Podcast question of the week: Is Cruise in for a bruisin’ review or is tip-top Tom gunning for glory? Find out here

The poster for Top Gun: Maverick, playing cinemas everywhere, all day and most of the night

TWO Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson set their sights on Tom Cruise and Top Gun: Maverick in Episode 93.

Under discussion too: Ray Liotta RIP; summer nights at Scarborough Open Air Theatre and Luna Cinema, and Kahlil Gibran’s spiritual uplift in The Prophet.

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/10733500

DreamWorks Theatricals’ Shrek The Musical to play Grand Opera House. When?

Shrek The Musical: Arriving in York in 2023

WEST End smash Shrek The Musical is on its jaunty way to the Grand Opera House, York, from November 27 to December 2…NEXT year.

After that long wait, join unlikely hero Shrek and his noble steed Donkey, beloved Princess Fiona and the evil Lord Farquaad as they embark on a big, bright, musical adventure that reimagines the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film and William Steig’s book for the stage.

After Broadway and London success, the producers of Hairspray and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert have joined forces with directors Sam Holmes and Nick Winston and designer Philip Witcomb for the touring production.

Full of unexpected friendships and surprising romance, this fun-filled musical comedy promises a cast of vibrant, magical fairytale characters and a “Shrektacular” score by composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire, topped off by Neil Diamond’s I’m A Believer.

DreamWorks’ animated film Shrek celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Shrek The Musical was first performed on Broadway in 2008, produced by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions en route to receiving eight Tony nominations and the award for Best Costume and Set Design.

The original West End production was nominated for Best New Musical at the 2012 Olivier awards, where Nigel Harman received the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Lord Farquaad.

Shrek The Musical was staged previously at the Grand Opera House by York Stage Musicals in September 2019.

Tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com.

Catherine Mackintosh to receive York Early Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award

Catherine Mackintosh: Lifetime Achievement Award

AFTER a two-year wait, violinist Catherine Mackintosh will be presented with the York Early Music Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award on July 10.

The belated ceremony will take place during the 2022 York Early Music Festival, to be held from July 8 to 16.

Known to the profession as Cat, Mackintosh is a pioneering force in the British early music scene. After picking up a treble viol while studying at the Royal College of Music, London, she never looked back.

Consort-playing gave her the foundations of understanding the aesthetics and language of baroque music, soon to be translated to the violin. She led various orchestras, notably Christopher Hogwood’s Academy of Ancient Music, and later co-founded and led the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for two decades.

As a founder of the Purcell Quartet, Cat recorded and performed all the major works of the baroque trio-sonata repertoire – and much more – the world over. She was also Britain’s pioneer and champion of the viola d’amore.

Cat’s influence as a teacher and educator has been far-reaching, with many generations of violinists, violists and other instrumentalists passing through her hands at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Conservatoire The Hague, as well as on numerous courses worldwide. 

Cat will be interviewed from the National Centre for Early Music, in Walmgate, by Hannah French on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on July 10, broadcast live from the festival. Post-show, she will be presented with the award, in front of an audience, by Romanian-born Israeli violinist Kati Debretzeni, who studied Baroque violin with Cat at the Royal College of Music.

The York Early Music Lifetime Achievement Award honours major figures for making a significant difference to the world of early music. Previous winners were: Kuijken String Quartet in 2006; Dame Emma Kirkby, 2008; James Bowman, 2010; Jordi Savall, 2012; Andrew Parrott, 2014; Anthony Rooley, 2016, and Trevor Pinnock, 2018.

Commenting on the award, Cat says: “I ask myself…is it really an achievement to have enjoyed 50 years doing what I love with people I love and admire? Only in the sense of having survived this long! 

“Anyway, I am tremendously touched and honoured to receive this award and to join the list of the previous recipients – all friends and colleagues from whom I’ve learnt much and with whom I have happily travelled this musical road.”

NCEM director and festival artistic director Delma Tomlin enthuses: “I’m delighted that Catherine will finally be receiving this award after a rather long wait!  She has a long association with the NCEM and the festival.

“Her wonderful career, not just as a performer, but also as a mentor and teacher, has had an extraordinary impact on the world of early music. We can’t wait to welcome her to York and celebrate this amazing achievement with her this July.”

The full festival programme and ticket details can be found at ncem.co.uk/what’s-on/yemf/.

Jubilee Celebration Singers to support Ukraine Disaster Fund at New Earswick Folk Hall cabaret concert on Saturday

The poster for the Jubilee Celebration Singers’ concert on Saturday

THE Jubilee Celebration Singers, formed by Lesley Jones from the ashes of the Bev Jones Music Company expressly for fundraising, will perform in aid of the Ukraine Disaster Fund on Saturday.

One day’s rehearsal has gone into the 7.30pm performance, to be introduced by voluntary host Martin Rowley at New Earswick Folk Hall, near York, with lighting and sound by Ollie Nash.

“Sit in style at cabaret tables with a glass of wine or a beer and be thoroughly entertained by Clare Meadley, Chris Hagyard, Alexa Chaplin, Larry Gibson, Katie Melia, John Clithero, Linsey Dawn, James Noble, Jonny Holbek, Steve Hastings, Sue Parker and me in an evening of 70 years of pop, West End, rock, comedy and more” says Lesley.

“Tickets cost £10 on the door, or you can reserve tickets by leaving your name at the hall or through a cast member. We’ll be donating every penny to the worthy Ukraine Disaster Fund.”

Academy of St Olave’s to perform Richard Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven and Charles Ives works in season finale summer concert

Oboe soloist: Alexandra Nightingale

THE Academy of St Olave’s round off their 2021-22 season with a Summer Concert on June 25 in aid York Against Cancer.

The York chamber orchestra’s 8pm programme at St Olave’s Church, Marygate, begins with Beethoven’s tempestuous Coriolan Overture, followed by The Unanswered Question by American composer Charles Ives, who splits the orchestra into three instrumental groups to consider “the perennial question of existence” posed by a solo trumpet.

The Academy’s principal oboist, Alexandra Nightingale, then performs Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto two years later than originally planned! Considered by many to be the 20th century’s finest oboe concerto, Strauss composed the work in 1945 during his “Indian Summer”, at the suggestion of an oboe-playing American soldier serving in Bavaria at the end of the Second World War. The finale will be Mozart’s much-loved Symphony No. 39 in E flat.

Soloist Alexandra Nightingale grew up in Oxfordshire and studied Classics at Pembroke College, Cambridge, before moving to Yorkshire to teach Classics in 1993. Past solo engagements have included the Vaughan Williams Concerto with the Pembroke College Orchestra and the Mozart Oboe Concerto in F with the Academy of St Olave’s in 2011.

The Academy of St Olave’s poster for the June 25 concert

Alexandra, who also plays oboe for the York Guildhall Orchestra, volunteers as a fireman on the narrow-gauge Bala Lake Railway in North Wales in her spare time.

The Academy’s guest conductor, John Bryan, says: “I am delighted to have the chance to work again with this fine orchestra – and an outstanding soloist – on such a varied programme. Audience members are sure to enjoy two lesser-known masterpieces by Ives and Strauss, alongside old favourites such as the Beethoven overture and Mozart symphony.”

The concert will benefit York Against Cancer, the independent charity that offers practical help and support to patients and their families living with cancer in York, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire. The charity also funds vital research and education to prevent and cure cancer in the future.

Ticket cost £15 or £5 for accompanied children aged 18 and under at academyofstolaves.org.uk; booking in advance is recommended strongly. Any remaining tickets will be sold on the door from 7.15pm.

More Things To Do in York and beyond as city welcomes Ukrainian dancers and bees buzz. List No. 86, courtesy of The Press

Poised for Theatre Royal performance: Kyiv City Ballet dancers, heading from Paris to York

FROM Ukrainian dancers to the ukulele, hairdryer music to German comedy, a new but ancient story to medieval street plays, Charles Hutchinson has a fiesta of ideas for venturing out.

Cultural/political event of the week: Kyiv City Ballet, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm, sold out

AT the invitation of Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird, the dancers of Kyiv City Ballet are to perform in Britain for the first time since taking up temporary residence in Paris after Russia invaded Ukraine. All ticket sale proceeds from the sold-out show will be donated to UNICEF’s Ukraine Appeal.

Under the direction of Ivan Kozlov and Ekaterina Kozlova, a company dance class will be followed by excerpts from  Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, contemporary pieces and a premiere. 

To bee or not to bee: The Mind Of A Bee is the subject of Lars Chittka’s online talk on June 14 at 8pm at the York Festival of Ideas

Festival of the week: York Festival of Ideas, today to June 24

UNDER the banner of The Next Chapter, more than 150 free in-person and online events promise to educate, entertain and inspire in a festival of speakers, performers, panel discussions, family fun activities and guided tours.

Topics span archaeology to art, history to health and politics to psychology, from the natural history of slime to female Rugby League players; secret Beatles lyrics to the mind of a bee; Holgate Mill to Frankie Howerd. Head to yorkfestivalofideas.com to download a brochure.

Thomas Truax with The Hornicator, left, and Mother Superior, two of his wonderfully weird instruments

Double bills of the week: Songs Under Skies, Mayshe-Mayshe & Thomas Truax, Monday; Testament and Maddie Morris, Wednesday, National Centre for Early Music, York, both 7pm

SONGS Under Skies takes over the gardens of St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, for the third time for two nights of outdoor live music by four musicians making their NCEM debuts.

Mayshe-Mayshe, alias Alice Rowan, blends dreamy art-pop with rich storytelling, her songs incorporating choral vocals, vintage synths and the occasional hairdryer. Thomas Truax, an American musician with a mad scientist’s brain, utilises weird self-made instruments in songs about insects, trees, technology and all things lunar.

Lyrical rapper, human beatboxer and composer Testament is joined BBC Radio2 Young Folk Award winner Maddie Morris, from Leeds, whose protest songs address LGBTQ rights, feminism and trauma issues. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Formidable on four strings: George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Anarchy in the Ukulele? George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday, 7.30pm

QUESTION: Who is to blame for the worldwide phenomena of ukulele orchestras and ukulelemania? The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, that’s who!

Led by George Hinchliffe, these independent rock-stars of the “bonsai guitar” promise entertainment, joy, fun, strum and artistry on four strings on all manner of cover versions from the pop, rock and musical worlds beyond. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

How the land lies: Storyteller Alexander Flanagan Wright deep in thought in the the field behind Stillington Mill

Storytelling premiere of the week: Alexander Flanagan Wright, Monster, Work In Progress, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Thursday and Friday, 7.30pm. UPDATE: 13/6/2022: POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Ticket holders will be refunded.

A BLOKE in a fancy suit is stood in the Nevada desert. A warrior holding the head of Medusa is stood on top of a hill. The sky is lit bright with the neon lights of Vegas. We are trying to set foot in places no-one has ever been.

So runs the introduction to Alexander Flanagan Wright’s Monster, wherein he sets out to tell a story about finding places that we should never have found, about the difference between discovery and ownership, and the need to be a hero.

“Some of that story happens now. Some of it happens millennia ago. All of it is to do with people,” he says, welcoming instant feedback at the story’s close. Box office: atthemill.org.

Roarsome! The Tyrannosaurus Rex rocks up in Dinosaur World Live

Children’s show of the week: Dinosaur World Live, York Theatre Royal, June 17, 4.30pm; June 18 and 19, 11am and 2pm

DARE to experience the dangers and delights of this interactive family show for age three upwards as intrepid explorers discover a prehistoric world of remarkably lifelike dinosaurs in a mind-bending 50-minute Jurassic adventure whose arrival in York just happens to coincide with the big-screen opening of Jurassic World Dominion.
Watch out for the flesh-eating, giant Tyrannosaurus Rex and the supporting cast of a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosauris. A 15-minute meet and greet post-show offers the chance to be up close and personal with these creatures. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Wringing endorsement for German comedian Henning Wehn

Comedy top-up? Just say Wehn: Henning Wehn, It’ll All Come Out In The Wash, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm

HENNING Wehn, Germany’s Comedy Ambassador and former marketing ideas man for Wycombe Wanderers Football Club to boot, plays York Barbican for the first time since his impatient Great Yorkshire Fringe gig in July 2019, Get On With It!

On his return, Wehn gives everything a good rinse as he wrings sense out of the nonsensical. “An unbiased look at a certain virus might be inevitable but I have no agenda,” says Wehn. “I just happen to be always spot on. It’s a curse.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Duran Duran: Playing the stately pile of Castle Howard

Open-air gig of the week: Duran Duran, Castle Howard, near York, Friday, supported by Dry Cleaning; gates open at 5pm

FRESH from one outdoor engagement by the Buckingham Palace gates with guest guitarist Nile Rodgers at last Saturday’s Platinum Party At The Palace, Duran Duran play another in Castle Howard’s grounds.

The Birmingham darlings of New Romantic synthpop will be complementing last weekend’s brace of Notorious and Girls On Film with such Eighties’ favourites as Planet Earth, Save A Prayer, Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf. Could last October’s 15th studio album, Future Past, feature too? Tickets update: still available at castlehoward.co.uk or ticketmaster.co.uk.

Taking the chair: Paul Morel in Oddbodies’ one-man King Lear

Shakespeare shake-up of the week: Oddbodies’ King Lear, Helmsley Arts Centre, June 18, 7.30pm

ARMED with only a drum, a guitar, a knife and a chair, Oddbodies’ inventive, irreverent one-man account of Shakespeare’s King Lear is told from The Fool’s point of view by writer-performer Paul Morel.

Directed by John Mowat, he brings all the characters from this sad and sorry tale to glorious life, from the bipolar Lear to the bastard Edmund, haughty Goneril to poor deluded Gloucester, oily Oswald to sweet Cordelia and mad Tom, in a fast, funny, poignant and ultimately heart-breaking production full of physical ingenuity and visual flair. Box office: 01439 771700 or at helmsleyarts.co.uk.

2022 York Mystery Plays artistic director Tom Straszewski, pictured with Jess Murray, who is directing The Appearance Of Jesus To Mary Magdalene for the Guild of Media Arts and Guild of Scriveners

Street plays of the month: Guilds of York present York Mystery Plays, York city centre, June 19 and 26, 11am onwards; The Mysteries In The Market, Shambles Market, June 22 and 23, 7.30pm

EIGHT plays from the York Cycle of Mystery Plays will be wheeled around York city centre on wagons for Sunday performances, processing from College Green (free) to St Sampson’s Square (free), St Helen’s Square (free) and King’s Manor (ticketed).

Those plays include York Guild of Building’s Creation To The Fifth Day; the Company of Butchers and Riding Lights Acting Up’s The Crucifixion and Death Of Christ, the Guild of Media Arts and Guild of Scriveners’ The Appearance Of Jesus To Mary Magdalene and the Company of Merchant Adventurers’ The Last Judgement, directed by Alan and Diane Heaven, no less.

In addition, a selection of five plays will be staged in special Midsummer midweek performances at the Shambles Market (ticketed, limited to 100). Box office: yorkmysteryplays.co.uk.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on 2022 Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival

Florilegium: Opening burst of Bach

From Minstrels to Masterpieces, Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival, May 27 to 29

THE centre of Beverley was festooned with jubilee bunting in time for the festival, which put everyone in the mood for celebration, doubly welcome after a two-year musical hiatus caused by Covid.

Diehards need no reminding that ‘early music’ is not necessarily very early these days, more a case of historical authenticity. Here we ranged no earlier than John Wilbye and covered much more recent territory right up to Mozart.

Concerts took place in four different churches, spearheaded by magnificent Beverley Minster. It was the venue for Florilegium’s opening burst of Bach: three Brandenburg concertos, a violin concerto, and an orchestral suite that is effectively a flute concerto.

It took a little while for performers as well as audience to become attuned to the acoustic. The otherwise excellent platform was placed some distance from the choir screen, so that there was no back-board to reflect the sound down the nave. Detail was hard to disentangle in Brandenburg No 6, written solely for lower strings and it did not hang together as well as what followed, though the final gigue had a pleasing lilt.

In Brandenburg No 5, where the harpsichord steps into the limelight for the first time in an orchestral work, Julian Perkins despatched its cadenza with panache, while Ashley Solomon’s flute was typically fluent if less easy to discern.

The nine string soloists in Brandenburg No 3 radiated immense enjoyment, notably in a dashing finale. In all three concertos, Rosie Moon’s double bass delivered a vivid foundation.

Bojan Čičić was the masterful soloist in the A minor Violin Concerto, BWV1041 (which was later to become a keyboard concerto), with an understated verve and virtuoso lightness of touch that deservedly drew prolonged applause.

Bojan Cicic: “Understated verve and virtuoso lightness of touch that deservedly drew prolonged applause”

The spirit of dance dominated the Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor; the Polonaise was especially balletic. Ashley Solomon’s flute tripped the light fantastic in a breakneck Badinerie. He could only get away with it because of such incredibly fleet-fingered strings in support. But it was thrilling indeed, filled with laughter.

Saturday morning brought the French sextet Sarbacanes to the same venue. From mid-18th century onwards wind ensembles, known as Harmonie in the German-speaking world, were more affordable by smaller aristocratic courts unable to run to a full orchestra. Their most typical line-up was two oboes, two horns and two bassoons – as here.

Divertimentos by Haydn and Mozart jostled with a trio by Salieri – Mozart’s great rival – and a three horn duets, also by Mozart. They made tasty treats, all the more so for their rarity.

The two Haydn works were from early in his career (probably the 1760s) – and sounded like it. One included a starchy polonaise, followed by a wittily brief presto. The other, essentially a five-movement suite as if a holdover from the Baroque, was more spirited, if quite ornamented.

Mozart by contrast, writing a decade later, was much more advanced, playing with spatial effects, which Sarbacanes exploited to the full in his K.253 in F. A year later (1777), he was playing off the oboes against the rest in his K.270 in B flat. Here the group’s ultra-crisp rhythms spoke of taut ensemble and the closing gallop was straight out of hunting territory.

Three of Mozart’s 12 Duos for horns, K.487 were superbly played by Félix Roth and Gabriel Dambricourt, with eloquent dynamic variations. There was clarity, too, in two trio movements by Salieri, which found two oboes and a bassoon modulating with great clarity.

Prisma, a multi-national quartet, evoked the music of London in 1651, using recorder, violin, lute and viola da gamba in St Nicholas Church. Though none professed to sing, they did so vigorously. They dipped freely into the John Playford playbook, The English Dancing Master, which enjoyed many revisions over the next nearly 80 years and is our main source for popular music of the era.

Prisma: “Casual approach belied considerable skills from all four players”

Prisma’s casual approach belied considerable skills from all four players. Their enthusiasm proved that though the theatres were closed down during the Civil War, nightlife continued unabated, with much dancing to syncopated rhythms as instruments tossed tunes between each other.

Traditional Scottish tunes also had a look-in, with Franciska Hajdu’s violin ‘singing’ the Skye Boat Song and sharing the taxing divisions of a ground ‘after the Scotch humour’ by Nicola Matteis with Elisabeth Champollion’s sopranino recorder.

Ralph McTell’s Streets Of London was thrown in for good measure, as was the Londonderry Air. It was stirring to find outsiders finding so much pleasure in British popular music of all sorts and sharing their enthusiasm for it so freely.

The Baroque quintet Ensemble Molière appeared in Toll Gavel United Church. This encouraged an intimate rapport with their audience in a French programme that encompassed composers writing for the magnificent court of Louis XIV. Louis, incidentally, is the only European monarch our queen has still to out-reign, since he ruled for 72 years after inheriting the throne at the age of five (he was succeeded by his great-grandson).

Opening salvos from Charpentier and Lully – two airs from Phaëton (1683) – were but a prelude to Couperin’s superb Deuxième Concert (Concerts Royaux), which included a very lively Allemande fugée followed by a pensive Air tendre, where the ornamentation was exceptionally neat.

Aids to the king’s digestion were revealed in ‘Soupers du Roy’, six movements taken from a Delalande suite put together by the group’s harpsichordist Satoko Doi-Luck. After two gentle aperitifs and a quintet starter, there was a meatier Gigue featuring a taut duo between Catriona McDermid’s bassoon and Kate Conway’s gamba; indeed McDermid maintained a confident clarity throughout the programme.

The ever-racier variations in the Passacaille dessert might have caused indigestion but for their courtly ending. The king’s nightcap – and finale here – came with a suite by Marin Marais, a much calmer affair which included a fetchingly elegiac Plainte from Flavia Hirte’s flute and Alice Earll’s violin: sweet dreams were guaranteed.

Robert Hollingworth: Madrigal programme with I Fagiolini. Picture: Frances Marshall

The final afternoon included Tony Britten’s entertaining film Draw On Sweet Night (2015), which purports to reveal details of the life of madrigalist John Wilbye in the service of the Kytson family at Hengrave Hall, Suffolk: succulent stuff, though on this evidence either Wilbye was the local Lothario or else he was surrounded by some very randy ladies.

Either way, it made a neat intro to the evening’s madrigal programme by the six voices of I Fagiolini under Robert Hollingworth, in St John of Beverley Catholic Church.

I Fagiolini did not hold back from the juicier implications of these works, which often hinged on romantic liaisons. But Wilbye’s contribution to the collection for Queen Elizabeth I was a sober, beautifully tailored affair.

Adrenaline flowed a little too freely in some of the earlier numbers – there was too much tenor in Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis, for example, though the major-key ending was nicely drawn. Quite the contrary was the six-voice Thou Art But Young which was impeccably blended.

The revelation of the evening was the five-part Down In A Valley, whose Arcadian setting was decorated with startling changes of texture and some graphic illustration, including Cupid’s painful darts (rapidly repeating semiquavers). A wonderfully florid ‘frolic’ was contrasted with a languishing death at the lady’s displeasure in two superb final lines.

Two more familiar pieces had differing outcomes. Sweet Honey-Sucking Bees was a suave affair, warning of the dangers of love’s stings, with a punchy ending that hit home. Draw On, Sweet Night, perhaps Wilbye’s most famous piece and the title of the evening, was undone by an audience cougher unequipped with a means to cover their mouth.

No matter: we had already enjoyed ensemble singing of the most exquisite calibre, much of which had highlighted Wilbye’s special gift for delving beneath the surface of the poetry he set. Catherine Pierron contributed four harpsichord interludes, including galliards by Byrd and Bull, and concluding brilliantly with the flamboyant cross-rhythms of the latter’s In Nomine.

This friendly, compact little festival had made a jewel of a weekend.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Parsifal, Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre, June 1

Katarina Karnéus as Kundry and Toby Spence as Parsifal in Opera North’s Parsifal. All pictures: Clive Barda

THERE is a point in Act 2 of Parsifal where Kundry, having failed to seduce Parsifal with her kiss and describing her reaction to witnessing the Crucifixion, lets out a blood-curdling ‘lachte’, attacking a high B natural and descending nearly two octaves to a low C sharp: she laughed.

Anyone not expecting it must have jumped out of their skin when Katarina Karnéus delivered it here. This spine-chilling moment, mentioned in his Parsifalkreuz by Wieland Wagner and helpfully recalled in a programme note by Neil Sorrell, is pivotal to understanding Kundry and thus to the success of the whole opera.

The scream revealed the anger, the anguish, the remorse, the manic personality of one who is not easy to read. But for all her faults, she has set Parsifal on the path to enlightenment: he is forced to shed his innocence, like Adam in the Garden of Eden. He begins to suffer – like Christ – and views the world differently, as does Kundry when baptised by him in Act 3.

Robert Hayward as Amfortas: “Sustained an admirably full-blooded howl but could have afforded to tone down the self-pity”

Since the whole work is a Bühnenweihfestspiel (stage festival consecration play), we are forced to take on board its religious significance: the very act of consecration implies holiness. It spoke well for Sam Brown’s production that these ideas came through so clearly.

Brown was working with a number of constraints, not least that the augmented orchestra was taking up most of the stage. This was partly overcome through a lower extension of the stage over part of the orchestra pit. But it still left precious little space for the principals.

The chorus appeared either ranged around the back of the stalls, as in Act 1, or on the extension, which allowed the knights to line up three-deep but forced the ladies into the upper stage boxes.

Toby Spence as Parsifal with the Orchestra and members of the Chorus of Opera North

Less easy to accommodate from an audience perspective was Bengt Gomér’s dark lighting, particularly the multiple small spots twinkling almost incessantly behind the orchestra. They cast the conductor into silhouette and when fully lit, as at the uncovering of the Grail on a rostrum downstage, shone straight into our eyes. They were a distraction, not to say a discomfort, whether deliberate or no.

There was no set to speak of, but Klingsor’s spear was lowered on a suspended platform, which reappeared later as Titurel’s bier, a good space-saving device.

Nevertheless, having Richard Farnes’s orchestra in full view was an inestimable benefit. His dozen years as music director here, which culminated in a full Ring cycle in 2016, meant he had no need to cajole his players; they followed him with near-religious devotion.

Opera North music director Richard Farnes : “No need to cajole his players; they followed him with near-religious devotion”

Textures were everywhere transparent, none more so than in the Good Friday music. There was a masterly crescendo at the healing of Amfortas’s wound, but it was the moments of calm, with magical swells and diminuendos, that really hit home. Farnes’s attention to detail was immaculate, each occurrence of the ‘Dresden Amen’, for example, seeming to carry slightly different significance.

Toby Spence made a powerful debut in the title role. His youthful features made his journey from innocence through trial to enlightenment all the more credible. He was a naïve, headstrong youth at the start, moving jerkily, but assumed a more adult poise after learning of his mother’s death when “confession turns guilt to remorse”.

Having sought solace with his head in Kundry’s lap, his now-pungent tone took on greater resonance. As he relaxes into the role, he may have yet more to give, but needed no more in this arena.

Brindley Sherratt as Gurnemanz and Toby Spence as Parsifal. “Sherratt’s German diction was faultless, matched by musicality that kept his narrative absorbing”

He had been set a frankly superb example by Brindley Sherratt’s Gurnemanz, whose German diction was faultless, matched by musicality that kept his narrative absorbing. Returning much aged in Act 3, his avuncular tone inspired renewed confidence.

Karnéus adapted fluently to the many facets of Kundry’s mysterious character, making her something close to sympathetic, even seeming relevant when having little to do in Act 3.

Derek Welton’s incisive baritone spat menace as Klingsor, looking devilish in wide slashes of red and grey, courtesy of Stephen Rodwell’s costuming. Robert Hayward’s wounded Amfortas sustained an admirably full-blooded howl but could have afforded to tone down the self-pity; Stephen Richardson fashioned a suitably hoary Titurel.

Toby Spence as Parsifal: “A powerful debut in the title role”

The six Flowermaidens were an oasis of pure delight, as if parachuted in from Gilbert & Sullivan. The chorus was typically forthright, taking every opportunity on offer and sustaining a keen blend.

The touring dates were due to be concert stagings. It was hard to imagine that this marginally reduced format, so successful in the company’s previous Wagner outings, would be any less gripping.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Further performance at Leeds Grand Theatre on June 10, 4pm, then on tour from June 12 to 26. Running time: Five hours 30 minutes, including two intervals. Full details at: operanorth.co.uk.

Robert Hayward’s Amfortas with the men of the Chorus of Opera North and the Orchestra of Opera North. “Augmented orchestra took up most of the stage. This was partly overcome through a lower extension of the stage over part of the orchestra pit”

Julia Elliott and Peter Harrison to perform Hardy poems and Wessex county tunes at Dementia Friendly Tea Concert on June 16

Peter Harrison: Playing Wessex country tunes on boxwood flute

NEXT Thursday’s Dementia Friendly Tea Concert at St Chad’s Church, York, will be “something a little different”.

“We are exploring the writing of Thomas Hardy and the music that he would have known,” says organiser Alison Gammon. “Julia Elliott will read short extracts from some of Hardy’s well-known books and Peter Harrison will play traditional Wessex country tunes on his boxwood flute.”

Harrison is the director of York early music ensemble Concert Royal and has given recitals in every corner of the UK, in Europe and the USA, as well as for the British Council in South America.

“As usual, the format on June 16 will be a 45-minute concert followed by tea, coffee and homemade cakes, with a chance to chat,” says Alison. “The event is a relaxed concert, ideal for people who may not feel comfortable at a formal classical concert, so we do not mind if the audience wants to talk or move about!

“Seating is unreserved and there is no charge, although donations are welcome. We give the hire cost to the church and the rest goes to Alzheimer’s charities.”

St Chad’s has a small car park and street parking can be found along Campleshon Road. “But it can get busy, so do allow plenty of time,” advises Alison. “Wheelchair access to the church is via the church hall.”

Who’s performing at Ryedale Festival and when in a July event full of Handel, Vaughan Williams and even an ABBA sing-song?

Baritone Roderick Wilson: Artist in residence at 2022 Ryedale Festival

THE 2022 Ryedale Festival will embrace 300 performers in 52 concerts from July 15 to 31, kicking of the event’s fifth decade of inspiring performances in beautiful North Yorkshire locations.

Under Christopher Glynn’s artistic directorship, the festival will find a special place for Handel’s music, including a pop-up production of his magical opera Acis And Galatea that will visit three churches.

The music and legacy of Ralph Vaughan Williams will be in focus too, as will the genre-blending elan of Errollyn Wallen and the 50th anniversary of Swedish supergroup Abba.

The Kanneh-Mason family will open the festival on July 15 with a concert by the seven brothers and sisters from Nottingham, aged between 11 and 24. On July 16, Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason will be in conversation with Edward Seckerson in House of Music: Raising The Kanneh-Masonsa joyful celebration of this extraordinary musical story.

Six world premieres will take centre stage. Julian Philips will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vaughan Williams with Looking West, a new work inspired by the ancient stories and landscapes of northern England. 

Composer Julian Philips: World premiere of Looking West

Roxanna Panufnik’s Babylonia will go on an imaginative journey to the Middle East, while Errollyn Wallen and Tarik O’Regan will explore the myth of creation in their co-composed work Ancestor, to be premiered by Philharmonia Baroque. 

Joseph Howard’s community song cycle Seven Mercies celebrated the heritage and talent of Pickering on May 21; Robert Balanas will be debuting an ABBA medley for solo violin, and Callum Au will be bringing a new work co-commissioned with Spitalfields Festival.

A strong line-up of artists in residence will be in Ryedale for the festival. Baritone Roderick Williams will lead two of the four concerts marking Vaughan Williams’s anniversary with Christopher Glynn and fellow artists in residence the Maxwell Quartet, as well as leading a singing masterclass with talented young artists. The Gesualdo Six will perform two vibrant programmes in Ampleforth Abbey and Castle Howard.

The festival’s two ensembles in residence, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque (in their first UK tour for more than a decade), will present one of Handel’s Dixit Dominus, a tour-de-force of vocal and instrumental virtuosity that bubbles with the energy and exuberance of youth.

Ryedale Festival Young Artists will be in the spotlight too. Violinist Roberts Balanas will perform a late-night candlelit concert, while Scottish accordionist Ryan Corbett will set out on a “troubadour trail” across Ryedale, bringing music – from the grandeur of Bach to the romance of Tchaikovsky – to beautiful and little-known churches across the region.

The Maxwell Quartet: Artists in residence

Soprano Siân Dicker and pianist Krystal Tunnicliffe will create a relaxed, informal and interactive concert for people living with dementia, their friends, family and carers – and anyone else who would like to attend. Bassoonist Ashby Mayes will collaborate with Krystal Tunnicliffe in an enterprising programme at a coffee concert.

Further highlights will include the London Mozart Players with pianist conductor Martin James Bartlett; The National Youth Choir of Great Britain performing a programme on the theme of environment; Pete Long and Friends playing 100 Years Of Jazz In 99 Minutes and fast-rising soloists such as violinist Johan Dalene, cellist Bruno Phillipe, trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary, harpsichordist Richard Egarr and pianists Rebeca Omordia and Alim Beisembayev. Renaudin Vary will give a brass masterclass too.

Dame Janet Baker will be in conversation with Edward Seckerson and a visit from poet, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay will be among the literary events. Family concerts will include a musical version of the modern children’s classic Izzy Gizmo.

For the final gala concert, trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary will join the Royal Northern Sinfonia for a sunny-spirited concerto at the heart of an eclectic programme that will take in  lyricism of two English romantics, a Bach-inspired work by Errollyn Wallen and one of Haydn’s most rousing and witty symphonies.

A new partnership with the Richard Shephard Foundation is working in primary schools to transform the festival’s engagement with children across Yorkshire. Already this has supported Seven Mercies, a new Community Song Cycle by Joseph Howard and Emma Harding at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, on May 21. Inspired by the church’s famous murals, this celebration of local heritage and talent took the theme of countering difficult times through small acts of kindness.

Dame Janet Baker: In conversation at Duncombe Park

Seven Mercies is one of two major elements of the festival taking place outside the main festival in July. Post festival, on October 29, the Hallé Orchestra and Chorus, Natalya Romaniw, Alice Coote, Thomas Atkins, James Platt and conductor Sir Mark Elder will perform Verdi’s mighty and dramatic Requiem in York Minster.

First-time ticket-buyers can attend selected events for £10, under-18s for £5. All are invited to watch the free-to-view additional content that will be shared on the digital platform RyeStream.

Artistic director Christopher Glynn says: “From legendary artists such as Dame Janet Baker to stars of the new generation like the Kanneh-Masons, we’ve brought together a line-up of international quality to perform in stunning locations across the beautiful area of Ryedale, from historic old churches to magnificent stately homes.

“As always, the festival is a celebration of music and place, and how they can enhance each other. I’m especially pleased that we are working with the Richard Shephard Music Foundation to bring musical opportunities to primary school children across Yorkshire, and that hundreds of tickets will be available from as little as £5 for under-18s and first-time attenders. We look forward to welcoming music-lovers from far and wide to Ryedale this summer.”

For full details, go to: ryedalefestival.com. Box office: 01751 475777; ryedalefestival.com; in person from Memorial Hall, Potter Hill, Pickering, second floor, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9.30am to 2.30pm.

Opening concert: The Kanneh-Mason family of musicians

2022 Ryedale Festival programme

July 15, 7pm, St Peter’s Church, Norton

Opening Concert

Kanneh-Mason Family

July 16, 3pm, St Michael’s Church, Malton

House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons

Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason

July 16, 8pm, St Mary’s Priory Church, Old Malton

Johan Dalene, violin

Charles Owen, piano

July 17, 3pm, Helmsley Arts Centre

Family Concert

July 17, 7pm, Duncombe Park

Pre-concert talk: Katy Hamilton

London Mozart Players: July 23 concert

July 17, 8pm, Duncombe Park

The Wanderer

Roderick Williams, baritone

Christopher Glynn, piano

July 18, 11am, Helmsley Arts Centre

Shakespeare’s Infinite Variety

Lucy Beckett, speaker

July 18, 3pm to 5pm, Helmsley Arts Centre

Roderick Williams, masterclass

July 18, 7pm, Sledmere House and Church

Double Concert

July 19, 11am, All Saints’ Church, Slingsby

The Maxwell Quartet

Christopher Glynn: Ryedale Festival artistic director

July 19, 2pm, All Saints’ Church, Helmsley

Pre-concert talk

Katy Hamilton

July 19, 3pm, All Saints’ Church, Helmsley

Acis And Galatea I

July 19, 9.30pm, The Milton Rooms, Malton

Late-Night Folk

July 20, 11am, Birdsall House

Margaret Fingerhut, piano

July 20, 3pm, St Mary’s Church, Lastingham

Acis And Galatea II

July 20, 7pm, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering

Pre-concert talk

Katy Hamilton

Trumpet player Lucienne Renaudin Vary. Picture: Simon Fowler

July 20, 8pm, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering

Mystical Songs

Roderick Williams & The Maxwell Quartet

July 21, 11am, St Nicholas Church, Husthwaite

Troubadour Trail I

Ryan Corbett, accordion

July 21, 3pm, St Michael’s Church, Malton

Acis And Galatea III

July 21, 8pm, Birdsall House

Bruno Phillipe, cello

Tanguy de Williencourt, piano

July 22, 1pm, Church of St Martin-on-the-Hill, Scarborough

National Youth Choir

Poet Lemn Sissay:

July 22, 3pm, St Hilda’s Church, Sherburn

Troubadour Trail II

Ryan Corbett, accordion

July 22, 8pm, The Milton Rooms, Malton

100 Years Of Jazz In 99 Minutes

Pete Long and Friends

July 23, 11am, Holy Cross Church, East Gilling

Troubadour Trail III

Ryan Corbett, accordion

July 23, 3pm to 5pm, The Milton Rooms, Malton

Come and Sing ABBA!

July 23, 8pm, St Peter’s Church, Norton

London Mozart Players

July 24, 3pm, James Holt Concert Hall, Kirkbymoorside

Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band

July 24, 6.30pm, All Saints’ Church, Kirkbymoorside

Alim Beisembayev, piano

July 24, 9.30pm, All Saints’ Church, Kirkbymoorside

Late-Night Candlelit Concert

Roberts Balanas, violin

July 25, 11am, All Saints’ Church, Hovingham

Rebeca Omordia,piano

July 25, 2pm, Hovingham Hall

National Youth Chamber Choir

Philharmonia Baroque

July 25, 7.30pm, Duncombe Park

Dame Janet Baker

In conversation with Edward Seckerson

The Gesualdo Six. Picture: Ash Mills

July 26, 11am, St Lawrence’s ’s Church, York

Music For A While

Rowan Pierce & Philharmonia Baroque

July 26, 8pm, Ampleforth Abbey

The Gesualdo Six

July 27, 11am, St Michael’s Church, Coxwold

Lucienne Renaudin Vary, trumpet

Félicien Brut, accordion

July 27, 7pm, Castle Howard

Triple Concert

July 28, 11am, St Oswald’s Church, Sowerby

Ashby Mayes, bassoon

Krystal Tunnicliffe, piano

July 28, 3pm, The Milton Rooms, Malton

Dementia-friendly Concert

Siân Dicker, soprano

Krystal Tunnicliffe, piano

Harpsichordist Richard Egarr: A Byrde In The Hande candlelit concert

July 28, 7pm, Duncombe Park

Stephen Kovacevich, piano

July 28, 9.30pm, St Gregory’s Minster, Kirkdale

Late-Night Candlelit Concert

Richard Egarr, harpsichord

July 29, 11am, St Peter’s Church, Norton

Inner City Brass

July 29, 3pm to 5pm, James Holt Concert Hall, Kirkbymoorside

Brass masterclass

Lucienne Renaudin Vary

July 29, 7pm, St Peter’s Church, Norton

A Garden Of Good And Evil

Philharmonia Baroque

July 30, 11am, All Saints’ Church, Hovingham

Siân Dicker, soprano

Krystal Tunnicliffe, piano

July 30, 3pm, The Galtres Centre, Easingwold

Lemn Sissay

My Name Is Why

July 30, 6pm, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering

Pre-concert talk

July 30, 7.30pm, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering

Looking West

July 31, 3pm, The Worsley Arms, Hovingham

Jazz in the Garden

July 31, 5pm, All Saints’ Church, Hovingham

Festival Service

July 31, 6.30pm, Hovingham Hall

Final Gala Concert

Royal Northern Sinfonia

Lucienne Renaudin Vary, trumpet

Post-festival concert: October 29, 7.30pm, York Minster

Hallé Orchestra and Chorus

Verdi: Requiem

Natalya Romaniw, soprano

Alice Coote, mezzo-soprano

Thomas Atkins, tenor

James Platt, bass

Sir Mark Elder, conductor