National Centre for Early Music reaps autumn harvest of jazz, world and folk concerts… and a classic icy silent film

Arm in arm: Wife-and-husband duo Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman celebrate 25+ years together in On Reflection at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on October 20

THE autumn and Christmas season of jazz, world, folk, film and classical music at the still socially distanced National Centre for Early Music, York, is under way

Saxophonist Jean Toussaint, who came to prominence with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, returned to St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, last Friday to launch the NCEM programme in the company of pianist Andrew McCormack and bass player Orlando le Fleming.

Tonight, the Black Swan Folk Club presents Devonian folk singer-songwriter John Smith, supported by Hannah Reed at 7.30pm.

Known for his intimate song-writing, honey-on-gravel voice and pioneering guitar playing, Smith has toured internationally for 15 years, and his session-musician guitar skills have been in demand from Joan Baez and Tom Jones.

Saxophone returns tomorrow at 7.30pm when Tim Garland (saxophone, bass clarinet), Malcolm Creese (double bass) and Gwilym Simcock (piano) celebrate 20 years together as the highly adventurous, ground-breaking British jazz ensemble Acoustic Triangle.

Olcay Bayir: Turkish singer makes her NCEM debut on October 10

Noted for their site-specific work, particularly in sacred buildings, such as St Margaret’s Church, they draw on wide-ranging influences, from ancient themes and folk styles, through impressionism and the jazz era, to the avant-garde, in Garland and Simcock’s compositions, complemented by works by Henry Purcell, John Taylor, Olivier Messiaen, Cole Porter and Maurice Ravel.

A third jazz highlight will be Byron Wallen’s Four Corners showcasing London trumpet player Wallen’s new album, Portrait, on November 10, with guitarist Rob Luft, bass player Paul Michael and drummer Rod Youngs.

Conceived when sitting in the central square in Woolwich, the album’s nucleus is Anthem For Woolwich, composed in response to Wallen being struck by the community around him with its mixture of ages and nationalities.

Taking inspiration from “the timeless sound of the human soul from all corners of the Earth”, Wallen explores and reinvents blues, mode and groove landmarks, while also drawing on early Renaissance music, Central and East African rhythms and polyphony and the works of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk.

“I’m hoping that York Music Forum’s Ian Chalk will be able to organise for young York jazz players to play with Byron and take part in the concert,” says Delma.

Out of the woods: Fiddle player Sam Sweeney re-emerges with his Unearth Repeat album and concert on November 19. Picture: Elly Lucas

The autumn season presents three world-class guitarists, demonstrating their contrasting styles: Brit Martin Taylor, Spaniard Juan Martin and Italian Antonio Forcione.

First up, on October 15, Grammy-nominated Harlow jazz guitarist Martin Taylor shows why he is widely regarded as the world’s foremost exponent of solo jazz and finger-style playing.

Next, in his solo concert Melodic Beauty And Rhythmic Passion on October 29, Andalusian flamenco master Juan Martin performs pieces from his latest album Guitar Maestro.

Intense, artistic, passionate, unpredictable and formidably inventive jazz guitarist Antonio Forcione, from Molise, Italy, returns to the NCEM on November 26, blessed with “the hands of a tarantula and the heart of a lion”, as one reviewer put it.

Twenty albums to his name, Forcione has toured extensively, to Australia, Hong Kong, Russia and the Caribbean, as well as Europe.

Martin Taylor: Finger-style guitar playing on October 15

“The wonderful acoustics of the NCEM’s beautiful home of St Margaret’s Church provide the perfect setting for the acoustic guitar, adding a special touch of magic to the experience,” says director and programmer Delma Tomlin.

World music is represented by not only Juan Martin but also Olcay Bayir, from Gaziantep, Turkey, and the welcome return of Making Tracks.

Making her NCEM debut on October 10 – and appearing on the cover of the NCEM’s September to December brochure to boot – Olcay Bayir focuses on ancient poems and original songs in Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian in Dream For Anatolia: an evening of music and words that reflect her Anatolian heritage. Note the earlier starting time of 6.30pm.

Set up in 2010 and relaunched with an ambitious new model in 2019, followed by a digital edition in 2020, Making Tracks brings together young artists from the UK and around the world to showcase unique musical traditions, initiate collaborations and contribute towards a global community of environmentally engaged musicians.

Full details of November 1’s NCEM concert are yet to be confirmed but the eight diverse musicians from Britain and Europe have been chosen.

Antonio Forcione: Returning to the NCEM on November 26

Scottish folk multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer John McCusker has cancelled his John McCusker Band 30th Anniversary Tour date on October 3, although The Wishing Tree Tour gig by John Doyle, John McCusker & Michael McGoldrick is still in the diary for The Cresent, York, on November 3.

The enduring folk partnership of wife and husband Kathryn Roberts & Seth Lakeman marks 25+ years of making music with On Reflection at a rearranged NCEM concert on October 20.

Co-promoted by the Black Swan Folk Club, this celebratory night takes a whistle-stop tour through their artistic journey from the early days of folk supergroup Equation to latest album Personae, via a nod or two to their extracurricular musical adventures.

After his Unfinished Violin Project, former Bellowhead fiddle player Sam Sweeney returns the NCEM on November 19 to promote his latest album, Unearth Repeat, wherein he embraces the groove and swagger of traditional English folk and the huge sound, flair, energy and festival spirit of bands from the Celtic and Scandinavian music scenes.

Sweeney first played the NCEM when director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble. This time he will be joined by Jack Rutter on acoustic guitar, Louis Campbell on electric guitar and Ben Nicholls on double bass.

Nanook Of The North: Robert J Flaherty’s 1922 film will be accompanied by an improvised live score by Frame Ensemble at a Yorkshire Silent Film Festival screening on October 14

The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival plays host to Nanook Of The North (certificate U, 79 minutes) on October 14, when the pioneering 1922 documentary film will be accompanied by a live score by Frame Ensemble, a quartet of improvising musicians that specialises in creating spontaneous soundtracks for silent film.

“Pianist Jonny Best, who runs the film festival [as well as being a musician, researcher, producer, educator and writer], will be doing the accompaniment with his ensemble,” says Delma. “I find it so enthralling that they create such musical magic out of nowhere.”

Filmed by director Robert J Flaherty in the vast Canadian Arctic, where Nanook and his family live under an endless sky and in conditions of unimaginable cold, Nanook Of The North is a mix of recorded reality and staged drama, depicting the everyday struggle of the Innuit (Eskimo) people to stay alive.

From the bitter chill of the northern reaches of Arctic Quebec to Christmas at the NCEM in the form of the York Early Music Christmas Festival 2021, running from December 3 to 11.

Guest musicians include The Gesualdo Six; Joglaresa; Pocket Sinfonia; Prisma; tenor James Gilchrist and lutenist Matthew Wadsworth, plus the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, presenting JS Bach’s B Minor Mass, with more details to follow in a separate preview shortly. 

Green Matthews: Midwinter Revels in the mood for Christmas on December 16

.Christmas revelry continues with modern-day folk balladeers Green Matthews on December 16. That night, Chris Green and Sophie Matthews perform Midwinter Revels: A Celebration Of Christmas Past, a seasonal selection of stories, carols, winter folk songs and tunes played on a plethora of weird and wonderful instruments.

Delma says: “We’re so pleased to be able to bring you this wonderful season of music for all tastes and to welcome friends old and new back to our home in York. We decided: let’s get dates in the diary and enjoy music-making again and try to get back to a sense of normality.

“We’ve put together a programme of world-class musicians, and we’re also looking forward to the return of our community singing group, Cuppa And A Chorus, as well as the latest in our not-to-be-missed series of silent films with live music. We hope to see you at the NCEM very soon.”

Nevertheless, in light of these pandemic times, a reduced capacity will be in operation. “The NCEM realises that audiences are returning to live events with caution, and for added safety and comfort, we are reducing our capacity so that social distancing is possible,” explains Delma.

“We’ve put together a programme of world-class musicians,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

“We are continuing to operate with many safety precautions in place and recommend mask wearing and hand sanitising.”

Tickets for the autumn season are on sale on 01904 658338 and at ncem.co.uk, joined by the York Early Music Christmas Festival from October 4. “Tickets for all concerts are selling quickly, so early booking is advisable,” recommends Delma.

“So far, there’s definitely a substantial core audience who do want to return, and we’re so fortunate that there’s no fixed seating, so we can give people more space, and hopefully they will feel more comfortable with that and will gain confidence as we come into the winter.

“That’s why we’re retaining social distancing while ensuring there’s still a three-pronged energy between the venue, the artist and the audience.”

Performances start at 7.30pm unless stated otherwise.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home. List No. 16 for these three-tiered times, courtesy of The Press, York

Forming, by Nick Loaring, on show at the Flourish exhibition at Woodend Gallery, Scarborough

CINEWORLD, York, and City Screen, York are both closed temporarily until further notice after the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, was put back in cold storage until next April, a full year after its original planned release date.

However, despite the rising second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, Charles Hutchinson continues to track and trace signs of artistic life, drive-in events and home entertainment.

Exhibition of the week outside York: Flourish, Woodend Gallery, Scarborough, until January 31 2021

RUN by Huddersfield’s West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Flourish brings together prints made by 13 nationwide artists shortlisted for this year’s Flourish Award.

Those artists are: Paulette Bansal; Suzanne Bethell; Louisa Boyd; Tony Carlton; Louise Garman; Pam Grimmond, from Markington, near Harrogate; Ian Irvine; Nick Loaring; Lucie MacGregor; Flora McLachlan; Lucy May Schofield; Claire Willberg and Susan Wright.

Back in Black: Chris While and Julie Matthews are to play an exclusive online concert for York’s Black Swan Folk Club

Online folk concert of the week: Chris While and Julie Matthews, Black Swan Folk Club, York, October 15, 7.30pm

BLACK Swan favourites Chris While and Julie Matthews will be playing this online concert exclusively for the York folk club and will conclude the night with a live question-and-answer session.

Tickets are on sale at: whileandmatthews.com/virtual-tour. “Once you’ve purchased a ticket, you’ll be able to watch the streamed performance whenever you want,” says organiser Chris Euesden. “Chris and Julie have been guests at the club and played for us in concert at the NCEM many times over the years and it’s always been a great evening.”

Joshua Burnell: One-off online concert presented by East Riding Theatre, Beverley. Picture: Elly Lucas

Folk-fused baroque’n’roll virtual gig of the week ahead: Joshua Burnell & Frances Sladen, Live In Your Living Room, October 17, 7.30pm

THE future of folk, alias York multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Joshua Burnell, will be joined by his partner, vocalist Frances Sladen, for a one-off online concert hosted by the East Riding Theatre, Beverley.

“We’ll be playing acoustic versions of songs old and new,” says Joshua, who released his futuristic new album, Flowers Where The Horses Sleep, last month.

What can viewers expect when they head to ERT’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/365072138001228/ for the free concert? “I’m still figuring out exactly how it’ll work!” says Joshua, winner of the Rising Star award in the 2020 Folking Awards. “But we’ll definitely be sharing tales that influenced the songs, as well as reflections on how the lockdown affected our musical process.”

One man on a downer: Simon Slater as Derek Eveleigh in Douglas Post’s thriller Headshot. Picture: Marc Brenner

In search of a thriller this autumn? Head to Bloodshot, in The Round, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, October 21 to 24, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

SIMON Slater, the Scarborough-born actor and composer with West End credits galore to his name, returns home to perform Bloodshot, Douglas Post’s one-man thriller.

In a story of vaudeville, murder, magic and jazz set in London in 1957, Derek Eveleigh is a skilled photographer but very down on his luck.

A mysterious envelope arrives from a stranger, asking him to take secret pictures of an elegant young woman as she walks in Holland Park. The reward is handsome, but the irresistible assignment takes a sudden, shocking turn. Entangled and compelled to understand, Derek is led into a seedy Soho nightlife populated by dubious characters.

Bang on! The poster for Autumn Lights’ drive-in spectacle of light on Guy Fawkes Night

Drive-in fireworks event on Guy Fawkes Night: Autumn Lights, Elvington Airfield, near York, November 5, 5pm to 8.30pm

ELVINGTON Airfield will be the setting for Autumn Lights’ spectacle of light on Guy Fawkes Night in a drive-in event billed as “York’s biggest fireworks extravaganza”.

Look out for a hot air balloon nightglow (albeit with the balloon inflation dependant on the weather), fire shows and street food at this Covid-secure evening with car parking and space to get out and enjoy the show. Find out more at Facebook.com/autmunlightsuk and Instagram @autumnlightsuk.

Arm in arm: Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman reflect on 25 years of making music together

Rearranged concert of the month ahead: Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, National Centre for Early Music, York, November 17, 6pm and 8.30pm

KATHRYN Roberts and Sean Lakeman, partners in life and music, had to postpone their April 22 show at the NCEM. Now, instead, they will play not one, but two, hour-long shows, each featuring the same set list, as they mark 25 years of making folk music together.

To celebrate this milestone, the couple will revisit and reinterpret songs from the early days of folk supergroup Equation through to 2020’s album, On Reflection, with a nod or two along the way to their extracurricular musical adventures, in a whistle-stop tour through their artistic journey to date.

Limited seating will be available, each household/support bubble up to four people to be seated around small tables positioned at a two-metre social distance from others. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (October 9) at be on sale at blackswanfolkclub@yahoo.co.uk.

Visage voyage: Michelle Visage will be “spiralling through time with no way of returning home” from Scarborough Open Air Theatre next summer

Looking ahead to next summer: RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 20 2021

COMBINING music, comedy, sassiness and lavish set-pieces to “create the biggest, brashest, most utterly glorious party night of the year”, the fourth UK and European RuPaul Drag Race tour show will see “an experiment gone wrong that sends Drag Race judge and 2019 Strictly Come Dancing contestant Michelle Visage spiralling through time with no way of returning home”.

Newly crowned Season 12 Drag Race winner Jaida Essence Hall, Asia O’Hara,  Kameron Michaels, Plastique Tiara, Vanessa Vanjie and Yvie Oddly will be joined by stars from the latest latest USA, UK and Canadian seasons to “journey through iconic periods of history in the hope they will find their way back to the present day”.

Tickets for the only RuPaul’s Drag Race British outdoor show next summer, plus Olly Murs on July 10 and Nile Rodgers & Chic on August 20, are on sale via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Reflections on an autumn day at Holkham Beach in Norfolk. Picture: Celestine Dubruel

And what about?

Taking an autumn break in Norwich, Norfolk and on the Suffolk coast.

Black Swan Folk Club launches virtual club nights amid surge of revised gig dates UPDATED

Chris While and Julie Matthews: A special concert for the Black Swan Folk Club’s virtual folk club night

YORK’S Black Swan Folk Club is filling the void in the Coronavirus lockdown by organising a “virtual folk club night” on YouTube every Thursday.

Club co-organiser Chris Euesden says: “We started about a month ago and quite a few people seem to be tuning in. A new one is posted each Thursday at around 7pm, and so far we’ve included a special concert from Chris While and Julie Matthews, bluesman Brookes Williams and the late Vin Garbutt, among others.

“We aren’t deleting anything, so all the old club nights, which go back about six weeks now, can still be viewed on YouTube for the duration of our shutdown if you’ve missed any.”

To access the club nights, go to www.youtube.com and search for the Black Swan Folk Club York UK channel. The direct link is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0W_ARuVU2FtEGs5Kl9wiIQ

“There you select ‘Playlists’ and that brings up all the club nights,” says Chris. “Each one is listed as a separate Playlist.

“We’re trying to stick to the club format as close as possible with videos of a few songs from resident singers and then a main spot from whoever would have been the guest that night.

“The nights are made up from a series of clips, some especially recorded for the club night and others already available on YouTube, but specifically recommended by the performers themselves.”

Eliza Carthy: New date for postponed concert at The Crescent, York

Chris continues: “The familiar format is not always possible and there are some changes, but it’s close. Of course, the thing about a ‘virtual’ club night is that you can bring in some special guests who normally wouldn’t have been there.

“If you enjoy viewing the videos, please subscribe to the channel or ‘like’ the clips and that will give us a good idea of the audience we have.”

Coming next will be a guest set from Irish-influenced musicians Roisin Ban on Thursday (May 14), when they would have been playing the Black Swan under pre-Covid circumstances. Lined up later for the “virtual club” are American singer-songwriter Katy Moffatt and Australian duo Sadie and Jay.

“We’re also hoping to do something special to replace what would have been the City of York Folk Weekend – to be renamed The Roland Walls Folk Weekend from this year – which was to have taken place from June 5 to 7,” says Chris.

“It’ll be a Virtual Folk Weekend special with footage from many of the bands, singers and musicians who would have been involved.” 

Meanwhile, a few revised folk gigs in York have been confirmed, to be followed by “a review of where we stand at the end of this month,” says Chris.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman: NCEM concert moved to November 17

Dates for the diary are:

Drever, McCusker, Woomble, at The Crescent, York, August 24, 7.30pm; tickets from ents24.com.

Maz O’Connor, Basement Bar, City Screen, York, September 9, 7.30pm; tickets, wegottickets.com/event/497157.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, National Centre for Early Music, York, November 17, 7.30pm; tickets, ncem.co.uk. 

Eliza Carthy Restitute Live, The Crescent, York, January 24 2021, 7.30pm; tickets, seetickets.com.

Grace Petrie, The Crescent, York, May 18 2021, 7.30pm; tickets, seetickets.com.

Scheduled to appear at the Black Swan Folk Club later this year are: Anthony John Clarke, September 10; Christine Collister and Michael Fix, special club night, September 18; Sam Kelly & Jamie Francis, October 8; Lucy Farrell, October 15; Sam Carter, October 22; Charlie Dore & Julian Litmann, November 19, and Martin Carthy, December 3.