More Things To Do in and around York and while stuck with “staying home”. Lockdown List No. 25, courtesy of The Press, York

Flood, mixed-media monotype, by Lesley Birch, from Muted Worlds, her joint exhibition with ceramicist Emily Stubbs, running initially online and then at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York

LOCKDOWN 3 plods on with no end in sight deep amid the winter chill, drawing Charles Hutchinson’s gaze to online events, a writing opportunity and the promise of live entertainment somewhere down the line.

Online lockdown exhibition at the double: Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch, Muted Worlds, for Pyramid Gallery, York

CERAMICIST Emily Stubbs and artist Lesley Birch have teamed up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition of pots and paintings that has begun as a digital show from their studios before moving to Terry Bretts’s gallery in Stonegate, once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased. 

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Muted Worlds exhibitor and York Open Studios participant

“This is a show with a more muted edge,” say Emily and Lesley. “Winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown, so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”

Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in  York Open Studios this summer, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace.

Rowntree Park: Hosting the Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

Creative project of the winter season: Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

THE Friends of Rowntree Park invite you to join the Words From A Bench project by submitting a short story or poem based around themes of the York park, the outdoors, nature and escape.

No more than 1,000 words in length, the works will be displayed in the park. Adults and children alike should send entries by February 15 to

Mary Coughlan: Irish singer has had to rearrange her Pocklington Arts Centre concert for a second time

Gigs on the move: Pocklington Arts Centre re-writing 2021 diary

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is re-scheduling concerts aplenty in response to the relentless grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan’s April 23 show is being moved to October 19; the Women In Rock tribute show, from May 21 to October 29; New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, from February 2 to December 7, and Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, from February 12 to December 2. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged dates.

A new date is yet to be arranged for the postponed February 23 gig by The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s country soul band from Portland, Oregon. Watch this space.

At sixes and sevens: The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park (third from left, back row)

Early notice of online Early Music Day at National Centre for Early Music, York, March 21

THE Gesualdo Six will lead the NCEM’s celebrations for Early Music Day 2021 on March 21 by embarking on an online whistle-stop musical tour of York.

The Cambridge vocal consort’s concert will be a streamed at 3pm as part of a day when musical organisations throughout Europe will come together for a joyful programme of events to mark JS Bach’s birthday. 

During their residency, The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical tour of the city that will be filmed and shared in March.

Monster and Minster beyond: A B-movie bridge drama on the Ouse by the alliteratively named Lincoln Lightfoot, one of the debutants in York Open Studios 2021, now moved to July

Better late than never: York Open Studios, switching from spring to summer

CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists are determined to go ahead with York Open Studios 2021, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.

Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.

Midge Ure: Opening his Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Planning ahead for next year, part one: Midge Ure & Band Electronica, Grand Opera House, York

MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22, when the 67-year-old Scotsman will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.

Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House in October 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.

Tommy Emmanuel: York gig awaits for fingerstyle Australian guitarist

Planning ahead for next year, part two: Tommy Emmanuel at Grand Opera House, York

AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, 65, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of next year’s12-date tour with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.

At 44, Emmanuel became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. Playing fingerstyle, he frequently threads three different guitar parts simultaneously into his material, handling melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.

Steven Devine: Harpsichordist pictured when recording at the NCEM, York

Online concert series of the season: Steven Devine, Bach Bites, National Centre for Early Music, York, Fridays

EVERY Friday at 1pm, until March 19, harpsichordist Steven Devine is working his way through J S Bach’s Fugues and Preludes in his online concert series. Find it on the NCEM’s Facebook stream.

And what about?

STAYING in, staying home, means TV viewing aplenty. Tuck into the French film talent agency frolics and frictions of Call My Agent! on Netflix and Scottish procedural drama Traces on the Beeb; be disappointed by Finding Alice on ITV.

REVIEW: York Early Music Christmas Festival, Spiritato! Online; Stile Antico, live, NCEM, York, December 13

Step into Christmas: Stile Antico, pictured by Marco Borggreve before socially distanced Covid times

THE 2020 York Early Music Christmas Festival went out with a splurge of concerts over its last weekend.

Your reviewer caught two of the four on the final day. Spiritato! was the largest ensemble to appear at the festival, 18 period-style players, who concentrated on Bach and his contemporary Johann Friedrich Fasch in The Leipzig Legacy.

Had he not been born directly in Bach’s shadow, Fasch would surely be better known. We heard at once, in the opening Concerto in D, how Fasch was already anticipating the classical shapes and sounds that were to feature in Haydn’s earlier symphonies.

There were exciting trumpets in the opening Allegro and delightful solos from violin and oboe in the finale: enough meat on these bones, indeed, to make further exploration of Fasch an exciting prospect.

His Quartetto in D minor, dating from about 1750, was marginally less exciting, but well above run-of-the-mill Baroque, gracefully delivered in its slow movements, with contrastingly crisp counterpoint in the Allegros.

Spiritato! was led from her violin by Kinga Ujszászi, who came into her own in Bach’s Sinfonia in D, where her effortless panache was breath-taking. But elsewhere too, she led by example, sustaining a real sense of dance through both Bach’s Second and Third Suites.

The Second, in B minor, believed to be the last of the four to be written, was given here in its earliest version for strings alone. Here the sound was a touch top-heavy, needing an extra cello or two for good balance.

The Third Suite, in D major, was probably much earlier, written at Cöthen (where Bach was succeeded as Kapellmeister by Fasch) in 1718. Apart from its famous Air, caressed here by strings alone, the Gavottes had a gentle lilt and the Gigue made a triumphant finale. Spiritato’s palpable enjoyment had proved infectious throughout.

The festival closed with the 12-voice ensemble Stile Antico, in an appearance at the unusual but most welcome hour of 5pm. Here we were back to purely Christmas repertory, mimicking Nine Lessons and Carols with nine Renaissance works, each preceded by a contemporary reading, in A Renaissance Christmas.

My heart usually sinks when I see that musicians are doing their own readings: few manage it with much prowess, let alone clarity. Stile Antico largely proved me wrong; these well exceeded expectation. There were two poems each from John Donne and George Herbert.

Robert Southwell’s The Burning Babe was another excellent choice, as was Emilia Lanier’s Eve’s Apologie. But the laurels went to a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes, its wit and wisdom about the Magi (including “a cold coming they had of it”) delivered here with supreme clarity. None of the readers was identified.

The conductor-less choir was arranged in two semi-circles, eight on the outside, four inside, socially distanced. This meant that, for the first time that I recall, it was possible to spot one singer keeping time with a gentle nod.

Needless to say, ensemble remained impeccable, matched by tuning that surely heaven will not better. The sopranos were particularly stunning. I recall just one occasion when a very high entry was slightly misjudged, though instantly rectified.

The tone of the evening was nicely set by an extract from the Piae Cantiones of 1582, that Finnish collection rediscovered by our man in Helsinki in the early 19th century.

Victoria was the only composer to feature twice, once with an eight-voice Agnus Dei, once with a gorgeous O Magnum Mysterium, partnering Donne’s Nativity. In between these two came the starker harmonies of a graceful Ave Maria by Des Prez, alongside Donne’s Annunciation, another clever pairing. Byrd’s Rorate Coeli had reminded us of his matchless counterpoint.

A very peppy Angelus Ad Pastores by a Ferrara nun, Raffaella Aleotti, in madrigal style, reminded us of how many such ladies are only now being brought to light, not before time. Guerrero’s villancico – nowadays synonymous with Christmas carol – A Un Niño Llorandowas cleverly shaped by five soloists.

It remained for a beautifully sustained account of John Sheppard’s Verbum Caro Factum Est, which was written for Christmas matins, to remind us of the reason for the festival. If you’ve never heard Stile Antico, make a beeline for them: you won’t be disappointed.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Both concerts are still available to buy online from the York Christmas At Home programme at until December 21 to watch on demand until January 6 2021.

Monday is the chance to join Cuppa And A Chorus for virtual Christmas singing session

Cuppa And A Chorus participants at an earlier Zoom singing session

IF you are missing the joy of festive singing this Christmas, here is your chance at the obligatory remote distance.

On Monday (21/12/2020), the National Centre for Early Music, in York, will be hosting the Cuppa And A Chorus Christmas Special via Zoom, bringing Christmas cheer with this 6pm online singing session.

Expect Christmas songs, virtual mince pies and fun aplenty. Family members can celebrate together and there will be a break in the middle to enjoy that all important “cuppa” or maybe even a mulled wine and mince pie.

“The session will be conducted via Zoom and is a brilliant opportunity to socialise with friends, as well as a chance to make new ones,” says Lottie Brook, the NCEM’s learning and participation manager.

“No singing experience is necessary. Places are free but must be booked in advance. A Zoom link will be sent out on the day.”

Anyone nervous about using Zoom or accessing the concert can contact Lottie Brook at

To book, go to:

NCEM receives £28,000 Kickstart grant to boost ambitious digital outreach plans

“Over the past year, our digital outreach has become increasingly significant as part of our offer and we’re thrilled to be able to continue to expand it,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

THE National Centre for Early Music, in York, has been awarded a £28,000 Capital Kickstart grant from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

This will enable the NCEM, in St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, to push forward with its ambitious digital plans, despite the financial challenge caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin said:“We would like to thank the Culture Recovery Fund for their continued support and for this extremely generous grant in recognition of our vital and important work. Over the past year, our digital outreach has become increasingly significant as part of our offer and we’re thrilled to be able to continue to expand it.”

The NCEM is one of 74 organisations receiving grants totalling £58.9 million today. The Capital Kickstart grants programme helps organisations cover costs added to capital projects such as building works, refurbishments, and large-scale equipment purchases by pandemic-related delays or fundraising shortfalls. 

To continue the “outstanding success of its significantly increased digital output”, the NCEM needed additional funds for livestream cameras and filming equipment, plus in the new website in order to reach wider audiences and support the Early Music sector. 

Steven Devine performing the first live-streamed concert at the NCEM on March 21

The first live-streamed concert on Early Music Day on March 21 by harpsichordist Steven Devine attracted a worldwide audience of more than 70,000 and this summer’s online York Early Music Festival continued to engage new audiences from as far afield as the USA and Australia. 

This month, the NCEM is staging the York Early Music Christmas Festival, a festive programme of live concerts running until this weekend. Newly added for 2020 is York Christmas At Home, a digital festival of nine concerts to be streamed from today until Sunday that will then be available on demand.

In November, the NCEM’s Young Composers Award 2020, presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, took place digitally; again, the behind-closed-doors concert was live-streamed to a wide audience. Plans for next year’s award with BBC Radio 3 and 2021 partners, recorder quartet Palisander, are in progress already.

The NCEM continues to play an important part in the promotion and support of the professional development of Early Music ensembles worldwide with residencies and workshops in the planning stage. As a bonus, the NCEM’s new spring music festival will coincide with celebrations for 2021 Early Music Day on the anniversary of JS Bach’s birthday on March 21.

Alongside a varied programme of music, in 2021 the NCEM will be staging the Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival and the York Early Music Festival.

Ben Pugh, seated, leading the tech team for the online 2020 York Early Music Festival in July

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the NCEM has continued to keep music alive and was one of the first UK arts organisations to broadcast online concerts worldwide.

Education and engagement with communities has continued too, drawing in socially isolated individuals to a weekly Cuppa And A Chorus, as well as sharing music-making through a series of teaching videos aimed at deaf youngsters, I Can Play. 

Today, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport also announced that £165 million from the Culture Recovery Fund has been offered in repayable loans to help 11 major cultural organisations survive the loss of income caused by the crisis.

This follows previous rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund, including the grants programme that distributed £428 million to more than 2,000 cultural organisations across the country and the £3.36 million Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This Government promised it would be here for culture and today’s announcement is proof we’ve kept our word. 

Matthew Wadsworth and Kate Bennett Wadsworth captured on camera in their live-streamed concert at the NCEM. The concert can be enjoyed again as part of York Christmas At Home on Sunday at 10.30am via

“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications.

“Today, we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture, so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.” 

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said: “Today’s announcement is another vital step in securing the future of England’s cultural sector. Supporting capital projects will help to ensure that we maintain an innovative, sustainable cultural infrastructure that supports world-class creative work, while the loans announced today will enable some of our largest and most prestigious cultural organisations to weather the effects of Covid-19 and reopen when it is safe to do so.

“The Arts Council is grateful to the Government for their support through the Culture Recovery Fund and we are proud to support all the organisations receiving funding today.”

For more details on the 2020 York Early Music Christmas Festival and York Christmas At Home festival, go to:

REVIEW: York Early Music Christmas Festival, Illyria Consort, NCEM, York

Illyria Consort: Concert programme began and ended in Italy, travelling north to Germany in between

REVIEW: York Early Music Christmas Festival, Illyria Consort, How Brightly Shines The Morning Star, National Centre for Early Music, York, December 7

ONE of the most pleasing of the Christmas Lutheran chorales is How Brightly Shines The Morning Star. It is still in most of our hymn books.

It was actually composed by Philipp Nicolai in 1674 during an outbreak of the plague, which gives it a certain contemporary resonance. So, its inclusion in two sets of variations as the centrepiece of this Baroque recital could hardly have been more appropriate.

Illyria Consort is a trio led by violinist Bojan Čičić, who is underpinned by David Miller’s theorbo and Stephen Devine at the organ (whose advertised use of the harpsichord sadly did not materialise). They began and ended in Italy, travelling north to Germany in between.

Frescobaldi had a knack for crystallising Italian traditions and latched onto the playing of bagpipes by shepherds in the Christmas season, with a capriccio on La Pastorale (known more widely later on as Pastorella), a tradition that endures to this day in the south.

It opened peacefully here, with organ and theorbo alone, before the violin introduced some frolicking. In Germany it was picked up by Biber, a violin virtuoso himself, in his Pastorella, where frolics soon turn to fireworks. It was a delight to hear them side by side and played with such relish.

Quite a different side to Biber emerged in his Third Mystery Sonata, The Nativity, which clings doggedly to the key of B minor in its three movements, doubtless presaging the trials the Christ child was eventually to face. There was plenty of theatre here, but not much comfort.

That came with the Morning Star variations. Buxtehude’s set for solo organ gained in rhythmic coherence as it progressed, culminating in a lively jig. But the real drama came in Nicolaus Strungk’s variations for the whole trio, which was a revelation, beginning as a slow passacaglia and developing into an imaginative fantasia at a variety of tempos. The Illyrians clearly loved it.

Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli’s Sonata VIII allowed a touch of Britain into the programme. Although born in Rome, he spent over half a century in London and died there in 1773, having become a Brit as John Stephen Carbonell in 1735.

Certainly, the sonata was on a par with Handel’s best in the genre, with two central Allegros, one free flowing, the other in a zesty staccato, before an evocative closing pastorale. It came as no surprise to discover that the Illyria chose six of his sonatas for their debut recording.

Tartini is right up there as a composer for the violin, his own instrument. His Pastorale sonata also has Christmas connotations, while exploiting a number of different bowing techniques that must have sounded avant-garde in his day. Čičić by now was in full flow and obviously enjoyed its challenges.

After a majestic Adagio and a frankly showy Allegro, it wound down into another gentle pastorale. This was definitely the child in the manger rather than the angels on high. A dream ending.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Palisander, Mischief & Merriment, York Early Music Christmas Festival

Palisander: First concerts for nine months in this Covid-blighted year

REVIEW: York Early Music Christmas Festival: Palisander, Mischief & Merriment, National Centre for Early Music, York, December 4, evening

THE latest lockdown ended just in time to allow York Early Music to open its Christmas festival before a real audience.

There were only about 30 of us, to be sure, seated at small tables in ones or twos, but what a difference over livestreaming. Best of all, it inspires the players. Palisander confessed that these two performances – there had been one in the afternoon – were their first for nine months. You would not have guessed.

The period of Advent, or preparation for Christmas, has lost much of its original intent. It was once a time of strict fasting – not a bad idea in these days of sedentary constraint – to be followed by a 12-day yuletide blowout of Mischief and Merriment, the title of this concert.

Palisander’s quartet of recorders ranged all over the Tudor and Stuart periods, with occasional sorties into traditional and modern repertory, an invigorating mix.

Recorders cover a vast rainbow of colours, from the pipsqueak garklein, barely six inches long with only three finger-holes, to the avuncular contrabass, which stands over six feet tall. The whole panoply was on display here.

Players changed instruments on the move, so that as many as ten different ones were heard in a single piece. Toes began to tap at once in dances by Susato and Arbeau, which prepared the ground for a lively quintet of English numbers, three by Antony Holborne, marked by subtle use of staccato.

Several carols were woven into the tapestry, most with tasty but idiomatic harmonies arranged by one of the group, Miriam Monaghan. They included the spring song from Piae Cantiones (1582), nowadays better known through Good King Wenceslas.

Most of the mischief and merriment in the Elizabethan court was organised by the Lord of Misrule. He would surely have selected Toby Young’s Recorder Revolution!, which was pleasingly anarchic and lots of fun. Similarly, a theatre suite, played in masks, reflected Stuart customs. All were given with enthusiasm and joie de vivre that were infectious.

I had not previously thought that an hour of nothing but recorders could be so entertaining. You live and learn.

Review by Martin Dreyer

York Early Music Christmas Festival opens today…and it’s live at the NCEM

Welcome to the 2020 York Early Music Christmas Festival: Palisander reach for their recorders for today’s opening brace of concerts. Picture: Marc McGarraghy

CHRISTMAS arrives today at the National Centre for Early Music with the reopening of its doors for the annual York Early Music Christmas Festival.

Recorder quartet Palisander will launch the festivities at the Covid-secure St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, with two socially distanced concerts at 4.30pm and 7pm.

The festival of live concerts will run until December 12, complemented by the inaugural York Christmas At Home festival of streamed concerts from December 11 to 13. Full details, including tickets and concert times, can be found at

Look out for Martin Dreyer’s reviews of Palisander’s Mischief & Merriment programme today and Illyria Consort’s How Brightly Shines The Morning Star on December 7 in CharlesHutchPress.

Let’s dance! 2021 Young Composers Award at NCEM to take leap into new direction

Palisander: Dynamic young recorder quartet will be performing the competing composers’ works on award day at the 2021 NCEM Young Composers Award in York

THE call-out for entries for the 2021 NCEM Young Composers Award in York is under way.

Launched on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show today, the annual competition invites composers aged 25 and under to write a new work for recorder quartet.

Each year, the award is presented by the National Centre for Early Music, at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, in association with BBC Radio 3, joined for the 2021 award by the vibrant young recorder quartet Palisander.

This major national award is open to young composers resident in the UK and is divided into two categories: 18 years and under and 19 to 25 years.

Composers are asked to create a new work for recorder quartet based on any dance form from across all eras and cultures, from the bransle and the galliard to the Charleston and the tango.

The work may be a single movement rooted in a single dance form, a continuous movement that combines different dance forms, or a suite made up of two, three or four short movements. The entire piece should last between three to four minutes.  

Shortlisted composers will be invited to the award day at the NCEM on Thursday, May 13 2021 when the shortlisted compositions will be presented by Palisander in a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox.  In the evening, Palisander’s Lydia Gosnell, Teresa Wrann, Miriam Monaghan and Caoimhe de Paor will perform each of the pieces for a panel of judges.

The two winning pieces, one from each age category, will be premiered by Palisander in a public performance at St John’s Smith Square, London, on May 20 2021 as part of the London Festival of Baroque Music and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

“We can’t wait to hear what people come up with,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “We are delighted to introduce an exciting new element of dance into this year’s awards. This really helps us to open up the award, giving us the opportunity to work with an ever-broader community. 

“Palisander are well versed in supporting school groups and emerging musicians and we are thrilled to work with such a dynamic young ensemble.  We can’t wait to hear what people come up with!

“Shortlisted candidates will be able to enjoy an action-packed day of workshops in York with Palisander plus composer Christopher Fox. The winning compositions will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show, a feather in the cap of any young composer.”

Alan Davey, the Beeb’s controller of BBC Radio 3 and classical music, says: “Supporting young talent and promoting new music are both central to BBC Radio 3 and we are proud to continue our commitment to supporting the next generation of composers inspired by early music.”

Palisander, all alumni from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, are “very proud” to be partnering with the NCEM and Radio 3 for next year’s award. “Our programmes, though rooted in history, are not bound by it. Contemporary compositions, arrangements and performance presentation play a central role in our concerts, so we’re eager to hear the next generation’s take on one of our favoured genres:  music to dance to!” say the London quartet.

“We look forward to introducing the young composers to our plethora of recorders of varying shapes and sizes, as well as the different timbres and extended techniques at their disposal. As passionate ambassadors of our instrument, we hope that the young composers will be as inspired as we are by the plentiful possibilities of the recorder family.” 

The closing date for registration is Friday, February 19, 5pm; the deadline for submission of scores is Friday, March 19, 12 noon. Shortlisted candidates will be informed on Friday, April 9 and will be invited to attend the award day and workshops in York on May 13. 

Terms and conditions and details of how to take part, including Palisander’s advice on composing for recorder quartet, can be found at: Alternatively, email:

Christmas At Home with Palisander : York Early Music Christmas Festival launches an online weekend to complement the socially distanced concert programme at the NCEM. Palisander will play their part in both

PALISANDER will present Mischief & Merriment at the York Early Music Christmas Festival at the NCEM, Walmgate, York, on December 4 at 4.30pm and 7pm.

The recorder quartet of Lydia Gosnell, Miriam Monaghan, Caoimhe de Paor and Teresa Wrann will recall how Christmas was the highlight of the Tudor calendar when strict Advent fasting would be followed by 12 indulgent days of mischief and merriment.

These elaborate celebrations were presided over by the Lord of Misrule, who co-ordinated the Christmastide entertainments for the court. For their December 4 programme, Palisander will return to the NCEM to take on the role of Lords of Misrule, presenting festive songs and dances to keep toes tapping throughout December.

Traditional Renaissance settings of familiar carols will be paired with music to accompany the whopping 20-plus course Tudor Christmas dinner, complemented by Yuletide courtly dances and playful contemporary takes on the Lord of Misrule’s spectacles.

Palisander will showcase their full recorder family, from the six-inch garklein to the six-foot contrabass, plus everything in between, and among the featured composers will be Antony Holborne, John Dowland, Thoinot Arbeau and Michael Praetorius.

York Christmas At Home will present nine online concerts in three days from December 11 to 13. Palisander’s Mischief & Merriment will be streamed at 1pm on December 12 and will be available to view on demand until January 6 2021. Tickets are on sale at:

Tickets for the York Early Music Christmas Festival can be booked at Hurry, hurry, is the advice

Next year’s York International Young Artists Competition postponed until July 2022

Winners: L’Apothéose in the grounds of the National Centre for Early Music after their success in the 2019 York International Young Artists Competition. Picture: Jim Poyner Photography

THE 2021 York International Young Artists Competition is to be postponed for a year.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the prestigious classical music event will take place on July 13 to 16 2022 instead and subsequently will be staged every two years.

The competition is open to Early Music ensembles with a minimum of three members, who must have an average age of 32 years or under with a maximum age of 36. 

The ensembles must demonstrate historically informed performance practice and play repertory from any period, spanning the Middle Ages to the 19th century, on period instruments. 

This longstanding competition for young ensembles takes place at the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, as part of York Early Music Festival. 

​Recognised as an international platform for emerging talent in the world of Early Music, the competition attracts musicians across the globe, offering a boost to young professional careers with opportunities for performance, recording and broadcasting and international exposure.  

“Every year, we are overwhelmed by the superb quality of the performances from these fantastically talented young artists,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

The 2019 competition final included ten ensembles with artists from 14 different countries. Winners L’Apothéose, from Spain, received a professional recording contract from Linn Records, a £1,000 prize and chances to work with BBC Radio 3 and the NCEM.  

NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin says:“The competition brings together young musicians of the highest calibre and is one of the highlights of the York Early Music Festival. With the competition attracting artists from all over the world, in the current climate we decided to move it to 2022.

“Every year, we are overwhelmed by the superb quality of the performances from these fantastically talented young artists and we hope that up-and-coming ensembles will take the opportunity to enter this world-renowned competition.” 

2019 winners L’Apothéose say: “Winning the York competition was an extremely important and prestigious recognition of our career, and taking part was an immensely joyful experience.” 

Fellow former winners Sollazzo Ensemble say: “Winning the competition was a turning point in our career, bringing us to the attention of both a wider audience and professionals throughout Europe.”

For details of how to apply, ensembles should go to or send an email to

Young Composers Award night to be live-streamed from NCEM on November 11

“We’ve been working hard to give our aspiring finalists the best possible experience, even though we won’t be able to welcome them, their friends and family to York,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

THE winners of the Young Composers Award 2020 will be revealed by the National Centre for Early Music, York, in a live-streamed performance on November 11.

At 7pm, Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble, the consort of the Ebor Singers, will perform each of the shortlisted pieces for a panel of judges.

The Coronavirus pandemic enforced the postponement of the 2020 awards, but next month online audience can watch the re-scheduled finals free of charge, tuning in to hear music from the composers of the future performed by artists of the highest calibre.

This national annual award is open to young composers up to the age of 25 and resident in the UK in two age categories: 18 years and under and 19 to 25 .  For the 2020 award, composers were invited to create a new polyphonic work for unaccompanied choir, setting either the Our Father (Pater Noster) prayer from St Matthew’s Gospel or the first and last verses of George Herbert’s poem The Flower.

Competing for the 18 years and under award will be Ethan Lieber’s composition The Flower, Eilidh Owen’s As If There Were No Such Cold Thing and Emily Pedersen’s Pater Noster.

Seeking the prize in the 18 to 25 final will be Noah Bray’s Our Father, Sam Gooderham’s Late-Past, Caitlin Harrison’s The Flower, James Mitchell’s The Lord’s Prayer and Fintan O’Hare’s Come Passing Rain.

The live-streamed performance will follow a day-long workshop when the young composers will join composer Christopher Fox, Professor of Music at Brunel University, and Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble.

Judging the finals will be The Tallis Scholars’ director, Peter Phillips; BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt and NCEM director Delma Tomlin. The winners, one from each age category, will be announced after the concert. 

The Young Composers Award is deemed an important landmark in the careers of aspiring composers. Every year, the winning compositions are performed in public and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show. This year’s winning works will be premiered by The Tallis Scholars in a public performance at the Cadogan Hall, London, on March 24 2021.

Delma Tomlin says: “Once again, the NCEM Young Composers Award has attracted attention from all over the UK. This year, we will be live-streaming the excitement and inviting audiences, friends and aspiring young composers and musicians to join us for this highly regarded annual event.

“For everyone working in the arts and entertainment, the last few months have not been easy. We’ve been working hard to give our aspiring finalists the best possible experience, even though we won’t be able to welcome them, their friends and family to York. We hope to be able to celebrate in style next year with the public performance at the Cadogan Hall.”

Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3 and classical music, says: “Nurturing young composers is one of our key missions here at BBC Radio 3: we are keen on discovering new voices and supporting emerging talent.

“In the current circumstances, our commitment is more urgent than ever, as we need to make sure creativity survives and thrives in these unprecedented times. We can’t wait to delight our audiences broadcasting the winning compositions by some of the most promising young composers in the UK.”

The NCEM was among the first arts organisations to live-stream performances and festivals as a response to the lockdown. The first concert, broadcast on March 21, attracted more than 60,000 viewers from all over the world, from as far afield as Australia and Japan.

For full details on how to watch the Young Composers Award 2020 performance, go to