Byrne and Nordberg’s Early Music Day concert at NCEM goes online on Saturday

Swedish lutenist Jonas Nordberg and Irish viol player Liam Byrne in concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York, in 2019

LIAM Byrne and Jonas Nordberg’s 2019 concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York, will be streamed online on Saturday at 1pm.

This follows the NCEM’s live stream of two Early Music Day 2020 concerts, performed behind closed doors at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, by harpsichordist Steven Devine, playing Bach Preludes and Fugues, and later by The Brabant Ensemble in an evening programme of A Monk’s Life: Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.

Those concerts drew more than 63,000 views from across the world. “Messages arrived from Japan, Indonesia, South Africa, from people in lockdown in Italy and others waking up to wonderful music in the United States,” says NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin.

Liam Byrne: viol player with the hipster look

This Saturday’s streaming will feature the 2019 Early Music Day concert by virtuoso Irish viol player Liam Byrne and Swedish lutenist Jonas Nordberg. “The delicious sonic combination of viol and lute from 17th century France made for an incredible evening last year and was also broadcast by BBC Radio 3,” says Delma.

“Now, music lovers can join us again for this fabulous feast by simply logging on to our Facebook page @yorkearlymusic.”

Described by the New York Times as “defying expectations with an obscure instrument and a hipster look”, Byrne is no stranger to the NCEM, where last year he collaborated with the Walmgate venue on the NCEM Young Composers Award 2019, working with the finalists and later performing their work at a concert in Bristol.

Delma Tomlin: National Centre for Early Music director

Byrne, professor of viola da gamba at the Guildhall School in London, is regarded by many as the leading viol player of his generation; lutenist and guitarist Nordberg has performed all over the world, with many recordings to his name.

“Last year’s concert at the NCEM was one of the highlights of York’s cultural calendar, with electrifying performances by both musicians,” says Delma.

“Now, in these strange times, we are discovering more and more how the power of music is bringing us together and lifting our spirits. We hope you can join us for this wonderful concert by these two extraordinary musicians. Our doors may be temporarily closed but we will continue to bring a selection of fabulous music over the coming weeks.”

WHAT’S STILL ON: Never too late for Early Music Day as NCEM streams concerts from behind closed doors

Devine intervention: Steven Devine’s concert WILL still happen, streamed across Europe from York. Picture: Guy Carpenter

EARLY Music Day will go ahead at the National Centre for Early Music, York, tomorrow but behind closed doors.

“Our doors may be temporarily closed, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll still be celebrating Early Music Day and streaming our concerts all around Europe, so join us for two wonderful concerts this Saturday (March 21),” says director Delma Tomlin. “There will also be a selection of concerts available to enjoy online over the coming weeks.”

Tomorrow’s programme at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, begins with a 1pm concert by harpsichordist Steven Devine, performing the first in a series of Bach Preludes and Fugues, and ends with The Brabant Ensemble’s 6pm programme of A Monk’s Life: Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.

From The Cloisters, from the NCEM: The Brabant Ensemble still in concert tomorrow. Picture: Alain Le Bourdonnec

“Sublime choral music from the Renaissance performed by this Oxford ensemble offers the perfect end to a fabulous day of music,” says Delma.

“I am so grateful to our talented array of musicians who are determined that Early Music Day will still happen somehow and have agreed to perform behind closed doors.

“Even if you can’t be with us in person, we hope that you will join us for this day of music, a joyful celebration which normally takes place with our European partners and friends in beautiful venues.”

“Music has the power to uplift and inspire us all,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

Looking ahead, Delma says: “We are pausing our operations until the end of April and will be in contact with everyone who has booked to attend concerts that are due to take place within this period.

“We ask that you are patient with us during this difficult time and wait for us to contact you. Regular updates about future concerts and more concert footage will be posted on our website, ncem.co.uk, and via social media, so please keep checking.”

To watch Saturday’s concerts follow: https://www.facebook.com/yorkearlymusic/

“Music has the power to uplift and inspire us all and although our building may be closed, we will be sharing a selection of concerts from our archives online for us all to enjoy,” says Delma, on an upbeat final note.