REVIEW: Steve Crowther’s verdict on York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, NCEM, York, July 13

Ayres Extemporae: Picked by reviewer Steve Crowther and the judges alike for the first prize in the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition

THIS seriously prestigious biennial competition at the National Centre for Early Music showcased an outstanding concert of “emerging talent in the world of music”. Although having just quoted from the informative programme, the eight ensembles seemed pretty much “emerged” to my ears.

The first to perform were Trio Altizans (The Netherlands): Eriko Nagayama, violin; Antonio Pellegrino, violoncello; Agata Sorotokin, fortepiano.

THEIR programme, entitled Geister Medley, opened with the Largo Assai Ed Espressivo from Beethoven’s Piano Trio no. 5 in D major, op. 70 no. 1. The Trio captured the spooky, impressionistic tone of the movement. The work is nicknamed ‘the Ghost Trio’ (a response by Carl Czerny to this eerie middle movement).

The performance reminded me how Gothic the music is – creepy bass tremolos in the piano etc. The fragmentary motifs, harmonies that had an instability – quite modern stuff really, but they made a convincing narrative throughout.

From Beethoven to Schubert and the last movement Allegro moderato from the great Piano Trio no. 2 in E flat major, D. 929. I thought the performance was focused, lively and the knitting together of different themes worked well, as did the closing triumphant ending. Not sure of the ‘early music’ label here but I enjoyed it none the less.

Ensemble Bastion (Switzerland): Maruša Brezavšček, recorder; Martin Jantzen, viola da gamba; Elias Conrad, theorbo; Mélanie Flores, harpsichord.

NOW this programme, entitled Les Goûts Réunis: The United Musical Tastes “takes its name from a collection of suites by François Couperin, reflecting the high-Baroque period’s rivalry between the musical centres of Italy and France” (programme note).

The programme opened with François Couperins Échos from his Concerts Royaux. I was impressed with the stylish ornamentation and the instinctive engagement between the players. The echoes, or echo effects, were charming.

Arcangelo Corelli’s Sonata IV in F major, op. 5 was originally ornament-free until composer Johan Helmich Roman (among others) had his say. This was indeed ornament-rich and a joy to listen to.

They closed with Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata a Flute Dolce, Dessus de Viole e Basse. This was joy too, the slow movement so gently teased out. But it was the clear canonic dialogue throughout that stayed with me.

[hanse]Pfeyfferey (Germany): Laura Dümpelmann, shawms; Lilli Pätzold, cornetto; Alexandra Mikheeva, slide trumpet, trombone; Emily Saville, trombone.

WHO could object to an early music programme entitled: Party Like It’s 1524. Their programme note didn’t start promisingly: “In addition to our unwavering commitment to authentically merge musical practice with associated musicology and theory…”

But it perked up with “…we draw inspiration from the timeless human need to enjoy good company, food, drink and music”. Amen to that.

I had never heard of the composer Ludwig Senfl so I did a bit of Google listening. I thought the conservative sacred music was quietly impressive, but it was the secular, humanist songs that we were treated to here.

These were full of life and the performers radiated energy playing the music. So too the Improvisations. The performances so seductive, so infectious and, in the case of Isaac’s Lala Höhö and Zwischen Berg Und Tiefe Tal genuinely touching.

P.S. Ludwig Senfl studied with the great Heinrich Isaac and lost a toe in a hunting exercise. Now there’s one for the pub quiz.

Apollo’s Cabinet (UK): Teresa Wrann, recorder; Thomas Pickering, harpsichord, traverso, recorder; David Lopez Ibanez, violin; Harry Buckoke, viola da gamba; Jonatan Bougt, theorbo, Baroque guitar; Daniel Watt, percussion.

THIS programme was entitled Musical Wanderlust: Charles Burney’s European Travels In Pursuit Of Harmony. Mercifully this concert was far more enjoyable than the turgid description would have had us believe. It was an attractive musical travelogue around pre-Brexit Europe through the eyes, ok the diaries, of Charles Burney.

I absolutely loved the whole set. It reminded me a little of Red Priest, who might just have been an influence. This was revisiting Vivaldi, Buxtehude and the holiest of spiritual grails, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, from another perspective; a completely bonkers one.

Of the four prizes on offer this early music band must surely be a contender for one of them. “The most fun-filled, brilliantly whacky prize goes to…”

Rubens Roza (Switzerland): Aliénor Wolteche, medieval fiddles; Matthieu Romanens, tenor; Mélina Perlein-Féliers, medieval harps; Elizabeth Sommers, medieval fiddle, viola d’arco; Asako Ueda, medieval lute, Renaissance guitar.

A PROGRAMME entitled Warblings Of Paradise didn’t seem terribly inviting. Thankfully we had a note of explanation: “In Dante’s Paradise, music is the supreme joy of mankind. The pieces we are going to perform have both sacred and secular aspects and will give full rein to the sounds of heavenly instruments; harps, lutes, vielles and voice will alternate and blend to celebrate the harmony of souls.”

THE recital opened with Guiraut Riquier’s Aisi Com Es Sobronrada (from Chansonnier Provençal – La Vallière). This is intended to be a “declaration of love made to the Virgin”. And yet…tenor Matthieu Romanens was himself seductively serenaded by Aliénor Wolteche (medieval fiddle) and Mélina Perlein-Féliers (medieval harp) without, as far as I could see, much resistance. Mr Romanens has a lovely rich tenor voice with a particularly resonant lower register, which is rare.

Following Rubens Rosa’s very engaging rustic dance, Estampie, we were back to Hail Mary, full of grace. There was a touching intimacy and a velvety richness in colour. Very enjoyable.

As indeed was Robert Morton’s instrumental N’aray Je Jamais Mieux Que J’ai, where the introduction of the viola d’arco (Elizabeth Summers) really enriched the tonal palette. Then back to Matthieu Romanens’ tenor voice in a dignified Fortuna Desperate (Anonymous). If you closed your eyes, his voice sounded more like a baritone than a tenor.

Their recital closed with a foot-tapping, rustic Laudato Sia Dio (Dindirindin). The call and response, the energy and rhythmic hemiola shifts (think Bernstein’s America) recharged the soul. Maybe.

Pseudonym (Switzerland): Liane Sadler Baroque, traverso; Maya Webne-Behrman, violin; Stephen Moran, viola da gamba; Gabriel Smallwood, harpsichord.

PROGRAMME entitled Broken Colours. The notes describe this theme as: “To showcase the wide range of colours and sonic possibilities of this instrumentation, Broken Colours draws on various collections from different composers published throughout the first decades of the seventeenth century. Together they represent a cohesive survey of the prevailing instrumental genres and compositional hallmarks of the time…”

The recital opened with Dario Castello’s Nona Sonata à Tre (from Sonate Concertate In Stil Moderno, Libro Primo, 1621). To be honest I know very little about Dario Castello’s music but what I have heard I liked immensely. As the description “moderno” suggests, his music is progressive, exploring “new formal structures and means of expression” (programme note). I think this freshness did come across; the performance was tight, stylish and full of energy.

Other Baroque pioneer composers also featured in the recital. I thought the ensemble’s performance of Tarquinio Merula’s Ballo Detto Eccardo was extremely expressive and gave Liane Sadler (traverse flute) an opportunity to shine. Which she did. Biagio Marini’s La Foscarina, Sonata a 3, Con Il Tremolo was pretty amazing too. The players really caught the inventive, expressive nature of Marini’s writing, this time giving violinist Maya Webne-Behrman an opportunity to shine, and she duly did.

The recital closed with Andrea Falconieri’s rhythmically driven Ciaconna And Pseudonym clearly enjoyed playing it as much as we did listening to it. An infectious, foot-tapping pleasure. What a way to sign off.

Ayres Extemporae (Belgium): Xenia Gogu Mensenin, violin; Víctor García García, violoncello piccolo; Teresa Madeira, violoncello.

UP to this point, I had forgotten that this was a competition. That was until Ayres Extemporae walked on to the stage and opened their recital with an X-rated, blistering account of Heinrich Ignaz Biber’s Sonata for violin and continuo in E minor, C.142.

Xenia Gogu Mensenin’s violin playing – technically brilliant, musically utterly hypnotic and completely fearless – immediately demanded attention. To be sure, there was some respite to be had in the beautiful Aria but this couldn’t last and didn’t; Ms Mensenin got her second wind, the violin bursting free of the constraints of the song, then regained the narrative of “torment” and headed for the finish line with indecent haste.

This was beyond ‘redemption’, nevertheless this remarkable Trio gave it their best shot with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Erbarme Dich from Ich Armer Mensch ich Sündenknecht, BWV 55 (arr. for violoncello piccolo, violin and continuo).

This wonderful aria is (obviously) from the St Matthew Passion. Erbarme Dich (Have Mercy) represents Peter’s weeping and distress at having denied knowing Jesus three times. Here the violoncello piccolo ‘sings’ the tenor aria.

The performance by Víctor García García was very persuasive: meditative, expressive and genuinely moving. Whether it was persuasive enough, however, was to be found along the “path to forgiveness”. Once again, the Trio turned to Bach, this time the Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord in G major, BWV1027 (arr. for violoncello piccolo, violin and continuo).

In this version, “the cello piccolo takes the role of the viola da gamba, and the violin and the cello play respectively the right and left hand of the harpsichord part” (programme note).

The E minor Andante had a haunting quality. The violoncello (Teresa Madeira) gracefully weaving through the arpeggiated progressions. The performance was so moving and soul searching. The final Allegro moderato was a dance, a bourrée and fugal.

Thus, giving all three of these outstanding performers the chance to show how well they intuitively understood and communicated this music. A real joy and, to quote Tina Turner, Simply The Best?

Before I typed this review, I thought I knew who the winner might be. I just wished I had behaved like a true, blue-rinsed politician and popped out to place a bet before the coronation.

Friedrichs Nebelmeer Ensemble (Switzerland): Pablo Gigosos, flute; Mei Kamikawa, oboe; Claudia Reyes, clarinet; Andrés Sanchez, horn; Angel Alvarez, bassoon.

HAVING lived and breathed contemporary music for most of my adult life, I am not a great fan of the 20th-century Wind Quintet repertoire (Birtwistle and the tedious Schoenberg works spring to mind, and back out again). But this Baroque repertoire of Franz Danzi, Giuseppe Cambini and Anton Reicha played by the charmingly enthusiastic Friedrichs Nebelmeer Ensemble was just delightful.

We were told to “expect some fun after a seven-hour concert’”, and we did. The problem is, however, that zippy exchanges – the musical flair in, for example, the Finale: Allegretto of Reicha’s Wind Quintet in E flat major, op. 88 no. 2 – can mask the technical brilliance.

This closing movement is an energetic rondo and all of the performers embraced the solos on offer. I loved the intimacy of the sound the Ensemble generated.

The Larghetto Sostenuto Ma Con Moto from Giuseppe Cambini’s Wind Quintet no. 2 in D minor was so sweetly sung; it’s not often you hear a wind quintet blending as beautifully as this. Again, so intimate but this time with a velvety sensuous colouring.

Their recital actually opened with Franz Danzi’s Allegrettos no’s I and IV from his Wind Quintet in G minor, op. 56 no. 2, a work dedicated to Anton Reicha. Crisp staccato playing, perfect handovers of the musical motifs, lovely clear balance; and yes, it radiated enjoyment.

I do have critical observations and suggestions – not all the performances were uniform, at times not all the balance was quite as democratic as it might have been, and there were a few slips.

But given the quality of these Young Artists and the fact that they had two days of “informal recitals” with completely different programmes and in the company of Steven Devine, then discretion and humility are surely the order of the day.

But I will say that the programme notes, although informative and indeed often insightful, veered towards the academic, seldom a good thing, and a bit dull.

Not surprisingly the “tell us a bit about yourselves and your programme” bit was a distraction at best. To this end, I would suggest drawing from the “everyday” anecdote of Steven Devine himself.

Here Mr Devine took us through a typical York ginnel to the Three Legged Mare pub. There was a folk-blues band playing and he popped in for a pint. Through the window, he noticed some members of an ensemble looking in. He bought them a drink and left. When he returned one of the players had joined in.

One can take many things from this lovely account: that this could never, ever happen at a “classical” music concert; that this musical experience belongs to the working class, pop, rock, folk, blues culture, or that the beer in the Three Legged Mare is decidedly better than that on offer at the NCEM.

For me, it is about the love and importance of music and music making. And what an enriching experience this is. Bob Dylan and John Adams are both great composers, just different.

Anyway, back to the competition. A panel of experts in the field of Early Music, Bart Demuyt, Philip Hobbs, Elizabeth Kenny, Lionel Meunier and Emily Worthington judged that Ayres Extemporae were the winners of this prestigious York Early Music International Young Artists Competition.

Additional prizes went to: [Hanse]Pfeyfferey (Cambridge Early Music), Ensemble Bastion (EUBO Development Trust) and Apollo’s Cabinet (Friends of York Early Music Festival).

So, what a way to close this remarkable festival: with renewal. Talking of which, none of this could happen without the dedication, professionalism and creativity of Delma Tomlin MBE, director of the internationally acclaimed National Centre of Early Music (NCEM) and the York Early Music Festival.

Unfortunately, I am all out of superlatives, so how about “National Treasure”? Sorry Delma.

Belgian trio Ayres Extemporae win the 2024 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition

Ayres Extemporae: Competition winners stand outside St Margaret’s Church, the home of the National Centre for Early Music, York

AYRES Extemporae were awarded first prize at the York International Young Artists Competition last Saturday, against fierce competition from seven fellow international ensembles from across Europe.

The Belgian-based ensemble receives a professional recording contract from Linn Records, a £1,000 cash prize, a future paid engagement with the York Early Music Festival and recording opportunities with BBC Radio 3.

During the two days before the competition, each ensemble presented an informal recital at the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, with the aim of giving the musicians the opportunity to adapt to the performance space and become accustomed with festival audience members in advance of the final.

These groups were selected from a pool of 48 ensembles from across the world and were judged by an international jury of Bart Demuyt, director of AMUZ/Alamire; Philip Hobbs, from Linn Records; Elizabeth Kenny, internationally acclaimed lutenist; Lionel Meunier, director of Vox Luminis, and Emily Worthington, clarinettist and University of York lecturer.

The competition provided a spectacular finale to the ten-day festival, which connected old friends and new through concerts, recitals and workshops staged in a variety of historic venues around the city. 

The recitals from this year’s final are available to watch on demand at ncem.co.uk and on the NCEM’s YouTube channel and edited highlights will be shared on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on Sunday, November 3 2024.

Ayres Extemporae are: Moldovan-Spanish violinist Xenia Gogu, Spanish cellist Víctor García García, playing on a five-string cello piccolo, and Portuguese cellist Teresa Madeira.

Apollo’s Cabinet, from the UK, scooped the Friends of York Early Music Festival Award, a cash prize of £1,000; Ensemble Bastion won a cash prize of £1,000, endowed by the EUBO Development Trust, for the Most Promising Young Artists specialising in the Baroque repertoire, and [hanse] Pfeyfferey scooped the Cambridge Early Music Prize, which includes a paid performance in Cambridge.

The 2024 finalists were: Apollo’s Cabinet (UK); Ayres Extemporae (Belgium); Ensemble Bastion (Switzerland); Friedrichs Nebelmeer Ensemble (Switzerland); [hanse] Pfeyfferey (Germany); Pseudonym (Switzerland); Rubens Rosa (Switzerland) and Trio Altizans (Netherlands).

The 2024 competition was presented by Steven Devine,harpsichordist, fortepianist, conductor and director of orchestral, choral and opera repertoire, and former artistic advisor to the York Early Music Festival.

At the end of the competition, Philip Hobbs, from Linn Records, who chaired the judging panel, said: “This competition is definitely one of the musical highlights of the year and Linn Records is very proud to continue this important relationship with the York Early Music Festival and with the National Centre for Early Music.

“Today’s concert illustrated an array of extraordinarily inventive musical talent, and I would like to congratulate all eight ensembles who performed.”

Delma Tomlin, NCEM director and festival administrative director, said: “It was wonderful to welcome these eight ensembles from the UK and Europe to what is always an enriching experience and an amazing opportunity to share music and enhance their skills.

“I would like to thank everyone who appeared today, once again the standard of performance was of the highest calibre. I would also like to say a huge thank-you to our panel of judges for their hard work and support and also to Steven Devine for his expertise and invaluable help.”

Winners Ayres Extemporae said: “We’re absolutely delighted and honoured to receive this amazing prize and would like to thank everyone who has supported us – our time in York has been a wonderful experience and everyone has been super-friendly.  

“We’d like to thank all the other ensembles for their encouragement, friendship and brilliant musicianship, it’s been a real pleasure spending time with the other musicians. We’re really looking forward to returning to York and recording with Linn Records.”

York Early Music Festival celebrates at York Mansion House

Utopia: Flanders musicians played at National Centre for Early Music, York

THE 2024 York Early Music Festival enjoyed not one, but two celebrations in the presence of the Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Margaret Wells, last week.

Young musicians from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and even Mexico arrived in York to take part in the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, held in the city every two years.

The musicians were welcomed with a drinks reception and enjoyed a tour of York Mansion House with the Lord Mayor, who revealed some of the resplendent Georgian building’s hidden secrets.

The next day, the Delegation of Flanders to the UK hosted a reception to mark Flanders Day – a major national holiday in the Belgian region – in celebration of a new partnership with the York Early Music Festival, in association with the Alamire Foundation and AMUZ, with support from the Flanders government.

Bart Brosius, General Representative of Flanders in the UK and Ireland, welcomed the delegation to York and Bart Demuyt, from the Alamire Foundation in Flanders, extended a warm thank-you to the National Centre for Early Music director Delma Tomlin for her continued hard work, giving aspiring young musicians from the UK and beyond the encouragement and recognition they deserve.

Guests included: York Central MP Rachael Maskell; Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council; Joan Concannon, University of York; Philip Nelson, Harrowells Solicitors; Adam Butterworth, Department for Business and Trade, and many other guests from the Flanders delegation.

Audiences enjoyed concerts by two ensembles from Flanders, Utopia at the National Centre for Early Music and Cappella Pratensis & I Fedeli at York Minster.

From Flanders with early music: Cappella Pratensis performed at York Minster

REVIEW: Steve Crowther’s verdict on York Early Music Festival, Florilegium, National Centre for Early Music, York, July 7

Florilegium harpist Siobhán Armstrong

TO quote Anne-Marie Evans in the Daily Telegraph, “whereas the florilegia of the 17th century were created to portray the beauty and novelty of those plants brought back from the colonies, the modern florilegium may be seen as a conservation tool, instrumental in recording for posterity collections of plants within a chosen garden”.

Florilegium’s Le Roi s’Amuse: Music For A King’s Pleasure takes this delicate analogy, a musical journey around a musical flower garden, to “explore the intimate and elegant sound world of France in the decades around 1700 and perform music by composers known to both Louis XIV and Louis XV”.

An inspired concept that rewarded us with an impeccable concert of 18th-century French Baroque music. The concert opened with Jacques-Martin Hotteterre’s Suite in D major, and despite a gentle whinge by flautist Ashley Solomon at the 10.30am start, it was impeccable.

The opening Prelude set the tone of serious elegance and refinement. The flute playing by Mr Solomon was simply divine; phrases lovingly caressed, detail rich and polished. The Sarabande oozed charm and elegance, Menuet’s I & II were fresh and vibrant and the Brione’ Gigue (La Folichon) closed with a deliciously cute signing off.

Some of the movements were christened with titles such as Le Duc d’Orléans and Le Comte de Brionne. I can only assume these referred to courtiers from the reign of Louis XIV.

Jacques Morel’s Chaconne was great fun. It started out as a sweet Sunday morning chat with the flute and viola da gamba. The dialogue became a little more animated, competitive and virtuosic but the narrative always remained within the boundaries of decency, and they did kiss and make up at the end.

Couperin’s Unmeasured Prelude No. 13 is a work written without rhythm or metre indications. The score uses long groups of phrased whole notes, a bit like an instrumental plainchant. Anyhow, the performance was just superb; a quiet, melancholic jewel.

I haven’t heard of the composer Michel de la Barre. He wrote music for the transverse flute (no keys to cover the tone holes). The performance of his Suite No. 9 in G major was ensemble music making of the very highest order.

Marin Marais’s Suite in D minor was a tour de force performed with real, almost musically primal energy and vitality by Reiko Ichise (viola da gamba). The sound world was unlike anything else on offer: muscular, grainy lower register, biting articulation, dramatic dynamic range.

Such was the sheer physicality of the playing that even the wonderful Siobhan Armstrong’s harp accompaniment came across somewhat cowed, almost apologetic and the balance, not surprisingly, uneven.

Jacques-Martin Hotteterre’s Prelude: Pourquoy, Doux Rossignol proved to be the tenderest of love songs. The playing so refined, so sensitive.

Jean-Baptiste Barrière’s Sonata a Tre proved to be a worthy finale. Here, as ever, the playing was incisive, warm and polished. There was an encore, but unfortunately I missed the name and title of the work. It was very good, however.

Florilegium – Ashley Solomon, flute, Reiko Ichise, viola da gamba, and Siobhán Armstrong, harp – clearly are a world-class period instrument ensemble. And this insightful exploration and interpretation of the “intimate and elegant” French Baroque musical world of Jacques-Martin Hotteterre, Marin Marais and their lesser-known contemporaries was an absolute joy.

The performances were invariably elegant, technically flawless and, perhaps above all, transported the listener to a quite magical place.

Review by Steve Crowther

York Early Music Festival launches cultural partnership with Flanders, led off by Utopia and Cappella Pratensis concerts

Utopia: Making their York Early Music Festival debut at the NCEM, at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York

YORK Early Music Festival is launching a cultural partnership celebrating the musical heritage of Flanders at next month’s event.

Two world-class ensembles from northern Belgium, Utopia and Cappella Pratensis, will be performing in York as part of the new collaboration, organised in association with the Alamire Foundation, in Leuven, and AMUZ, a thriving arts centre in a disused baroque church and former Augustine monastery in Antwerp, with support from the Flanders government.

“The partnership celebrates the historic ties between York and Flanders from the medieval period, built on the trading of wool by enterprising merchants, through to the present day,” says festival director Dr Delma Tomlin, the first woman governor in the 660-year history of the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.

“The York Early Music Festival has worked with our partners in Flanders for 25 years and we have a similar mind-set to supporting and developing Early Music ensembles, with a willingness to provide opportunities.

“We are particularly delighted to be part of this exciting new partnership, the beginning of a new collaboration with artists and colleagues based in Flanders in what is a considerable investment on their part. I would like to say a huge thank-you to the Almire Foundation, AMUZ and the Flanders Government for their support.

“This marks a very important moment in this city’s musical history and highlights York’s historical relationship with Flanders, giving us the opportunity to celebrate our cultural heritages. We look forward to building on this partnership in the future with the embassy to fly the flag for York and Flanders.”

Both concerts will take place on July 12, firstly Flemish vocal ensemble Utopia – “hot favourites in Antwerp,” according to Delma – making their York debut at the festival’s home, the National Centre for Early Music, in a 6pm programme entitled Salve Susato: Treasures from Antwerp’s Golden Age.

Cappella Pratensis: Returning to York for July 12 concert in the Quire of York Minster

“Utopia invite you to meet Tielman Susato, a composer known today mostly for his instrumental works but who flourished in 16th-century Antwerp as a publisher of vocal music by Josquin, Lassus, Gombert, Crecqillon, Clemens non Papa and Susato himself,” says Delma.  “His Missa [mass] In Illo Tempore and motet Salve Quae Roseo will sit at the heart of this programme.”

At 9pm, in the Quire of York Minster, Cappella Pratensis and I Fideli will be directed by Stratton Bull in a hour-long programme of Jacob Obrecht and Jacobus Barbireau works.

“Obrecht and Barbireau were two prominent representatives of Franco-Flemish polyphony with connections to the Church of Our Lady – today’s Antwerp Cathedral – around 1500,” says Delma.

“In his masses and motets Obrecht was an innovative user of the cantus firmus technique in which polyphonic fabric weaves around an existing melody, as in his celebratory Missa, Sub Tuum Praesidium. Osculetur Me, Barbireau’s only surviving motet, will complete the programme.”

Delegates from Flanders will host a reception in York Mansion House to welcome the artists and celebrate this new partnership on July 11 – aptly Flanders National Day – in the presence of York’s Civic Party and representatives of York industries with links to Flanders.

Bart Brosius, General Representative of Flanders in the United Kingdom and Ireland, says: “Flanders and York share historical connections through several key aspects of their heritage and centuries of cultural and economic exchanges. We share bustling medieval markets, elegant Gothic architecture, entrepreneurship and academic excellence.

“We are celebrating this connection in York in July through Early Music. We are delighted to work with the local authorities, the University of York and the renowned York Early Music Festival. We also look forward to welcoming our friends from York later in the summer for the Flanders Festival Antwerp.”

This marks a very important moment in this city’s musical history and highlights York’s historical relationship with Flanders,” says York Early Music Festival director Delma Tomlin

Established in 1977, York Early Music Festival celebrates music from the medieval to the baroque within an array of historic venues across the city, attracting an array of world-class artists and audiences from all over the world.

Among the 2024 highlights will be the festival climax on July 13, the York International Young Artists Competition, a groundbreaking event held every two years where young ensembles compete for a professional recording contract with Linn Records, a £1,000 cheque and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the National Centre for Early Music.

The competition also offers prizes supported by the Cambridge Early Music Festival, the European Union Baroque Orchestra Development Trust and Friends of York Early Music Festival.

Presented by keyboard musician Steven Devine at the NCEM from 10am to 5pm, the 2024 competition final will feature Rubens Rosa, Ensemble Bastion, (Hanse) Pfeyfferey; Ayres Extemporae; Apollo’s Cabinet; Pseudonum; Trio Altizans and Friedrichs Nebelmeer Ensemble.

Swiss-based ensemble Brezza also were selected for the final but have since had to withdraw from the competition. 

The finalists will spend time in York performing informal concerts and learning from experts before the July 13 final, when festivalgoers will discover who will follow in the footsteps of such past winners as Protean Quartet, L’Apothéose, Barroco Toutand Sollazzo Ensemble.

The 2024 festival has the theme of Metamorfosi for eight days of concerts and illustrated talks focusing on the human voice and song, with The Gesualdo Six, Concerto Soave, Vox Luminis and The Sixteen among the vocal specialists taking part.

Among the sell-outs are Florilegium on July 7  and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on July 8, both at the NCEM. BBC Radio 3 will be recording Florilegium, Cubaroque (July 7, NCEM), The Gesualdo Six (Chapter House, York Minster, July 9), Apotropaik (Holy Trinity, Micklegate, July 10) and the International Young Artists Competition for later broadcast. The competition final will be streamed live too.

For the full programme and ticket details, head to: ncem.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

What’s On in Ryedale, York & beyond when a football play is more fun than England. Hutch’s List No. 22, from Gazette & Herald

Lynda Burrell, left, and Catherine Ross, curators of Museumand’s exhibition of Caribbean culture, 70 Objeks & Tings, at York Castle Museum. Picture: Gareth Buddo

CARIBBEAN culture and football cup history, sublime saxophone and peerless guitars, riverside poetry and balletic heroes stand out in Charles Hutchinson’s cultural week ahead.

Exhibition of the week: 70 Objeks & Tings, York Castle Museum, until November 4; Mondays, 11am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm

70 OBJEKS & Tings, a celebration of 75 years of Caribbean culture, showcases 70 items that connect us to the Windrush Generation in an “extraordinary exhibition of the ordinary”.

Curated by mother and daughter Catherine Ross and Lynda Barrett, founders of Museumand, the National Caribbean Heritage Museum, it features objects that combine familiarity and practicality and have been passed down the generations. On show are cooking and household goods, food packaging and beauty supplies, funeral items, music, games, books and newspapers. Tickets: yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk. 

Johnny Marr: Playing songs from his 2023 compilation album, Spirit Power, and his back catalogue of The Smiths and Electronic gems at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Coastal gig of the week: Johnny Marr and The Charlatans, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Saturday, gates 6pm

JOHNNY Marr, The Smiths and Electronic guitarist, superstar collaborator and solo artist, cherry-picks from all eras of his career, right up to his November 2023 compilation Spirit Power in his headline set.

First up on this north-western double bill on the East Coast will be Tim Burgess’s band, The Charlatans, as full of indie rock swagger as ever after 22 Top 40 hits, from The Only One I Know to North Country Boy. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats: Heading for York Barbican

Rhythm & blues gig of the week: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, York Barbican, tomorrow (27/6/2025), doors 7pm

NATHANIEL Rateliff & The Night Sweats play York Barbican as the only Yorkshire venue on their six-date South Of Here summer tour.

Noted for supplying the zeal of a whisky-chugging Pentecostal preacher to songs of shared woes, old-fashioned rhythm & blues singer and songwriter Rateliff will be showcasing his Missouri band’s fourth studio album on the eve of its Friday release. William The Conqueror support. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Crowning glory: Ballet Black in If At First, part of the Heroes double bill at York Theatre Royal

Dance show of the week: Ballet Black: Heroes, York Theatre Royal, Friday, 7.30pm

CASSA Pancho’s dance company returns to York with the double bill Ballet Black: Heroes. Choreographer Mthuthuzeli November contemplates the meaning of life in The Waiting Game, a 2020 work infused with a dynamic soundtrack featuring the voices of Ballet Black artists.

Franco-British artist Sophie Laplane, choreographer-in-residence at Scottish Ballet, follows up her 2019 Ballet Black debut, Click!, with If At First, her exploration of “a more subtle heroism, a quieter triumph over adversity, in a struggle that unites us all”. Humanity, heroism and self-acceptance combine in this celebratory piece. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Adderstone’s Cath Heinemeyer and Gemma McDermott: Organisers of Open Swim on The Arts Barge

All aboard but no swimming allowed: Open Swim, The Arts Barge, Foss Basin, York, Friday, 7pm to 11pm

YORK’S floating venue, The Arts Barge, will be flowing with music and words in a river-themed gig on Friday with proceeds going to Right to Roam, a charity that campaigns for better access to wild spaces.

On the bill will be alt-folk duo Adderstone; multi-instrumentalists White Sail Band; storyteller Lara McClure’s strange tale of aquatic beasts, York slam champ Hannah Davies’s riverside poems; Navigators Art co-founder Richard Kitchen’s poem invoking York’s rivers and Amy-Jane Beer’s stories of paddling along Britain’s rivers. Tickets: artsbargecom/events or on the door.

Eliza Carthy: Solo concerts at the NCEM, York, and Fylingdales Village Hall

Folk gigs of the week: Eliza Carthy, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, Friday, 7.30pm; Fylingdales Village Hall, Station Road, Robin Hood’s Bay, Sunday, 7.30pm

ELIZA Carthy, innovative fiddler and vocalist from the First Family of Folk, heads from Robin Hood’s Bay to York for a solo gig at the NCEM. At once a folk traditionalist and iconoclast, she revels in centuries-old ballads and Carthy compositions alike.

In her 32-year career, Carthy has performed with The Imagined Village, The Wayward Band and The Restitution, collaborated with Paul Weller, Jarvis Cocker, Pere Ubu, Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Jools Holland, Patrick Wolf and Kae (CORRECT) Tempest, served as president of the English Folk Dance & Song Society and artist in residence in Antarctica and been described by comedian Stewart Lee as “not the Messiah, but a very naughty girl”. Broadside balladeer Jennifer Reid supports at the York gig. Box office: York, for returns only, 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk; Robin Hood’s Bay, trybooking.com/uk/events/landing/57434.

Saxophonist Snake Davis: Leading his band at Helmsley Arts Centre

Ryedale gig of the week: Snake Davis Band: Summer 24, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 7.30pm

SAXOPHONIST to the stars Snake Davis brings his four-piece band to Helmsley, promising “something for everybody, from floaty to danceable, from soul to pop, jazz to world music” in an uplifting set of original material and sax classics, such as Baker Street and Night Train. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Football alternative to plod-along England at the Euros: Long Lane Theatre Club in The Giant Killers

Ryedale play of the week: Long Lane Theatre Club in The Giant Killers, Milton Rooms, Malton, July 4, kick-off at 7.30pm; East Riding Theatre, Beverley, July 16 and 17, 7.30pm

THE Giant Killers tells the story of how Darwen FC came to the public’s attention in 1870s’ Lancashire to proclaim Association Football as the people’s game and not only the preserve of the upper classes.

Andrew Pearson-Wright & Eve Pearson-Wright’s play recounts how a ragtag bunch of mill workers in Darwen took on the amateur gentlemen’s club of the Old Etonians in the FA Cup quarter-final in 1879, rising up against prevailing social prejudice and the might of the Football Association to earn a place in history as the first real ‘‘giant killers’’ in English football. Box office: Malton, 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com, Beverley, eastridingtheatre.co.uk

More Things To Do in York and beyond light nights. Plenty of stuff and Nunsense in Hutch’s List No. 26, from The Press, York

Sing something wimple: Emily Rockliff’s Sister Robert Anne to the fore in a rehearsal for York Light Opera Company’s Nunsense: The Mega-Musical

FROM nuns in a riotous revue to a celebration of Caribbean culture, The Fonz’s memoirs to Ballet Black’s heroes of dance, Charles Hutchinson’s arts diary matches the June sunshine.  

York musical of the week: York Light Opera Company in Nunsense: The Mega-Musical!, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, 7.30pm, June 26 to 28, July 2 to 5; 3pm; June 29 and 30, July 6

AFTER the unfortunate passing of four beloved sisters in a “culinary catastrophe”, the remaining Little Sisters of Hoboken find themselves in a sticky situation. To raise funds for a proper burial (and perhaps a new cook), the nuns take centre stage for a riotous revue unlike any other.

Director Neil Wood brings Dan Goggin’s musical to mega-sized life in a version that boasts an expanded cast, new characters and even more musical mayhem. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Lynda Burrell, left, and Catherine Ross, founders of exhibition curators Museumand, at the launch of 70 Objeks & Tings at York Castle Museum. Picture: Gareth Buddo

Exhibition of the week: 70 Objeks & Tings, York Castle Museum, until November 4; Mondays, 11am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm

70 OBJEKS & Tings, a celebration of 75 years of Caribbean culture, showcases 70 items that connect us to the Windrush Generation in an “extraordinary exhibition of the ordinary”.

Curated by mother and daughter Catherine Ross and Lynda Barrett, founders of Museumand, the National Caribbean Heritage Museum, it features objects that combine familiarity and practicality and have been passed down the generations. On show are cooking and household goods, food packaging and beauty supplies, funeral items, music, games, books and newspapers. Tickets: yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk. 

Alexandra Kidgell: Soprano soloist for Haydn’s The Creation at York Minster

Classical concert of the week: York Musical Society, Haydn’s The Creation, York Minster, tonight, 7.30pm

FOUR years later than first planned – blame Covid – York Musical Society performs Haydn’s oratorio The Creation under the baton of musical director David Pipe. The choir and orchestra will be joined by soloists Alexandra Kidgell, soprano, Nathan Vale, tenor, and Thomas Humphreys, baritone.

The Creation was composed in 1797, following Haydn’s visits to London, when he was inspired by hearing Handel’s great oratorios, such as the Messiah, sung by huge choral gatherings.

“Haydn’s oratorio is one of the most upbeat and enjoyable works in the repertoire, with plenty of drama for the chorus to bring to life,” says Pipe. “We are excited to have the chance to perform The Creation in York Minster’s inspiring surroundings.” Box office: 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or on the door.

Mostly Autumn: Highly summer concert at The Crescent tonight

York band of the week: Mostly Autumn, The Crescent, York, tonight, 7.30pm

MOSTLY Autumn may have been called “the best band you have never heard”, but that is a misnomer in their home city of York, where Bryan Josh and Olivia Sparnenn-Josh’s classic rock combo play tonight.  

Twenty years of gigging, whether headlining or supporting Blackmore’s Night, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull and Bryan Adams, goes into performing their combination of Seventies’ rock and prog-rock, peppered with a sense of the future. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Henry Winkler: American actor discusses The Fonz and more on Sunday

Coolest show of the week: Henry Winkler, The Fonz & Beyond, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

HEY, Happy Days star HenryWinkler shares stories of his life on the 50th anniversary of his time in Hollywood after being told he would “never achieve”.

The Emmy award-winning actor, author, director and producer, now 78, is promoting his Being Henry memoir as he reflects on his sitcom days as The Fonz, the Happy Days role that defined a generation of cool, as well as subsequent appearances in Arrested Development, Parks And Recreation and Barry. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Tom Jones: Returning to Scarborough Open Air Theatre for the first time since July 2022

Coastal gig of the week: Tom Jones, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 26, gates open at 6pm

SEATED tickets have sold out for Welsh whirlwind Tom Jones’s outdoor gig in Scarborough but that still leaves room for standing. Sixty years since releasing his first single, Chills And Fever, in 1964, he is still blowing those bellows as powerfully as ever at 84, having made history as the oldest man to notch up a number one with an album of new material in the UK Official Album Charts in 2021 with Surrounded By Time, overtaking Bob Dylan.

Expect It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat?, Delilah, She’s A Lady, Green, Green Grass Of Home, Kiss, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Sex Bomb et al from Sir Tom. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats: Introducing new album South Of Here at York Barbican

Rhythm & blues gig of the week: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, York Barbican, June 27, doors 7pm

NATHANIEL Rateliff & The Night Sweats play York Barbican as the only Yorkshire venue on their six-date South Of Here summer tour.

Noted for supplying the zeal of a whisky-chugging Pentecostal preacher to songs of shared woes, old-fashioned rhythm & blues singer and songwriter Rateliff will be showcasing his Missouri band’s fourth studio album on the eve of its Friday release. William The Conqueror support. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Crowning glory: Ballet Black in If At First, on tour at York Theatre Royal

Dance show of the week: Ballet Black: Heroes, York Theatre Royal, June 28, 7.30pm

CASSA Pancho’s dance company returns to York with the double bill Ballet Black: Heroes. Choreographer Mthuthuzeli November contemplates the meaning of life in The Waiting Game, a 2020 work infused with a dynamic soundtrack featuring the voices of Ballet Black artists.

Franco-British artist Sophie Laplane, choreographer-in-residence at Scottish Ballet, follows up her 2019 Ballet Black debut, Click!, with If At First, her exploration of “a more subtle heroism, a quieter triumph over adversity, in a struggle that unites us all”. Humanity, heroism and self-acceptance combine in this celebratory piece. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Eliza Carthy: Performing solo at the NCEM, York, and Fylingdales Village Hall

Folk gigs of the week: Eliza Carthy, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, June 28, 7.30pm; Fylingdales Village Hall, Station Road, Robin Hood’s Bay, June 30, 7.30pm

ELIZA Carthy, innovative fiddler and vocalist from the First Family of Folk, heads from Robin Hood’s Bay to York for a solo gig at the NCEM. At once a folk traditionalist and iconoclast, she revels in centuries-old ballads and Carthy compositions alike.

In her 32-year career, Carthy has performed with The Imagined Village, The Wayward Band and The Restitution, collaborated with Paul Weller, Jarvis Cocker, Pere Ubu, Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Jools Holland, Patrick Wolf and Kae Tempest, served as president of the English Folk Dance & Song Society and artist in residence in Antarctica and been described by comedian Stewart Lee as “not the Messiah, but a very naughty girl”. Broadside balladeer Jennifer Reid supports at the York gig. Box office: York, for returns only, 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk; Robin Hood’s Bay, trybooking.com/uk/events/landing/57434.

David Ward Maclean, centre, and musical friends Sarah Dean and Steve Kendra

Retirement concert of the week: David Ward Maclean and Friends, with special guest Edwina Hayes, Friargate Theatre, York, June 29, 6.30pm

YORK music scene stalwart and busker supreme David Ward Maclean plays his retirement gig with friends on the eve of his 66th birthday (June 30). “I’m retiring from all public performance, except the occasional open mic when I fancy it, maybe the odd charity appearance if requested, and will be focusing on finishing recording some 40 unreleased songs of mine,” he says.

Joining David will be The Howl & The Hum’s Sam Griffiths, Bradley Blackwell, Sarah Dean, Steve Kendra, Emily Lawler, Dan Webster, Paul Heaney, Al Hamilton, Robert Loxley Hughes, Amy Greene, Sarah Jennifer and special guest Edwina Hayes. Box office: wegottickets.com.

Ryan Collis and Charlotte Robertson win the 2024 NCEM Young Composers Awards

National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award winners Ryan Collis, left, and Charlotte Robertson, seated, at the NCEM

RYAN Collis and Charlotte Robertson are the winners of the 2024 National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Awards.

Ryan won the age 19 to 25 years category with Lux Divinae; Charlotte, the 18 years and under category with A Wonderous Mystery.

Presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3, the final of the 17th NCEM Young Composers Awards took place at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, on May 16.

This year, the NCEM and BBC Radio 3 invited aspiring young composers to create a new work for The Tallis Scholars. Composers were asked to write for unaccompanied voices, setting the 16th century text Mirabile Mysterium (A Wondrous Mystery) either in the original Latin or the English translation.

Composers were encouraged to create music that responds to the imagery of the words and, like the polyphonic vocal music of the European Renaissance, has a sense of melodic direction.

Compositions by the eight young finalists were workshopped during the day by composer Professor Christopher Fox, professional singers from York ensemble Ex Corde and their director Paul Gameson, in the presence of Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars.

In the evening, Ex Corde and Paul Gameson gave a public performance, live streamed to ensure that friends and families from across the United Kingdom were able to join in.

The live streamed performance is available on the NCEM Young Composers Award website at https://www.youngcomposersaward.co.uk/

The shortlisted composers and pieces were:

19 to 25 years

Thomas Shorthouse, Mirabile Mysterium;Tingshuo Yang, Mirabile Mysterium; Ryan Collis, Lux Divinae; Reese Carly Manglicmot, Mirabile Mysterium.

18 and under

Matty Oxtoby, Mirabile Mysterium; Charlotte Robertson,  A Wondrous Mystery; Jamaal Kashim, Mutationem ac Stabilitatem; Selina Cetin, Nativitas Salvatoris Nostri.

“It was wonderful to welcome these talented young people to York for a day sharing music and ideas,” said NCEM director Delma Tomlin

The 2024 panel of judges were BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt, NCEM director Delma Tomlin and Tallis Scholars director Peter Phillips.

Ryan Collis and Charlotte Robertson’s winning works will be premiered by The Tallis Scholars in a public concert at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, on Sunday, October 20, when the performance will be recorded for later broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

Delma Tomlin said: “We are delighted to welcome back the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble The Tallis Scholars, directed by our good friend Peter Phillips, as the partners for 2024.

“An annual event on the NCEM’s busy calendar, the Young Composers Award is becoming increasingly popular with aspiring young composers and recognised as an important landmark in their careers.

“It was wonderful to welcome these talented young people to York for a day sharing music and ideas at the NCEM’s home, St Margaret’s Church. I’d like to say a special thank-you to Dr Christopher Fox, Peter Phillips, Paul Gameson and Ex Corde, for their inspiration, hard work and invaluable support, and of course to my fellow judges.  

“We’re looking forward to hearing the winning compositions performed by The Tallis Scholars in Saffron Walden in the autumn and broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.”

Les Pratt said: “Radio 3 prides itself on being the home of classical music that is known to many, as well as a place where audiences can discover the latest trends and creations.

“Through our support for young composers, thanks to our partnership with NCEM, we are making sure that the art form is kept alive, and always looks to the future. That’s why we can’t wait to share these wonderful new compositions with listeners at home on the Early Music Show and on BBC Sounds.”

The Tallis Scholars said: “Commissioning and performing the works of living composers has been an important part of the long life of The Tallis Scholars, alongside our performances of Renaissance sacred polyphony. To be able to work with young composers is a great privilege and to see how they respond to ancient texts and renaissance settings of those texts is endlessly fascinating.”

Beverley & East Riding Early Musical Festival: Who is taking part in concerts, workshops and talks from May 24 to 26?

Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival director Delma Tomlin

THE 2024 Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival opens on Friday with a 7.30pm concert by rising stars El Gran Teatro del Mundo, sponsored by the Embassy of Spain.

Based in Spain, this young instrumental group captivated audiences on their British tour last year and will be visiting Beverley for the first time to perform Life Is A Dream (La Vida Es Sueño) at St Mary’s Church.

Undertaking a magical musical journey through the night, these specialists in French music from the time of the Sun King bring to life the operas of the Grand Siècle with instrumental interpretations of scenes where darkness will be the best ally of love and sleep, death’s best friend.

The National Centre for Early Music (NCEM), the charitable York organisation behind the festival, welcomes the new sponsorship. Director Delma Tomlin said: “This is the first time we have received sponsorship from the Embassy of Spain, in London, and we are absolutely delighted to be working together to promote Spanish music through the ages.

“The Embassy’s generous financial support – supporting the travel costs from Spain – makes all the difference and we are thrilled to be able to welcome such fabulous musicians to perform here in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”

José María Robles Fraga, Minister Counsellor for Cultural and Scientific Affairs at the Embassy of Spain, said: “This newly stablished partnership provides a unique opportunity for Spanish musicians performing in the UK.

“We are very proud to support this initiative and we are confident that audiences at the Beverley Early Music Festival will enjoy the immense talent of this Spanish ensemble”.

Running from May 24 to 26, this year’s festival takes the theme of Threads of Gold, weaving together stories of Beverley’s remarkable history through music and song, combined with a distinctly Spanish twist.

El Grano Teatro del Mundo: Performing Life Is A Dream (La Vida Es Sueño) at St Mary’s Church on Friday

“This year we are threading together music, history and song – designed to entertain, to engage and to intrigue,” says Delma.  “There’s a wealth of music and drama in store and as always, there are plenty of opportunities to make music as well as enjoy it – so we hope to weave you a tapestry of delights for 2024.”

Further concerts with a Spanish theme include Nigel Short directing the award-winning choir Tenebrae in their acclaimed interpretation of Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Requiem Mass for six voices – a masterpiece of the Spanish Golden Age – at Beverley Minster on Saturday at 7.30pm.

In the festival finale on Sunday at 7.30pm at East Riding Theatre, Beverley, The Telling present their heart rend(er)ing music theatre show Into The Melting Pot.

Written by Clare Norburn and directed by Nicholas Renton, it tells the stories of the women of medieval Spain torn apart by religious intolerance, performed by actor Suzanne Ahmet as Blanca, Patience Tomlinson as Queen Isabella (offstage voice), singers Clare Norburn and Avital Raz, Emily Baines, recorders and doucaine, Giles Lewin, oud, and Jean Kelly, harp & percussion.

Music and theatre collide in this fully staged show that heads back to 1492 Spain for a story of migration, community and conflict. At twilight on her final night in Seville, a Jewish woman lights the lamps. She is being forced to leave Spain and set sail for an uncertain future.

Her tale echoes down the ages to the personal stories of people of all faiths and backgrounds affected by politics and war today, as she tunes into a community of stories told by Jewish, Christian and Muslim women, soundtracked by plaintive Sephardic songs and lively Spanish medieval music.

The newly appointed BBC Radio 3 New Generation Baroque Ensemble Augelletti make their sold-out Beverley festival debut with A Curious Mind at St Nicholas Church, Beverley, on Saturday at 10am.

Focusing their musical lens on an ever curious and well-connected York clergyman and musician, Edward Finch, Ensemble Augelletti tell his singular story and perform some of his compositions and arrangements alongside music by his friends Purcell, Handel and Geminiani.

On Saturday, harpsichordist Steven Devine returns to Beverley with virtuoso violinist Bojan Čičić in a 4pm programme of Handel Sonatas at Toll Gavel United Church, melding GF Handel’s violin sonatas with those of the Italian-born violinist and composer Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli.

Tenebrae: Performing Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Requiem Mass at Beverley Minster on Saturday. Picture: Sim Canetty-Clarke

In A World Of Inspiration at Toll Gavel United Church on Sunday, the London Handel Players present a 3pm programme of Baroque works from Baroque composers from Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, India and the British Isles.

The festival’s opening illustrated lecture by Dr John Jenkins at St Mary’s Church on Friday at 4pm has sold out. Under the title of “…and oil dripped from the golden tomb”, the University of York co-director of the Centre for Pilgrimage Studies and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society recalls a Medieval Pilgrimage to St John of Beverley.

From his death in 721, to the destruction of his golden shrine in Beverley Minster in 1541, John of Beverley was the most important saint in the East Riding, prompting pilgrims to flock to his golden and bejewelled shrine from near and far.

By the close of the Middle Ages, thanks to the miracles he worked for the kings of England, St John had become a saint of national importance on a par with St George. Dr Jenkins’s lecture reveals why pilgrims came, or in some cases were forced to come, to Beverley, and the unique and wonderous spectacle the Minster canons provided for medieval visitors.

In the festival’s second lecture, at Toll Gavel United Church Hall, on Sunday at 4.30pm, Professor Melanie Giles, from the University of Manchester, reveals more of the ancient history of the East Riding in Ancient Threads and Enchanted Garments: Stories of preserved textiles from Iron Age and Roman Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Ancient textiles, made of both vegetal and wool fibres, are rarely preserved in archaeological contexts because of their organic and fragile nature. In this talk, Prof Giles shares the story of some rare examples, ranging from the edge of Iron Age cloaks, bags and containers from Arras burials in East Yorkshire to threads and garments found with bog bodies dating to the early Roman period in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Instrumentalists are invited to The Birth Of The Orchestra, a day-long workshop led by members of El Gran Teatro del Mundo at Hexagan Music Centre, Beverley, on Saturday at 9.30m.

This workshop on Baroque orchestral performance practice, based on the writings of George Muffat with additional music by Corelli and Lully, will be directed by Julio Caballero in the company of fellow El Gran Teatro del Mundo musicians Miriam Jorde, oboe, Bruno Hurtadoviol, cello, and Andrés Murillo, violin.

Ensemble Augelletti: Making Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival on Saturday morning

The workshop is open to players of Baroque oboe, traverso, bassoon, recorder and string players with Baroque instruments or modern instruments with gut strings and Baroque bows. Music will be provided and is available to download on the NCEM website, ncem.co.uk, for private practice before the event. Participants should be confident sight-readers.

Singers have two workshop options: festival debutants SongPath’s uplifting blend of walking, talking and music-making, setting off from Hengate Memorial Gardens on Saturday at 1.30pm to 3pm, followed by Tenebrae’s choral workshop, Music of the Spanish Golden Age, at Hexagan Music Centre on Sunday at 9.30am.

Contralto Jess Dandy, mezzo-soprano Joanne Harries and recorder player Olwen Foulkes lead a 90-minute singing walk around Beverley in Songpath, inviting participants to “immerse yourself in an outdoor experience that transcends conventional concerts, exploring mental well-being through the transformative power of music and nature”. Wear suitable clothing and footwear and bring a brolly, they advise.

Choral singers are invited to join Tenebrae’s experienced workshop leader Joseph Edwardsto work on some of the repertoire from Saturday’s n their programme. Music for the day includes Alfonso Lobo’s Versa est in Luctum and Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Taedet Anima and Astiterunt Reges Terrae.

The workshop is open to all voices with some sight-singing experience. The afternoon concludes with a short informal performance of music studied during the day, open to all, free of charge.

Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival runs from May 24 to 26. Box office: 01904 658338,  ncem.co.uk or in person from Beverley Tourist Information Centre, Customer Service Centre, Cross Street, Beverley. Full programme: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/bemf.

Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival: the back story

ESTABLISHED in 1988 to celebrate Beverley’s historic association with musicians from medieval times.

Blessed by a wealth of ecclesiastical buildings and musical carvings in stone and wood in both Beverley Minster and St Mary’s Church, making it the “perfect place for a festival of early music”.

Supported by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and administered by National Centre for Early Music, York.

Annual festival combines concerts, illustrated lectures and associated workshops.

Katherine Priddy ponders the pull of home, family and love on second album The Pendulum Swing as she plays The Crescent

Katherine Priddy: “Always found myself wandering back, craving the comfort and nostalgia of the past,” she says.

KATHERINE Priddy grew up in the first house on the left, the title of the first single from her second album, The Pendulum Swing, whose title came from a lyric in that song.

“Despite its soft and dreamy sound, this song provides the cornerstone around which the album and its themes orbit,” says the Birmingham contemporary roots singer-songwriter and finger-picking guitarist, who plays at The Crescent, York, on Wednesday night (15/5/2024).

“It’s inspired by the little old house where I grew up and all the memories captured within those four walls – both for me and for all the other inhabitants who’ve lived there over the centuries. It might just be another terraced cottage to passers-by, but to those who’ve called it home, it’s everything.

“There’s something magical about past inhabitants. That was something that intrigued me as a child, digging in the garden, finding old toy soldiers and bits of china: it’s a reminder you’re not the first to live there and you won’t be the last. It’s a comforting thought, how a house can look like any old terraced house outside but inside a scratch on the wall means everything.”

Explaining the album title, Katherine says: “It describes the urge to leave and the even stronger urge to return. Something I’ve felt a lot in recent few years as I’ve tried to carve out a corner for myself elsewhere, but always found myself wandering back, craving the comfort and nostalgia of the past.”

Released in February on Cooking Vinyl as the follow-up to 2021’s The Eternal Rocks Beneath, The Pendulum Swing is a step forward for Katherine. “My songs have matured since my debut, seeing as most of those were written in my childhood, but despite moving forward and feeling the need to do something different with this second release, I still can’t help but return to those fundamental, unchanging things at the root of it all: home, family, love,” she says.

“Overall, I wanted this song and the album to feel lived in, and this is captured in part by the ghostly atmospheres, mechanical clockwork sounds, creaking floorboards, indistinct whispers and old tape recordings of my family that are littered throughout. I want to invite the listener to come in, sit down and inhabit the album for a little while, and First House On The Left is right at the heart of that.”

Describing the rural village house, Katherine says: “It’s an old terraced house in Alvechurch, 11 miles from Birmingham, quite a few hundred years old with a lot of history. It’s where I grew up; I’ve moved out, moved back in again, moved out, then moved back in again with my parents over lockdown, with mixed feelings.

“When rapidly approaching 30, you feel you must move out, move on, but at the same it’s really hard to deny the pleasure of being back home with your parents.”

Katherine reflects on the itinerant nature of a singer-songwriter’s life. “Being a musician, it’s always about picking the most scenic route. I will find my home,” she says, having moved out again. “At the moment I’ve found a lovely little flat in Birmingham by the river.”

Will she write about it? “Who knows! Maybe I will. Probably I have another house song in me,” she says.

The cover artwork for Katherine Priddy’s sophomore album The Pendulum Swing

Katherine wrote her first album in her teens. “It dealt with mythology, which I was more interested in then. Now I’ve turned back to more fundamental things because they are there all the time and I’m trying to find myself. When everything else seems unstable, these things stay the same, and I wanted to capture that nostalgia, which is something I crave.”

Craving comfort in the past, Katherine says: “I’ve picked a fairly unstable career, which is very much about being in the moment, planning but not sure if things will come to fruition, but I feel very lucky to have a family that’s an unchanging bedrock and are always so supportive.

“Sometimes you just want to go back and feel like a kid again, and I think it’s fine that I feel grateful to have that feeling of nostalgia. It’s impossible not to want to still be back there and re-live those moments – and I can do that in song.”

She returned to the same producer, Simon J Weaver, who had recorded her first album at his Rebellious Jukebox studio in Birmingham, joined by guest musicians John Smith (lead guitar), Harry Fausing Smith (strings), Marcus Hamblett (brass and double bass), George Boomsma, from Northallerton (guitar and backing vocals), and Polly Virr (cello).

“This album feels like a step up in being more cinematic in places and taking me out of my comfort zone,” says Katherine. “I really like it on albums where you can hear things that take it from being a song to be more immersive, and that what’s we’ve done for The Pendulum Swing

“I wanted it to feel like you are entering a house, but also bookending the album with instrumentals that convey returning to the house and then leaving again at the end. It’s that urge to stay and that urge to leave that I’ve been doing battle with.

“Some of the songs are very personal to me, like when I’ve featured clips throughout of me and my dad talking from a tape that I found at my parents’ house – and I’ve squeezed my family into a cameo on the last track.

“I thought there’d be more resistance, but my dad loves his vinyl and a credit on an album is something he couldn’t resist, so it’s a family affair with my brother and parents on there.”

Katherine’s 14-date tour finds her expanding from a duo format to a trio with support act George Boomsma and Harry Fausing Smith joining her on stage. “It’s lovely to have Harry for this tour, capturing some of the soundscapes from the album, as well as integrating some of the samples into the set,” she says.

“It’s really emotive to have the strings. I’ve been getting goosebumps listening to these musicians adding their beautiful skills to songs that have been occupying my head for so long.”

Katherine Priddy plays The Crescent, York, on May 15, supported by George Boomsma, 7.30pm; The Live Room, Saltaire, May 16, 7.30pm. Both sold out. Box office for returns only: katherinepriddy.co.uk/ 

Katherine Priddy: the back story

Katherine Priddy: Singer, songwriter, guitarist

First set foot on stage to play Dorothy in school play The Wizard Of Oz, aged nine.

Wrote first song at 14/15.

Love of language, literature and poetry rooted in English Literature studies at University of Sussex, Brighton. Favourite novel Wuthering Heights would later inspire her first album title:  “I loved how Cathy described her love for Heathcliff as being ‘the eternal rock beneath’,” she says.

Folk luminary Richard Thompson chose her as “The Best Thing I’ve Heard All Year” in Mojo magazine on the strength of her 2018 EP, Wolf.

Received airplay on Guy Garvey, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson, Cerys Matthews, Radcliffe & Maconie, Steve Lamacq  and the late Janice Long’s radio shows.

2021 debut albumThe Eternal Rocks Beneath (Navigator Records) drew glowing reviews from the Observer, the Sun, Uncut, Songlines and Folk Radio UK with its songs of mythology, childhood and growing up. Charted at number one in Official UK Folk Chart and number five in Official UK Americana Chart, rounded off the year on Mojo’s Folk Albums of the Year list.

Played Cambridge Folk Festival, winning Christian Raphael Prize; Glastonbury, appearing on BBC Two’s coverage; Green Man; End Of The Road; Beautiful Days and BBC Proms.

Katherine Priddy and John Smith performing together at Selby Town Hall in November 2022. Picture: Paul Rhodes

As well as headline tours, she has supported Richard Thompson, The Chieftains, Loudon Wainwright III and Vashti Bunyan.

In 2022, she played in Australia, including Port Fairy Folk Festival, plus showcase in Kansas City, USA, as part of Folk Alliance International.

In 2023, she recorded I Think They’re Leaving Me Behind for double album The Endless Coloured Ways – The Songs Of Nick Drake, on Chrysalis Records, featuring alongside Self Esteem, Aldous Harding, John Grant, Bombay Bicycle Club and more.

Supported Guy Garvey at The Roundhouse, London.

In February 2024, she released second album The Pendulum Swing on Cooking Vinyl.

Past shows around here: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, near York, August 2021; National Centre for Early Music, York, June 2022; Selby Town Hall, with John Smith, playing 14 songs together over 100 minutes, November 2022.

One last question

Do you consider herself to be a folk musician, Katherine?

“I THINK I’m just outside, with one foot in folk and one foot elsewhere, but what I appreciate about folk songs is that they tell stories.”

Prima Vocal Ensemble to perform Luminous Night of Scandinavian and American music at NCEM on May 19

Ewa Salecka: Prima Vocal Ensemble’s artistic director, producer, conductor and percussionist

YORK contemporary choir Prima Vocal Ensemble presents Luminous Night at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on May 19.

Over the past few years, artistic director and producer Ewa Salecka has been the creative mind behind a series of intimate choral and instrumental concerts with the choir and an array of guest musicians.

Now comes a 7.30pm programme of modern choral music for voices, strings, piano and percussion under Salecka’s baton at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate.

The evening features pieces with a Scandinavian and American theme accompanied by professional musicians Beatriz Carbonell and Chloe Fletcher on violins, Katie Jarvis on viola, Rachel Gray on cello, Greg Birch on piano and Salecka herself on percussion instruments.

Selected by Salecka, Luminous Night showcases two pieces for voices, piano and string quartet by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo: Dark Night Of The Soul and Luminous Night Of The Soul.

Prima Vocal Ensemble in concert

“These works, with their meditative, cinematic sound, are raised to new levels by the use of poetry and lyrics by Charles Anthony Silvestri and St John of the Cross,” says Ewa.

The programme also features Arvo Pärt’s Fratres for string quartet, music by Dan Forrest and Elaine Hagenberg, Nordic folk tunes arranged by Frode Fjellheim and “breathtakingly beautiful” pieces by Ivo Antognini and Eugene Butler.

“Our recent sell-out concert series have proved very popular and there will be something for everyone in this event, which coincides with Prima’s 14th anniversary of providing memorable concert opportunities for singers and their audiences: the only choir to perform to this high standard without the need to audition,” says Ewa.

Throughout the first half of 2024, the choir is in parallel preparations for two noteworthy concerts in “Old” York and New York. “In June, we’ll return to New York City and Carnegie Hall for We Sing! We Rise! We Soar!, The Music of Christopher Tin & Greg Gilpin, produced by Distinguished Concerts International New York,” says Ewa.

“No strangers to the iconic venue, Prima will join international performers in a programme that will include multi-lingual music from Christopher Tin’s Grammy award-winning albums. So, if you happen to be in New York on June 9, come and hear Prima in this collaborative performance.”

Prima Vocal Ensemble’s poster for Luminous Night

Reflecting on Prima’s progress, Ewa says: “We’ve covered so much musical ground since our first rehearsal in May 2010. When I think back, I’m amazed by the variety and complexity of music we’ve performed, the amount of programme covered and the individuality of each and every event.

“There are some singers who have been there from the very beginning and I am extremely grateful to still be in this position after 14 years, promoting new music and new concerts in York.

“If anyone is looking for a unique creative outlet, then now really is the perfect time to join us. Rehearsals offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere with an emphasis on a positive, engaging learning experience. We are always welcoming singers who are team players, want to improve their vocal technique and expand their musical palette.”

For tickets for Luminous Night, go to primavocalensemble.com. “Limited spaces are available, so early booking is highly recommended,” advises Ewa.

“To find out more about Prima and the opportunities you can enjoy, please visit primavocalensemble.com.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redfish Blues Band: Returning to Milton Rooms, Malton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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