inter-group differences when muddling their way through early rehearsals for the first gig. Just as they improve and begin to gain a name for themselves, they combust.

The backing singers are more interested in the middle-aged, horn-playing legend; the singer has entered Eurovision; the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career. How will it end?

York Early Music Festival rejoices in Connections in full return to live concerts

The Sixteen: Performing Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell in York Minster. Picture: Firedog

THE 2022 York Early Music Festival takes the theme of Connections on its return to a full-scale event after the Covid restrictions of 2020 and 2021.

Taking place in glorious ecclesiastical buildings around the city from July 8 to 16, the festival celebrates the joy of music, fusing musicians and their stories across the ages.

“Concerts are linked together through a maze of interconnecting composers,” says festival administrative director Delma Tomlin. “We’re delighted to be able to shine a light on the many connections that hold us together in the past and into the future.”

At the heart of the 2022 festival will be concerts by three of the best-known Early Music ensembles in the resplendent York Minster, each starting at 7.30pm.

Directed by Harry Christophers, The Sixteen present a sublime programme of choral works focused around Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell, complemented by mediaeval carols, works by poet and lutenist Thomas Campion, Howells and Parry and a new commission by Cecilia McDowall, on July 9 in the Nave. 

Profeti Della Quinta: Playing music to connect with the deepest of emotions, from love and delight to loss and despair, in Lamento D’Arianna

Under the title of Choral Connections, Peter Phillips directs The Tallis Scholars in the Chapter House in a sold-out July 11 programme of Josquin des Prez, Palestrina and Byrd works.

In the Nave, on July 13, Paul McCreesh directs the Gabrieli Consort & Players in A Venetian Coronation: a spectacular recreation of the 1595 Coronation Mass of the Venetian Doge Marina Grimani at St Mark’s, Venice.

“The Gabrielis are playing a remarkable piece on a scale that wholly suits York Minster,” says Delma. “It has that feeling of ‘We’re back’ writ large about it.

“This lavish sequence of festive music has become synonymous with these performers through recordings in 1989 and 2012 and combines brilliance and solemnity in a compelling and kaleidoscopic programme of masterpieces for combinations of voices, cornetts and sackbuts.

“A Venetian Coronation has been performed in many of the world’s greatest cathedrals and concert halls and is revived here in celebration of the Gabrielis’ 40th anniversary.”

Gonzaga Band: Making their York Early Music Festival debut

The festival’s opening concert, Heaven’s Joy: The World Of The Virtuoso Viol, will be given by the viola da gamba duo Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM), St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, on July 8 at 7.30pm.

Taking a trip through time and space, they find connections between the late-Elizabethan music of eccentric soldier Tobia Hume and the later improvisatory divisions of Christopher Simpson, through French baroque suites by the mysterious Mr de Ste. Colombe and the “devilish” Forqueray, to reach the classical calm of Christoph Schaffrath in Berlin via JS Bach.

On July 10, at 7.30pm, the Gonzaga Band make their festival debut at the NCEM with works from Venice 1629 by Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Grandi, wind player Dario Castello and violinist Biagio Marini, under director and cornett player Jamie Savan. In the ranks too is organist and harpsichord player Steven Devine, in his last year as a festival artistic advisor.

Further festival highlights will be The Rose Consort Of Viols’ Music For Severall Friends (NCEM, July 11, 1pm); festival debutants La Vaghezza – an EEEmerging+ ensemble from Italy – presenting Sculpting The Fabric (St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, July 12, 1pm), and another festival newcomer, theorbo specialist Ori Harmelin (Undercroft, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, July 13, 9.45pm).

Profeti Della Quinta, 2011 winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, return to the NCEM on July 12 to perform Italian Renaissance music from Rore to Monteverdi at 7.30pm; The University of York Baroque Ensemble focus on Mannheim Travels To Fife (St Lawrence’s Church, July 13, 1pm); Peter Seymour directs festival regulars Yorkshire Baroque Soloists (St Lawrence’s Church, July 14, 7.30pm), and Ensemble Voces Suaves highlight Heinrich Schutz In Italy (St Lawrence’s Church, July 15, 7.30pm).

Ensemble Voces Suaves: Italian madrigal magic at St Lawrence’s Church

Delma is delighted by the resumption of Minster Minstrels, the NCEM’s youth instrumental ensemble, who will be performing late 17th century theatre, court and household music in Fairest Isle at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on July 10 at 4.45pm.

“Given the pressure on young people’s studies over the past two years, director Ailsa Batters has done really well in bringing them back together again,” she says.

The York Early Music International Young Artists Competition 2022 provides the grand festival finale on July 16 from 10am to 5.30pm at the NCEM, preceded by informal NCEM recitals by the ten pan-European ensembles on July 14 and 15 at 10.30am.

The winners will receive a professional CD recording contract from Linn Records, a £1,000 cheque and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the National Centre for Early Music.

“We’re delighted to be presenting a nine-day festival of music in our beautiful city, after we were caught last year in Boris Johnson’s indecision about whether venues could open or not,” says Delma.

Delighted to be connecting and reconnecting: York Early Music Festival administrative director Delma Tomlin

“We were, however, able to stream the 2021 festival, drawing new audiences online, but it’s lovely to see our patrons return because that’s what festivals are all about: a celebration of being together.

“Some of this year’s artists were meant to be with us two years ago; some of them, last year. The Young Artists should have been with us last year, and it’s wonderful that we’ll have 43 young musicians coming to York for the competition. It’s amazing that these young groups have been able to keep going, to keep their spirits up, and to still be coming to York a year later than first planned.”

Delma concludes: “This year’s theme is Connections, connecting and indeed reconnecting music, artists and, of course, our audiences. As always, we’ll be celebrating the glorious music of the past but also looking forward, as we’re able, at last, to stage the International Young Artists Competition, showcasing and nurturing the performers of the future.

“We’re so pleased to be back at full strength for what promises to be one of the most exciting festivals to date.”

For the full programme, head to: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/york-early-music-festival/. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

BBC Radio 3 will be recording the concerts by Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, The Sixteen, the Gonzaga Band and Gabrieli Consort & Players for broadcast, along with the  York Early Music International Young Artists Competition 2022. The Early Music Show will be broadcast live from the festival on July 10 at 2pm.

NCEM launches ambitious Alignment online festival packed with highlights from 2022

Cantoria: Three concerts from the Spanish ensemble’s York residency will feature in Alignment online

THE National Centre of Early Music, York, is to celebrate the array of music staged in York and Beverley this year by presenting Alignment, its most ambitious online festival yet. 

Highlights of the packed NCEM musical calendar will be available to download from August 1 to 30 and are on sale now.

The festival features 14 concerts from the 2022 spring season, recorded by the NCEM’s specialist digital team in glorious historic buildings.

“There’s a chance to enjoy music from the Renaissance through to the Baroque with a nod to the contemporary just to keep us on our toes,” says Delma Tomlin, the NCEM’s director .

The Alignment recordings includes Spanish vocal group Cantoria in a film made during their spring residency at the NCEM. Their vocal and instrumental programme encompasses the lives of Tudor Queens Catherine of Aragon and Mary, married to Philip of Spain, in St Mary’s Church, Bishophill, the NCEM’s home at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, and the mediaeval Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate.

Florilegium: JS Bach concert, recorded at Beverley Minster

Further highlights include the music of JS Bach presented by Florilegium, recorded in Beverley Minster; two festival favourites, EEEmerging ensembles Prisma and Sarbacanes, and Ensemble Molière, the first BBC Radio 3 New Generation Baroque Ensemble.

The featured ensembles are:

Cantoría; Prisma; Ensemble Molière; Profeti della Quinta; Florilegium; Rose Consort Of Viols; Gonzaga Band; Sarbacanes; La Vaghezza; University of York Baroque Ensemble; Orí Harmelin; Ensemble Voces Suaves; Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.

Four different online packages are available:

Complete Box Set, £70, including all 14 concerts.

Platform Artists, £30, focusing on emerging talent with Cantoría, La Vaghezza, Prisma and Sarbacanes.

Baroque In A Box, £40: Ensemble Molière, Florilegium, Gonzaga Band, Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, University of York Baroque Ensemble and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.

Renaissance Revels, £30:  Rose Consort Of Viols, Orí Harmelin, Profeti della Quinta and Ensemble Voces Suaves.

All individual concerts are priced at £10.

Delma says: “it’s been an action-packed year so for the NCEM with the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival, an outstanding York residency with young Spanish ensemble Cantoria, and now the upcoming York Early Music Festival.

“We wanted to share this wonderful music far and wide, so we’ve put together a programme of many of this year’s highlights for this online celebration. We hope that those of you who couldn’t attend the concerts, or indeed those of you who did and want to enjoy the concerts again, will join us for some musical magic this summer.”

Full details can be found at: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/alignment/

REVIEW: Charles Hutchinson’s verdict on The Play What I Wrote, York Theatre Royal

Slap-stick: The dustpan-wielding Thom Tuck left has a dust-up with double-act partner Dennis Herdman in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The Play What I Wrote, Birmingham Rep, at York Theatre Royal until Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

THE Play What I Wrote premiered in 2001 with its canny critique of fractious double acts and boundless love for Morecambe & Wise.

If anything, Eric & Ernie now cast an even longer shadow amid a paucity of new comedy duos on TV to follow Mayall & Edmondson, Ant & Dec, Fry & Laurie, Lee & Herring, French & Saunders, Mitchell & Webb, Armstrong & Miller, Coogan & Brydon, Mel & Sue, Skinner & Baddiel, Reeves & Mortimer, The Mighty Boosh and Little Britain.

Podcasts appear to be the more favoured home now for comic jousting. That leaves York’s burgeoning satirical musical duo Fladam – Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter – as both a rarity and a breath of nostalgic fresh air in a vacuum of such couplings on stage, although Nettle Soup’s Georgia Firth and Josh Liew showed new possibilities for partnerships in their verbatim theatre piece Stones On The Riverbed at York Theatre Royal’s Green Shoots showcase earlier this month.

The Play What I Wrote now feels part of the past, its patter and patterns of comedy from a bygone age, never being quite as funny as Eric and Ernie and only making you wish the long-gone duo could bring more of their vintage sunshine: Vitamin ‘C’ here standing for comedy.

Writers Hamish McColl and Sean Foley know more than a thing or two about double acts themselves, having been partners in The Right Size from 1988 to 2006. For West End and Broadway hit The Play What I Wrote, they teamed up with Eddie Braben, the chap what wrote little Ern’s plays, and the duo starred in the premiere with Toby Jones, no less.

Dennis Herdman’s Dennis, left, and Thom Tuck’s Thom argue over who should play Eric in their Morecambe & Wise tribute. Picture: Manuel Harlan

For this Birmingham Rep revival, director Foley has brought together the lanky and lean Dennis Herdman and shorter, sterner Thom Tuck, new to each other but a natural dovetail with their contrasting nonsense-aplenty and no-nonsense demeanours.

They play Herdman & Tuck, a double act in trouble after more than a decade together. Tuck, the prickly one, has grown professionally jealous of Herdman, the funny one who gets the gags and the laughs.

Tuck insists the partnership will continue only if they present the latest of his 72 unpublished plays, A Tight Squeeze For The Scarlet Pimple, a French Revolution epic, with a guest star.

Through a series of elaborate deceptions, Herdman and vainglorious producer David Pugh (one of a handful of increasingly manic, prima-donna cameos for a long-suffering Mitesh Soni) dupe Tuck into thinking the play will be presented with Sir Ian McKellen in the company. In reality, Herdman has signed up the comic duo for a Morecambe & Wise tribute, minus Sir Ian.

Hindered by two of their backstage team being ruled out by Covid, the opening performance had a feel of “the play must go on” about it, with more noise than usual behind the golden curtain – and an impromptu explanation from the production manager in a stop for a more complicated scene change.

The auditorium was far from packed, never easy for performers needing to break down the fourth wall to establish a rapport pronto, and consequently Herdman and Tuck’s comic rhythm was not quite there, but then they are playing a failing comic coupling who have to try too hard for laughs. That is their double-edged sword, requiring Herdman and Tuck to be funnier than their act.

This act has legs…or does it? Thom Tuck, left, and Dennis Herdman as failing, fading double act Herman & Tuck. Picture: Manuel Harlan

You could sense the audience expecting more Morecambe & Wise badinage, and whenever we were given tantalising tasters, the mood visibly perked up. Eric & Ernie are a hard act to follow, particularly when they keep hovering in the shadows here.

Under Foley’s direction, the comic tone is bordering on the delirious but thankfully everything picked up after the interval, acquiring a much needed fifth gear with the heavily trailered arrival of a surprise guest. Not Sir Ian (although apparently, he has popped up in the past), but Sue Holderness, best known for playing Boycie’s wife, Marlene, in Only Fools And Horses.

The rest of the week’s guest line-up remains hush-hush, but one upcoming star was very much at home on this very stage only a matter of weeks ago. No more clues.

Sue’s role – or Dame Sue as they honoured to call her – was to be subjected with good grade and good humour to humiliation and mockery at the hands of both Tuck’s hapless, innuendo-bedevilled script and the constant comic interjections of Herdman in playful, handicapping Morecambe tradition.

By now, bolstered by Holderness’s joie de vivre, Herdman and Tuck have found their mojo, never better than when competing to play Eric, and Foley and McColl’s post-modern analysis of the often-complex chemistry and vulnerability of double acts turns from bittersweet to sharply smart yet affectionate.

So much so that the happy conclusion finds Herdman and Tuck tucked up in bed, just like Morecambe & Wise in Braben’s scripts, affirming why each still needs the other, but overall, 21 years since the premiere, even nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

Verdict: ***

York Light enjoy musicals old and new in A Night With The Light at Friargate Theatre

York Light Opera Company performers and production team for A Night With The Light. From the left, musical director Martin Lay, producer Helen Eckersall and director Jonny Holbek are pictured in the centre

YORK Light Opera Company’s summer show, A Night With The Light, runs at Friargate Theatre, Friargate, York, from tomorrow until Saturday.

In the wake of York Light’s production of Evita, directed by Martyn Knight at York Theatre Royal in February, the amateur company presents a feel-good programme of powerful, funny, emotive and irreverent numbers from favourite musicals and new ones too.

Under the direction of Jonny Holbek and musical direction of Martin Lay, the show features songs from Hamilton, Waitress, Wicked, Chicago, Chess, Avenue Q, The Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables, The Sound Of Music and plenty more.

Jonny Holbek: Directing York Light Opera Company in A Night With The Light

Taking part will be: Abby Wild; Alexa Chaplin; Al Elmes; Annabel van Griethuysen; Chloe Chapman; Clare Meadley; Emily Hardy; Emma Louise Dickinson; Grace Harper; Helen Eckersall; Henry Fairnington; Kathryn Tinson; Kirsten Griffiths; Matt Tapp; Pascha Turnbull; Paul Hampshire; Pippa Elmes; Rachael Cawte; Ruth Symington; Ryan Richardson; Tom Menarry and Victoria Rimmington. The producer is Helen Eckersall.

“Come join us as we have Magic To Do!” say Jonny and Martin ahead of this week’s 7.30pm evening shows and 2.30pm Saturday matinee.

Tickets cost £10 upwards on 01904 655317 or at ridinglights.org/a-night-with-the-light/.

Dream on! Gabrielle confirms York Barbican return on 30 Years Of Dreaming 2023 tour

In her Dreams: Gabrielle’s 30 Years Of Dreaming Tour heads for York, Hull and Halifax in 2023

SOUL queen Gabrielle will play York Barbican on October 21 next year on her 30 Years Of Dreaming Tour 2023.

Next autumn’s 18-date travels will mark the 30th anniversary of the Hackney singer-songwriter’s “era-defining” chart-topping debut single, Dreams, in a career-spanning set likely to feature Rise, Out Of Reach, Sunshine, Give Me A Little More Time, Going Nowhere, When A Woman and Don’t Need The Sun To Shine (To Make Me Smile).

“Going on tour to celebrate 30 years of Dreams is just amazing,” says Gabrielle (full name Louise Gabrielle Bobb, by the way). “I can’t wait to party with everyone and celebrate the record that launched my career three decades ago! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun.”

Gabrielle, who will turn 53 on July 19, last performed at York Barbican on November 10 2021 on her rearranged Rise Again Tour after releasing her seventh studio album, the covers’ set Do It Again, in March last year. She will return to York on September 24 to play the main stage at the Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta 2022 on Knavesmire, next to York Racecourse.

Running from September 23 to 25, the festival will feature more than 50 hot air balloons, including a ship balloon from Europe and new character balloons; live music by Scouting For Girls, Andy And The Odd Socks, fronted by CBeebies’ Andy Day, and York party band Huge, and a Friday night funk and soul DJ set by Craig Charles.

Look out too for a daredevil stunt show; birds of prey displays, the world’s largest inflatable assault course; York’s largest funfair and a Sunday evening firework display finale.

Meanwhile, back to Gabrielle, who will be Adele’s special guest at her sold-out BST Hyde Park concerts in London on July 1 and 2. Adele personally chose Gabrielle for both shows, having revealed on BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show in February that her debut live public performance was a rendition of Gabrielle’s 1999 number one, Rise.

“I’m so thrilled and proud to be part of what will be an incredible day, headlined by an artist I love and adore.,” says Gabrielle. “Adele is a phenomenal singer-songwriter and it is an honour to be asked to join her at British Summer Time”. In turn, Adele has called Gabrielle “one of my favourite artists of all time, who I’ve loved since I was four!”

Tickets for Gabrielle’s 30 Years Of Dreaming Tour 2023 date at York Barbican will go on general sale from 10am on July 8 at yorkbarbican.co.uk, gigsandtours.com, ticketmaster.co.uk and gabrielle.co.uk. Two further Yorkshire dates to note are: Hull City Hall on October 12 and Halifax Victoria Theatre on October 14.

The poster for Gabrielle’s 30 Years Of Dreaming 2023 Tour

Dragons’ Den crafting queen Sara Davies to give Christmas hacks at York Barbican

Sara Davies: Crafting tips

SARA Davies, the Queen of Crafting from Dragons’ Den, will bring her interactive, creative debut tour to York Barbican on December 3.

On her 13-date travels, University of York-educated Sara will pass on every possible tip and solution to create the perfectly styled Christmas in Craft Your Christmas With Sara Davies. Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow at Sara-Davies.com and yorkbarbican.co.uk.

An estimated two in three women take part in a craft hobby, making it a fast-growing trend. From gifts to garlands, cards to crackers, wrapping paper to mantlepiece decorations, Sara will show her tour audiences how to craft Christmas with a range of practical demonstrations, tips and a healthy slice of her down-to-earth know-how. 

“It goes without saying how much I love crafting but crafting for Christmas is simply the best time for crafting,” says County Durham-born Sara, 38. “I’m going to share all the little hacks and shortcuts to achieve that perfect look for the perfect crafty Christmas.

“Sharing this with your friends will make a great night out and hopefully you’ll leave having had a ton of fun, feeling excited about having a home-made personalised Christmas.” 

Sara Davies: Crafting businesswoman

Sara Davies’s back story

BUSINESS has always run in her blood, Sara having taken inspiration from her parents’ decorating shop to build her own empire.

It began with The Enveloper, a bespoke envelope maker she designed at the age of 21 at university that became an instant hit with the crafting crowd.

This soon evolved into Sara’s Crafting Companion business, which sells all types of creative materials and boasts an average turnover of £34million.

Sara’s company has more than 200 employees across her British and California headquarters, gaining her an MBE for services to the economy in 2016.

She became Dragons’ Den’s youngest ever female investor in 2019, since when she has made more than £1.1million of investments on the BBC show, giving new businesses a shot in the arm.

She was partnered by Aljaž Škorjanec in the 2021 series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Podcast question of the day: How did soul diva Dionne Warwick defy doctor’s orders?

Dionne Warwick: Nothing stopped her at York Barbican

FIND out in Episode 95 of Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson’s culture podcast Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

Under discussion too are: Temple Newsam’s concert revival in Leeds; Graham and something rotten in Denmark…or not; This Is A René Magritte book update; DJ Charm at Knaresborough BedRock and the media on Johnny Depp & Jeff Beck Watch in York.

Yorchestra celebrates 30 years of holiday courses and concerts for young York musicians. Applicants welcome for August

Flashback: Yorchestra holiday orchestra members at rehearsals at the Sir Jack Lyon Concert Hall, University of York, in August 2014

YORCHESTRA will celebrate its 30th anniversary of running holiday orchestras for young musicians in and around York in late-August and September.

Yorchestra was founded in 1992 by the late Lizzy Edmondson, otherwise known as author Elizabeth Pewsey. On a visit to Cambridge, she had encountered one such holiday orchestra that had been running since coronation year, 1953.

On the train back north, it suddenly dawned on her that York would benefit from something similar. Gathering friends and fellow parents at the Minster School, they organised the first session there for 27 players.

Lizzy’s vision went much wider, however. She wanted all schoolchildren in the area to benefit, with courses every school holiday that included music for smaller groups – chamber music – not covered by other children’s orchestras.

Within five years, the senior orchestra had won a first prize at the European Festival of Music for Young People in Belgium, a feat repeated two years later.

Since then, Yorchestra has gone from strength to strength, proving that Lizzy’s vision was no mere flash in the pan. It has expanded its activities to include five orchestras at different levels of achievement.

All five will be celebrating Yorchestra’s 30th anniversary at the course from August 30 to September 2, in the well-appointed facilities at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, or the lovely setting of Heslington Church.

Maestro, the senior orchestra, includes players who are Grade 6 to 8 level and above, and suits budding musicians and experienced players alike, who benefit from working with seasoned professional tutors.

The maestro course will run for the full four days, culminating in a concert on the final evening, September 2. Past repertory has included the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Shostakovich’s Festive Overture.

Mezzo, the second orchestra, covers Grade 3 to 5 students, who play arrangements of music from assorted periods in a variety of styles, such as Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Greensleeves and Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Members enjoy quality time in the company of top-notch tutors and the upcoming course will run for three days from August 31, leading to involvement in the September 2 concert.

The junior of the main orchestras, Primo, is for students aged eight or older of Grade 1 or 2 standard with at least six months’ playing experience. Its role is to give first timers the chance to discover the joy of playing in groups; recorder players are welcome too.

This summer’s Primo course will be for one day only, August 30, and will end with a concert for family and friends later in the afternoon. As with Mezzo, the course will take place in Heslington Church.

Two starter groups complement the main orchestras, one for string players, Young Strings, known colloquially as “YoYo”; the other for wind and brass, Young Winds, alias “YoBlow”. These are ideal for youngsters beginning to find their way around their instruments, keen to benefit from small private and group sessions.

Each course will be held over two mornings, YoYo on August 30 and 31; YoBlow on September 1 and 2, both at the Lyons. Informal concerts will follow the second sessions.

Applications are open for all courses. The deadline is August 6, but if payment is received by July 22, an “early bird” discount will apply and first-time applicant will be given an even larger discount. Please note, no-one should be put off on grounds of cost; Yorchestra has a bursary fund to help anyone otherwise unable to take part.

“Any musical children should be encouraged to join, have a lot of fun and meet new musical friends,” says Martin Dreyer, Yorchestra’s chairman of trustees. “The anniversary celebrations promise something extra-special.”

For more information on applications, head to: yorchestra.org.

Waggons encircle city streets as York Mystery Plays roll in for second Sunday

Wren Crawford as Jesus in a tableaux of the Guild Of Butchers’ The Crucifixion Of Christ in Shambles Market on Wednesday night. Picture: Lewis Outing

TODAY concludes the week of York Mystery Plays 2022 with a second Sunday of street plays on a roll around York’s city-centre from 11am onwards.

Presented by the Guilds of York and the York Festival Trust, eight plays have been selected by director Tom Straszewski from the 48 that comprise the mediaeval York Cycle of Mystery Plays.

In keeping with tradition, the plays will be wheeled around the bustling streets on waggons, processing from station to station at College Green (free) to St Sampson’s Square (free), St Helen’s Square (free) and King’s Manor (ticketed).

Those plays will be: York Guild of Building’s Creation To The Fifth Day, directed by Janice Newton, of Thinkon Theatre; the Gild of Freemen’s The Fall Of Adam And Eve, featuring the Vale of York Academy, directed by Bex Nicholson; the Company of Cordwainers and York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s The Building Of The Ark and The Flood, directed by Paul Toy; St Luke’s Church, Burton Stone Lane, in Herod And The Three Kings, directed by Lynn Comer and Mike Tyler.

The work of the devil: Mick Liversidge’s Lucifer as the unholy host at Wednesday’s performance of The Mysteries In The Market. Picture: Lewis Outing

The Company of Merchant Taylors and Lords Of Misrule’s The Last Supper, directed by Emily Hanson; the Guild of Butchers and Riding Lights Acting Up’s The Crucifixion and Death Of Christ, directed by Kelvin Goodspeed and Jared More; the Guild of Media Arts and Guild of Scriveners’ The Appearance Of Jesus To Mary Magdalene, directed by Jessica Murray, and the Company of Merchant Adventurers’ The Last Judgement, brought forth by Ravens Morris and Paint The Mouse Productions, directed by Alan Heaven, no less.

On Wednesday and Thursday, to mark Midsummer, five plays a night were performed under the umbrella of The Mysteries In The Market, as flat-capped Mick Liversidge sprouted horns to play master of ceremonies Lucifer in a series of interludes edited and directed by Straszewski.

On the first night, Fall Of Adam and Eve, The Flood, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion and The Last Judgement were staged; on the second, Creation To The Fifth Day, The Flood,The Last Supper, The Crucifixion and The Last Judgement.

Tickets for today’s performances at King’s Manor are on sale at yorkmysteryplays.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond in search of algorithms, rhythm and a Snake. List No. 88, courtesy of The Press

Algorithm & blues: Coder and post-classical pianist Larkhall at Micklegate Social. Picture: Samuel White

GLASTONBURY? Out of sight, out of mind, out of pocket, Charles Hutchinson prefers to stay up north for arts and crafts aplenty.

Curioso gigs of the week: Larkhall, Micklegate Social, Micklegate, York, tonight, 8pm; Brudenell Piano Sessions, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds Grand Theatre, tomorrow, 4pm

RECOMMENDED to Nils Frahm and Max Richter neo-classical devotees, Larkhall combines creative coding with beautiful post-classical piano pieces and makes algorithmically created visuals as he plays.

Larkhall is the performance alias of Minnesota mining town-born, Cambridge University-educated, Bath-based composer, coder and new-media artist Charlie Williams, whose intimate York show coincides with this week’s release of his third album, Say You’re With Me, with its theme of men’s mental health.

Can algorithms be art? Charlie reckons so. “My shows are an experience of algorithms creating beauty instead of, like, getting us to buy more stuff,” he says. Box office: larkhall.org.

Frankie Valli: Fronting The Four Seasons in one day at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Nostalgia of the week: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, tonight, gates, 6pm

THE Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, chronicling the life and times of Frankie Valli and his New Jersey group, has brought so many songs to a new generation.

Cue Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Frankie playing Scarborough at 88 with The Four Seasons, performing Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Rag Doll, Let’s Hang On, My Eyes Adored You, Who Loves You, December, 1963 (Oh What A Night), Grease et al. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Leg up for comic effect: Thom Tuck and Dennis Herdman’s double act in The Play What I Wrote at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Play of the week: Birmingham Rep in The Play What I Wrote, York Theatre Royal, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; Thursday, 2pm; Saturday, 2.30pm

WRITTEN by The Right Size comic coupling of Sean Foley and Hamish McColl in tandem with Eddie Braben, the chap what wrote little Ern’s plays, The Play What I Wrote is both a dissection of double acts and a celebration of Morecambe and Wise.

Thom Wall insists on performing yet another of his hapless plays, an epic set in the French Revolution. Partner Dennis Hayward prefers to continue with their failing comedy duo instead, believing a tribute to Morecambe & Wise will restore Wall’s confidence. First, he needs to persuade a mystery guest to appear in the play what Thom wrote, with a different star for each show. Box office: 01904 623658 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Snake Davis: Saxophonist plays Cop’ Carnival’s debut jazz night on Tuesday

Community event of the week: Cop’ Carnival Day, Copmanthorpe Recreation Centre, Barons Crescent, York, July 2, 11.30am to 6pm

NOW in its 51st year, Cop’ Carnival Day retains its familiar format of dance troops, bands, traditional games and attractions next weekend. Tickets cost £5 in advance or £8 on the day.

In addition, Cop’ Carnival’s first jazz night, hosted with York Gin, presents An Evening With Snake Davis, saxophonist to the stars, on Tuesday at 7pm. Two nights later, the carnival’s comedy bill features Steve Royle, Tom Wrigglesworth, David Eagle and compere Alex Boardman from 8pm.

Throughout the festival, 30 artists are exhibiting at Copmanthorpe Methodist Church nightly from 7pm, admission free. Box office: copmanthorpecarnival.org.uk.

Strictly between them: Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice team up for Him & Me

Dance moves of the week: Anton & Giovanni, Him & Me, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

 STRICTLY Come Dancing judge Anton du Beke and 2021 champion professional Giovanni Pernice are joined by dancers and singers for Him & Me, a night when the Ballroom King meets the Jive Master. Expect dance, song, light-hearted fun and banter.

Both Strictly stars will be making their second York appearance of 2022; Anton & Erin’s Showtime played York Barbican in February; Giovanni’s This Is Me followed suit in March. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.

Fran, frankly: Fran Lebowitz’s evening of acerbic New York wit and astute observation at Grand Opera House

Social commentator of the week: An Evening With Fran Lebowitz, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

FRAN Lebowitz, New York purveyor of urban cool, cultural satirist and author, will be typically forthright and unapologetically opinionated in her dry-humoured social commentary on anything and everything, with a Q&A to boot.

After Pretend It’s A City, Lebowitz’s Netflix documentary series directed by filmmaker and friend Martin Scorsese, here comes her acerbic insights on gender, race, gay rights and the media, plus her pet peeves of celebrity culture, tourists, and baby strollers. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.

Who’d be a teacher? Sam Jackson’s Nick struggles with more than the paperwork in Foxglove Theatre’s The Brink

Shock of the new: Foxglove Theatre in The Brink, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday to Saturday, 7.30pm

IN Brad Birch’s darkly comic, explosive psychological thriller, history teacher Nick is a normal person, working a normal job, who lives a normal life, but he suffers a downward spiral fuelled by dreams and whispers of a bomb buried under the school.

“Thrilling, turbulent, unconventional, The Brink is an unwavering dive into dark and prominent subject matter, alien to the established York stage,” says Nathan Butler, director of new York company Foxglove Theatre. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Velma Celli’s poster artwork for A Brief History Of Drag

Spectacle of the week: Velma Celli in A Brief History Of Drag, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm

YORK drag diva Velma Celli makes her Pocklington debut with A Brief History Of Drag, brandishing a triple threat of heavenly vocals, theatrical swagger and razor-sharp wit.

The creation of West End musical actor Ian Stroughair, Velma “celebrates the most iconic drag moments in film, stage and popular culture in the company of her voluptuous backing singers and breath-taking band”.

This electrifying cabaret embraces the songs and style of Queen, David Bowie, Boy George, Lady Gaga, Tina Turner and many more with panache and flamboyance. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Suzanne Vega: Booked into York Barbican for February 2023 concert

Big signings of the week for 2023: Suzanne Vega, York Barbican, February 22; Mike + The Mechanics, York Barbican, April 12

GLASTONBURY acoustic stage headliner Suzanne Vega will play York Barbican as the only Yorkshire show of the New York folk singer-songwriter’s 14-date tour next year, with Luka, Marlene On The Wall and Tom’s Diner to the fore.

Mike + The Mechanics will return to York Barbican next spring on their Refueled! 2023 Tour, promising “all the hits and a drop of Genesis” – Mike Rutherford’s other band – plus songs from latest album Out Of The Blue. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.