REVIEW: Steve Crowther’s verdict on Ensemble Intercontemporain, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York, April 17

Ensemble Intercontemporain: “The Rolls-Royce of contemporary music performers

YorkConcerts presents Ensemble Intercontemporain, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, April 17

ON Wednesday evening, the Rolls-Royce of contemporary music performers, Ensemble Intercontemporain, performed an extraordinary programme of music by Martin Suckling, Thomas Simaku and Olivier Messiaen.

The concert opened with Martin Suckling’s Visiones (after Goya), an inspired response to a specific drawing from Goya’s unique, if somewhat unsettling, Witches and Old Women Album. The Visiones depicts an intimate dance between a possibly inebriated old couple with another chap looking on, or rather on the floor looking up. The image seems to have an uncomfortable erotic edge, perhaps sex in old age.

Anyway, to Mr Suckling’s work. In response to the Goya sketch, Visiones (after Goya) has three instrumentalists, cello, clarinet and piano, and three sections. In the first part, the clarinet and cello dance, serenade each other in ‘repeated microtonal lyrics’.

The percussive piano creates distance and commentary. The effect is very distinct, haunting and not a little spooky. Yet there is intimacy and it is this, as well as the superb playing by Martin Adámek (clarinet) and Renaud Déjardin (cello), that draws you into this sound world.

There is also a genuine warmth of engagement. This is particularly obvious in the second section ‘lullaby’ before the dance becomes ritualistic. The third section is a kind of distorted recapitulation; a memory, a nightmare. Maybe.

The piano (the imperious Dimitri Vassilakis) now sings the song, the clarinet has the role of ‘soft multiphonics’ commentary whilst the cello lets rip to very dramatic effect. The dance returns but now transformed. To be sure the piece was, like the Goya, unsettling. But it was true to the artist’s multi-layered complexity, and beauty. The performance was illuminating.

I had a bit of an issue with a2(b) for violin and cello by Thomas Simaku; not with the forceful piece itself, nor with the thrilling performance by soloists Jeanne-Marie Conquer (violin) and Renaud Déjardin (cello), but with the extensive programme note.

OK, the instrumental explanation of a2 (a due) was fine; it made perfect sense. However, the dramatisation of opposites – a response to the ‘remnants of the wall in Bernauer Strasse’, a tale of contrasting cities, of brutally conflicting ideologies representing oppression and freedom in 1945 Berlin – did not.

To be fair to the composer, he clearly stated that the musical and extramusical could not be separated; they are two aspects of the same song. But for me the piece did not (and could not) deliver an image of complete opposites: because the most striking and distinguished aspect of Simaku’s music is its mastery of an organic, cellular and uniform musical language. The uncompromising, almost violent, gestures and mood swings worked perfectly well on and in their own terms.

However, the piece was jaw-droppingly good and technically seriously accomplished. I thought the fast, driving conclusion with its spent, exhausted epilogue was very effective indeed. The performers were on top of their game, and they needed to be.

Just one minor whinge before the interval: what was it with the photographer taking shots from the back of the auditorium? It was distracting and utterly unnecessary.

After the interval we were treated to the most illuminating performance of Messiaen’s Quartet For The End Of Time. For what it’s worth, the balance of the opening Crystal liturgy didn’t seem quite even, but given the quality of performers and the excellent acoustic, this is more likely due to my ears waking up again after the 20-minute break.

The second movement Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of time, was sublime. The control needed and delivered by clarinettist Martin Adámek was extraordinary. The effect was otherworldly, visionary; beautiful, delicate but definitely bleak.

The Interlude was an utter, quirky delight. Were there echoes of Shostakovich? I thought so. Possibly. Renaud Déjardin and Dimitri Vassilakis’s performance of Praise To The Eternity Of Jesus was the best live version I have heard.

Nothing quite prepares you for this experience; it was so hypnotic, so compelling. I think this is due to the piano ‘accompaniment’ which came across so powerfully. At first, a pulse, a heartbeat, gradually driving the cello song with almost hammer-like intensity before they melt into ecstasy, resolution. Quite extraordinary.

The Dance Of Fury, for the seven trumpets, was technically perfect. It delivered a unity of purpose and energy. Edge-of-the-seat stuff. The penultimate Tangle Of Rainbows…was brimming with physicality. It both looked back, specifically to the second Vocalise, as well as to the future and the final movement in particular. The performance of Praise To The Immortality Of Jesus, was simply divine.

Review by Steve Crowther

More Things To Do in York and beyond “the carriage ride of your life”. Hutch’s List No. 17 for the spring scene, from The Press

Footsbarn Theatre’s Twelfth Night: First British performances in 15 years in world premiere at York International Shakespeare Festival

BUCKLE up for Austen’s sister act, Shakespeare’s battle of the sexes and Sheridan’s scandalous comedy of manners, plus music, art and poetry in the library, advises Charles Hutchinson.  

Festival of the week: York International Shakespeare Festival, until April 28 

SHAKESPEAREAN Identity is the theme of the sixth York International Shakespeare Festival, now an annual event, run by director Philip Parr. Sponsored by York St John University, it features moving shows, lectures by internationally recognised academics, exhibitions and workshops presented by Shakespeare enthusiasts from all over the world.

Among the highlights will be Footsbarn Theatre’s first British visit in 15 years with Twelfth Night, American actress Debra Ann Byrd’s powerhouse solo show Becoming Othello and York Explore’s exhibition of 300 years of representations of Othello. Tickets and full programme details are available at yorkshakes.co.uk/programme-2024.

Katherine Lea: Making her Hotbuckle Productions debut in Pride & Prejudice at Helmsley Arts Centre

Ryedale play of the week: Hotbuckle Productions in Pride & Prejudice, Helmsley Arts Centre, tonight, 7.30pm

IN artistic director Adrian Preater’s humorous, multi role-playing adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Hotbuckle Productions enter the world of the Bennets.

From headstrong Elizabeth to proud Mr Darcy, rich characterisations abound as five sisters deal with marriage, morality and misconceptions. “Hotbuckle up for the carriage ride of your life” with Joanna Purslow, Tomas Mason and company newcomer Katherine Lea. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Carl Hutchinson: Storytelling Geordie comic appearing at The Crescent, York

Comedy gig of the week: Carl Hutchinson: Today Years Old, The Crescent, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

YORK’s Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Geordie comic Carl Hutchinson in his third consecutive back-to-back tour show, Today Years Old. Expect a night of storytelling, rich in observation and physical comedy. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Fiddler in the woods: Alice Atang’s Fiddler, Perri Ann Barley’s Golde and Steve Tearle’s Tevye set the scene for NE Theatre York’s Fiddler On The Roof

Musical of the week: NE Theatre York in Fiddler On The Roof, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, April 23 to 27, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

STEVE Tearle directs NE Theatre York in Jerry Bock, Harnick and Joseph Stein’s musical, taking the role of Tevye, the humble village milkman, for the third time too in this 60th anniversary production.

When three of Tevye’s five daughters rebel against the traditions of arranged marriages by taking matters into their own hands, mayhem unfolds as he strives to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural creeds, against the backdrop of the Tsar’s pogrom edict to evict all Jews from his Russian village in 1905. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Lydea Perkins’ Lady Teazle and Joseph Marcell’s Sir Peter Teazle in Tilted Wig’s The School For Scandal, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

Touring play of the week: Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, present The School For Scandal, York Theatre Royal, April 23 to 27, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 7.30pm Saturday matinees

JOSEPH Marcell, fondly remembered as Geoffrey the butler in the American comedy series Fresh Prince of Bel Air, stars in Seán Aydon’s new production of Richard B Sheridan’s comedy of manners The School For Scandal, where gossip never goes out of fashion.

Marcell plays Sir Peter Teazle, who believes his young wife is sleeping with someone else. Not true, but if her husband believes it, maybe she should give it a go. After all, if you are going to cause a scandal, you may as well enjoy it. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Florence Poskitt: Stepping into Kate’s shoes in York Shakespeare Project’s The Taming Of The Shrew

Seventies’ Shakespeare play of the week: York Shakespeare Project in The Taming Of The Shrew, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, April 23 to 27, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday

IN a late change of cast, actor-musician Florence Poskitt, from the York musical comedy duo Fladam, is taking over the principal role of Kate in Maggie Smales’s production of Shakespeare’s controversial battle of the sexes, now set in 1970.

A psychedelic world is opening up, promising peace, love and equality, but Kate was born to be wild and wants a voice of her own. The times they are a’changin’ and the old order is dead…or is it? Let battle commence. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Barrie Rutter: Shaking up Shakespeare at Northern Broadsides and beyond

Breaking down the Bard barrier: Barrie Rutter: Shakespeare’s Royals, York Theatre Royal Studio, April 26, 7.45pmRipon Theatre Festival, Ripon Cathedral, July 4, 7.30pm

BARRIE Rutter, founder and former director of Northern Broadsides, celebrates the Bard’s kings and queens – their achievements, conquests and foibles – with tales, anecdotes and memories from a career of playing and directing Shakespeare’s Royals.

Told he could never play a king on account of his Yorkshire accent, Hull-born Rutter, now 77, created his own theatre company in 1992 in Halifax to use the northern voice for Shakespeare’s kings, queens and emperors, not only the usual drunken porters, jesters or fools. Box office: York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.ukRipon, ripontheatrefestival.org.

Kai West’s poster for Bull’s Live At The Library day on May 19, based on the Cluedo board game design

Gig announcement of the week: Bull present Live At The Library, York Explore Library & Archive, Library Square, York, May 19, from 12 noon

YORK Explore and Please Please You team up with York band Bull for a day of music, art and poetry to celebrate Explore York’s tenth birthday and raise funds for York’s libraries. The climax will be a 6.30pm to 10pm gig by Bull, Marnie Glum, Rowan and performance poet Stu Freestone (tickets, tickettailor.com/events/exploreyorklibrariesandarchives/1216274).

Free activities include open mic-style performances run by Bull frontman Tom Beer in the Marriott Room from midday, featuring Gabbie Lord, Maggie, Gilles, She Choir, Filipe, Old Time Rags, Eve Thomas & Co and more,  plus art workshops for all ages hosted by Izzy Williamson (lino printing, 1pm) and Bull bassist and illustrator Kai West (T-shirt design and screen printing, 12 noon to 2pm) in the Garden Room, with donations welcome.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Angela Hewitt, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, April 12

Angela Hewitt: “A multitude of subtleties and a sensational technique”

PIANIST Angela Hewitt played preludes and fugues, framing examples by Mendelssohn, Shostakovich and Barber with the original master himself, J S Bach. These bare facts mask a multitude of subtleties and a sensational technique. She held her capacity audience spellbound.

Most performers are ill advised to open with an address, just when the punters are all agog with anticipation. But her words were delivered so graciously, with wit and charm, that we were delighted to hear her insights. And she was insistent on no applause until the interval, a smart decision that helped everyone’s focus.

In mid-career Mendelssohn made a deliberate study of Bach’s counterpoint, which resulted in his six Preludes & Fugues, Op 35. The first of these swerves between E minor and E major. Hewitt made a stunning moto perpetuo of its prelude, before robustly highlighting the fugue subject in a majestic crescendo to its climactic chorale.

Shostakovich was another composer to hold Bach in reverence and he wrote a full set of 24 Preludes & Fugues, Op 87 in 1951. The spare textures of the F minor fugue, No. 18, are ideally suited to Hewitt’s style and its counterpoint emerged with immense clarity.

Even more incisive was the demanding fugue that concludes Barber’s piano sonata, its relentless cross-accents dazzling at high speed.

Hewitt had opened with the earliest numbers from the Book I of Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier, a handful more than the programme had promised – perhaps she was in the zone and forgot herself. No-one minded in the least, quite the contrary. Her ability to give differing degrees of prominence to contrapuntal lines, even as many as three or four, remains one of the wonders of her intelligent approach to Bach.

The last of Bach’s six partitas (dance suites in all but name), BWV 830 in E minor, is one of the towering monuments of the keyboard repertory. The crispness of her rhythms was especially apparent here.

After a rhapsodic Toccata, with a fine central fugue, the Allemande was phrased with particular subtlety, so that the succeeding Corrente, taken at some pace, had a jack-in-the-box flavour by comparison; the abrupt Air was brisk too.

The stately Sarabande was deeply melancholic, its dotted rhythms making it taut, even edgy. There was room here for a touch more serenity. After a witty Gavotte, the Gigue, even with the jagged intervals of its fugue, was remarkably balletic, further testament – although none was needed – to Hewitt’s prodigious dexterity, both mental and physical.

As an encore, she wound down with the very first of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, in E major, generating a wonderful cantabile.

Review by Martin Dreyer

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond “the carriage ride of your life”. Hutch’s List No. 11, from Gazette & Herald

Katherine Lea: Making her Hotbuckle Productions debut in Pride & Prejudice

BUCKLE up for Austen’s sister act, Shakespeare’s battle of the sexes and Sheridan’s scandalous comedy of manners, plus music, art and poetry in the library, baroque and blues concerts and tragic opera, advises Charles Hutchinson.   

Ryedale play of the week: Hotbuckle Productions in Pride & Prejudice, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 7.30pm

IN artistic director Adrian Preater’s humorous, multi role-playing adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Hotbuckle Productions enter the world of the Bennets.

From headstrong Elizabeth to proud Mr Darcy, rich characterisations abound as five sisters deal with marriage, morality and misconceptions. “Hotbuckle up for the carriage ride of your life” with Joanna Purslow, Tomas Mason and company newcomer Katherine Lea. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Patricia Qua: Ceramicist and graphic designer taking part in York Open Studios for the first time in Hempland Drive, York

Art around every corner: York Open Studios, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm

AS many as 156 artists and makers who live or work within a ten-mile radius of York will be welcoming visitors to 106 workspaces to show and sell their art, ranging from ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery and mixed media to painting, print, photography, sculpture, textiles, glass and wood. Among them will be 31 new participants. Full details and a map can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk. Look out for booklets around the city too.

Keeping an eye on things: English Touring Opera in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at York Theatre Royal

Opera of the week: English Touring Opera in Manon Lescaut, York Theatre Royal, Friday, 7.30pm

ENGLISH Touring Opera returns to York in Jude Christian radical production of Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking Manon Lescaut, for which she brings incisive direction to her sharp, poetic new translation.

Puccini’s 1892 breakthrough hit presents a devastating depiction of a woman wrestling with her desire for love on her own terms and the rigid double standards imposed on her by society. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

London Obbligato Collective: Opening the York Baroque+ Day at the NCEM

Classical concert of the week: London Obbligato Collective, York Baroque+ Day, National Centre for Early Music, York Saturday, 12 noon  

FORMED by Masumi Yamamoto, the new London Obbligato Collective focuses on “accompanied harpsichord sonatas”, where the harpsichord is given the solo role within the trio sonata texture, highlighting and enriching the colours and nuances of the instrument.

Next Saturday’s programme includes 18th century music by Felice Giardini, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Friedrich. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Lydea Perkins, as Lady Teazle, and Joseph Marcell, as Sir Peter Teazle, in Tilted Wig’s The School For Scandal. Picture: Anthony Robling

Touring play of the week: Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, present The School For Scandal, York Theatre Royal, April 23 to 27, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 7.30pm Saturday matinees

JOSEPH Marcell, fondly remembered as Geoffrey the butler in the American comedy series Fresh Prince of Bel Air, stars in Seán Aydon’s new production of Richard B Sheridan’s comedy of manners The School For Scandal, where gossip never goes out of fashion.

Marcell plays Sir Peter Teazle, who believes his young wife is sleeping with someone else. Not true, but she is starting to think that if her husband believes it, she should give it a go. After all, if you are going to cause a scandal, you may as well enjoy it. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Florence Poskitt: Stepping in to play Kate in York Shakespeare Project’s The Taming Of The Shrew

Seventies’ Shakespeare play of the week: York Shakespeare Project in The Taming Of The Shrew, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, April 23 to 27, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday

IN a late change of cast, actor-musician Florence Poskitt, from the York musical comedy duo Fladam, is taking over the principal role of Kate in Maggie Smales’s production of Shakespeare’s controversial battle of the sexes, now set in 1970.

A psychedelic world is opening up, promising peace, love and equality, but Kate was born to be wild and wants a voice of her own. The times they are a’changin’ and the old order is dead…or is it? Let battle commence. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Redfish Blues Band: Returning to Milton Rooms, Malton

Blues gig of the week: Redfish Blues Band, Ryedale Blues Club, Milton Rooms, Malton, April 25, 8pm

NOMINATED for Blues Band of the Year and Blues Album of the Year in the UK 2024 Blues Awards, Redfish Blues Band return to Malton with Christian Sharpe on vocals and guitar, Steve McGuckin on Hammond, Rod Mackay on bass and Steve Gibson on drums.

As witnessed on their Together Is Better album and Soho Rising (Girls, Girls, Girls) single, they play a delicious, bubbling gumbo of blues, soul, gospel and funk in live performances defined by energy and restraint. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Kai West’s poster for Bull’s Live At The Library day on May 19, based on the Cluedo board game design

Gig announcement of the week: Bull present Live At The Library, York Explore Library & Archive, Library Square, York, May 19, from 12 noon

YORK Explore and Please Please You team up with York band Bull for a day of music, art and poetry to celebrate Explore York’s tenth birthday and raise funds for York’s libraries. The climax will be a 6.30pm to 10pm gig by Bull, Marnie Glum, Rowan and performance poet Stu Freestone (tickets, tickettailor.com/events/exploreyorklibrariesandarchives/1216274).

Free activities include open mic-style performances run by Bull frontman Tom Beer in the Marriott Room from midday, featuring Gabbie Lord, Maggie, Gilles, She Choir, Filipe, Old Time Rags, Eve Thomas & Co and more,  plus art workshops for all ages hosted by Izzy Williamson (lino printing, 1pm) and Bull bassist and illustrator Kai West (T-shirt design and screen printing, 12 noon to 2pm) in the Garden Room, with donations welcome.

Steve Tearle to play Tevye for third time in NE Theatre York’s Fiddler On The Roof

Steve Tearle’s Tevye and Perri Ann Barley’s Golde in NE Theatre York’s Fiddler On The Roof

DIRECTOR and lead actor Steve Tearle is at the helm of NE Theatre York’s revival of Fiddler On The Roof at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, next Tuesday to Saturday to celebrate the American musical’s 60th anniversary.

Based on Sholem Aleichem’s story Tevye And His Daughters (or Tevye The Dairyman) and other tales, the nine-time Tony Award-winning 1964 musical has music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein and is best known for the songs If I Were A Rich Man, Matchmaker, Miracle Of Miracles and Sunrise.

Set in the Pale of Settlement in Tsarist Russia in 1905, the story centres on Tevye, the humble milkman and family man, who lives a very simple life in the small village of Anatevka.

When three of his five daughters rebel against the traditions of arranged marriages and decide to take matters into their own hands, mayhem unfolds as he strives to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural creeds.

Steve Tearle’s Tevye and Alice Atang’s Fiddler, Tevye’s conscience, in NE Theatre York’s Fiddler On The Roof

Tevye must cope not only with his daughters’ strong will to marry for love – each one’s choice of husband moving further away from the customs of his faith – but also with the Tsar’s edict to evict the Jewish community from their village [in the story’s nod to the Kishinev pogrom, an act of persecution against Russian Jews in April 1903].

Tearle will be playing Tevye, forever associated with Israeli actor, singer and illustrator Topol in the Oscar-winning 1971 film, where he reprised the role he had originated on Broadway and went on to perform more than 3,500 times between 1967 and 2009.

Tearle, by comparison, will be chalking up a hattrick of turns as Tevye, a part he played previously for New Earswick Musicals at the JoRo in November 2016 under Ann McCreadie’s direction, when the York Press review praised him for his “limitless charisma and exemplary dad dancing”.

“Tevye is a dream role,” he says. “You get to go through so many emotions. It’s an honour to play this part again, bringing him to life with NE Theatre’s amazing cast. It’s a fab experience.

“The show may be 60 years old but it’s very relevant today with the empowerment of women as Tevye’s daughters rebel against faith and tradition by choosing who they want to marry. The story highlights the struggles of the Jewish community too.”

Fiddler in the woods: Alice Atang’s Fiddler, Perri Ann Barley’s Golde and Steve Tearle’s Tevye set the scene for NE Theatre York’s Fiddler On The Roof

NE Theatre also wanted to do the show as a tribute to the late Mavis Massheder, who made her first stage appearance for New Earswick Amateur and Dramatic Society (now NE Theare York) in 1954 in the chorus of The Gondoliers and was elected chair in 1969.

Mavis steered the company through the many ups and downs and difficult times the theatre industry experienced over the next 45 years. She died in 2020 aged 91.

Perri Ann Barley will play Tevye’s wife Golde, joined by Maia Stroud, Rebecca Jackson, Elizabeth Farrell, Alexa Lord-Laverick and Paige Sidebottom as his daughters, Ali Butler Hind as Yente and Alice Atang as The Fiddler, Tevye’s conscience.

The company will include Kit Stroud, Callum Richardson, Finley Butler, Geoff Seavers, Toby Jensen, James O’Neill, Scott Barnes, Chris Hagyard, Kelvin Grant, Pascha Turnbull, Aileen Hall, Carolyn Jensen and Greg Roberts too.

NE Theatre York in Fiddler On The Roof, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Haxby Road, York, April 23 to 27, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Nashville country great Beth Nielsen Chapman to play Leeds City Varieties

Beth Nielsen Chapman: Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame inductee, heading for Leeds

NASHVILLE singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman will play Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on August 30 on her British summer tour.

Born in Harlingen, Texas, 65-year-old Beth has recorded 15 albums and her compositions have been recorded by Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mindy McCready, Trisha Yearwood, Waylon Jennings, the Indigo Girls, Barbara Mandrell, Roberta Flack, Brenda Lee, Anne Murray and Keb’ Mo’, among others.

Amy Grant, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Kimmie Rhodes, John Prine, Michael McDonald, Paul Carrack and Vince Gill have all performed with her on her albums. Her music has been featured in films and in television series too, such as ER and Charmed.

This Kiss, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ 1999 Song of the Year, sung by Faith Hill, garnered Beth a Grammy nomination, as did her song The Mighty Sky in 2012.

She was Nashville NAMMY’s 1999 Songwriter of the Year and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2016.

Having lost her first husband, Ernest Chapman, to cancer in 1994, Chapman survived breast cancer herself in 2000 and a brain tumour in 2009. Her concerts, workshops and Keynote presentations draw from direct experience in her “fascinating dance between cognition, healing and the creative flow, her songs taking you on a journey through the depth, humour and the wonder of life”.

She recorded the 2016 album Liv On with Olivia Newton-John and Amy Sky, featuring songs about loss and moving on from grief that they performed on tour in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2017.

Beth, who is an ambassador for the Buddy Holly Foundation, has taught songwriting and creativity masterclasses at universities and colleges internationally, such as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts.

Beth’s latest album, CrazyTown, was released on Cooking Vinyl, in 2022, the year when her second husband, psychologist and photographer Bob Sherman, died from leukaemia. 

Tickets for her 7.30pm Leeds concert are on sale at bethnielsenchapman.com.

Beth Nielsen Chapman: Which country star hasn’t she written for?!

Songs written by Bethy Nielsen Chapman for other acts

Here We Are, Alabama; The Colour Of Roses, Bette Midler; What’s The Matter With You Baby, Claudia Church; When Love Is New, Crystal Gayle; All The Reasons Why, Long Way Down, for Highway 101; You Say You Will, Holly Dunn; World Of Hurt, Ilse DeLange; Simple Things, Jim Brickman and Rebecca Lynn Howard; The Moment You Were Mine, Juice Newton; Five Minutes, Lorrie Morgan; Happy Girl, Martina McBride; Almost Home, Mary Chapin Carpenter; Far Cry From Love, Megan McKenna; She Walks With Me (co-written), Michael W Smith; One In A Million, Mindy McCready; Deep Inside Of You, Neil Diamond; Save Yourself, Suzy Bogguss; Strong Enough To Bend, Tanya Tucker; Sometimes Goodbye, Terri Clark; Down On My Knees, You Say You Will, Trying To Love You, Trisha Yearwood; Shine On Me, Old Church Hymns And Nursery Rhymes, Waylon Jennings; Nothing I Can Do About It Now, Ain’t Necessarily So, If My World Didn’t Have You, Willie Nelson.

REVIEW: York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday ****

Gold top performance: Reuben Khan’s Joseph in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. All pictures: Charlie Kirkpatrick

AFTER Lee Mead, Keith Jack, Joe McElderry and Union J’s Jaymi Hensley, Joseph’s coat of many colours fits Reuben Khan delightfully lightly at the Grand Opera House.

The University of York psychology student, from Burnley, has plenty on his mind: third-year studies; his debut York Stage title role and applications to London drama schools to do a Masters degree in musical theatre.

On the evidence of his assured performance at 23, especially vocally, his future looks as bright as the Technicolor Dreamcoat that had him “saying the colours of Jospeh’s coat before I could spell them” on car journeys with his mum.

Director, producer and designer Nik Briggs returns to Lloyd Webber and Rice’s early musical for the first time since his “Joseph as you’ve never seen it before” show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in November 2018 with its  cast of 50 and Joseph in pyjamas.

Performing on crutches: Finn East’s Simeon singing with the Brothers

The Grand Opera House offers the opportunity to deliver a production on a bigger scale, not in cast size, but in lighting, staging and visual impact, aided by the fabulous parade of costume designs from Charades Theatrical Costume, St Helens.

The stage is built from scratch, as first the Narrator, Hannah Shaw, then Joseph and children from York Stage School (divided into Team Canaan and Team Egypt) oversee the creation of the world of Canaan, home to Jacob and his 11 sons (some of them daughters in Briggs’s company).

It looks so inviting, you want to book a holiday there. All it needs now to complete the scene is a camel. Oh, and here comes a camel on wheels, pretty much life-size!

From the off, this sung-through pop musical moves at a lick: typified by Finn East’s Simeon defying his injured knee to speed around on crutches, popping up everywhere and taking on a second role too as the Snake.

Hannah Shaw, who studied music at York St John University, sets the tone and style in glittering dress and shiny boots, engaging with the children like a teacher, driving the show forward and singing with oomph, both in her high notes and a lower register.

Storyteller in song: Hannah Shaw’s Narrator

Reuben Khan’s Joseph sings like a dream, whatever a song demands, whether tenderness, drama, power, or emotion further heightened by standing atop a ladder on a stage suddenly full of them in one of Briggs’s most striking designs.

Khan’s characterisation of Joseph has to be expressed largely through Rice’s narrative lyrics, and he does so particularly strongly in the dark ballad Close Every Door, while Any Dream Will Do is as irresistible as ever.

Lesley Hill’s choreography is as playful, fun and camp as this glitterball of a musical demands, at its best in the glorious ensemble number Joseph’s Coat, where Adam Moore’s lighting design matches every change of colour in the lyric.

Briggs’s company revels in playing old favourites with a knowing campness that has only increased with the passing of the years, especially in Jacob (Martin Rowley) and the brothers’ cod rendition of the sad chanson Those Canaan Days, exaggerated French accents et al.

The York Stage company in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Benjamin’s Calypso is even dafter, full of Caribbean joy as Cyanne Unamba-Oparah’s Judah has the brothers walking on sunshine.

Pop hit after pop hit hits home in all manner of musical styles, from Alex Hogg leading the brothers in the One More Angel In Heaven hoedown to Matthew Clarke’s vainglorious Potiphar luxuriating in the richness of his self-titled song.

In the absence of Carly Morton with shingles (get well soon, Carly), Amy Barrett takes on the rock’n’roll role of Pharaoh, traditionally played in sequinned-Elvis-in-Las-Vegas style. Not so much Elvis as Elvira here, but her Song Of The King is still a peach (one of the 29 colours in Joseph’s coat, by the way).

Adam Tomlinson’s 15-piece orchestra is on top form throughout, savouring the multitude of song styles and pumping up the beat for the Joseph Megamix finale as the party vibe suffuses the cast and cheering audience alike.

York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, 7.30pm tonight, Wednesday and Thursday; 5pm and 8pm, Friday; 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Saturday. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

More Things To Do in York and beyond as art bursts out of every corner. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 16, from The Press

Impressionist oil painter Michael Hasan Reda: Making his York Open Studios debut in Prices Lane

ART from the city and out of this world, an orchestra of two, Canadian rock, Italian opera and a courtroom thriller have Charles Hutchinson reaching for the front door key.

Art event of the fortnight: York Open Studios, today and tomorrow; April 20 and 21, 10am to 5pm

AS many as 156 artists and makers who live or work within a ten-mile radius of York will be welcoming visitors to 106 workspaces to show and sell their art, ranging from ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery and mixed media to painting, print, photography, sculpture, textiles, glass and wood. Among them will be 31 new participants. Full details and a map can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk. Look out for booklets around the city too.

East Riding Artists: Addressing climate change in From The Earth exhibition at Nunnington Hall

Ryedale exhibition of the week: From The Earth, East Riding Artists, at Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, until May 12, 10.30am to 5pm

THE climate crisis is high on the worldwide agenda; evidence of nature’s fragility can be found everywhere we turn, and few would question that our Earth is changing dramatically, in some cases irrevocably. Nature, however, is a force to be reckoned with, prompting 32 painters, potters and creatives from East Riding Artists to celebrate everything our natural world has to offer.

From the power of the North Sea and the beauty of Yorkshire’s countryside and coastline to the food we grow and the flowers we cultivate, From The Earth cherishes the best of our ever-changing world. Normal admission applies; National Trust members, free.

In Flight: Barenaked Ladies land at York Barbican on Sunday

Pinch me, look who’s coming to York: Barenaked Ladies, In Flight UK Tour 2024, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.50pm

IN the words of Barenaked Ladies drummer Tyler Stewart: “Our In Flight UK Tour 2024 will feature tasty new songs from the album and of course, a whole slew of BNL hits spanning 35 years. So come on Subjects! It’s time to ring in spring with your favourite Canadians, Barenaked Ladies. We look forward to seeing your happy faces.” Support acts will be Callum Beattie and Ferris & Sylvester.

Sold out already in the York Barbican week ahead are the Modfather Paul Weller’s return on Wednesday and arch comedian Tom Allen’s Completely gig on Thursday. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The Blackheart Orchestra: Two musicians, Chrissy Mostyn and Rick Pilkington, play 13 instruments between them at Helmsley Arts Centre

Prog rock for the space age: The Blackheart Orchestra, Helmsley Arts Centre, Friday (19/4/2024), doors, 7.30pm

CHRISSY Mostyn and Rick Pilkington’s two-piece “orchestra” play 13 instruments between them from their prog-rock space station on stage, from acoustic and electric guitars, bass and bowed guitar to piano, organ, vintage synthesisers, omnichord, melodica and electric percussion.

Drawing on influences as varied as Kate Bush, Portishead, Cocteau Twins, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, they combine folk and rock roots with electronica and classical music. Foxpalmer, alias London singer-songwriter Fern McNulty, supports, from 8pm. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Patrick Draper, Tony Jameson and Alfie Joey: Comedy at the treble on Friday at the Milton Rooms, Malton

Hilarity Bites Comedy Club: Alfie Joey, Patrick Draper and Tony Jameson, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday, 8pm

ALFIE Joey is a polymath: artist, radio presenter, podcaster, comedian, communication coach, Ted X speaker, impressionist, interviewer, charity auctioneer, motivator, children’s author, master of ceremonies, pantomime player, sitcom actor, Britain’s Got Talent participant and illustrator for York writer Ian Donaghy’s book Never Stop Drawing.

Comedy will be his focus in Malton, where he will be joined by Patrick Draper, purveyor of deadpan jokes, visual gags and songs, and host Tony Jameson. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Keeping an eye on things: English Touring Opera in Manon Lescaut. Picture: Richard Hubert Smith

Opera of the week: English Touring Opera in Manon Lescaut, York Theatre Royal, Friday, 7.30pm

ENGLISH Touring Opera returns to York in Jude Christian radical production of Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking Manon Lescaut, for which she brings incisive direction to her sharp, poetic new translation.

Puccini’s 1892 breakthrough hit presents a devastating depiction of a woman wrestling with her desire for love on her own terms and the rigid double standards imposed on her by society. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

London Obbligato Collective: Opening York Baroque+ Day at the NCEM

Classical concert of the week: London Obbligato Collective, York Baroque+ Day, April 20, 12 noon  

FORMED by Masumi Yamamoto, the new London Obbligato Collective focuses on “accompanied harpsichord sonatas”, where the harpsichord is given the solo role within the trio sonata texture, highlighting and enriching the colours and nuances of the instrument.

Next Saturday’s programme includes 18th century music by Felice Giardini, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Friedrich. Box office: 01904 658338 or  ncem.co.uk.

Jury service: Christopher Haydon’s cast for Reginald Rose’s courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men at the Grand Opera House, York

Show announcement of the week: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

CHRISTOPHER Haydon’s touring production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men for Bill Kenwright Ltd returns to York on the American courtroom thriller’s 70th anniversary tour, having last played the Grand Opera House in April 2015.

Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in the cast for this study of human nature and the art of persuasion set in the jury deliberating room, where 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Eat mindfully, go to the gym, rehearse, psychology student Reuben is ready for York Stage’s Joseph at Grand Opera House

Lighting up the lead role: Reuben Khan as Joseph in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

REUBEN Khan will play the lead role for York Stage for the first time in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from tomorrow (12/4/2024).

Not that the third-year University of York psychology student is a stranger to stepping into the spotlight in a Nik Briggs production at the Grand Opera House, York.

“I had more than a week’s notice this time, that’s the main difference,” says Reuben, 23, seated with his Technicolor attire behind him in Dressing Room No 1 ahead of Tuesday’s rehearsal.

“For Beautiful [the Carole King musical], Nik called me a week before the show opened to say, ‘look, you wouldn’t happen to be free, to play Gerry Goffin in the early performances, would you?’.”

Frankie Bounds had been rehearsing the role of King’s co-songwriter, husband and ‘serial womaniser’ for his last performance in York before starting studies at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

“He’d checked with Mountview early on that it would be OK, but then suddenly Frankie was told he’d have to go down to the theatre school in the first week, and that’s why I stepped in. That was an interesting experience,” recalls Reuben.

“I didn’t know much about the show, I hadn’t seen it before. So I had to learn a few songs and learn the lines as quickly as possible, and l loved doing it. Obviously the music is phenomenal, the story moves at a pace and it’s just a great show – and it was nice to have the chance to watch Frankie when he came back during the second week.”

Reuben, from Burnley, has past experience of appearing in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph. “I did the show twice when I was 12, once at my school, Unity School, and then with Basics Junior Theatre School. Both times I played Judah [one of Jacob’s sons], and there was a crossover between the two productions. I finished one and, not long after, I did the other.”

He is delighted to be taking on the title role, performing alongside Hannah Shaw’s Narrator and Amy Barrett’s Pharaoh, among others.

“It’s one of those shows where the vast majority of people have come into contact with it, whether it’s at school or, in my case, my mother having the songs on in the car,” says Reuben. Then there’s the film, and there’s always a tour going on or a local production – or people may know the Bible story of Joseph.

Reuben Khan performing in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

“I knew the vast majority of songs already, so I feel like I’ve barely touched the book because the songs were ingrained in me!”

Following in the sandal steps of the likes of Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield, Donny Osmond, Lee Mead and Joe McElderry holds no fears for Reuben. “Honestly, it’s great fun. It’s a funny role to some extent, as you can kind of understand some of the qualms that his brothers have about him! Joseph is flawed, and you think, if I was one of his brothers, I’d be having problems with him,” he says.

“But at the same time, he represents the everyman. Yes he’s flawed but he tries his best, people around him either like him or they don’t, and there’s something nice about playing a character who the audience is rooting for. It’s good fun.”

Reuben has enjoyed responding to the direction of Nik Briggs. “He has this overarching vision that he puts across incredibly well, to get the best out of us by directing in a very fluid, creatively free way, which is massively important, without micro-directing us,” he says. “He also has this ability to stay level-headed, which is such a skill, something that I’ve not seen in a lot of people in his position.”

Reuben’s preparations have stretched beyond rehearsals to ensuring he will be in peak fitness for a role that involves “wearing not a lot of clothes” (except when he is in his “day to day” coat or the Technicolor dreamcoat of the title).

“It’s all part of the tongue-in-cheek side of the show that Joseph is this half-dressed man! When I knew I would be doing the role, initially it was at the back of my mind, but in the past two months it’s been very much to the front – and at the same time, I’m trying to focus on the third year of my university studies too!

“I’ve never spent so much time keeping an eye on what I’m eating, going to the gym most days of the week for six weeks, to be in the best shape – just in time for the summer!”

On top of his Joseph rehearsals and university studies, Reuben is in the middle of auditioning for drama schools. “I’m studying psychology, but I want to go into musical theatre, and the second I say I’m studying psychology, they say, ‘oh, that’s really interesting’!” he says of his auditions at Associated Studios and the Royal Academy of Music in London to do a Masters degree in musical theatre.

“I guess it’s because psychology is all about understanding people, and that’s the same with acting, understanding a character.”

Now, after such roles as Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods and Bobby in Company for the university’s Central Hall Musical Society, Reuben is ready to go, go, go, Joseph from tomorrow.

York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, April 12 to 20, 7.30pm except April 14, 15 and 19; 2.30pm, April 13 and 20; 4pm, April 14; 5pm and 8pm, April 19. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

REVIEW: Amabile/Savva Zverev & Sid Ramchander, York Late Music, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, April 6

Savva Zverev: Russian-born violinist and graduate of Royal Northern Collge of Music. Picture: York Late Music

LATE Music has been changing gradually over the years. It now encompasses two concerts on the first Saturday of every month between October and June, one at lunchtime and one in the evening.

Amabile, a clarinet trio, drew the lunchtime slot this month, with Farrenc and Brahms sandwiching a premiere by Steve Crowther.

In the welcome wave of rediscovery of female composers through the ages, the name of Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) regularly recurs. She mainly wrote for her own instrument, the piano, but chamber music – always with piano – engaged her frequently.

Her Trio in E flat, Op 44 (1861), partners clarinet (or violin) with cello and piano. It shows craftsmanship rather than inspiration, and is a throwback to Mendelssohn with a touch of Mozartian finesse.

Amabile, with the seasoned clarinet of Lesley Schatzberger to the fore, treated it with considerable respect. Balance was awry at first, with prominent piano and self-effacing cello, but Farrenc’s imitative tendencies soon emerged politely enough.

A slithery little figure in the minuet heralded a finale that showed flashes of imagination; it was taken at an exciting pace. There is probably more to the composer than this but it was good to hear.

Crowther’s Transcriptions from Morris Dances are nothing to do with the well-known dances but five cameos inspired by the composer’s friendship with Philip Morris, presumably originally for piano.

They are delightful vignettes, spiced with wit and insight, ranging from the light and airy in the opening homage to friendship to the thoughtfully elegiac in the final Love Song, with its quizzical ending. They were lovingly played.

Brahms’s Clarinet Trio, Op 114 in A minor (1891), has all the autumnal warmth we associate with the composer’s twilight years. The opening Allegro had a lovely flow here and a delicate ending.

In the heat haze conjured by the Adagio, the cello of Nicola Tait Baxter came into its own, entwined closely with Schatzberger’s idiomatic clarinet. Paul Nicholson’s piano neatly underpinned the lilting Viennese waltz that preceded a finale of crisp rhythms tinged with a touch of aggression. It was good to see Nicholson back in musical harness after his retirement from the Anglican ministry. He has lost none of his previous finesse on all types of keyboard.

The evening brought a surprise. There have been countless expert exponents of contemporary music in this series over the years, but never, I would guess, a virtuoso of quite the calibre of violinist Savva Zverev.

His nonchalant dispatch of a variety of works from Bach to Bartók and beyond was breathtaking. Sid Ramchander was his nimble-fingered piano partner.

Zverev opened his first half with Bach’s first solo violin sonata, BWV 1001 in G minor. He made it sound, as Bach undoubtedly intended, as if there were several instruments involved, not just counterpoint in three or even four parts but, with double and treble-stopping, remarkable harmony as well. This was cutting-edge stuff in Bach’s day. It still is – and very much belonged here.

By way of balance, Zverev’s second half began with Bartók’s unaccompanied Violin Sonata of 1944, the year before he died. It takes several leaves out of Bach’s book and is equally challenging.

Not that it held any terrors for Zverev. His top-string brilliance was not balanced by much dynamic shading in the opening chaconne, but his handling of the four-voice fugue, with its alternate plucking and bowing, was masterly. So too was the zig-zagging Melodia and bravura reached a new peak in the headlong finale.

After that, there was bound to be anti-climax. Pärt’s slow, minimalist Spiegel im Spiegel could not hold attention in this company. Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy, taken from his soundtrack to the 1946 film Humoresque, inevitably came across as relatively empty display, virtuosity for its own sake. Perhaps we had simply had enough by then.

Earlier, Zverev had shown a different side to his musical personality in the delicate traceries of Webern’s Four Pieces, Op 7 and discovered genuine drama in Lutoslawski’s rondo Subito, especially in the episode on the G-string. Ramchander was with him every step of the way here, no mean feat in itself.

In five extracts from Debussy’s Préludes for piano his melody lines were not always evenly voiced, but his minimal use of pedal contributed to admirable clarity. This is certainly a duo to watch.

Review by Martin Dreyer