THE finale to York’s six-day online festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, will be an ambitious afternoon and evening of live-streaming on Saturday.
Ancient meets ultramodern in the challenging task faced by the team behind this week’s event, who will play host to a “truly international and extraordinary Norse-themed broadcast from 12 noon”.
Billed as the world’s largest-ever online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing has been organised by the Jorvik Viking Centre as an alternative to the Coppergate visitor attraction’s usual February half-term activities.
Introduced by York Mix Radio presenter Ben Fry and three members of Jorvik Viking Centre’s interpretation and collections teams, Lucas Norton, Rachel Cutler and Becky Sampson, the day will mix live presentations and Q&A sessions from Jorvik, with links to other Viking attractions around the world, including Dublinia in Dublin and Lofoten Viking Museum in Norway.
York’s Viking village at Murton Park will feature in the day too, contributing a live wood-working project that will be revisited throughout the broadcast, alongside some pre-recorded films being worked into the show.
Event manager Gareth Henry says: “We were fortunate to be able to film a host of videos for the Thing while lockdown restrictions were lifted in the autumn, including our fun film, Arnor’s Adventure, and our daily chapters of the Saga Of Revr The Sly, which have been released each day during the Thing since Monday.
“We had hoped to be able to broadcast this day live from a fully populated Viking village; sadly the Norns* were against us, but we are pleased that we can still manage some socially-distanced filming from the village.”
The live-streamed day will be the penultimate event in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s programme that will conclude at 7.30pm with international Nordic folk musician Einar Selvik deep in conversation with music journalist Alexander Milas.
Selvik composed the music for the History Channel’s Vikings series and the Assassins Creed: Valhalla game soundtrack, and his latest album with his band Wardruna, Kvitravn, topped the iTunes chart on release in January.
On Saturday, Selvik will discuss Norse music, demonstrate assorted instruments and perform acoustic versions of a selection of his songs. Tickets cost £15 at jorvikthing.com.
In a last-minute addition to the Thing’s programme tomorrow (19/2/2021), Selvik’s Wardruna bandmate, Lindy-Fay Hella, will be joined by Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of London bookshop Treadwells, and herbalist Johanna Elf to discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a free live-stream at 8pm, accessible through jorvikthing.com.
So far, That Jorvik Viking Thing and its educational preview during Schools Week, have drawn more than 20,000 visitors to the website to watch more than 2,500 hours of video content. Some live-streams are still attracting audiences, not least the fun Poo Day, prompting Twitter to be flooded with images of home-made Viking worm-infested poo.
The most popular video is a free 360-degree tour of Viking-age Coppergate that can even be viewed using a VR headset for a fully immersive experience.
For more information, or to access the array of video-on-demand resources, visit jorvikthing.com.
*Who are the Norns?
In Norse mythology, the Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of Gods and men.
OUT goes Europe’s largest Viking festival, the Jorvik Viking Festival, banished from York by Lockdown 3 restrictions. In comes That Jorvik Viking Thing, the world’s largest online Viking festival, organised by York Archaeological Trust.
So named as a nod to “Thing” being “a Viking public assembly”, the half-term remote event adds up to six days of new online content and live broadcasts, climaxing in An Evening With Einar Selvik, chart-topping Nordic musician and Jorvik Viking Centre enthusiast, on Saturday.
At 7.30pm that night, the Wardruna front-man will be in conversation with producer, filmmaker and journalist Alexander Milas, discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments such as the taglharpa, and performing songs, buoyed by his band’s latest album, Kvitravn (White Raven), topping the iTunes chart in late-January.
Ticket holders are invited to send questions for a live question-and-answer session too, and such questions may even stretch to asking Einar about providing the soundtrack for the History Channel’s Vikings series and composing the music for the latest Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game, released last November.
Einar is no stranger to the Jorvik Viking Festival. “I’ve performed there and done lectures there,” he says, recalling his sold-out events in “maybe 2017 and 2018”. “I really enjoy York as a city and I love the atmosphere during the festival,” he says.
“I do enjoy the ride at Jorvik Viking Centre – I’ve been there a few times – and maybe it’s best that the famous odour is confined to one space!”
Now comes his Jorvik Viking Festival online debut. “I was contacted, I guess it was a few months ago, by the organisers, asking if I’d be up for doing something: some sort of performance, if I’d be open to that idea.
“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times.”
Saturday’s online event can be viewed from all four corners of the globe, one of the changes that the pandemic has brought to arts and culture. “Absolutely that’s a good thing,” says Einar.
“Once all this started happening last year, first there was a lot of disappointment, but it’s up to us to think differently, to find a constructive and positive focus and look at the possibilities of what we can do. That’s the only way of coping and surviving.”
Einar’s band, Wardruna, last performed to a live audience in December 2019. “We were supposed to be doing our tour right after the first lockdown, when we were supposed to be playing the UK,” he says.
“The album was originally going to be released in early June last year, doing the tour of the UK in the following weeks, which has since been pushed to this spring, but that’s not likely now, and we’ll probably have to rearrange again, when Manchester will be the nearest place to York we’ll be playing.”
Kvitravn was completed in mid-March, before lockdown restrictions were imposed in Scandinavia, and the album release was delayed subsequently by the production plant being closed, but Einar believes that delay has turned out to be serendipitous. “I often get that question, leading up to a release, about ‘don’t you think the timing is risky?’, when you want to support it with concerts,” he says.
“But people have now adapted to new ways over the past year, they’re spending more time at home, and judging by the responses we’ve had people are really grateful to have something new for these times.”
What’s more, Einar’s songs on Kvitravn address both human nature and nature against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change. “I do feel the album is on the brink of being almost prophetic,” he says. “Even though it addresses themes that were relevant pre-Covid, everything is amplified by what’s happening now.
“If you go back and make connections with various cultures, and you connect with wild animals and white ravens, like I do, when you look at the prophecies connected with them, you find that those prophecies are very often connected to renewal or great change, so there’s great hope in that album title.”
Einar continues: “The raven is an animal I have a totemic relationship with, which is why I chose that for myself. But although this album is in a sense more personal and more down to earth than before, it’s also quite obscure.
“I delve into the philosophical, the esoteric, the Nordic myths and how these old traditions define human nature and nature itself. So, the white raven was not chosen as the title because of my name, but more due to the ideas which inspired me to take that name in the first place.”
Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.
“But the lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.”
“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond, and as the animal embodiment of the human mind and body, so almost human within nature, I guess, on many levels.”
Einar has had experiences with ravens, both in his waking hours and in the world of dreams. “They are such strong symbols, representing nature and how it speaks through you in your own symbolic language that’s connected to your intuition, whether in actual encounters with ravens or in dreams,” he says.
Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.
“But, for me, the poetry and lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.
“In terms of language, I have quite a playful approach to it, where I combine Norwegian with Old Norse and Proto Norse, a language from before the Viking age. It’s almost Germanic.”
Einar grew up steeped in traditional music, Norse music and metal music. “For several years I played in metal bands, but I would say I was quite done with metal on a personal level in my mid-teens,” he says. “From then, it was more of a job and the desire to do something that was more in keeping with my passions grew stronger and stronger.”
Does he see any common ground between metal music and Wardruna’s music? “Metal has always drawn a lot from Nordic culture and ideology, but I really wanted to do something where they were treated more in their own right, not just playing with it for an album cover or lyrics, but for the tonality too,” says Einar.
“I guess there are connections between metal and Norse music in that lots of melodies in Scandinavian traditional music are quite dark, like in metal.”
Einar’s childhood days were spent on the Norwegian island of Osteroy. “It’s a fairly large inland island with a fjord surrounding it, and I guess your surroundings will always affect you. Growing up amid this postcard imagery, it definitely cultivated a profound sense of appreciation of nature,” he says.
“I also grew up with lots of stories from the past, where you can connect them with the landscapes and what happened there 1,500 years ago. In hindsight, it gave me a sense of place and a place in time.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s streamed show, Einar says: “Alexander Milas will host the event, where I’ll talk with him a little about the context of each song and about the tools I use, the instrumentation, what we know and what we think we know about them. And, of course, the best way of demonstrating an instrument is to put it to use in a song.”
Einar will find time for questions from the online audience too, but here is one in advance: what is the taglharpa instrument? “It’s basically a bowed lyre, and in Scandinavia it’s the oldest bowed instrument we know of,” he says.
“Taglharpa means ‘horse hair’, which is what it’s made out of, though when I perform, I sometimes use metal strings for practical reasons because horse hair is really weather sensitive when you’re playing outside, which is the case with a lot of ‘nature’ instruments. They have a will of their own as they’re a living thing.”
An Evening With Einar Selvik, That Jorvik Festival Thing online, Saturday, 7.30pm. For £15 tickets, go to: jorvikthing.com. Wardruna’s album, Kvitravn, is available on Sony Music/Columbia Germany.
YORK is hosting the world’s largest online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, from today (15/2/2021) until Saturday.
The digital diary in Lockdown 3 will be filled with chart-topping music, live-streamed events for all ages, virtual tours and the first-ever 360-degree immersive video of Jorvik Viking Centre’s celebrated ride through Viking-age York.
Against the backdrop of the Jorvik Viking Festival – the largest Viking festival in Europe – being unable to take place in the pandemic, organisers from York Archaeological Trust have created an online festival based on the concept of the “Thing” – a Viking public assembly.
Six days of exclusive new online content and live broadcasts will culminate with an evening with Nordic folk composer Einar Selvik, whose band Wardruna’s latest album, Kvitran, hit the top of the iTunes album chart in January.
At 7.30pm on Saturday, Einar will discuss his Nordic music, demonstrate instruments and perform a selection of his latest compositions. Ticket holders will be invited to send their questions for a live Q&A session hosted by music journalist and film-maker Alexander Milas.
Gareth Henry, events manager for York Archaeological Trust, has been tasked with putting together the online festival. “For many people, the February half-term is synonymous with Vikings as we’ve been hosting a festival for more than 35 years,” he says.
“Whether that be families drawn by the thrilling combat displays and spectacle of hundreds of Vikings marching through the city, or academics here for our annual symposium, where the latest research from all over the world is presented by leaders in the field of Viking studies.
“We can’t replace the crowds, but we can offer several hours of Norse-themed fun, including our most ambitious live-streamed series of events, live from Jorvik Viking Centre, on the final day of the Thing (20/2/2021): perfect preparation for the evening with Einar Selvik.”
The transition of many elements of the festival to online events has been “fairly straightforward”, according to Gareth. “Our family favourite events, like Poo Day, when children can recreate their own version of the Lloyds Bank Coprolite – the world’ most famous fossilised poo, which is on display within Jorvik Viking Centre – will be broadcast online,” he says.
“So will craft workshops, learning spinning and leather working – with packs posted out before the event – and our lecture programme. In many ways, these can reach a far wider audience than we can usually accommodate in our York venues, and we’re already seeing tickets for the symposium being bought by people all over the world.”
Reaching new audiences has been a key focus for That Jorvik Viking Thing, particularly the use of technology to help deliver the festival programme, with funding from Innovate UK and Arts Council England helping the Jorvik team to explore new opportunities, including the virtual visit.
“When most museums talk about virtual visits, they use static 360-degree cameras at set locations for visitors to jump from place to place to view the collection from fixed perspectives,” says Gareth.
“We’ve been working with a local company, Vidaveo, to create a completely immersive version of our ride through Viking-age York. Using a smart phone, tablet or even a VR [virtual reality] headset, you can ‘ride’ in one of our time capsules with our resident Viking guide, Fastulf, for the sounds and sights of 10th century Coppergate. The only thing we can’t include are the smells.”
Best-selling children’s authors are giving their support to That Jorvik Viking Thing, in the form of Cressida Cowell, Francesca Simon, Hilary Robinson, David MacPhail, Robert J Harris and Paul Tillery IV all recording extracts from their Norse-themed children’s books.
The Jorvikanory videos will be available throughout the week, as will a series of podcasts, one featuring Horrible Histories author Terry Deary.
In light of York Archaeological Trust’s attractions being closed, ticket sales from premium events will provide an important source of income. “Our two main fundraisers are the Evening with Einar Selvik, which has created quite a stir around the globe, and a special Mead Tasting Evening with the Lancashire Mead Company,” says Gareth.
“Participants in that evening will receive a box of mead samples, delivered to their home, and then receive expert tutelage on the mead-brewing process and flavours created. Our original allocation of tickets sold out very quickly, so we have doubled capacity for this event, and only have a small handful of tickets left.”
A virtual tour of Jorvik Viking Centre by Dr Chris Tuckley is proving “incredibly popular”. He will leave the time capsules behind to walk visitors around the attraction, pointing out detail – based on real archaeological evidence – that went into reconstructing the past.
Other online content available for the first time will includes a series of Meet The Vikings films, exploring crafts, weapons, food and many other aspects of Viking life; an adventure with the hapless Arnor, as he hunts around his village for a lost ring, and two live Twitch sessions where experts review Norse-themed computer games from 1984’s Viking Raiders to 2020’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to test authenticity and fun.
A chapter from a traditional Viking saga, The Saga Of Refr The Sly, will be released each day to encourage visitors to return.
Jorvik Viking Festival normally takes place during the school holidays, so the York Archaeological Trust education team took the opportunity to create a special preview event, That Jorvik Viking Thing: School’s Week, that ran from February 8 to 12, offering free content, such as twice-daily live-streamed presentations for schools and home educators across the world.
Much of the pre-recorded content of That Jorvik Viking Thing went live at 10am today and will remain accessible until midnight on Sunday, February 21 at jorvikthing.com, where tickets for paid-for events can be booked. Visitors to That Jorvik Viking Thing can donate to York Archaeological Trust online.
For full details of the That Jorvik Viking Thing programme, go to: jorvikthing.com
SNOWHERE to go in freezing-cold Lockdown 3, except for yet another regulation walk and Chai Latte, as the live arts remain in pandemic hibernation, Charles Hutchinson looks online and ahead to bolster his sparse diary.
Online half-term fun, part one: Story Craft Theatre’s Crafty Tales, The Worrysaurus, February 17 to 20, 10am to 11am
YORK children’s theatre company Story Craft Theatre are running four storytelling and craft-making sessions on Rachel Bright’s The Worrysaurus on Zoom over half-term.
Janet Bruce and Cassie Vallance will begin each session for two to seven-year-old children with the Crafty Tales song and a butterfly craft-making session, followed by the interactive story of the little Worrysaurus dealing with butterflies in the tummy. Cue songs, games, dancing and fun galore.
The February 17 session is fully booked; prompt booking is advised for the other three at bookwhen.com/storycrafttheatre.
Online half-term fun, part two: Magic Carpet Theatre, The Wizard Of Castle Magic, streaming from February 18
MAGIC Carpet Theatre and Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) are teaming up for a free online streaming event for the February half-term.
The Hull company’s family show The Wizard Of Castle Magic will be shown on PAC’s YouTube channel from Thursday, February 18 at 2.30pm, available to view for 14 days until March 4.
Filmed live at PAC behind closed doors by Pocklington production company Digifish last autumn, director Jon Marshall performs an enchanting show based on the traditional Sorcerer’s Apprentice tale for children aged three to 11 and their families with a script packed with comedy, illusion and special theatrical effects.
Opera North goes home: ONe-to-ONe personal live performances on Zoom, February 15 to February 27
OPERA North is launching ONe-to-ONe, a digital initiative to bring live performance into homes across the country during Lockdown 3.
ONe-to-ONe will provide personal online performances delivered by members of the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, with slots available to book at operanorth.co.uk.
From a cappella arias and folk songs to Bach cello suites and a marimba solo, the recipient will be treated to a free virtual solo at a time of their choice, performed by a professional musician over Zoom.
Online exhibition of the season: Revive, curated by Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until March 13
BLUE Tree Gallery’s latest online show, Revive, is bringing together paintings by artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini, Steve Tomlinson, James Wheeler and Giles Ward.
Memory and imagination come to interplay in Lazzerini’s landscapes; the sea and the “associated physical and emotional experiences it brings” inform Tomlinson’s work; memory and desire in the light and atmosphere mark out Glaswegian Wheeler’s landscapes; the natural world inspires Giles Ward’s experimental, other-worldly paintings.
Revive can be viewed online at pyramidgallery.com, and artworks are being displayed in the gallery and gallery windows for those passing by.
Rearranged gig: Courtney Marie Andrews, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 17
PHOENIX country singer Courtney Marie Andrews has moved her Pocklington gig from June 17 2020 to exactly one year later, on the back of being newly crowned International Artist of the Year at the 2021 UK Americana Awards.
Courtney, 30, will perform the Grammy-nominated Old Flowers, her break-up album released last July, on her return to Pocklington for the first time since December 2018.
In the quietude of an emptied 2020 diary, she completed her debut poetry collection, Old Monarch, set for publication by Simon & Schuster on May 13.
Down by the river: York River Art Market call-out for artists
YORK River Art Market 2021 is issuing a call-out to artists for this summer’s riverside event on Dame Judi Dench Walk, Lendal Bridge, York.
After a barren 2020, the organisers have announced plans to return for markets on June 26; July 3, 24, 25 and 31, and August 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28, when 30-plus artists will be selling original art and hand-crafted goods at each stalls day.
Applications to take part should be emailed to email@example.com with three quality images of your work; a few sentences about your art; links to your digital platforms, and your preferred choice of dates, listed in the YRAM biography on its Facebook page.
Making plans for next year: Glenn Tilbrook, The Crescent, York, March 13 2022
SQUEEZE up, make room for Glenn Tilbrook, freshly booked into The Crescent for next March.
One half of the Tilbrook-Difford song-writing partnership known as Deptford’s answer to Lennon and McCartney, singer, songwriter and guitarist Tilbrook, 63, can draw on a catalogue boasting the likes of Take Me I’m Yours; Cool For Cats; Goodbye Girl; Up The Junction; Pulling Mussels; Another Nail In My Heart; Tempted; Labelled With Love and Black Coffee In Bed.
Expect picks from his solo works, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook, Transatlantic Ping-Pong, Pandemonium Ensues and Happy Ending, too.
And what about?
DISCOVERING debut albums by rising British stars Celeste (the chart-topping Not Your Muse on Polydor Records) and Arlo Parks (Collapsed In Sunbeams on Transgressive Records). Revelling in the soundtrack while crying your way through Russell T Davies’s five-part mini-series It’s A Sin on Channel 4. Savouring Joe Root’s batting against spin in the return of Test Match Cricket to Channel 4 as England take on India.
LOCKDOWN 3 plods on with no end in sight deep amid the winter chill, drawing Charles Hutchinson’s gaze to online events, a writing opportunity and the promise of live entertainment somewhere down the line.
Online lockdown exhibition at the double: Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch, Muted Worlds, for Pyramid Gallery, York
CERAMICIST Emily Stubbs and artist Lesley Birch have teamed up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition of pots and paintings that has begun as a digital show from their studios before moving to Terry Bretts’s gallery in Stonegate, once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased.
“This is a show with a more muted edge,” say Emily and Lesley. “Winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown, so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”
Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in York Open Studios this summer, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace.
Creative project of the winter season: Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project
THE Friends of Rowntree Park invite you to join the Words From A Bench project by submitting a short story or poem based around themes of the York park, the outdoors, nature and escape.
No more than 1,000 words in length, the works will be displayed in the park. Adults and children alike should send entries by February 15 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gigs on the move: Pocklington Arts Centre re-writing 2021 diary
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is re-scheduling concerts aplenty in response to the relentless grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan’s April 23 show is being moved to October 19; the Women In Rock tribute show, from May 21 to October 29; New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, from February 2 to December 7, and Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, from February 12 to December 2. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged dates.
A new date is yet to be arranged for the postponed February 23 gig by The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s country soul band from Portland, Oregon. Watch this space.
Early notice of online Early Music Day at National Centre for Early Music, York, March 21
THE Gesualdo Six will lead the NCEM’s celebrations for Early Music Day 2021 on March 21 by embarking on an online whistle-stop musical tour of York.
The Cambridge vocal consort’s concert will be a streamed at 3pm as part of a day when musical organisations throughout Europe will come together for a joyful programme of events to mark JS Bach’s birthday.
During their residency, The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical tour of the city that will be filmed and shared in March.
Better late than never: York Open Studios, switching from spring to summer
CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists are determined to go ahead with York Open Studios 2021, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.
Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.
Planning ahead for next year, part one: Midge Ure & Band Electronica, Grand Opera House, York
MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22, when the 67-year-old Scotsman will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.
Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House in October 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.
Planning ahead for next year, part two: Tommy Emmanuel at Grand Opera House, York
AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, 65, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of next year’s12-date tour with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.
At 44, Emmanuel became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. Playing fingerstyle, he frequently threads three different guitar parts simultaneously into his material, handling melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.
Online concert series of the season: Steven Devine, Bach Bites, National Centre for Early Music, York, Fridays
EVERY Friday at 1pm, until March 19, harpsichordist Steven Devine is working his way through J S Bach’s Fugues and Preludes in his online concert series. Find it on the NCEM’s Facebook stream.
And what about?
STAYING in, staying home, means TV viewing aplenty. Tuck into the French film talent agency frolics and frictions of Call My Agent! on Netflix and Scottish procedural drama Traces on the Beeb; be disappointed by Finding Alice on ITV.
AS LOCKDOWN 3 urges everyone to “stay home”, Charles Hutchinson takes that advice in selecting entertainment for the dark days and nights ahead.
Somewhere over the pandemic horizon, he highlights a couple of shows in the diary for the autumn.
Live-stream lockdown humour from living room to living room: Josie Long and Ahir Shah, Your Place Comedy, January 24
LOCKDOWN 3 has brought another round of Your Place Comedy home entertainment. “As before, we’ll be broadcasting from comedians’ living rooms, kitchens and attics or, as was the case with Lucy Beaumont, her homemade pub,” says virtual comedy club organiser Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer.
The format remains the same: two headline comedians, some stand-up and some chat, all juggled by regular compere Tim FitzHigham. First up will be Josie Long and Ahir Shah on January 24; line-ups are yet to be confirmed for February 28 and March 28.
The live-stream shows will be free to watch but with donations keenly encouraged at yourplacecomedy.co.uk.
Interactive stories for children: Story Craft Theatre’s Crafty Tales
CASSIE Vallance and Janet Bruce cannot hold their Crafty Tales sessions in person during Lockdown 3 but will continue to deliver sessions “directly to you via the power of Zoom”.
“Each 50-minute session is packed full of crafting, storytelling and educational fun with lots of activities to keep your little folk’s imagination alight,” says Cassie. “There are still a few spaces left for next week’s 10am sessions based around Julia Donaldson’s The Runaway Pea on January 20, 22 and 23.”
Coming up on January 27, 29 and 30 will be Elaine Wickson’s Super Stan. For more details and to book, go to storycrafttheatre.co.uk.
Operetta on screen: International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, G&S Opera TV On-Line Streaming Service
WHEN the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to the 2020 International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at Harrogate Royal Hall, the festival launched its online streaming subscription service at gsoperatv.
“New content is being continually added,” says festival stalwart Bernard Lockett. “It features the very best of more than 26 years of the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, along with top amateur productions performed at our festival, G&S films and fascinating documentaries and interviews, and is the only place to experience so many outstanding Savoy operas.”
The subscription rates for general viewers is £9.99 per month or £99 annuallyThe 2021 festival is in the diary for August 8 to 22 in Harrogate, preceded by Buxton Opera House the week before.
Play for the day appraisal: Online script-reading sessions, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from January 20
RUNNING online on Wednesdays from 11.30am to 1.30pm for five weeks, the fun sessions will dive into five classic comedies: Aristophanes’s Lysistrata on January 20; Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, January 27; Moliere’s Tartuffe, February 3; Sheridan’s The Rivals, February 10, and Feydeau’s A Flea In Her Ear, February 17.
Participants will read sections of the plays aloud and work with SJT associate director Chelsey Gillard to consider their themes, stories, writing styles and historical context in a relaxed discussion. Session bookings can be made at sjt.uk.com.
Online children’s show of the month: Magic Carpet Theatre in Magic Carpet, Pocklington Arts Centre YouTube channel
HULL company Magic Carpet Theatre filmed their fun family-friendly show, Magic Carpet, behind closed doors at Pocklington Arts Centre last October. By public demand, its free streaming run is being extended to January 21 at: youtu.be/CNrUixTMWdQ.
Performed by director Jon Marshall and Steve Collison with magical illusions, comedy, circus skills and puppets, it tells the humorous tale of what happens to the ringmaster’s extravaganza plans after the artistes and elephants fail to arrive and everything has to be left in the calamitous hands of the clowns. Disaster!
Online ghost play of the season: Alan Ayckbourn’s Haunting Julia, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
ALAN Ayckbourn’s 2020 audio version of his ghost play Haunting Julia is being given an afterlife. Originally available at sjt.uk.com/event/1078/haunting_julia until January 5, the winter chiller now will be online until January 31.
Revisiting his 1994 play, Ayckbourn’s audio recording features the voice of the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s 81-year-old director emeritus. Or, rather, the three voices of Ayckbourn, who plays all three parts.
Baroque’n’roll gig of the autumn: Rufus Wainwright, York Barbican, October 13
LAUREL Canyon singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s October 27 2020 tour date at York Barbican has moved to October 13 2021. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged date with his new band.
Last July, Wainwright, 47, released his ninth studio album, Unfollow The Rules, his first since 2012. “I consider it my first fully mature album; it is like a bookend to the beginning of my career,” says Rufus, whose fearless, mischievous songs were inspired by middle age, married life, fatherhood, friends, loss, London and Laurel Canyon.
Ready for a laugh: Omid Djalili, The Good Times Tour, Grand Opera House, York, November 10
OMID Djalili cannot wait to be back where he belongs, on stage, after experimenting with a Zoom gig where he was muted by no fewer than 639 people and a drive-in gig when he witnessed one audience member leave his car, attach a hose pipe to his exhaust and feed it through the window.
The British-Iranian stand-up’s 2021 excursions could not have a more positive title: The Good Times Tour. Let’s hope he is right, although who can predict if his shows at Harrogate Theatre on May 6 and Hull City Hall on May 26 will be given the go-ahead.
In his diary too are: Platform Festival, The Old Station, Pocklington, July 22, and Masham Town Hall, September 18 and 19. Oh, and Leeds Town Hall on October 28 in faraway 2022.
AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.
Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.
Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8
AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.
Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.
Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26
FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.
The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.
Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5
CHANNEL 4’s champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.
The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.
A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11
CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.
The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.
The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.
Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21
ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.
Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.
Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021
YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.
A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.
Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm
2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.
Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.
And what about?
Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides.
HERE’S to more going out and less staying in in 2021, once the jabs go to work at large.
In the meantime, thank you to all those in the world of arts and culture who have still made it worth running this site by finding ways to entertain, enlighten and excite in 2020 by thinking and acting outside the box, against the odds and the tide of the killjoy pandemic.
Merry Yorkshire Christmas, in whatever minimalist form you will be gathering.
THE 2020 York Early Music Christmas Festival went out with a splurge of concerts over its last weekend.
Your reviewer caught two of the four on the final day. Spiritato! was the largest ensemble to appear at the festival, 18 period-style players, who concentrated on Bach and his contemporary Johann Friedrich Fasch in The Leipzig Legacy.
Had he not been born directly in Bach’s shadow, Fasch would surely be better known. We heard at once, in the opening Concerto in D, how Fasch was already anticipating the classical shapes and sounds that were to feature in Haydn’s earlier symphonies.
There were exciting trumpets in the opening Allegro and delightful solos from violin and oboe in the finale: enough meat on these bones, indeed, to make further exploration of Fasch an exciting prospect.
His Quartetto in D minor, dating from about 1750, was marginally less exciting, but well above run-of-the-mill Baroque, gracefully delivered in its slow movements, with contrastingly crisp counterpoint in the Allegros.
Spiritato! was led from her violin by Kinga Ujszászi, who came into her own in Bach’s Sinfonia in D, where her effortless panache was breath-taking. But elsewhere too, she led by example, sustaining a real sense of dance through both Bach’s Second and Third Suites.
The Second, in B minor, believed to be the last of the four to be written, was given here in its earliest version for strings alone. Here the sound was a touch top-heavy, needing an extra cello or two for good balance.
The Third Suite, in D major, was probably much earlier, written at Cöthen (where Bach was succeeded as Kapellmeister by Fasch) in 1718. Apart from its famous Air, caressed here by strings alone, the Gavottes had a gentle lilt and the Gigue made a triumphant finale. Spiritato’s palpable enjoyment had proved infectious throughout.
The festival closed with the 12-voice ensemble Stile Antico, in an appearance at the unusual but most welcome hour of 5pm. Here we were back to purely Christmas repertory, mimicking Nine Lessons and Carols with nine Renaissance works, each preceded by a contemporary reading, in A Renaissance Christmas.
My heart usually sinks when I see that musicians are doing their own readings: few manage it with much prowess, let alone clarity. Stile Antico largely proved me wrong; these well exceeded expectation. There were two poems each from John Donne and George Herbert.
Robert Southwell’s The Burning Babe was another excellent choice, as was Emilia Lanier’s Eve’s Apologie. But the laurels went to a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes, its wit and wisdom about the Magi (including “a cold coming they had of it”) delivered here with supreme clarity. None of the readers was identified.
The conductor-less choir was arranged in two semi-circles, eight on the outside, four inside, socially distanced. This meant that, for the first time that I recall, it was possible to spot one singer keeping time with a gentle nod.
Needless to say, ensemble remained impeccable, matched by tuning that surely heaven will not better. The sopranos were particularly stunning. I recall just one occasion when a very high entry was slightly misjudged, though instantly rectified.
The tone of the evening was nicely set by an extract from the Piae Cantiones of 1582, that Finnish collection rediscovered by our man in Helsinki in the early 19th century.
Victoria was the only composer to feature twice, once with an eight-voice Agnus Dei, once with a gorgeous O Magnum Mysterium, partnering Donne’s Nativity. In between these two came the starker harmonies of a graceful Ave Maria by Des Prez, alongside Donne’s Annunciation, another clever pairing. Byrd’s Rorate Coeli had reminded us of his matchless counterpoint.
A very peppy Angelus Ad Pastores by a Ferrara nun, Raffaella Aleotti, in madrigal style, reminded us of how many such ladies are only now being brought to light, not before time. Guerrero’s villancico – nowadays synonymous with Christmas carol – A Un Niño Llorandowas cleverly shaped by five soloists.
It remained for a beautifully sustained account of John Sheppard’s Verbum Caro Factum Est, which was written for Christmas matins, to remind us of the reason for the festival. If you’ve never heard Stile Antico, make a beeline for them: you won’t be disappointed.
Review byMartin Dreyer
Both concerts are still available to buy online from the York Christmas At Home programme at ncem.co.uk until December 21 to watch on demand until January 6 2021.
SHED Seven’s live album, Another Night, Another Town, is out tomorrow
“We had to put back the release date by a fortnight, because under Covid guidance, we hadn’t been able to sign the signed copies,” says lead singer Rick Witter. “But last Thursday the warehouse delivered them and we sat in different rooms in the Gillygate pub to sign them, so everything is ready now.”
Specially curated by the York Britpop luminaries and available exclusively through the Sheds’ store, Another Night, Another Town “captures their dynamic live performances and anthemic songs over 21 tracks”.
As trailed on the shedseven.com website, Sheds’ followers can pick up a limited-edition coloured gatefold vinyl edition, a special double CD set, a 180g heavyweight triple vinyl version and a download, plus a selection of new merchandise.
Another Night, Another Town is Shed Seven’s fifth “live” album after Where Have You Been Tonight? Live, in 2003; Live At The BBC, in 2007; See Youse At The Barras: Live In Concert, 2009, and Live At Leeds 2007, digital download only, in 2009.
“But we hadn’t recorded a live album since we returned as a five-piece in 2007 and we certainly hadn’t released one as good as this!” says Rick, 48, reflecting on the new album, mixed by Chris Sheldon, who produced the Sheds’ 1996 album A Maximum High and 1999 single Disco Down (whose lyrics have been raided for the Another Night, Another Town title).
“We’re delighted with the results, which we think are as close as we can get to capturing the Shed Seven live experience on record.
“We’re playing better live now than ever, and with Chris Sheldon mixing it, it’s a good memory of great times. There’s brass on there as well, and because gigs with big crowds still aren’t coming back in the imminent future, this is the next best thing to a gig. At this time in our lives, it’s the best thing we can do.”
The decision to release a live album was made in the hiatus of the pandemic lockdown. “We were thinking, at the beginning of Lockdown, ‘we’re not going to be able to do anything, so how can we do something to stop us going stale?’.
“We’d recorded a lot of the last Shedcember tour in 2019, so this was a good time to go through those recordings and the 2018 Castlefield Bowl show [in Manchester] to curate the best live album we could.
“Listening to 18 different versions of She Left Me On Friday…we spent a lot of time doing that, then picking the best, so there are songs from lots of different gigs, which should please Shed Seven fans that were there.”
For the packaging, the Sheds have drawn inspiration from their favourite live albums, among them The Smiths’ Rank and U2’s Under A Blood Red Sky. “We also had a little bit of idea, from the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, such classic imagery, not copying it, but paying tribute to it,” says Rick.
“We must have grown as a band because we now have four photographers following regularly on our tours, with lots of logging of our gigs. We got in touch with three of them to ask if we could cherry pick them for album artwork and it looks great.”
Another Night, Another Town’s arrival coincides with tickets going on sale for the Sheds’ rearranged Live After Racing’ @ Doncaster Racecourse gig, now moved to May 15 2021.
“We should have been playing there this August, as well as about 12 big festivals and The Piece Hall at Halifax that we were headlining,” says Rick. “Thankfully, we’ve re-scheduled most of these gigs.
“The bonus for us is that usually in a year when we do a Shedcember tour, we’re not allowed to do those outdoor shows in the same year because the promoters like to push the Shedcember shows through the year, but because of what’s happened this year, we’ll now be doing both summer and winter shows in 2021. It looks like being a busy year.”
Shed Seven’s diary for outdoor engagements in 2021 is taking shape: Don 21 Music Live, Doncaster Racecourse, May 15; Neighbourhood Festival, London, May 29; Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, June 18; The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26; Corbridge Festival, July 3; Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Beaufort, July 31, and Watchet Music Festival, Somerset, August 29.
The Piece Hall concert will be an all-Yorkshire event embracing Shed Seven, up-and-coming anthemic York band Skylights and Leeds groups The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present. “We wanted it to be a Yorkshire celebration, thinking, ‘who could we ask?’, ‘ who would be up for it?’, and it was a real delight that The Wedding Present said ‘Yes’, as I love them but haven’t seen them for a while,” says Rick.
Impeded by the unremitting Coronavirus pandemic, The Sheds have ended up “taking a rest this year. “But being savvy, I thought, ‘we’re going to be able to play next year but loads of bands will be looking to do the same, so we better not sit on our laurels’. We structured the 2021 Shedcember tour as soon as we could, getting the gigs organised,” says Rick.
The dates will be announced in due course but he did confirm Shed Seven would play the Leeds O2 Academy, rather than Leeds First Direct Arena, where they made their debut last winter. “It’s just too stressful!” Rick reveals. “We’re set in our ways and we just know what we’re doing in front of 3.000, 4,000, whereas with 10,000 you have to concentrate so much more to make it work.
“It’s like a big step-up to play arenas, especially when we’re playing ‘normal’ venues for the rest of the tour, with that gig in the middle. We ended up with three set builds, trawling stuff around for the tour where we wouldn’t use half of it on most nights!
“So, we’re going to revert back to our comfort zone, but with plenty of big cities on there, as I kinda let the cat on my radio show.”
Rick Witter’s Disco Down has found a new home at Jorvik Radio from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday. “I did show number three last weekend with [York singer-songwriter and erstwhile Seahorses frontman] Chris Helme as my guest,” says Rick. “Mark Morriss [from The Bluetones] did an earlier show, so I’m working my way through my contacts book!”
Tomorrow, the focus will fall on the launch of Another Night, Another Town. “We hope this album provides just a little bit of the live experience we’re all missing before we return in 2021,” says Rick.