PROTEAN Quartet, from Germany, have won first prize at the 2022 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition.
“We are so proud to receive this wonderful prize which will widen the opportunity for us to share our music far and wide,” they said afterwards. “We were competing against some amazingly talented musicians and we are privileged to receive this great honour.”
They overcame fierce competition from six highly talented international ensembles in the biennial competition, organised by the National Centre for Early Music, York, in a day-long series of performances by the competitors on July 16.
Protean Quartet – Javier Aguilar, Edi Kotler, violins, Ricardo Gil, viola, and Clara Rada, cello – receive a professional recording contract from Linn Records, £1,000 cash prize and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the NCEM.
Under the title Tempus Omnia Vincit, they performed Josquin des Prez’s Mille Regretz and Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13 in A minor (Rosamunde), Allegro ma non troppo and Andante.
After Inflammabile and Ensemble L’Aminta, both from Austria, and Fair Oriana, from Great Britain, had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances, the final featured Protean Quartet; ApotropaïK, from France; Ensemble Augelletti, from GB; Harmos Winds, from the Netherlands; Liturina, from GB; Palisander, from GB, and UnderStories, from Italy.
During the two days before the weekend competition, each ensemble presented an informal recital under the guidance of York Early Music Festival artistic advisors John Bryan and Steven Devine.
The aim of these recitals was to give finalists the opportunity to adapt to the performance space and become familiar with the York audience in advance of the competition.
Each group then gave their final recital to a distinguished judging panel at the NCEM, comprising: Edward Blakeman, from BBC Radio 3; Albert Edelman, president of Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne, 2019-2022; Philip Hobbs, Linn Records producer and recording engineer; violinist Catherine Mackintosh and harpsichordist Professor Barbara Willi.
The 2022 competition was presented by John Bryan, Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield and a member of the Rose Consort of Viols.
At the end of the competition, judging panel chair Philip Hobbs said: “The last three years have been extraordinary and extremely challenging for all young musicians. The calibre of musicianship we have seen is a tribute to their tenacity and dedication. The standard we see keeps going up and up and I would like to applaud all those who have taken part in this incredible day.”
NCEM director and festival administrative director Delma Tomlin said: “It was wonderful to see the return of the competition and share the joy of being together again.
“The performances from these seven ensembles were of the highest calibre – congratulations to all. I would like to thank them and extend special thanks to our panel of judges for their hard work and support and to John Bryan and Steven Devine for their expertise and invaluable help.”
The EEEmerging+ Prize, Friends of York Early Music Prize and Cambridge Music Prize were all scooped by ApotropaïK, who performed Bella Donna, music from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.
A cash prize of £1,000 for the Most Promising Young Artist – individual instrumentalist or ensemble specialising in baroque repertoire – was awarded to UnderStories, whose performance featured works by Benedetto Marcello, Antonio Caldara and Antonio Vivaldi.
The competition provided a spectacular finale to the ten-day festival in a return to a full-scale live event that connected friends old and new through concerts, recitals and workshops staged in historic venues around York.
Competition highlights and music from the winning recital will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show later this year.
FOR the first time since 2019, the York Early Music Festival will be at full strength this summer for nine days of concerts, talks and workshops under the theme of Connections.
Highlights during the festival run from July 8 to 16 include The Sixteen, The Tallis Scholars and Gabrieli Consort & Players, all at York Minster, and the return of the York International Young Artists Competition.
The programme also features gamba specialists Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin; The Gonzaga Band; The Rose Consort of Viols; the University of York Baroque Ensemble; Orí Harmelin; Profeti della Quinta; the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists and Ensemble Voces Suaves.
Tickets are on sale on 01904 658338, at ncem.co.uk or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with discounts available for Friends and under 35s.
“The festival presents a series of concerts linked together through a maze of interconnecting composers, shining a light on the many connections that hold us together in the past and into the future,” says director Delma Tomlin, explaining the festival theme.
Concerts will be supported by a series of illustrated talks, workshops, opportunities to ‘Come and Sing’ and informal recitals at a festival presented in historical venues such as York Minster, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, St Lawrence’s Church and the festival headquarters, the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM), in the medieval St Margaret’s Church building in Walmgate.
The festival’s grand finale will be the York International Young Artists Competition 2022, wherein ten groups from across Europe will give informal recitals at the NCEM at 10am and 2pm on July 14 and 15 before competing for the prize on July 16.
The winners will receive a professional CD recording contract from Linn Records, a cheque for £1,000 and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the NCEM. Additional prizes will be supported by Cambridge Early Music, the European Union Baroque Orchestra Development Trust and the Friends of York Early Music Festival.
“We are delighted to be presenting a nine-day festival of music in our beautiful city, staged in some of the country’s most architecturally stunning buildings,” says Delma.
“This year’s theme is Connections, connecting and indeed reconnecting music, artists and, of course, our audiences. As always, we’ll be celebrating the glorious music of the past but also looking forward, as we’re able at last, to stage the York International Young Artists Competition, showcasing and nurturing the performers of the future.
“We’re so pleased to be back at full strength, and we can’t wait to welcome you to York for what promises to be one of the most exciting festivals to date.”
Those unable to attend are advised that the festival will be offering many of the concerts online across the summer. Full details will be available from ncem.co.uk.
Audience safety and comfort is a continuing priority in an ever-changing environment for the NCEM and York Early Music Festival. Check out the full guidance at ncem.co.uk/covid-guidelines.
The 2022 York Early Music Festival programme:
July 8, 7.30pm: Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, viola da gamba duo, Heavans Joy, The World of the Virtuoso Viol, at NCEM, York.
July 9, 9.30am: Master And Pupil, workshop led by The Gonzaga Band director Jamie Savan, at Clements Hall, Nunthorpe Road, York. Singers and players of Renaissance wind and string instruments look at the polychoral repertory of Giovanni Gabrieli and Heinrich Schütz.
July 9, 12 noon: The Sixteen Insight Day, at NCEM, York. Insight Day explores stories behind The Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage repertory. Discover more with singer and practical scholar Sally Dunkley, organist Robert Quinney and a consort of Sixteen singers.
July 9, 7.30pm: The Sixteen, Author Of Light, at York Minster. Harry Christophers directs a choral programme focused on Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell.
July 10, 2pm: The Early Music Show, BBC Radio 3 live broadcast presented by Hannah French with selected festival guests, at NCEM; free to those attending a festival event. Immediately afterwards, violinist Kati Debretzeni presents delayed 2020 York Biennial Lifetime Achievement Award to violinist Catherine Mackintosh.
July 10, 4.45pm: Minster Minstrels, Fairest Isle, directed by Ailsa Batters, at Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York. NCEM’s youth instrumental ensemble performs music from the late 17th-century theatre, court and household to demonstrate the influence of the new Italian and French styles in post-Restoration England.
July 10, 7.30pm: The Gonzaga Band, Venice 1629, directed by cornett player Jamie Savan, at NCEM, York. Vocal works by Claudio Monteverdi and Alessandro Grandi and virtuosic Baroque instrumental music by wind player Dario Castello and violinist Biagio Marini feature in a series of snapshots from an extraordinary year in the life of this most musical of cities.
July 11, 10.30am: Schutz In Venice, illustrated talk by Jamie Savan, at Bedern Hall, York. On his second visit to Venice in 1628-29, German composer Heinrich Schütz would surely have met Monteverdi, by now maestro di cappella at St Mark’s, but this talk also introduce lesser-known 1620s’ Venetian innovators in modern vocal and instrumental music.
July 11, 1pm: Rose Consort of Viols, with virginals player Steven Devine, Music For Severall Friends, at NCEM, York. Anniversary-marking concert of viol consort works by two British composers, the conservative Thomas Tomkins (born in 1572) and the more radical Matthew Locke (b.1622).
July 11, 7.30pm: The Tallis Scholars, Choral Connections, at York Minster. Director Peter Phillips explores connections between Josquin des Prez and his successor at the Sistine Chapel, Palestrina; Byrd and his English forebear Taverner.
July 12, 10.30am: An Italian In London, illustrated talk on The Case of Angelo Notari, musician and spy, by Jonathan Wainwright, at Bedern Hall, York. Italian-born Notari moved to England in 1611, making his career as a court musician. Little was known about his time in Italy, until recently, prompting this examination of his life and (newly attributed) compositions.
July 12, 1pm: La Vaghezza, Sculpting The Fabric, at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, York. Stars of the EEEmerging+ programme, this young Italian ensemble presents early-17th century Italian works by Cavalli, Merula, Vitali, Fontana and Rossi from debut album Sculpting The Fabric.
July 12, 7.30pm: Profeti Della Quinta, Lamento d’Arianna, Italian Renaissance music from Rore to Monteverdi, at NCEM, York. Winners of the 2011 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition take a journey that connects early 16th-century ‘classical’ madrigal to Monteverdi’s ‘operatic’ solo madrigals in 17th-century Mantua.
July 13, 1pm: University of York Baroque Ensemble, Mannheim Travels To Fife, Early Symphonists and Two Brothers, at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, York. Highlighting works by Mannheim symphony kick-starter Johann Stamitz, Italian brothers Giovanni Battista and Giuseppe Sammartini, Johann Christian Bach and Scottish composer Thomas Erskine.
July 13, 7.30pm: Gabrieli Consort & Players, A Venetian Coronation, 1595, directed by Paul McCreesh, at York Minster. Spectacular re-creation of the festive Coronation Mass of the Venetian Doge Marino Grimani at St Mark’s, Venice, in 1595, to mark the Gabrieli Consort’s 40th anniversary.
July 13, 9.45pm: Ori Harmelin, Neshima: The Hebrew For Breath, at Undercroft, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, York. Theorbo specialist explores arrangements of madrigals, motets and chansons by Cipriano de Rore, Josquin des Prez and Thomas Tallis, complemented by Harmelin’s compositions and Irishman Simon McHale’s The Orbo.
July 14 and July 15, 10am and 2pm: International Young Artists Competition Recitals 1 and 2, at NCEM, York. Informal recitals featuring all the ensembles taking part in the 2022 competition, performing music from the Middle Ages to the early Classical period, introduced by master of ceremonies Professor John Bryan.
July 14, 7.30pm: Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, Bach’s Other Leipzig, directed by Peter Lawrence, at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, York. Not only composing for two churches when in Leipzig, Bach also wrote four ‘Lutheran masses’ in 1738/39 and the Coffee Cantata for Zimmermann’s Caffeehaus, a miniature comic opera on the pressing subject of coffee addiction, featured here.
July 15, 4.30pm: Come and Sing Handel’s Messiah, at St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York. Peter Seymour, conductor, and Ben Horden, organ, invite allcomers to Come and Sing a selection of choruses from Handel’s Messiah in a short rehearsal and performance.
July 15, 7.30pm: Ensemble Voces Suaves, Enrico Sagittario: Heinrich Schütz in Italy, at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, York. Exploration of the Italian side of German composer Heinrich Schutz, putting music from his debut collection alongside madrigals by Gabrieli and Monteverdi that inspired him, plus toccatas for theorbo by Girolamo Kapsberger, an Italian composer with roots in Germany.
July 16, 10am: York International Young Artists Competition, at NCEM, York. 2022 competition, featuring ten groups, will be presented by John Bryan and judged by Edward Blakeman, from BBC Radio 3; Albert Edelman, president of Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne; Linn Records producer and recording engineer Philip Hobbs; violinist Catherine Mackintosh and harpsichordist and professor Barbara Willi.
ENCOUNTERS, the 2021 York Early Music Festival, will be briefer than first trailered.
Already cut from its usual ten days under Covid constraints, the live festival will now run from July 12 to 15, rather than until July 16 after the Government’s Step 4 lockdown easement was delayed from June 21 to July 19.
This has ruled out the participation of Spanish Baroque ensemble L’Apothéose, winners of the 2019 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, along with Ensemble Clément Janequin, from France, and the Italian-Spanish trio sonata ensemble La Vaghezza. In their stead come two late additions: British vocal ensemble The Gesualdo Six and Florilegium.
“The festival may have shrunk from ten days to four, but it’s still jam-packed with concerts, which will be one hour in length, with no interval and no reserved seating, audience members being seated on arrival within social bubbles” says festival director Delma Tomlin.
“Because any musicians who lived outside of the UK had to consider the need to quarantine or the consequences of a positive Covid test once here, it just wasn’t worth the complications for them or us.
“The good news is that L’Apothéose will now play their Young Artists’ Showcase and record here next March; we hope to carry EEEmerging artists La Vaghezza over into the 2022 festival, though that will not be possible for Ensemble Clément Janequin, and the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition will definitely return at next summer’s festival, after the competition couldn’t happen this year.”
Delma expects that plenty of international musicians who had to forego performing in the 2020 festival, after being booked for the aborted original programme, will now play at the 2022 event. “The festival is filling up already, but not yet with a theme in place!” she says.
In another sign of Covid-times, the 2021 festival is a non-brochure event. “We had boxes and boxes of brochures that we then had to recycle, once everything changed, and since then we’ve doing everything online,” says Delma.
“So we’ve been reliant on people looking online constantly for updates and programme details for our 2020 Christmas festival, the Awaken concert series, the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival, and now this summer’s festival, but I can confirm we’ll produce print in the autumn for the 2021 York Early Music Christmas Festival.”
Roll on Monday’s opening concert “At last, we’re able to welcome audiences back to York in person,” says Delma. “The theme of Encounters, most vitally between audience and artists, seems particularly pertinent at this time when we can celebrate the joy of music making and being back together again to appreciate these glorious sounds together.
“For over a year, our home of St Margaret’s Church has been missing the energy and excitement that live audiences bring to us and we can’t wait to throw our doors wide open again.”
Both the opening and closing concerts will be performed twice at the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate: Monteverdi String Band, led by Oliver Webb, on July 12 at 6.30pm and 8.45pm and The Gesualdo Six on July 15 at the same times.
“We’ll clean everything down and put the same concert on 90 minutes later,” explains Delma. “The 6.30pm concerts are sold out but we still have tickets available for the later performances.
“Oddly enough, The Gesualdo Six were meant to be playing at a festival in France at this time but couldn’t go, so we’ve been able to accommodate them, and Ensemble Clément Janequin, who can’t come here, will now be playing in France!”
Florilegium step into the festival breach to perform a Celebrating Bach programme at the NCEM on Wednesday at 7.30pm, joining a line-up of guest artists such as harpsichordist Steven Devine with Robin Bigwood (St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, Tuesday, 1pm) and violinist Rachel Podger (St Lawrence’s Church, Tuesday, 9.15pm).
The Society of Strange & Ancient Instruments present their weird and wonderful Trumpet Marine Project (The Citadel, Gillygate, Wednesday, 1pm, sold out); lutenist Jacob Heringman celebrates Josquin des Prez in Master of the notes II: Inviolata (Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, Wednesday, 9.30pm, sold out) and bass Matthew Brook, in tandem with York classical leading light Peter Seymour, performs Amore Traditore – Cantatas for bass and harpsichord (St Lawrence’s Church, Thursday, 1pm).
Delma is particularly delighted to announce that the festival will be working in partnership with the Alamire Foundation, in Flanders, to present a long-awaited concert at York Minster by renaissance vocal ensemble Stile Antico in Tuesday’s 7.30pm programme of Josquin des Prez – Master of the notes I: Missa Sine Nominee on the 500th anniversary of the Franco-Flemish genius’s death.
The live festival may be shorter, but the event will still run to Sunday in an online festival, YEMF ’21 Online, available from Thursday to the weekend, after the success of last summer’s first online package.
“This will include concerts recorded during the festival alongside specially commissioned highlights by the Rose Consort of Viols and the University Baroque Ensemble,” says Delma.
“The Gesualdo Six will open this four-day online festival with a live streamed concert from the NCEM on Thursday at 6.30pm.
“The online festival provides us with the opportunity to share some of the festival highlights with the widest possible audience, presenting concerts filmed by digital producer Ben Pugh and sound engineer Tim Archer in some of the city’s stunning venues: Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, St Lawrence’s Church and St Margaret’s Church,” says Delma.
“Going online extends the festival’s reach internationally, giving us the chance to boost our ticket income possibilities, so while we use small venues, such as lutenist Jacob Heringman playing to 60 people in candlelight at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the decision to embrace online opportunities means others can enjoy it too. This provides a new stream of income at this time, turning around our business strategy on a pin.”
All next week’s concerts will be streamed, except for Stile Antico, whose Josquin des Prez programme instead will be available online at Laus Polyphoniae 2021, part of the Flanders Festival that runs in Antwerp from August 20 to 29.
The NCEM and York Early Music Festival have embraced the need to explore digital opportunities since the pandemic took hold. “The acquisition of Tim Archer, who I’ve known through our relationship with BBC Radio 3, has been key to this. When Tim left Radio 3, I asked him to work with us as our sound engineer, and he’s since worked alongside Ben Pugh on our festivals and the Awaken spring event,” says Delma.
“On top of that, we’ve been very grateful to have been granted Culture Recovery Fund funds to support our sustainable strategy,” says Delma.
“We’ve received two funding boosts, the first for the acquisition of digital equipment, the second to help to cover the loss of income after we lost £100,000 from our usual revenue streams because of the pandemic lockdowns.”
Reflecting on the changes brought on by the need to react to Covid times, Delma says: “It has pushed us very specifically into a whole new world of digital sharing and income generation, running parallel with that, and all our staff have been willing to adapt and embrace the changes. We’ve also been determined to make the online service as simple to use as possible, requiring only your email address.
“The other very positive thing has been our blossoming relationship with The Crescent [community venue] and The Fulford Arms, especially with Harkirit Boparai and Chris Sherrington, and the Independent Music network, putting on the Songs Under Skies concerts in the NCEM garden last summer and this summer.”
Post-festival, the YEMF ’21 Online concerts will be available to view on demand until August 13 2021 and tickets will be on sale until August 6 at ncem.co.uk. Live festival tickets are selling fast, with social distancing measures still in place to limit numbers, so hurry, hurry to book at ncem.co.uk before you are too late to be Early next week.
Did you know?
THE 2021 York Early Music Festival concerts by Rachel Podger, The Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments and The Gesualdo Six will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show in late-July.
YORK Early Music Festival 2021 will have the theme of Encounters for its five-day run from July 12 to 16.
Presented by the National Centre of Early Music (NCEM), the annual festival of classical concerts will include a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Franco-Flemish genius Josquin des Prez.
“This year’s festival theme is one of encounters, most vitally between audience and artists, which seems particularly pertinent at a time when the festival can welcome audiences back to an array of York’s wonderful historic venues,” says director Delma Tomlin.
“We’re particularly delighted to announce that we’ll be working in partnership with the Flanders-based Alamire Foundation to present one of the highlights of the festival, a long-awaited concert by vocal ensemble Stile Antico.”
Renowned for their vibrant and expressive performances of music from the Renaissance, Stile Antico will perform in the resplendent surroundings of York Minster on July 13.
Among the guest artists for the 2021 event will be: violinist Rachel Podger; lutenist Jacob Heringman; bass Matthew Brook, working with Peter Seymour; the Monteverdi String Band, led by Oliver Webber; a York favourite, harpsichordist Steven Devine, with Robin Bigwood; The Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments with their “weird and wonderful” Trumpet Marine Project; EEEmerging artists La Vaghezza, specialising in music from the 17th and 18th centuries, and the ever entertaining Ensemble Clement Janequin.
“The NCEM is also delighted to welcome Spanish Baroque ensemble L’Apothéose back to York as part of the Young Artists Showcase,” says Delma. “L’Apothéose last appeared in the city in 2019 when they won the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition and The Friends of York Early Music Festival prize. This year they will be recording a CD with Linn Records, which was part of their prize.”
Established in 1977, York Early Music Festival celebrates York’s myriad medieval churches, guildhalls and historic houses through “historically informed music-making of the highest international standard”. The festival is considered the jewel in the crown of the NCEM’s annual programme, drawing visitors from across the world.
“At last, we are able to welcome audiences back to York in person and we can’t wait!” says Delma. “ This year’s theme of Encounters celebrates the joy of music-making and being back together again to appreciate these glorious sounds together.
“For over a year, our home of St Margaret’s Church, in Walmgate, has been missing the energy and excitement that live audiences bring to us and we can’t wait to throw our doors wide open again. We hope you will join us for this five-day celebration of music and friendship in our beautiful city, bringing you world-class music from stunning surroundings.”
The festival concerts will take place in a Covid-secure, comfortable environment. “All tickets are unreserved and audience members will be seated on arrival within social bubbles,” says Delma. “Each concert will last about an hour without an interval. Covid advice will be updated according to government guidelines.”
York Early Music Festival also will be available online from July 15 to 18. YEMF ’21 Online will include concerts recorded during the festival alongside commissioned highlights, with guests including The Gesualdo Six and The Rose Consort Of Viols. Full details and tickets will be released on Wednesday, June 16.
Tickets for the live festival are on sale at ncem.co.uk
YORK EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL 2021 LISTINGS
Monday, July 12, 1pm, NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, York: Illustrated talk: Oliver Webber, “Un non so che di frizzante: the madrigal as a cauldron of creativity”.
Monday, July 12, 6.30pm and 8.45pm, NCEM: Monteverdi String Band, with soprano Hannah Ely, The Madrigal Re-imagined.
Tuesday, July 13, 1pm, St Lawrence Parish Church, York: Steven Devine & Robin Bigwood, The Bach Circle.
Tuesday, July 13, 7.30pm, York Minster: Stile Antico, Sine Nomine: Josquin des Prez.
Tuesday, July 13, 9.15pm, St Lawrence Parish Church: Rachel Podger violin, The Violinist Speaks.
Wednesday, July 14, 1pm, NCEM: The Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments, The Trumpet Marine Project.
Wednesday, July 14, 7.30pm, NCEM: La Vaghezza, Sculpting The Fabric.
Wednesday, July 14, 9.30pm, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, York: Jacob Heringman, lute,Inviolata: Josquin des Prez.
Thursday, July 15, 11am, NCEM: Illustrated talk: John Bryan, Josquin des Prez: the first of the “great composers”?
Thursday, July 15, 1pm, Matthew Brook & Peter Seymour, Amore Traditore – Cantatas for bass and harpsichord.
Thursday, July 15, NCEM, 6.30pm and 8.45pm: Ensemble Clement Janequin, Mille Regretz: Josquin des Prez.
Friday July 16, 1pm, NCEM: L’Apothéose, The Family Stamitz.
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.
“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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
IF, like me, you enjoy the arts and sport, you will have rejoiced in a bumper week. First, we had the
Government giving an unprecedented £1.57 billion fillip to the arts, thereby drawing a graceless murmur of thanks from the generally Tory-hating lefties that populate the arts sector.
Then, the cricket season resumed, to the familiar sound of England wickets tumbling. Finally, one of the world’s top three early music festivals, has returned, albeit online and in much-shortened form.
But we must be grateful for small mercies these days. Here we had a bunch of stalwart pros who refused to roll over and succumb to a mere virus. All had travelled to York and recorded musical offerings on the theme of Method and Madness; eight events – three of them talks – over three days.
First out of the blocks, on July 9, was York’s own countertenor Iestyn Davies, partnered by lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, a world-class pairing if ever there were. Their programme was devoted to that master of melancholy, John Dowland. If you want to be modern about it, you can class melancholia as an aspect of mental health. The Elizabethans called it a disease but made light of it too.
Melancholy was something to be enjoyed, even revelled in, and not excluding self-pity. We all know the feeling. Melancholy has been the counterpart in English song – though not the same – to the German Sehnsucht (yearning). Think of all those aching pastorals lamenting the passing of rural idylls, most of which were figments of the imagination anyway. We all enjoy a little angst.
We need not explore the many facets of Dowland’s melancholic psyche any further. Here we were reminded – by a letter he wrote from Nuremberg in 1595 – of his early exile, separated from the country, the queen and the family he loved by having to earn a living abroad, because his Catholic faith disqualified him from acceptance at court. Davies read this and other illuminating texts, mainly of the period, but including Leo Tolstoy and Rose Tremain too, to amplify Dowland’s many moods.
The music was not without technical shortcomings, not by the performers, but the technology: pictures that moved jerkily and occasional breaks in the sound. But a CD would not have been more satisfying.
It was a joy to get back to seeing live performers revelling in their art. Davies delivered reams of easy, liquid tone that underlined Dowland’s incomparable skill as a songwriter. His words were not especially clear, even with a text to hand, but that may have been due to insufficient ‘miking’.
Kenny’s pluckings not merely supplied a rhythmic foundation. She improvised magically in her intros and in the space between verses (ritornellos); she also contributed several mood-lightening dances.
It was hard not to feel that we were experiencing Dowland’s songs exactly as they would have sounded 400 years ago, not in a dusty, ancient way, but as a living art as relevant today as Shakespeare. We may remember that Dowland’s Third and Last Booke of Songs was published in 1603, the same year as Hamlet – that arch-melancholic – was first printed.
The last word goes to Dowland himself, from his dedication to Lachrimae, a book of dances: “Pleasant are the tears which music weeps”. Indeed.
Matthew Wadsworth continued the Dowland theme on lute and theorbo at lunchtime on Friday, alongside the music of other contemporaries. There was as a wide a range of moods here as there had been in the songs, with bolder declamation from the long-necked theorbo with its deeper resonance.
Wadsworth flowed fluently over the strings and the close camera work emphasised the music’s intimacy.
During the afternoon, Steven Devine played the second half of Book 1 of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, the preludes and fugues Nos 13-24, on a two-manual Michael Johnson harpsichord built in Fontmell Magna in 1997. He proved a deft exponent, though on such a bright-toned instrument he might not have coupled the manuals quite so frequently. But at least we were able to marvel anew at the breadth of Bach’s ingenuity.
The evening brought in Richard Boothby playing a lyra viol, the smallest of the three kinds of bass viol. He began both halves with music by Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, an Englishman of Italian descent who was especially prominent at the Jacobean court. Pairs of dances amply contrasted the gentler alman with the altogether friskier coranto, with its skipping rhythms.
Similar pairings from William Lawes and John Jenkins led into two brilliantly virtuosic variations by the little-known William Corkine and ‘divisions’ (variations) on Dowland’s famous Lachrime melody. Boothby introduced his music, which made the whole presentation much more personal.
We may be grateful to all these musicians for their labours in front of an unseen audience. The festival concluded with the ace choral group Stile Antico on Saturday evening. Watch this space for the review.
THE National Centre for Early Music, York, will continue to reach out from behind closed doors to provide inspirational music online with a series of concerts throughout May.
Confirmed for next month are Palisander, Beware The Spider!, on Saturday (May 2); Rumorum, Medieval Music for voices and instruments, May 16, and European Union Baroque Orchestra, Handel & Bach, May 30, all starting at 1pm.
To view these concerts for free, follow https://www.facebook.com/yorkearlymusic/ or log on to the NCEM website, ncem.co.uk, where you also can find details of the Cuppa And A Chorus community singing sessions, now on Zoom, plus other NCEM news and more concert footage.
In Beware The Spider!, first performed at the NCEM in March 2019, the young recorder quartet explore the Tarantella, the effects of a venomous spider bite, and the curious world of folk medicine.
Fast moving and fun, with some fancy footwork to boot, the Palisander programme combined music by Vivaldi and many others with an entertaining narrative.
Like Palisander, Rumorum first played Medieval Music for voices and instruments at the NCEM in March 2019. These 12th to 15th century music specialists turn back the clock to the time of Medieval Europe when musicians travelled across the continent, gathering stories, sharing knowledge of love, pain and exile.
This youthful ensemble formed while studying medieval performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland and took York classical audiences by storm when winning the York Early Music Festival Friends’ Prize in the 2017 festival competition. “If you can’t quite visualise a rebec, harp, flute and voice ensemble, this is your chance,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin.
European Union Baroque Orchestra’s concert recording dates from March 2017, led by director and harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen, who was joined that day by soloists Maria Keohane, soprano, Bojan Cicic, concertmaster,and Neven Lesage, oboe.
The concert was performed to celebrate Early Music Day 2017 on the birthday of JS Bach. “Entitled Betrayal And Betrothal, it features music by Bach and Handel and provides an exciting opportunity to hear this outstanding group again, presenting one of their last ever performances on stage,” says Delma.
As “an added bonus”, harpsichordist extraordinaire Steven Devine will “help you beat the blues” with Bach Bites – bite size chunks to inspire and uplift – every Wednesday evening at 6pm.
Delma says: “Keeping in touch with our audiences is so important to us in these difficult times and we’re delighted to be able to bring you this eclectic selection of archival recordings from concerts recorded over the past couple of years.
“We’re also continuing our Cuppa And A Chorus event, where people can meet regularly to sing in a relaxed environment. We’re now meeting virtually on Zoom, so even though we can’t be together, we can all try and stay in touch.”
EARLY Music Day will go ahead at the National Centre for Early Music, York, tomorrow but behind closed doors.
“Our doors may be temporarily closed, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll still be celebrating Early Music Day and streaming our concerts all around Europe, so join us for two wonderful concerts this Saturday (March 21),” says director Delma Tomlin. “There will also be a selection of concerts available to enjoy online over the coming weeks.”
Tomorrow’s programme at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, begins with a 1pm concert by harpsichordist Steven Devine, performing the first in a series of Bach Preludes and Fugues, and ends with The Brabant Ensemble’s 6pm programme ofA Monk’s Life: Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.
“Sublime choral music from the Renaissance performed by this Oxford ensemble
offers the perfect end to a fabulous day of music,” says Delma.
“I am so grateful to our talented array of musicians who are determined
that Early Music Day will still happen somehow and have agreed to perform
behind closed doors.
“Even if you can’t be with us in person, we hope that you will join us
for this day of music, a joyful celebration which normally takes place with our
European partners and friends in beautiful venues.”
Looking ahead, Delma says: “We are pausing our
operations until the end of April and will be in contact with everyone who
has booked to attend concerts that are due to take place within this period.
“We ask that you are patient with us during this difficult time and wait for us to contact you. Regular updates about future concerts and more concert footage will be posted on our website, ncem.co.uk, and via social media, so please keep checking.”
“Music has the power
to uplift and inspire us all and although our building may be closed, we will
be sharing a selection of concerts from our archives online for us all to enjoy,”
says Delma, on an upbeat final note.