More Things To Do in York & beyond, when skies are dark or lights are bright. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 6 for 2024, from The Press

Neil Vincent, left, Clare Halliday, Chris Pomfrett, Victoria Delaney and Mick Liversidge in rehearsal for York Actors Collective’s Beyond Caring

A GLUT of York theatre companies, a nocturnal sky festival, a Yorkshire musical and a colourful installation light up the dark nights of February for culture guide Charles Hutchinson.

Social drama of the week: York Actors Collective in Beyond Caring, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday to Friday, 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm and 5.30pm

DEVISED by Alexander Zeldin and the original Yard Theatre cast in London, this 90-minute play highlighting the social damage inflicted by zero-hours contracts forms York Actors Collective’s second production, directed by founder Angie Millard.

Performed by Victoria Delaney, Clare Halliday, Mick Liversidge, Chris Pomfrett and Neil Vincent, Beyond Caring follows meat-packing factory cleaners Becky, Grace and Sam on the night shift as they confront the reality of low wage employment, never sure whether their ‘job’ will continue. Box office:

Robert Rice: Recital at Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate tonight

Late Music at the double: Steve Bingham, violin and electronics, 1pm today; Robert Rice, baritone, and William Vann, piano, 7.30pm tonight, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York

PET Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin chills with Bach’s Allemande in D minor, while a tango from Piazzolla is thrown in for good measure, as Steve Bingham explores four centuries of solo violin music this afternoon. World premieres of David Power’s Miniatures, Wayne Siegel’s Salamander (violin and electronics) and Rowan Alfred’s Cuckoo Phase will be performed too.

York composer David Power has curated Robert Rice and William Vann’s evening recital, featuring the first complete performance of Power’s Three Char Songs (1985 and 2016). Works by Gerald Finzi, Cecil Armstrong Gibbs, Herbert Howells, Robert Walker, William Rhys Meek, Charlotte Marlow, Liz Dilnot Johnson, David Lancaster, Hannah Garton, Ruth Lee, Hayley Jenkins and Phillip Cooke. Power gives a pre-concert talk at 6.45pm with a complimentary glass of wine or juice. Tickets: or on the door.

Jonny Holbek as Sebastian in York Light Opera Company’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Picture: Matthew Kitchen

Nautical adventure of the week: York Light Opera Company in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, York Theatre Royal, February 7 to 17, except February 12

BASED on the classic 1989 Disney animated film, The Little Mermaid tells the enchanting story of Ariel, a mermaid who dreams of trading her tail for legs and exploring the human world. Aided by her mischievous sidekick, Flounder, and the cunning Ursula, Ariel strikes a bargain that will change her life forever.

Martyn Knight’s production for York Light features stunning projection, dazzling costumes, unforgettable musical numbers, such as Under The Sea and Kiss The Girl, and choreography by Rachael Whitehead. Box office: 01904 623568 or

The poster for Colour & Light, soon to illuminate the facade of York Art Gallery

Installation launch of the week: Colour & Light, York Art Gallery, February 7 to 25

YORK BID is linking up with York Museums Trust for the return of Colour & Light: an innovative project that will transform the facade of York Art Gallery to counter the cold winter with a vibrant light installation.

This “high impact and large-scale visual arts project” uses 3D projection mapping to bring York’s iconic buildings to life, first York Minster last year, now York Art Gallery, where the projection will play every ten minutes from 6pm to 9pm daily in a non-ticketed free event.

Watching the detective: Steven Jobson’s Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s Curtains. Picture: Jennifer Jones

It’s Curtains for…Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

WHEN the leading lady of a new musical mysteriously dies on stage, a plucky local detective must solve this 1959 case at Boston’s Colonial Theatre, where the entire cast and crew are suspects in Kander & Ebb’s musical with a book by Rupert Holmes.

Cue delightful characters, a witty and charming script and glorious tunes in the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s staging of Curtains. Box office: 01904 501935 or

Sunflower power: The Calendar Girls cast on tour at the Grand Opera House, York, from Tuesday to Saturday

Touring musical of the week: Calendar Girls The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday matinees

YOU know the story, the one where a husband’s death to leukaemia prompts a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire Women’s Institute to do an extraordinary thing, whereupon they set about creating a nude calendar to raise money for charity.

Premiered at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2015, Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s musical is now touring with a cast of music, stage and television stars. Baring all will be Laurie Brett as Annie; Liz Carney as Marie; Helen Pearson as Celia; Samantha Seager as Chris; Maureen Nolan as Ruth; Lyn Paul as Jessie and Honeysuckle Weeks as Cora. Once more the tour supports Blood Cancer UK. Box office:

 Nicola Holliday (as Jean Tanner) and James Lee (as Charles Stratton) in rehearsal for Settlement Players’ Separate Tables. Picture: John Saunders

English manners of the week: York Settlement Community Players in Separate Tables, York Theatre Royal Studio, February 8 to 17, 7.45pm except Sunday and Monday, plus 2pm Saturday matinees

AFTER directing four Russian plays by Chekhov, Helen Wilson turns her attention to Separate Tables, two very English Terence Rattigan tales of love and loss, set in a shabby Bournemouth hotel in the 1950s.

Guests, both permanent and transient, sit on separate tables, a formality that underlines the loneliness of these characters in a play about class, secrets and repressed emotions. Chris Meadley, Paul French, Molly Kay, Jess Murray, Marie-Louise Feeley, Caroline Greenwood and Linda Fletcher are among the Settlement cast. Box office: 01904 623568 or

Festival of the month: North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Festival, February 9 to 25

TEAMING up for the ninth time since 2016, the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park authorities celebrate the jewels of God’s Own Country’s night sky this month.

Discover nocturnal activities to heighten the senses such as the Dark Skies Experience (February 9 to 25) night navigation (February 16); trail run and yoga (February 17, sold out); canoeing; planet trail and constellation trail at Aysgarth Falls (February 9 to 25); astrophotography workshops at Castle Howard (February 22), stargazing safaris, children’s daytime trails, art workshops and mindful experiences. More details:;

Richard Ashcroft: Heading to the woods for Forest Live at Dalby Forest in June. Picture: Dean Chalkley

Outdoor gig announcement of the week: Richard Ashcroft, Forest Live, Dalby Forest, near Pickering, June 23

FORESTRY England completes its Forest Live return to Dalby Forest for the first time since 2019 with Richard Ashcroft, the two-time Ivor Novello Award-winning Wigan singer, songwriter and frontman of The Verve.

Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and disco icons Nile Rodgers & CHIC were confirmed already for June 21 and 22 respectively. New addition Ashcroft’s set list will draw on his five solo albums, along with The Verve’s anthems Bittersweet Symphony, The Drugs Don’t Work, Lucky Man and Sonnet. Leeds band Apollo Junction will be supporting. Box office:

In Focus: York Ice Trail, City of Dreams, York city centre, today and tomorrow, from 10am

York Ice Trail: City of Dreams this weekend

THE theme for York Ice Trail 2024 transforms York into the City of Dreams, inviting visitors to dream big.

The last York Ice Trail, in February 2023, drew 40,000 visitors to York to view 36 sculptures. Organised by Make It York, the 2024 event again sees the “coolest” sculptures line the streets of York, each conceived and sponsored by businesses and designed and created by ice specialist Icebox.

Sarah Loftus, Make It York managing director, says: “York Ice Trail is one of the most-loved events in the city for residents and visitors alike, and we’re excited to be bringing it back for another year in 2024. 

“It’s a huge celebration of our city and businesses, and the concept will inspire everyone’s inner child, encouraging people to let their imagination run wild.” 

Icebox managing director Greg Pittard says: “Returning to York for the 2024 Ice Trail is a true honour for us. The York Ice Trail holds a special place in our hearts, and we are thrilled to bring this year’s theme to life.

“Our talented team of ice carvers pour their passion into crafting magnificent ice sculptures that will transport visitors to a world of wonder and delight.”

The 2024 ice sculptures:

Our City Of Dreams, provided by Make It York, Parliament Street.

A Field Of Dreams, Murton Park, Parliament Street.

A Journey In ice, Grand Central, Parliament Street.

City Of Trees, Dalby Forest, Parliament Street.

Chasing Rainbows, in celebration of York band Shed Seven topping the UK official album chart in January, York Mix Radio, Parliament Street.

I’m Late, I’m Late! For A Very Important Date!, Ate O’Clock, High Ousegate.

Sewing Like A Dream, Gillies Fabrics, Peter Lane.

Mythical Beasts: The Yeti, York BID, Walmgate.

Hop On Your Bike, Spark:York, Piccadilly (Spark:York will be open from 12 noon).

Belle Of The Ball, York Castle Museum, Eye of York.

Brolly Walks, The Coppergate Centre.

Supporting Our Armed Forces, Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors, Clifford Street.

Mythical Beasts: The Kraken, York BID, Micklegate (moved from King’s Staith on account of high river levels).

The Slithering Serpent, The Potions Cauldron, Middletons, Skeldergate.

Oompa Loompas, York’s Chocolate Story, Middletons, Skeldergate.

Wonkavision, City Cruises, Middletons, Skeldergate.

The Golden Ticket, filled with Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, Middletons, at Middletons, Skeldergate.

Mythical Beasts: The Phoenix, York BID, Micklegate.

Throne Of Dreams, Storage King, Station Road.

York Principal, The Principal York, Principal Gardens.

A Hat Full Of Dreams, The Grand, York, Station Rise.

Judges And Dragons, The Judge’s Lodging, Lendal.

Your Key To The National Park, North York Moors National Park, Exhibition Square.

Mythical Beasts: The Unicorn, York BID, Gillygate.

Mythical Beasts, The Hydra, York BID, Goodramgate.

The Big Bad Wolf, York Minster, Minster Piazza.

Train Of Dreams, National Railway Museum, High Petergate.

Bradley’s Jewellers’ Christmas Robin Egg, Bradley’s Jewellers, Low Petergate.

Floating Dreams, Lucia Bar, Grape Lane.

Fly Into York With P&R, York Park & Ride, St Helen’s Square.

RMS Queen Mary, Betts, Davygate.

Dreaming Of Cut And Craft, Cut And Craft, St Sampson’s Square.

Live Carving, Make It York, St Sampson’s Square.

Footsbarn Theatre’s travelling troupe heads to Botton Village with La Petite Gerda

Footsbarn Theatre in La Petite Gerda. Picture: Jean-Pierre Estournet

AFTER playing the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time in 15 years, travelling troupe Footsbarn Theatre heads to Danby, North Yorkshire for one afternoon only on August 17.

An international cast will be performing the world premiere production of an English version of La Petite Gerda, the classic fairytale of The Snow Queen, with a combination of masks, puppetry, music and mayhem.

Adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen story, La Petite Gerda follows one girl’s quest to save her best friend, Kay, from the Snow Queen’s clutches. On Gerda’s epic journey, she meets a real princess, is attacked by robbers and rides on the back of a talking reindeer and a singing crow, as she discovers courage that she never knew she had.

Footsbarn Theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021 and has been based in France for 25 years. Showing no sign of slowing down in its passion for groundbreaking theatre, the company has appointed singer, songwriter, musical director and theatre director Sadie Jemmett as its artistic director with a brief to reach new audiences with its community-based theatre.

Footsbarn Theatre artistic director Sadie Jemmett. Picture: Molly Hughes

“Taking the reins of Footsbarn is an incredible privilege and a considerable responsibility,” she says. “I first saw Footsbarn in Berlin just after the wall came down. They blew my young mind! Their adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was like nothing I had ever seen before.

“Since becoming artistic director, the number of people from all over the world that have contacted me to wish me luck, and to tell me how Footsbarn had changed their perception of theatre, is a testament to the company’s legacy and legendary status in the theatre world.

“I am eternally grateful and so happy to be bringing the company back to the UK. It will be a wonderful show in the best Footsbarn tradition.”

Thursday’s performance takes place at Joan of Arc Hall, Esk Valley Camphill Community, Botton Village, Danby, in the North York Moors National Park. Box office:

Music is a key component in Footsbarn Theatre’s La Petite Gerda. Picture: Footsbarn Theatre

North York Moors Chamber Music Festival ventures Into The Looking Glass for fantastical fortnight with 30 musicians

Jamie Walton: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist, performing at the 2022 event. Picture: Matthew Johnson

EXPECT the unexpected when the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival invites next month’s audiences to peer into the looking glass.

Now in its 15th year, the summer festival will combine daring programming with an inclusive atmosphere in its fortnight run from August 13 to 26.

This year’s theme, Into The Looking Glass, takes inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s 1872 novel to “explore the psychology of the mind through the prism of music, conveying its various chapters with carefully curated music that takes the audience on an adventurous journey through many twists and turns”.

Having forged ahead to play to live audiences through the height of the Covid pandemic by hiring an open-sided, 5,000 sq.ft marquee, the festival retains the format this year in the grounds of Welburn Manor, near Kirkbymoorside.

Violinist Alena Baeva: Making her North York Moors Chamber Music Festival debut. Picture: Andrej Grilc

In addition, a series of lunchtime concerts will be presented in North York Moors National Park churches at St Michael’s, Coxwold; St Hilda’s, Danby; St Hedda’s, Egton Bridge, and St Mary’s, Lastingham.

From his North York Moors home, the festival’s artistic director, cellist Jamie Walton, has gathered around 30 international artists, such as pianist Katya Apekisheva, French horn virtuoso Ben Goldscheider and violinists Charlotte Scott and Benjamin Baker.

Award-winning Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko and Russian-born, Luxembourg-based violinist Alena Baeva will make their festival debuts.

Works by Bach, Schubert, Strauss, Schumann, Debussy and Mendelssohn, among others, will be performed.

Walton says: “Although the festival is primarily chamber music in the classic sense, the success of last year’s appearance by folk singer Sam Lee and his band opened up our audiences to new styles and acts, while attracting Sam’s own fanbase to the world of classic music.

Jazz pianist and singer Alice Zawadzki : Undertaking Adventures Through Song at her Wonderland concert on August 19 at 6pm in the Festival Marquee at Welburn Manor

“This year, we’re delighted to welcome eclectic singer/violinist Alice Zawadzki and her jazz-infused trio for a concert entitled Wonderland, specially developed for the festival.

“Throughout this festival, audiences can expect the unexpected in a fantastical fortnight that showcases great talent, sublime music and spectacular locations. There’ll be loads of vitality and we’ll be pushing some boundaries.”

For the full festival programme, head to: Tickets for each main festival concert cost £15, free for under-30s. A season ticket for all 14 concerts is £150.

To book, email, call 07722 038990 or visit Welburn Manor is sited west of Kirkbymoorside en route to Helmsley, off the A170, at YO62 7HH.

Who will be playing at the 2023 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival?

Daniel Lebhardt on the piano at the 2022 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival. He returns for this summer’s Into The Looking Glass programme. Picture: Matthew Johnson

Violin: Alena Baeva; Benjamin Baker; Rachel Kolly; Emma Parker; Victoria Sayles; Charlotte Scott.

Viola: Sascha Bota; Meghan Cassidy; Scott Dickinson; Simone van der Giessen.

Cello: Rebecca Gilliver; Jack Moyer; Alice Neary; Tim Posner; Jamie Walton.

Double bass: Siret Lust; Frances Preston.

Piano: Katya Apekisheva; Christian Chamorel; Vadym Kholodenko; Daniel Lebhardt; Nikita Lukinov.

Clarinet: Matthew Hunt.

French horn: Ben Goldscheider.

Plus. . .

Alice Zawadski, singer/violinist; Misha Mullov-Abbado, bass, and Bruno Heinen, piano.

Coronation Street star Ashley Hope Allan to play Shirley Valentine for Esk Valley Theatre

Exit-the-kitchen-sink drama: Ashley Hope Allan as Shirley Valentine in Esk Valley Theatre’s Shirley Valentine. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

ESK Valley Theatre complete a hattrick of Willy Russell plays with Shirley Valentine at the Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, near Whitby, from Thursday to August 28.

In Russell’s one-woman show, Coronation Street star Ashley Hope Allan plays middle-aged, bored Liverpool housewife Shirley in a story of self-discovery as she takes off to Greece with a friend, who promptly abandons her for a holiday romance. Left alone, Shirley meets charming taverna owner Costas.

After a gap year brought on by the Covid lockdown, Esk Valley Theatre, a professional theatre company rooted in the North York Moors National Park, return with Russell’s 1986 play, the winner of two Olivier Awards and a Tony before its conversion into Lewis Gilbert’s 1989 film starring Pauline Collins and Tom Conti.

Ashley Hope Allan in rehearsals for Esk Valley Theatre’s August production of Shirley Valentine. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Director Mark Stratton says: “Shirley Valentine is the third Willy Russell play we’ve produced after Educating Rita, with Amy Spencer as Rita and Ian Crowe as Frank in August 2016, and One For The Road, with Laura Bonnah, David Smith, Andrew Cryer and Joanne Heywood, in our tenth anniversary show in August 2014.

“It’s always a joy to direct his work. He has an economy of style and precision in his writing that always hits home and his ability to capture the wit and humour of Liverpudlians is second to none.”

Actor Ashley Hope Allan played the television medium Crystal Webber in Coronation Street, having appeared earlier in Emmerdale, The Crown and Nuzzle And Scratch.

Esk Valley Theatre’s Ian Crowe as Frank and Amy Spencer as Rita in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita in 2016. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Among her stage credits are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and As You Like It for the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival and Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Director Stratton is joined in the production team by producer Sheila Carter, designer and lighting designer Graham Kirk and costume designer Christine Wall.

Mark, who set up Esk Valley Theatre with Sheila in 2005, has had a varied career in theatres across Britain, as well as appearing in numerous television shows and films, most notably with Anthony Hopkins in Across The Lake, as a guest detective opposite Felicity Kendall and Pam Ferris in Rosemary & Thyme and as an American professor opposite Vidya Balan in the Bollywood movie Shakuntala Devi, released in July 2020. 

The Esk Valley Theatre cast and production team for Willy Russell’s One For The Road in 2014

Mark has performed in more than 20 pantomimes and will add Widow Twankey in Aladdin at Cast, Doncaster, to that list this winter.

Sheila has choreographed for many of Britain’s leading theatre companies, enjoying a long association with Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, where she has worked on many of his premieres.

She choreographed By Jeeves, the Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that ran in London, played at several theatres in the United States and ended up on Broadway.

Valentine’s day: Ashley Hope Allen in an early scene in Esk Valley Theatre’s production of Shirley Valentine, in rehearsal for the Robinson Institute run in Glaisdale. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

She directed and choreographed Where Is Peter Rabbit? in its two London runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and has choreographed for film and TV too, including Franco Zeffirelli’s Jane Eyre in 1996.

Esk Valley Theatre’s Shirley Valentine can be seen at 7.30pm, Mondays to Saturdays, from August 5 to 28, complemented by 2.30pm matinees on August 7, 12, 14, 17, 19, 24, and 26. A post-show talkback will be held on August 18. 

Tickets cost £16, concessions £15, on 01947 897587 or at

North York Moors Chamber Music Festival promises dazzling repertoire in Epoch event

“This festival is one way in which we can escape the turmoil and touch base as a community coming together,” says North York Moors Chamber Music Festival artistic director Jamie Walton. Picture: Matthew Johnson

WORLD-CLASS musicians and emerging artists will head to the moors in August for the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival.

Now in its 13th unbroken year, the 2021 festival will run from August 7 to 21, presenting “dazzling repertoire” around the theme of Epoch.

“Our history is punctuated by defining moments that influence the course of humanity and its cultures,” says the festival director, international cellist Jamie Walton, who lives within the boundaries of the National Park.

“This tumultuous last year has been one of those defining epochs for most of us, one may argue: a period we would probably all like to forget while we crave for our traditional rhythms and a simpler way of life. This festival is one way in which we can escape the turmoil and touch base as a community coming together.”

Against the tide of Cassandra doom elsewhere, last year’s festival was rearranged by the resolute Walton, who found a new Covid-secure location in less than a week to still play to audiences, socially distanced to meet regulations.

“Our passionate belief in finding ways to keep music present in our lives by refusing to be silenced was somewhat defiant of course, but also a deeply moving experience,” says Jamie Walton, recalling last summer’s hastily rearranged festival

For the past decade, concerts had been held in churches across the North York Moors National Park, but like so many other arts events, the festival was in jeopardy, discourtesy of the Coronavirus crisis.

When the Government made a last-minute U-turn, postponing the re-opening of indoor performances first announced for August 1, Walton had to act swiftly, settling on presenting concerts in a 5,000 square-foot, wooden-floored, acoustic-panelled marquee in the grounds of Welburn Abbey, Welburn Manor Farms, near Kirkbymoorside.

More than 50 per cent of the marquee sides could be opened, in effect making the concerts an open-air event. Good fortune then smiled on the event, blessing the sold-out concert series with an August heatwave. 

Originally, before the curse of Covid, Revolution! in Ryedale would have comprised more than 30 musicians, around 40 chamber works, in ten churches. Instead, it added up to 34 works being performed by 23 musicians at ten concerts in one outdoor location, under the concert titles of A Hymn; Time Of Turbulence; Janus; Incandescence; Mystique; Transcendental; Voices; Vivacity; Towards The Edge and Triumph!.

Last summer, Walton and his festival musicians from Britain and overseas “dared to dream despite the odds” by mounting the August 9 to 22 event with an apt theme of Revolution, “taking a gamble that took tremendous courage and sheer willpower in a climate of fear that is shutting down the arts”.

Cello, cello, its’s good to back, cello, cello: Jamie Walton out on the North York Moors, looking forward to the August concert series

“We have fought back against this Government and the disgraceful, destructive way it’s shutting down industries and, more ominously, the nation’s confidence,” said Jamie at the closing concert.

Now he reflects: “In 2020, we absolutely refused to cancel, despite the constraints of this worldwide pandemic, because we wanted to keep hope alive. Our passionate belief in finding ways to keep music present in our lives by refusing to be silenced was somewhat defiant of course, but also a deeply moving experience.

“Despite the obvious challenges, musicians flew in from more than six countries to enjoy a fortnight of electrifying music-making with a rarefied environment, incorporating vast spaces to override risk or limitations.

“Astonishingly and surprisingly perhaps, we were one of the only classical music festivals to go ahead live to socially distanced audiences at all, while not having to compromise on the length of festival nor the number of concerts. The result was a complete revelation, and we want to share this experience this summer with those who may have missed out last year.”  

This summer’s festival will comprise ten main concerts featuring a plethora of international musicians in music by many epoch-defining composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Dvorak, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Elgar, alongside the launch of an additional series of five Young Artists lunchtime recitals, showcasing talent from the Royal Academy of Music.

All rehearsals will take place at the new Ayriel Studios, a state-of-the-art soundproofed recording studio in the grounds of Millinder House, surrounded by North York Moors farmland in the heart of Westerdale. Initiated by Walton, it is due to open commercially in January 2022.

Mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley: Taking part in the Epoch series of concerts. Picture: Kaupo Kikkas

“Some artists taking part in the festival will be recording there this autumn as the new facility builds its identity and reputation, putting North Yorkshire firmly on the cultural map,” says Jamie.

Among the line-up for the main festival will be tenor James Gilchrist; oboist Nicholas Daniel; clarinetist Matthew Hunt; North Yorkshire mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley; violinists Benjamin Baker and Charlotte Scott; violist Timothy Ridout; pianists Katya Apekisheva and Alasdair Beatson, plus many others from the classical music industry who regular collaborate with one another all over the world.

The Young Artists Recitals will be performed by the Salwa Quartet, Hill Quartet, Jubilee Quartet, Asyla Oboe Quartet and Trio Mazzolini.

As with last summer, the main festival concerts will take place in the specially adapted marquee in the grounds of Welburn Manor Farm. The venue for the Young Artists Recitals will be announced shortly; check the website,, for updates.

The full concert festival details can be found there too, with concerts regaling in such titles as The Conquering Hero; Rhapsody; La Belle Epoque; Breaking Free; Turning Points; A New Genre; Turn Of A Century; Through War; Post War Paris and Caution To The Wind.

Main festival tickets cost £12.50, under-30s, free. A season ticket for all ten costs £100. Young Artists Recitals tickets cost £10 each. To book, email, call 07722 038990 or visit

Exit 2020, now the marquee at Welburn Abbey will play host to the 2021 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival. Picture: Matthew Johnson

Masham artist Ian Scott Massie captures truthful north’s incomparable beauty in Ryedale Folk Museum show from May 17

Masham artist Ian Scott Massie: Capturing “the character of the north” in his Northern Soul show at Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole, from May 17. Picture: Steve Christian

IAN Scott Massie revels in the “incomparable beauty” of the north in his uplifting exhibition of watercolours and screenprints at Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole, an apt location at the heart of the North York Moors National Park.

Running from Monday, May 17 to Sunday, July 11, the Masham artist’s Northern Soul show represents his personal journey of living in the north for the past 45 years since the call to leave the south.

Depicting “the character of the north”, the 50 paintings and prints portray northern views as diverse as Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland and Barnsley in South Yorkshire, and landmarks ranging from the monastic ruin of Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, to the Tees Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough, the longest-working bridge of this ilk in the world. The images reach right across the country from Liverpool to Newcastle.

Born in London in 1952 and raised in Langley, near Slough, from the age of six, Massie first headed north, to Durham University in 1973, to study to be a music teacher. Although he returned to Berkshire in 1982, five years later this folk musician and artist settled in Masham, Lower Wensleydale, with his artist wife, Josie Beszant.

Another Place, by Ian Scott Massie, from Northern Soul

He began working in watercolours “to paint quickly” when his children were small, citing JMW Turner as an influence.

“The depth of colour, the freedom of the expression and the speed at which a picture could come together captivated me,” he says.

The north, he posits, is “the truth of England, where all things are seen clearly”. “Both the pictures for Northern Souland the accompanying book of the same title take a very long view of the north, reaching back into my personal history and the history of the region,” he says.

“The exhibition also refers to my time working as a music researcher for Beamish Museum (which I loved), from which experience grew an interest in the industrial, social and folk culture of the north, which Ryedale Folk Museum reflects so beautifully.”

White Horse, Kilburn, by Ian Scott Massie

Jennifer Smith, director of Ryedale Folk Museum, says: “I’m delighted that we will open Ian’s exhibition on the same day as Ryedale Folk Museum will reopen, following a six-month period of closure. 

“Northern Soul is a stunning and atmospheric journey across northern England. Ian captures the beauty, wildness and culture of The North, transporting the viewer to the places featured in his magical paintings and prints.

“The fact that we can share these works online, as well as in the art gallery, means that even if people can’t or don’t want to travel, they can feel nostalgic about their favourite northern places and maybe discover some new ones too.”

Massie’s Northern Soul project has undergone a long journey to this point, he says in his latest blog. “In 2016, I had the idea of creating an exhibition about my life in the North of England. The idea grew into a series of paintings and prints and then into a book. I found that delving into my past, trying to see how I first saw the places I discovered in the north, was an amazing source of inspiration.”

Moonlight, Whitby, by Ian Scott Massie

The exhibition’s grand tour of the north began in 2019 at Cannon Hall near Barnsley, followed by Masham Gallery, and should have come to Ryedale Folk Museum in 2020 until the pandemic put paid to that plan…until now.

Massie’s first northern encounter had left him “deeply unhappy” in Durham, and yet: “Little did I know that the north would make me. I would grow up there, discover talents for teaching and making art that I never suspected, discover places and music and stories that I would love for the rest of my life, and find happiness,” his blog recalls.

“Along the way, one question would occasionally surface: What makes the north the north? It isn’t simply that old cliche: a hard-working alternative to a soft and lazy south, and yet it’s a hard question to answer.

“It is an alternative of sorts – an alternative to the dreamy chocolate-box portrayal of England that exists only in the imagination. Perhaps, if we’re honest, its the truth of England, where all things are seen clearly: the incomparable beauty of the landscape; the harsh ugliness left by industry; the great wealth of the aristocracy; the miserable housing of the poor; the civic pride of the mill towns and a people as likely to be mobilised by political oratory as by a comedian with a ukulele.”

The Three Peaks, by Ian Scott Massie

Massie continues: “The north is a place made up of a multitude of races, each with their own deep pool of stories which combine to make a shared way of life. Mining, the Potato Famine, the textile industry, persecution, war and politics all brought different people to the north. The list goes on.

“So I’ve approached the Northern Soul as though it were a jigsaw puzzle: examining the pieces I’ve come across over the years for what they can tell me. I’ve got some bits of the edge and some promising parts of the middle, but I’d be lying if I said I was close to completing it.

“There are parts of the north I know only slightly and others I know like the back of my hand, and I’ll plead guilty now to favouring some places over others because that’s just the way it is.”

The accompanying Northern Soul book is available both from the publishers, Masham Gallery, at, and from the Ryedale Folk Museum shop and online at (for £26 plus postage and packaging if bought from the museum website).

Brimham Rocks, watercolour, by Ian Scott Massie

“This book is at once the log of a long, as yet unfinished, journey and a love letter to the North of England. It’s about the places I’ve known and painted, and what part they play in this complex, careworn, mountainous, multi-faceted, wave-tossed, warm-welcoming, wind-blown, freezing, friendly, tough-spirited, tender-hearted, rusty, rebellious, ruinous, green, golden, chilled-out, challenging, deep-rooted, dale-scattered, subtle, smoky, special land,” concludes Massie.

Ian Scott Massie: Northern Soul, Ryedale Folk Museum art gallery, May 17 to July 11 2021; open daily from 10am to 5pm. Entry to the gallery is free.

The exhibition also can be viewed on the Ryedale Folk Museum website during the same period at: 

Roseberry Topping, by Ian Scott Massie

Did you know?

IAN Scott Massie continues a parallel career as a musician, teaching guitar and coaching rock bands at Queen Mary’s School, Baldersby Park, near Thirsk, and performing on stage occasionally. He has been a member of several bands over the years.

He collects and plays unusual musical instruments from around the world and is a founder and events coordinator of the Masham Arts Festival and a founder of the ArtisOn arts and crafts teaching studios at High Burton House, Masham.

 In 2010, he was a semi-finalist on BBC1’s Mastermind, answering questions on artist Paul Nash, one of his greatest influences.

Ian Scott Massie at work in his Masham studio. Picture: Steve Christian

Gillies Jones mark 25 years of glassmaking on the North York Moors with Danby show

Kate Jones sketching on the North York Moors. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

ROSEDALE Abbey glassmakers Gillies Jones are to mark 25 years of living and working in the North York Moors National Park by exhibiting at Danby’s Inspired By… Gallery this autumn.

Stephen Gillies and Katie Jones will present A Portrait Of Place from October 10 to November 9 in an exploration of the place they call home.

Gillies Jones have created glass from Rosedale Abbey since 1995, continuing a glassmaking tradition that started in the tiny village in the 16th century. On show from Saturday will be mostly new work that reflects the marks left on the landscape over time by geology, water, nature and human behaviour.

Stephen Gillies at work in the Gillies Jones studio at Rosedale Abbey. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

The couple work in harmony, glassblower Stephen creating the original forms that are then decorated by artist Kate, who uses a combination of sandblasting, wheel engraving and other techniques.

Some of Kate’s preliminary photos and drawings made on walks around the area will be on display too.

“The landscape of the North York Moors has long been an inspiration to artists,” she says. “Our exploration and ‘portrait’ of this landscape observes the geology, river systems and current land-management practices that leave specific marks. We map and observe the layers of human endeavour, both pre- and post-industrial, the marks etched into the land, overlaid and now being reclaimed by nature.

Stephen Jones and Kate Gillies outside their studio. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“Just as changing light illuminates the landscape, light is integral to our work, animating our glass, revealing layers of colours and engraving. This landscape has evolved, has been sculpted and pressed into service and this is our snapshot in time, a celebration of the now.

“One certainty is that this landscape will change again as custodians of the land change, along with the ideas that inform the management of the world we all share.”

Partners in life and art, Stephen and Kate make their pieces just as glass was made before the industrial revolution: labour intensive and reliant on skills acquired over a long, international apprenticeship.

One of the Gillies Jones works on show from Saturday at Danby’s Inspired By…Gallery. Picture: Gillies Jones

Their design aesthetic draws inspiration from the elemental beauty of their rural surroundings and their traditional are practised by only a few glassmakers across the world.

This process involves the folding of different coloured glass bubbles over each other to produce complex multi-layered and coloured pieces.

Gillies Jones’s defiantly decorative work can be found in public and private collections nationally and internationally, and they also undertake commissions and lecture regularly, both in the UK and overseas.

A Gillies Jones bowl from this autumn’s exhibition. Picture: Gillies Jones

A Portrait Of Place forms the culmination of what should have been a full year of celebrations to mark the silver anniversary of Stephen and Kate’s glass-making partnership, but most had to be Covid-cancelled.

Full details are yet to be confirmed for a series of events associated with the Danby exhibition, but definitely Kate will lead gallery tours – each limited to ten visitors – on October 24 at 11am, 11.45am, 1.30pm and 2.15pm. Tickets cost £5 at:

The Inspired By…Gallery, at the Moors National Park Centre, Danby, is open from 10am to 5pm daily in October and from 10.30am to 4pm daily in November. The National Park Centre has received VisitEngland’s We’re Good To Go kitemark, an accreditation that affirms all facilities are adhering to the latest Government and industry Covid-19 safety guidelines.

Masks must be worn throughout the National Park Centre in line with those Government guidelines.

Arms and the man: A close-up of Stephen Gillies making glass. Picture: Tony Bartholomew