Ryedale Festival celebrates joy of Mystical Songs in Williams and Maxwells pairing

Baritone Roderick Williams: 2022 Ryedale Festival artist in residence

THE 2022 Ryedale Festival is under way, embracing 300 performers in 52 concerts from this week to July 31.

Under Christopher Glynn’s artistic directorship, the festival will find a special place for Handel and Vaughan Williams’s music; six world premieres will be performed and the 50th anniversary of Swedish supergroup Abba will be celebrated.

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 the 150th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s birth, accompanied by pianist Glynn and fellow artists in residence the Maxwell Quartet.

At their heart of the festival will be Mystical Songs on July 20, when Williams and the Maxwell Quartet end their residencies by joining Glynn at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, for an hour-long 8pm programme that brings together two spiritual high points of early 20th century British music.

Edward Elgar’s mysterious and deeply personal Piano Quintet in A minor will be performed alongside Vaughan Williams’s visionary Five Mystical Songs, complemented by Roderick Williams’s new arrangements of Vaughan Williams’s folk-song settings of Captain Grant, She’s Like The Swallow, Proud Nancy, O Who Is That Raps At My Window? and Harry The Tailor.

Christopher Glynn: Ryedale Festival director, pianist and “matchmaker”

“I’ve wanted to bring both Roddy and the Maxwells to the festival for a long time, not for one concert but for residencies, and having got them both signed up, I thought it would be nice for them to do a collaboration,” says Christopher.

“Then I thought about what the music should be, and I was drawn to this amazing moment in Elgar’s career: his incredible late-chamber works, his Indian summer.

“To go with that, you have Vaughan Williams going into the British Library, burying himself in Elgar’s score and coming up with his Mystical Songs. Putting these spiritual high points together will be so uplifting.”

Christopher talks of the Maxwell Quartet’s “fresh” impact on Vaughan Williams’s works. “That’s great because the Maxwells have a special relationship with folk music that they’ve brought to arranging these folk pieces,” he says.

“We’ll have a couple of days together and it’ll be an interesting time because both Roddy and the Maxwells are wonderful storytellers.”

The Maxwell Quartet: Ryedale Festival artists in residence, teaming up with Roderick Williams for Mystical Songs

Welcoming this summer’s residencies, Christopher says: “They’re really important because they allow for the audiences to develop something deeper with the musicians, finding they have a connection with the artists that grows when they see them several times.

“It’ll be exciting to see what comes out of the partnership, and it’s all about creating things that are entirely unique: a one-off chance to hear these artists performing together. It’s a moment in time and no-one knows if the chemistry will work but…”

…This is where Glynn, the pianist as much as artistic director, comes into play as “the matchmaker” when he sees the potential for an affinity between musicians on the concert platform. Roll on July 20 to find out what fireworks flare up when the Maxwells meet Roddy!

In a further festival residency, the National Youth Choir will be performing a 1pm programme on the theme of the environment, the coast and the north-eastern fishing industry at the Church of St Martin-on-the-Hill, Scarborough, on July 22, taking in works by Vaughan Williams, Bob Chilcott’s Weather Report, the Yorkshire premiere of Errollyn Wallen’s 40-part When The Wet Wind Sings and the uplifting finale of Joanna and Alexander Forbes L’Estrange’s Green Love.

“This will be a completely contrasting residency with a very different energy, leading to the performance in Scarborough,” says Christopher. “We’re also setting the National Youth Chamber Choir up to perform with Philharmonia Baroque in a programme of Handel works at Hovingham Hall [July 25, 2pm], and it’ll be interesting to see if sparks fly there, especially because director Richard Egarr started his career in the National Youth Choir.”

Roberts Balanas: Premiering Abba medley on electric violin at Come And Sing Abba!

San Francisco period instrument orchestra Philharmonia Baroque (and their British director Egarr) will be making their Ryedale Festival debut. “This is the first time they’ve toured the UK and they’re a fantastic group,” says Christopher. “We managed to get some backing to bring them over after their management came over to scout out the festival – and they loved it!”

Members of the National Youth Orchestra also will join guest electric violinist Roberts Balanas and conductor/choral leader Ben Parry at the Milton Rooms, Malton, from 3pm to 5pm on July 23 for Come And Sing Abba!. You can take part too, rehearsing and then performing Abba’s greatest hits, featuring Balanas’s world premiere of his Abba medley.

Abba at Ryedale Festival, Christopher…how come?  “I spotted there was a significant Abba anniversary this year, and though I was appointed to run a classical festival, the question is: what constitutes classical music,” he says.

“If music is 50 years old, is that not classical music?! We’ve come up with a concert that nods to Abba and classical music all in one.”

For full festival 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.

Mystical Songs will be among the concerts to be recorded for broadcast on RyeStream in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Society.

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

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Ryedale Festival premiere of Seven Mercies, Church of St Peter & St Paul, Pickering, May 21

Kathryn Rudge: “Inspired soloist”

RYEDALE Festival floated a powerful reminder of its status in the community with this world premiere of a new song-cycle written by a Pickering-born composer and largely performed by inhabitants of Ryedale.

Joseph Howard’s Seven Mercies was inspired by mediaeval murals in Pickering Church, which have only recently been brought back to life and decoded from beneath the whitewash of centuries.

They refer to specific acts of kindness – properly titled Seven Acts of Corporal Mercy – mentioned by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount and illustrated here by stories from the Bible.

Howard’s music is built around Emma Harding’s poetic libretto, which at its core delivers a song-cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano. Its sections use different female characters whose hardships have been alleviated by someone else’s generosity, often put into a modern context: a refugee, for example, or a hospital patient prevented by Covid regulations from receiving visitors.

That is the backbone of the work and no doubt it could stand alone. But it is immensely coloured and given depth by several choral and brass interludes, as well as introduction, prologue and finale.

Joseph Howard: Pickering-born composer of Seven Mercies

Much of the text here has been devised by choir members themselves. Ryedale Festival Community Choir, under Em Whitfield Brooks, and Ryedale Primary Schools Choir (taken from Pickering Community Junior School and Gillamoor C of E and St Joseph’s RC Primary Schools), conducted by Holly Greenwood-Rogers, were joined by a brass quintet of junior members from Kirkbymoorside Town Band and bell ringer Pam Robb.

Kathryn Rudge was the inspired soloist. Her clean, clear, beautifully projected mezzo was exactly suited to evoking the plight of the desperate and the downtrodden, and Christopher Glynn’s fluently controlled piano gave her superb underpinning. When she took to the pulpit for the finale, she soared angelically above and through the combined forces below, as if offering divine support.

Both choirs had evidently been keenly trained. They represented the voices of the community coming to the aid of the needy. Where the adults were sympathetic and affectionate, the children were infectiously enthusiastic, an apt balance. The young brass were impressive too, in an early fanfare, a lament and a smooth duet for cornets.

Howard’s music, which was always attuned to the text, divided into two styles: a thoughtful, modal English for the soloist that was reminiscent of Vaughan Williams and a much more universal, generally major-key and strongly rhythmic approach for the ensembles. This made sense with such a wide range of talents on hand: all were shown to best effect.

We may thank the Richard Shephard Music Foundation for its association with an occasion that both highlighted an important piece of local history and underlines what a force for good the Ryedale Festival continues to be. The festival itself will run from July 15 to 31 with full details at ryedalefestival.com.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Leeds Lieder Festival: Day 2

Jess Dandy: “That endangered species, a true contralto”

Jess Dandy/Martin Roscoe & Robin Tritschler/Christopher Glynn, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, April 29

THOSE of us who had not encountered Jess Dandy before, your correspondent included, cannot have avoided reading that she had been likened to Kathleen Ferrier in a national newspaper.

It is an unfortunate comparison and should be dropped before it becomes burdensome. She is indeed that endangered species, a true contralto, which alone entitles her to our attention. She may in time become the one and only Jess Dandy – but she is not Ferrier.

I confess that what initially drew my attention was her accompanist: Martin Roscoe is a supreme musician and a very busy one. Anyone who claims his time deserves our respect, especially since he is most often found as a solo performer.

With that rant out of the way, we may concentrate on Dandy’s lunchtime programme, which opened with Amy Beach and Lili Boulanger before moving onto more familiar territory with Falla, Wolf and Tchaikovsky, each of her five groups therefore in a different language.

Oddly enough, her diction in Beach’s three Robert Browning songs was almost consonant-free, but her tone was richly textured which excited anticipation.

Martin Roscoe: “Supreme musician and a very busy one”

In four unrelated songs by Boulanger, three from her teenage years, she penetrated the surface better. In two Maeterlinck poems, her high ending to ‘Reflets’, finding consolation in the moon, was beautifully controlled and the illusory ‘Attente’ (Waiting) was properly bleak. The prospect of Ulysses’s return to Ithaca brought compensatory joy to her tone.

Falla’s settings of seven traditional Spanish folksongs generally needed a lighter touch to match Roscoe’s impeccable staccatos. These works look easier on paper than they really are.

It was only when Dandy came to Wolf’s Mörike settings (1888) that her diction really began to shine. ‘Er ist’s’ (Spring Is Here) was wonderfully ecstatic, rounded off by the piano’s peerless postlude. She had a real feel for the bitter-sweet ‘Verborgenheit’ (Seclusion) and danced nimbly as the water-sprite Reedfoot alongside the piano’s curlicues. Both performers revelled in the dramatic possibilities of ‘Der Feuerreiter’ (The Fire-rider), while ending peacefully.

Dandy was equally well-suited to four Tchaikovsky songs. Voice and piano neatly intertwined in a Tolstoy poem about spring. There was a wonderfully pained melisma at the end of ‘I was a little blade of grass’ (the girl had been married off against her will). Even if the final climax of ‘Can it be day?’ was not quite full enough, we knew she had these songs in her bloodstream; Roscoe’s postlude was another little masterpiece.

This young lady certainly has talent. She can now afford to be less concerned about delivering perfect tone and concentrate more on acting with her voice.

Robin Tritschler: “Particularly satisfying occasion”

The second evening supplied my fourth recital of the festival. But it was the first in which the singer used no music. Thirty years ago, this would not have been a cause for comment. But times have changed and musicians are no longer routinely learning their scores by heart. One might have thought that during the ‘downtime’ provided by the pandemic, this might have changed. But no.

The hero in question was tenor Robin Tritschler, whose first half – ‘Illuminated Music’ – was English, Britten’s own works framing his realisations of Croft and Purcell. After half-time, we had ‘Illuminating Songs’ from further afield, eight composers stretching from Schubert to Henry Mancini. His admirable partner was Christopher Glynn.

Coloratura flowed easily in ‘Let The Florid Music Praise’ (On This Island) and Croft’s A Hymn To Divine Musick turned the temperature up further. All his Purcell set was characterised by a focus and intensity that was communicated all the more directly by the absence of a music-stand between audience and singer.

‘Music For A While’ enjoyed crispness in both voice and piano, which spilled over strongly into the finish of ‘Sweeter Than Roses’. The darting sections and crazy swings of ‘Mad Bess’ were finely wrought, with Glynn injecting just the right level of fire without dominating.

Christopher Glynn: “Injecting just the right level of fire without dominating “. Picture: Gerard Collett

Britten’s Canticle I: My Beloved Is Mine was hugely convincing, a tenderly felt duet that did full justice to Quarles’s spiritual paraphrase from the Song Of Solomon. Glynn’s flowing piano alongside Tritchler’s vocal freedom came to a close of the utmost serenity.

Moonlight suffused virtually all the second half. The atmosphere was movingly set by Schubert’s incomparable setting of Leitner’s ‘Der Winterabend’: the piano’s seamless line matched the tenor’s legato.

Fauré’s ‘Clair de Lune’ conjured intimacy while Hahn’s ‘L’heure Exquise’ delivered perfumed scents. Mancini’s nostalgic ‘Moon River’, with its Beethovenian opening was nicely balanced by Howells’s setting of De la Mare’s ‘Full Moon’, which disappeared into a niente finish.

Tritschler really opened out in the climactic moments of Liza Lehmann’s ‘Ah, Moon Of My Delight’ (In A Persian Garden), after which Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Big Lady Moon’ made the perfect encore. This was a particularly satisfying occasion, with both musicians on excellent form.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Winter’s Journey, Roderick Williams & Joseph Middleton, Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds, 11/3/2022

Roderick Williams: “Hurled verbal darts at the traveller’s ex-lover”

IF you are a lover of Schubert lieder, you may bridle at hearing them sung in English. If you are an even more dyed-in-the-wool purist, you will want to hear his great song-cycle Winterreise sung in the original keys, in other words by a tenor.

So, if you experienced the cycle in English, sung by a baritone – two removes from the original – you might think it beyond the pale. In which case, you probably hadn’t heard these two musicians perform it.

The Jeremy Sams translation, written at the invitation of accompanist Christopher Glynn (of Ryedale Festival), has no airs and graces. It reflects the relatively simple language of Wilhelm Müller’s original, which is not by any yardstick a masterpiece of German literature.

Instead it sticks to a basic story-line about a jilted lover and paints in simple terms the emotions he feels as he travels through a wintry landscape that reflects his inner world. This man is a loner, an outsider – and angry at the way the world has mistreated him.

Such a reading of Sams/Müller inspired Williams’s response here, and Middleton was hand in glove with his vision. After rueful reflection in the final, major-key stanza of Gute Nacht (Goodnight), we were straight into bitter resentment with Die Wetterfahne (The Weather-vane), Middleton pecking at the keys as Williams hurled verbal darts at the traveller’s ex-lover. In Gefrorne Tränen (Frozen Tears) I part company with Sams, who translates ‘Eis’ into snow, where ‘ice’ is much more biting. Doubtless rhyme demanded it, but still.

We felt the comfort from the linden tree’s rustling leaves and the traveller’s tears “guzzled by the thirsty snow” – a telling metaphor – before Williams suggested that the journey was taking a toll on the lover’s sanity in Rückblick (Turning Back); here his anger had been presaged by the piano’s violent prelude.

Then came a masterpiece of characterisation in Frühlingstraum (Dreaming Of Spring), where the duo conjured three distinct moods, its light-hearted start jolted into reality at cock-crow and thence into bitterness that happiness can never be recaptured.

There were sadly unfulfilled hopes that the post would bring a comforting message, although, again, the English ‘heart’ did not carry quite the bite that the German ‘Herz’ delivers with its final consonant. Flowing triplets well captured the friendly crow’s flight, but the temporary ease was soon dissipated in the baritone’s hint of mental disintegration in Letzte Hoffnung (Last Hope).

Sams imagines a ‘proper witches’ brew’ from Der Stürmische Morgen (Stormy Morning) – not really in the original text – but Williams obliged with some really vicious tone, complementing it immediately in the major/minor anguish of Täuschung (Delusion) and a beautifully pianissimo ending.

The tempo sagged a little in Das Wirtshaus (The Inn – actually a graveyard), although it was given a really bold postlude. That prepared the way nicely for some real swagger in Mut! (Courage!). Self-doubt re-emerged in a cleverly mood-wavering account of Die Nebensonnen (Phantom Suns). For the final song, Der Leiermann, Williams walked to the end of the piano and faced sideways, treating the pianist as the organ-grinder of the title. It was a telling move.

So much of the cycle had these moments that revealed a real depth of engagement on the part of this admirable duo. If Williams was more relaxed and thus more immediate in his colours, Middleton was a touch more deliberate, occasionally trying to inject more into Schubert than the composer really intended to convey. Nevertheless, it was a moving – and memorable – evening.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on University of York Song Day, 19/2/2022

Christopher Glynn: Put together the University of York Song Day. Picture: Gerard Collett

University of York Song Day, National Centre for Early Music & Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York, February 19

IT fell to Christopher Glynn to put together this year’s University Song Day. He was an excellent choice.

He is of course well known in Yorkshire for his fine stewardship of the Ryedale Festival. But it was also good to have a full-time accompanist of his calibre presiding. His intelligent, always distinctive contributions from the keyboard were the linchpin of the day.

It was in three parts. At lunchtime, A Shakespeare Songbook attracted the talents of soprano Rowan Pierce and tenor Ed Lyon. In the afternoon, outstanding mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge offered advice to five university students in a masterclass.

In the evening, now transplanted to the Lyons, Pierce and Rudge were joined by up-and-coming soprano Siân Dicker in a programme of Richard Strauss lieder stretching over nearly 80 years of his life.

Shakespeare has almost certainly inspired more musical settings than any other poet. Most are taken from the plays, although the sonnets account for a fair number. Here we dipped into five plays and two sonnets, with Shakespeare In Love to start and finish. There were several unexpected delights.

Soprano Rowan Pierce: “Sinister and sprightly in Tippett’s Songs For Ariel”

Arne’s setting of When Daisies Pied (from Love’s Labours Lost) with echoing cuckoo, daintily given by Pierce, was beautifully enhanced by Glynn’s ornamentation. His pacing of the prelude to Haydn’s She Never Told Her Love (Twelfth Night) was tellingly spacious.

Sylvia’s Charms (Two Gentlemen Of Verona), as imagined by Schubert, were boldly extolled by Lyon, before he turned to Julius Harrison’s much less-known setting of Oberon’s I Know A Bank (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), which was complemented by the fairies’ invocation from the same play, You Spotted Snakes, given by Pierce. Both singers proved Harrison an adept watercolourist.

Michael Head is another underestimated song composer, as heard in Pierce’s account of How Sweet The Moonlight Sleeps (Merchant Of Venice), where pianissimo drew in the listener and the piano twinkled with golden sheen.

Lyon brought terrific gusto to Quilter’s setting of Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind (As You Like It), which happened to coincide with snow falling outside, visible through a window of St Margaret’s. We felt the poetry’s chill.

This was signal for a calmer interlude, the duet from Handel’s L’Allegro, As Steals The Morn, which adapts words from The Tempest; it was affectionately delivered. Pierce was both sinister and sprightly in Tippett’s Songs For Ariel, uncovering much of their magic. Similarly, Lyon plumbed the Clown’s infinite sadness in Come Away, Death (Twelfth Night), which was tightly controlled by voice and piano alike.

Tenor Ed Lyon: “Plumbed the Clown’s infinite sadness in Come Away, Death”. Picture: Gerard Collett

Roxanna Panufnik has set three Shakespeare sonnets. Mine Eye treats the words of Sonnet XXIV with utmost care, as did Pierce here. The world premiere of Kim Porter’s duet-setting of Sonnet CXVI made a worthy and equally pleasing companion to it, gentle at its heart, with trickling piano, before building to a triumphal finish.

Both singers relished the challenge of Vaughan Williams’s Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun (Cymbeline), taking a lead from Glynn’s ever-astute handling of the keyboard. The event was a welcome – and powerful – reminder of the rich treasury that is English song.

Devoted as it was entirely to the songs of Richard Strauss, the evening was almost too much of a good thing. Strauss was virtually besotted with the soprano voice in all its guises – he even married a diva – so the presence here of two sopranos and a mezzo was ideal. They exhibited a contrast in styles which added to the excitement.

Here, more than ever, Christopher Glynn was called upon to exercise his skills to the utmost. He never faltered. Indeed, the powerful, scented aromas that these songs generated owed a huge amount to the colours in his palette.

At every step of the way he simplified the singers’ task. Rowan Pierce opened the evening with the six-year-old Strauss’s cute Weihnachtslied (Christmas Carol), before a peppy, vivid Begegnung (Meeting) and a not quite dreamy enough account of Rote Rosen (Red Roses).

Mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge: “Capturing the nervous essence of young love”

Later there was a lovely transition in Schlechtes Wetter (Filthy Weather), where voice and piano together melted into the waltz, leaving behind the bad mood of wind and rain and conjuring the dance in their place.

Kathryn Rudge began with three songs from Op 10, composed in 1894 and his first to be published. She entered straight into the mood of Zueignung (Dedication), giving its powerful melody a strong line. She never let our attention wander after that either.

Glynn brought bold colourings to Nichts (Nothing), which she amplified, before a wonderfully contemplative Die Nacht (Night), calm, hovering, treasuring the moment. It was a gem.

She later returned with Schlagende Herzen (Beating hearts), capturing the nervous essence of young love with its repeated ‘kling-klangs’. There was no doubt about the depth of her feeling in Sehnsucht (Yearning), and her approach to the final word, Paradise, at the end of Das Rosenband (Rose Garland) was exquisite, once again making time stand still.

These were the work of a singer in her prime, one who knows exactly how to hold an audience in thrall. Spellbinding stuff, the voice beautifully focused throughout its range, right to the very top.

Sian Dicker: “At her best when she did not have to restrain her inner Brunnhilde”. Picture: Benjamin Ealovega 

Sián Dicker’s opening set came from Op 27, composed in 1894. She was at her best when she did not have to restrain her inner Brunnhilde. Ruhe Meine Seele (Rest My Soul) exploded into distress before neatly calming down.

Anticipated ecstasy bubbled through Heimliche Aufforderung (Secret Invitation), before her most controlled singing of the evening in Morgen! (Tomorrow), in which she took inspiration from Glynn’s gently modulated prelude (echoed in his postlude).

She was also given the honour of performing the Four Last Songs, which Strauss wrote in 1948, a year before his death. In Frühling (Spring) she developed terrific resonance at its heart but also revealed a recurring tendency to widen her vibrato when she pushed the tone too hard.

The urgency at the start of the last stanza on Beim Schlafengehen (Going To Sleep) was well judged but it needed to be followed by greater inwardness, the kind she found at the end of the final song. All the while, Glynn was achieving little miracles at the keyboard, larks trilling in the twilight, for example, before another eloquent postlude.

The three singers signed off with the trio from the end of Der Rosenkavalier, Hab’ mir’s Gelobt (I Made A Vow), when the Marschallin bows out, leaving Octavian and Sophie to each other. It was beautifully, even touchingly, done and crystalised the heady perfumes that all four musicians had concocted throughout the evening.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Solem Quartet & Friends, Ryedale Festival Finale

Solem Quartet: “A fitting close to two deeply satisfying weeks”

Ryedale Festival Finale: Solem Quartet & Friends, Hovingham Hall, Hovingham, July 31

AFTER including four Schubert events over its opening weekend, Ryedale Festival closed with three substantial Schubert offerings over its final two days. His ever-popular Octet was the last event on this programme, following two pieces by the American composer Florence Price.

Alhough she died nearly 70 years ago, Price has only really come to prominence in the past decade, after the chance discovery of a cache of her scores. Summer Moon, composed in 1938, was among them. Its pastel shades are well adapted to string quartet and generated an elegiac aura.

Her variations on “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” proved equally appealing, evolving naturally and showing more than mere craftsmanship in their modulations. These tasters suggested that she deserves to be better known by British audiences.

So to the Schubert. The Solem’s first violin, Amy Tress, led the proceedings most effectively. The extra instruments – clarinet, bassoon, horn and double bass – added more than the expected resonance and took some adjustment: double bass and horn, although expertly handled, sounded boomy and over-exuberant respectively in the Allegro.

Things settled down, however, in the slow movement, which was allowed to breathe, with cool ensemble over the long dominant pedal and pregnant pauses before the coda.

Brio in the scherzo was nicely complemented by a smooth trio. In the succeeding variations, Stephanie Tress’s cello sang engagingly in the main melody and the whole ensemble ruminated gently thereafter. The minuet really danced and its trio had the lightness of a Viennese pastry.

In the finale, the return of the opening material might have been a touch more menacing, but the acceleration to the end was genuinely exciting. A fitting close to two deeply satisfying weeks: Christopher Glynn and his cohorts deserve the utmost praise for assembling them and in next to no time.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Carolyn Sampson & Joseph Middleton, Ryedale Festival, 17/7/2021

Carolyn Sampson: Ryedale Festival concert was “Elysium indeed, however you define it”. Picture: Marco Borggeve

Ryedale Festival: Carolyn Sampson & Joseph Middleton, St Peter and St Paul Church, Pickering, July 17

THE name Elysium covers a multitude of … well, pleasures. To the ancient Greeks, it was where the blessed, especially heroes, decamped after death. For the rest of us, it means paradise, with a small or large ‘p’.

Either way, it was the umbrella for soprano Carolyn Sampson’s late-night Schubert recital; she had also given it in the afternoon. Joseph Middleton was her piano partner, a top-notch combination. How typical of artistic director Christopher Glynn to bring in big names right at the start of the festival.

Schubert had a Damoclean sword of disease hanging over the last third of his life, so thoughts of the afterlife cannot have been far from his mind. Perhaps, like the young nun, he looked forward to peace after life’s storms, exquisitely encapsulated in Sampson’s pianissimo Alleluias at the end of Die Junge Nonne, without vibrato.

There again, Elysium is doubtless a place of endless melody, prefigured by Goethe’s Ganymede, where little tunes keep bursting out as he soars upward and we felt his excitement at what lay ahead.

Romantic poets often use moon and stars as stand-ins for heavenly realms. The opening of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata colours the setting of Holty’s first An Den Mond (To The Moon). There is melancholy, too, in Goethe’s poem of the same name. Both here conveyed the idea of the voice as the reflection of the soul.

The brisker dactyls of Die Sterne (The Stars) showed a happier side to starlight, contrasting with the wonderful stillness this duo delivered in Nacht Und Träume’ (Night And Dreams) where moonlight gleams gently. There was a wonderful delicacy in Sampson’s tone for Der Liebliche Stern (The Lovely Star), tinged with sadness as the star contemplated its own reflection.

There was sunlight in the programme too. In Auf Dem Wasser Zu Singen (To Be Sung On The Water), it glinted on the waters of Middleton’s piano, eventually evoking escape from the passage of time.

A thrillingly rapid account of Der Musensohn (The Son Of The Muses) really danced with glee. In total contrast, Du Bist Die Ruh (You Are Peace) was consummately sustained by Sampson. Similarly, Middleton had tinted in little details of the nightingale’s twitterings with delicacy.

So to Schubert’s setting of Schiller’s Elysium, virtually a cantata, where rapid changes of mood require a chameleon-like approach. This duo was more than equal to its demands: light and shade, sun and storm and eventually an endless wedding feast, a heaven to die for, certainly.

Even more of a rarity was Schubert’s only song as a melodrama, Abschied Von Der Erde (Farewell To The World), given as an encore – pure delight, and filled with the reconciliation the composer undoubtedly achieved near his end. Elysium indeed, however you define it.

Review by Martin Dreyer

‘We don’t make music for an audience; we make music with the audience,” says Ryedale Festival director Christopher Glynn

South African cellist Abel Selaocoe: Playing Ryedale Festival on two days

HOW does a festival reinvent itself for the Covid-confused summer of 2021? 

At Ryedale, celebrating its 40th year, although not in the way it had planned, the answer is a one-off, late-announced, open-ended, can-do-spirited programme of summer events that brings inspiring performers to play together in beautiful Ryedale places from this weekend to July 31 .

Presenting 40 live concerts to celebrate its 40 years, Ryedale Festival welcomes performers such as Jess Gillam, Abel Selaocoe, Carolyn Sampson, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Lara Melda, Milos, the Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, BBC Big Band, Kathryn Tickell and Tenebrae, as well as Poet Laureate Simon Armitage – and many more besides.

The Festival will be popping up in Pickering Parish Church; All Saints’, Kirkbymoorside; Hovingham Hall; St Olave’s Church, York; Birdsall House and Church; St Peter’s Church, Norton; Duncombe Park; the Milton Rooms, Malton, and Ampleforth Abbey.

Events will be around one hour long, with no intervals and reduced capacity to prioritise audience safety, but multiple performances to enable as many people as possible to attend.

Ryedale Festival artistic director Christopher Glynn. Picture: Gerard Collett

Artistic director Christopher Glynn says: “We’ve brought together a wonderful programme of British-based artists that is both vibrant and diverse. The formats of our concerts have changed but the core elements are what they have always been: great music, beautiful Ryedale locations, and audiences.

“Because, for performers like me, after the experience of the past year, one thing seems clearer than ever before: we don’t make music for an audience; we make music with the audience.” 

The festival’s two weeks of summer music opened last night (17/7/2021) with the Albion String Quartet’s programme of Haydn and Shostakovich at St Mary’s Priory Church, Old Malton, and soprano Carolyn Sampson and pianist Joseph Middleton’s all-Schubert recital, themed around Elysium, the ancient Greek concept of afterlife, in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Pickering.

Today, cellist Hannah Roberts joined the Albion String Quartet for Schubert’s String Quintet at All Saints’ Church, Kirkbymoorside, at 5pm and St Michael’s Church, Malton, at 9pm, followed by a third performance tomorrow at 11am at St Olave’s Church, York.

Birdsall House and Church is the scene for a double concert tomorrow from 5pm. Fresh from her Proms debut, British/Turkish pianist Lara Melda plays Rachmaninov and Chopin’s epic third sonata in the house, while classical guitarist Miloš plays Villa Lobos, Bach and Albeniz, among others, at the church.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage: Marsden poems

The format of the double concert encompasses a two-hour interval, when the audience is invited to picnic in the grounds of Birdsall House between the two performances.

Poet Simon Armitage grew up among the hills of West Yorkshire and always associated his early poetic experiences with the night-time view from his bedroom window. Now Poet Laureate, he visits the Milton Rooms, Malton, on Tuesday to read from Magnetic Field: The Marsden Poems, his compendium of poems about the village where he grew up. The 40-minute 11am and 3pm readings and question-and-answer sessions each will be followed by a book signing.

On Wednesday, in Cubaroque at 11am and 9pm at All Saints’ Church, Hovingham, tenor Nicolas Mulroy and guitarist and theorbo player Toby Carr perform a rare combination of music from two golden ages, as songs of love, sorrow and faith by baroque composers Purcell, Monteverdi and Strozzi speak across the oceans and centuries to modern Latin-American standards by Silvio Rodríguez, Caetano Veloso, Pablo Milanés and Victor Jara, who gave voice to a continent emerging from years of suppression.

At the Palladian-style Hovingham Hall on Wednesday at 3pm and 6pm, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment violin soloists present music written for violins alone, highlighting the contrasts, textures and colours of an instrument that is usually on top of the sound-world of string instruments.

The programme takes in solos by master composer-performers, programmatic duets, profoundly beautiful trios, concertos for four violins and new arrangements.

Tina May: Singing with the BBC Big Band

On Thursday at 3pm and 6pm, trailblazing Jess Gillam leads her ensemble in an electrifying programme at St Peter’s Church, Norton, designed to inspire you to reflect, dance and smile with the aid of compositions by Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, Björk, Thom Yorke, Will Gregory, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Piazzolla.

South African cellist Abel Selaocoe is joined by pianist Benjamin Powell on Thursday at 11am and 9pm at Birdsall House, Birdsall, as he highlights the links between Western and non-Western musical traditions in a programme that complements his own work Nagula with compositions by Debussy, James Macmillan, Ravel and Schedrin.  

Selaocoe returns on Friday at 3pm and 6pm with Sirocco, his energetic, joyful collaboration with Manchester Collective and Chesaba, at the Milton Rooms, Malton. Their great storm of music celebrates the warmth and diversity of folk traditions from across the globe, from Purcell to Stravinsky, original African folk to Danish folk songs.

The BBC Big Band and jazz chanteuse Tina May perform timeless feel-good numbers from the classic era of swing, all arranged and curated by leader Barry Forgie, on Saturday at 5pm and 8pm at the Scarborough Spa Grand Hall. Expect Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman works, plus a few surprises along the way.

On Sunday, July 25, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason performs a wide-ranging programme of contrasting sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Gubaidulina at Duncombe Park at 3pm and 5.30pm.

Amy Thatcher and Kathryn Tickell: Playing the Milton Rooms, Malton

The festival’s second week opens with speaker Lucy Beckett discussing Rievaulx and Mount Grace: Contrasting Histories on July 27 at 11am and 3pm at St Michael’s Church, Malton. Twelve miles apart, both mediaeval monasteries were abolished by Henry VIII, but their glory days were nearly four centuries apart, and the difference in their histories makes for a gripping tale.

Fresh sounds merge with ancient influences when Kathryn Tickell, British folk scene luminary and Northumbrian piper, and her close collaborator, accordionist and clog dancer Amy Thatcher, of The Monster Ceilidh Band, perform at the Milton Rooms, Malton, on July 27 at 5pm and 8pm.

Coco Tomita, winner of the strings category in this year’s BBC Young Musician competition, joins pianist Simon Callaghan to play Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Poulenc’s Violin Sonata at Duncombe Park on July 28 at 11am and 3pm.

Directed by Nigel Short, Tenebrae sing Renaissance Glories, music from the Golden Age of Spanish art, on July 29 at the Benedictine monastery of Ampleforth Abbey at 7.30pm. The closing piece will be Tomás Luis de Victoria’s luminous Requiem Mass of 1605, full of humanity and beauty.

All Saints’ Church, in Hovingham, plays host to two Young Artist Day concerts on July 30.  The first, at 11am and 6pm, promises a wide-ranging programme from pianist Mishka Rushdie Momen, who journeys from Bach to Ligeti to Schubert’s most virtuosic work for solo piano, Wanderer-Fantasy.

York artist Jake Attree: Ryedale Festival exhibition at Helmsley Arts Centre

In the second, two fast-rising artists, violinist Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux and pianist Ljubica Stojanovic, present works by Biber, Schubert and Brahms (“Rain” Sonata) at 3pm and 9pm.

The final concert, by Solem Quartet and Friends at Hovingham Hall on July 31 at 3pm and 6pm, is filled with music of optimism and friendship, led off by Florence Price’s tribute to her extraordinary friend, the jazz musician and singer Memry Midgett, Summer Moon, and her arrangement of the folk song Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes. Schubert’s Octet, a work of dazzling invention and uplifting lyricism, is the finale.

Throughout July and August at Helmsley Arts Centre, York-born artist Jake Attree presents The Spirit Of The North, an exhibition inspired by time spent in and around Ryedale, dedicated to the memory of Dr Richard Shephard, York composer and headmaster.

“I want the paintings, oil pastels and drawings to have a sense of the places that inspired them, whether York, the landscape around Welburn, the River Derwent at Malton, or a view across the Howardian Hills from Pickering Castle,” says Jake, whose studio is at Dean Clough, Halifax.

“Completely dependent on the subject while simultaneously independent of it, these works are a celebration of Paul Cézanne’s idea that art is ‘a harmony that runs parallel to nature’ and full of a sense of what it feels like to spend time in North Yorkshire.” 

The full programme and ticket details can be found at ryedalefestival.com.

Ryedale Festival’s 40th anniversary to start with online spring classics. Nicola Benedetti in June and 40 summer events to follow

Ryedale Festival: Going online for 40th anniversary spring season of concerts

RYEDALE Festival’s 40th anniversary celebrations will burst into life with the online Spring Festival from May 2 to 8.

Scottish-Italian violinist Nicola Benedetti and her trio then will launch Ryedale’s 40th Anniversary: Live and In Person series in Pickering on June 4.

Ryedale’s Summer Festival, from July 16 to August 1 will present such artists as Jess Gillam, Isata Kanneh-Mason, 2019 BBC Young Musician Coco Tomita, Abel Selacoe and the BBC Big Band, with many more names to be announced soon.

Solace, escape and hope will be at the heart of Ryedale Festival’s online-only Spring Festival, available on RyeStream, the festival’s streaming platform at ryedalefestival.com/ryestream/.

Nicola Benedetti: Launching Ryedale Festival’s Live and In Person series on June 4

Seven inspiring performances, each lasting approximately 50 minutes, will be filmed and shared over a week early next month, in collaboration with Castle Howard, the Yorkshire Arboretum and North East naturalist and filmmaker Cain Scrimgeour, whose camerawork will capture spring’s arrival in Yorkshire. 

The Spring Festival will kick off a 40th anniversary year wherein Ryedale Festival will reveal 40 headline events in “one-off, late-announced, open-ended, can-do bursts” that will enable the festival to remain responsive to the unique circumstances of Covid-clouded 2021 and still be as creative and flexible as possible. 

Clarinet and piano duo Michael Collins and Michael McHale will open the online festival on May 2 at 3pm with Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, a virtuoso showpiece by Widor and the spellbinding sonata that Poulenc composed for Benny Goodman.

On May 3, from the Long Gallery at Castle Howard, two of the brightest stars on the British piano scene, Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy, will perform Schubert’s gypsy-inspired piano duet, Divertissement à la Hongroise at 8pm.

Fair Oriana: Mixing renaissance and baroque with flavours of folk, medieval and contemporary music on May 4

The next day, soprano vocal duo Fair Oriana will mix renaissance and baroque with flavours of folk, medieval and contemporary music from the Great Hall, Castle Howard, in an 11am concert of imagination, innovation and intimacy entitled Now Is The Month Of Maying.

Rising York mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston and festival director Christopher Glynn, on piano, will take over the Long Gallery for Nature Is Returning on May 5 at 8pm. Spring- inspired songs by Schumann, Brahms, Copland and Finzi will be complemented by extracts from Charlston’s Isolation Songbook, her 2020 commission to reflect lockdown lives in music.

On May 6, in The Beauty Of The North at 1pm,the trademark joie de vivre of the Maxwell Quartet will illuminate St Mary’s Church, Ebberston, with one of Haydn’s most sparkling quartets (Opus74, No.1), alongside Scottish folk music and Anna Meredith’s tribute Teenage Fanclub, the Scottish grungy power-pop band that she loved as a teenager.  

Friday night, May 7, will see the fast-rising combo The Immy Churchill Trio toast the arrival of spring with a late-night session of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook at Helmsley Arts Centre. Vocalist Immy Churchill will be joined by Toby Yapp, on bass, and Scottie Thompson, on piano, for this Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year programme at 9pm.

Helen Charlston: 2020 commission to reflect lockdown lives in music. Picture: Ben McKee

Finishing the online spring celebrations back at Castle Howard with The Lark Ascending on May 8 at 3pm, the virtuosic London Mozart Players and violinist Ruth Rogers will perform an irresistible chamber programme of Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending and Vivaldi’s Springfrom The Four Seasons.

The Spring Festival season will be available to view on RyeStream until the end of May. Each concert is free-to-view but with the request of a donation to support the festival.

Director Christopher Glynn says: “We are delighted with our Spring Festival, which promises to be a wonderful mix of great music in beautiful places. I asked our fantastic line-up of performers to reflect a hopeful, springtime theme in their programmes, which we’ll interweave with footage specially created by the superb wildlife filmmaker, Cain Scrimgeour, who is spending several days capturing spring’s arrival in and around the Yorkshire Arboretum.

“I’ve asked Cain simply to capture what we might have seen – if we were lucky – on a country walk to attend the concerts in person, and to reflect the importance of nature as a place of solace, escape and regeneration during lockdown days.”

“I asked our fantastic line-up of performers to reflect a hopeful, springtime theme in their programmes,” says Ryedale Festival director Christopher Glynn. Picture: Gerard Collett

On Friday, June 4 ,in-person music making returns to Ryedale Festival at Pickering Parish Church at 4pm and 8pm, when Nicola Benedetti will open her festival residency by launching the Live and In Person series, joining her regular chamber music partners, cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, to perform one of Beethoven’s wittiest and most loveable works and an inspired piano trio by Brahms.

Glynn adds: “There will be no brochure and no ‘big-reveal’ of the programme this year. Instead, our 40th anniversary will be a ‘build-as-we-go’ festival, where the full 40-piece jigsaw gradually comes into view.

“We will still concentrate wonderful performances in July, but we will also remain as creative and flexible as possible to make the very best of this different landscape for both artists and audiences.”

Planned in a spirit of optimism and renewal, and bringing some of the most exciting artists of the moment to North Yorkshire, the programme for Ryedale’s Summer Festival will consist of 40 headline events, some that may be repeated or shared on RyeStream.

Abel Selacoe: South African cellist confirmed to play at Ryedale Festival’s summer celebrations with more details to follow. Picture: Mlungisi Mlungwana