REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Ryedale Festival’s Triple Concert, Castle Howard

The Gesualdo Six: Performed in the Chapel at Castle Howard. Picture: Ash Mills

Ryedale Festival: Triple Concert, Ashley Riches; The Gesualdo Six; Joseph Shiner and the Barbican Quartet, Castle Howard, July 27

TICKETS were once again like gold dust for the triple concert in three locations at Castle Howard. Ashley Riches sang in the Long Gallery, accompanied by Joseph Middleton, the Gesualdo Six appeared in the Chapel, and clarinettist Joseph Shiner and the Barbican Quartet played in the Great Hall. This was the satisfying order in which I heard them.

Riches, who hails from this part of the world but has gone onto widespread conquests, boasts a dark basso quality to his baritone and put it to excellent use in his wide-ranging exploration of the animal world, A Musical Zoo.

His German group began pleasingly with Schubert’s Die Forelle (The Trout) and Brahms’ injunction to the nightingale to pipe down, but his legato only took full shape in Strauss’ lament for the thrush that dies in its cage.

Where his German in Wolf’s Der Rattenfänger (The Ratcatcher) was a touch wayward, his French group was on a much higher plane. Fauré’s waltz-dialogue between butterfly and flower was utterly charming, as were the solitary, rhapsodic cricket of Ravel and De Sévérac’s serene owls.

So, to England, with another nightingale soothing away the sorrows of King David, in Howells’ setting of Walter de la Mare. Its solemnity was instantly dispelled by Vernon Duke’s treatment of Ogden Nash’s musical zoo, where Riches was a veritable chameleon in his colourings of the epigrams, with an American accent into the bargain.

The Gesualdo Six under Owain Park, who also delivers a deep bass, gave a programme of slow music suitable for the Anglican office of compline, the last service of the day. It proved confusing because they omitted three-quarters of the Hildegard plainsong printed in the programme and merged the two following pieces so that their boundaries were unclear.

That aside, they were as impressive as ever, neatly blended and precisely tuned. Tallis’s evening hymn Te Lucis led nicely into Byrd’s Miserere Mihi, Domine, which was followed in turn by Look Down, O Lord, by Jonathan Seers – British, but little-known here because of being based in Germany for many years – whose setting of the Elizabethan William Leighton was a model of anguished harmony.

Nicolas Gombert’s relentlessly remorseful Media Vita started in the deepest, darkest tones. Park’s own Hail, Gladdening Light fell short of the famous setting by Charles Wood, but The Wind’s Warning, a setting of Ivor Gurney by Alison Willis, complete with whooshing gusts, was powerful. Some tortuous harmony in night settings by Reger and Rheinberger was safely negotiated. Beautiful though this programme was, it needed a little more variety for full effect.

So, to Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in the Great Hall. Joseph Shiner’s clarinet was both lithe and intimate. The way, for example, that he melted back into the first movement recapitulation was exquisite and there was also a special serenity when the slow movement theme reappeared.

The minuet’s second trio had a special swagger, contrasting with the quartet’s account of the first one, where the clarinet is silent. Shiner played games with the early variations in the finale, so that when the break came – with the Adagio interlude – it was all the more effective, and the closing bars breathed wonderfully.

The strings were very much in cahoots with him and maintained a fine balance throughout. A lovely conclusion to a rewarding evening.

Review by Martin Dreyer

‘We all need cheering up,’ says director Delma as York Early Music Christmas Festival returns for live and online concerts

Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment: Opening the 2021 York Early Music Christmas Festival with two sold-out concerts on December 3

YORK Early Music Christmas Festival will be back in full swing this season, combining live concerts with a later online programme of festive music.

Running from December 3 to 11, then on demand from December 17 to January 14, the festival promises Christmas carols, candlelight, Vivaldi, Corelli, Bach, Handel, Purcell, Schubert, mulled wine, mince pies and Mexican melodies.

In the medieval St Margaret’s Church, in Walmgate, this celebration of Advent and the festive season will go ahead with Covid safety measures in place: seating will be socially distanced and proof of two Covid vaccinations or a negative Lateral Flow Test will be required. “No proof, no admission,” will be the strict policy, and the wearing of masks will be actively encouraged too.

To adapt to the prevailing circumstances and smaller capacities, five of the festive programmes will be performed twice, at 5.30pm and the more conventional 7.45pm.

“The philosophy is short concerts, no interval, and still selling to a limited capacity, so that people feel more comfortable because there’s more room and they don’t have to spend too much time together indoors in winter,” says festival director Delma Tomlin.

“In dark December, earlier evening concerts will appeal to a certain demographic, who can get home in good time for supper. It’s all about understanding people’s wishes as we return to going to concerts, and it’s much more practical to do two concerts in an evening, as we don’t have the same level of visitors for afternoon concerts.”

La Palatine: French songs of love, betrayal, disenchantment and loss on December 4

Looking forward to a festival with plenty of concerts sold out already, Delma says: “Christmas in most circles is a time for celebrations, a time of fanfare, ceremony and feasting. At the heart of the celebrations is a very human story which is often so beautifully illustrated through music, and we invite you to find peace, serenity, alongside mince pies and mulled wine at this busy time – and to enjoy some really fabulous music too!

“There is 500 years’ worth of glorious Advent, Christmas and winter music to go at, and frankly we all need a bit of cheering up right now.”

Opening festival proceedings will be an ever innovative, entertaining and engaging British ensemble, the Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, whose 5.30pm and 7.45pm performances of A Baroque Christmas on December 3 have both sold out. Concertos by Corelli, Manfredini, Torelli and Vivaldi will be complemented by Handel’s Pastorelle from Messiah and works by D Scarlatti and JS Bach.

Replacing Ensemble Caladrius’s O Magum Mysterium in the festival’s first NCEM Platform Artists’ concert on December 4 at 12.15pm will be French ensemble La Palatine, presenting Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux.

The raw emotions of love, betrayal, disenchantment and loss infuse the songs and opera arias of the early baroque in Italy, as explored by Marie Theoleyre, soprano, Noemie Lenhof, viola da gamba, Jeremy Nastasi, theorbo and baroque guitar, and Guillaume Haldenwang, harpsichord, in the works of Tarquinio Merula of Cremona, Domenico Mazzocchi in Rome and Claudio Moneteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna.

Travelling further afield, the festival takes a Mexican theme with Siglo de Oro’s Christmas In Puebla, a sold-out 6.30pm concert on December 4 that evokes the spirit of the warm breezes of South America, on Christmas Eve in Puebla Cathedral, blending dance-infused villancicos with traditional 17th century carols under the direction of Patrick Allies.

Siglo de Oro: Mexican melodies

“This will be Siglo de Oro’s York debut,” says Delma. “Somewhat delayed, though, because they were supposed to be here two years ago.”

York favourites The Gesualdo Six return to the NCEM once more, this time with In Winter’s House, on December 5 at 5.30pm (sold out) and 7.45pm (tickets still available). Director Owain Park’s programme of music evokes a sense of mystery and joy, from works of the Tudor church to the 21st century by Judith Bingham, Joanna Marsh and Sally Beamish. “They will be wallowing in the deliciousness of both old and new music,” says Delma

The second NCEM Platform Artists’ concert, supported by the NCEM’s Creative Europe-funded programme EEEmerging, will be given by Prisma, a German ensemble comprising Franciska Anna Hadju, violin, Elisabeth Champolion, recorder, Alon Sariel, lute, and David Budai, viola da gamba, on December 7 at 5.30pm and 7.45pm. “They’re so much fun, so cheerful, and a very delightful group to welcome at Christmas,” says Delma.

Their programme, A Baroque Christmas, will be wrapped around baroque trio sonatas and dances, inviting the audience to rediscover Christmas songs by Castello and Fantana in fresh arrangements laced with joie de vivre.

Pocket Sinfonia’s Mozart And A Miracle concert, on December 9 at 5.30pm and 7.45pm, aims to re-create the atmosphere of 19th century living-room parties, where the intimacy of a chamber music performance was applied to orchestral-scale pieces.

Rosie Bowker, flute, Eleanor Corr, violin, Thomas Isaac, cello, and Emil Duncumb, piano and fortepiano, will be taking a journey through the dark wintery nights of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, onwards to the Christmas cheer of Mozart’s Sleigh Ride, in a new Pocket Sinfonia transcription, and Haydn’s Miracle Symphony No. 102 in B flat.

Pocket Sinfonia: Dark journey through wintery nights

“Two members of the ensemble are from Norway, with dual nationality, and they’ll be making their debut here after I saw them on Zoom in a showcase they did in Brussels last year, and booked them on the strength of that,” says Delma.

Tenor James Gilchrist and lutenist Matthew Wadsworth reflect on love, passion and loss in Divine Love And Earthly Passions on December 10 at 5.30pm and 7.45pm, as they open with Purcell’s Evening Hymn and close with Dowland’s In Darkness Let Me Dwell on their thoughtful, sometimes melancholic, always engaging journey, with a sprinkling of Schubert and Praetorius as a taster of the festivities to come.

In A Contest Of Equals, on December 11 at 1pm, Bojan Cicic, violin, Gawain Glenton, cornetto, and Silas Wellston, organ, celebrate the late-16th and 17th century rivalry between the violin, the irreverent newcomer, and the cornetto, the older, aristocratic instrument, with music from Italy, Germany and Spain. Who will emerge victorious? Let Battaglia! commence.

The 2021 live festival concludes on December 11 with Yorkshire Bach Choir’s 7pm to 10pm performance of J S Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists under conductor Peter Seymour. On solo duty will be Bethany Seymour, soprano, Helen Charlston, alto, Matthew Long, tenor, and Johnny Herford, bass.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear the Yorkshire Bach Choir again at the festival after two years, and especially to hear them doing the Bach mass,” says Delma. “It’s such  a cracking piece.”

Joglaresa: Carols, lullabies, dance tunes and wassails

In addition, but separate from the festival, Joglaresa will be presenting Lullay Myn Lykynge, a stand-alone concert on Monday, December 6 at 5.30pm and 7.45pm, complemented by a live-streaming of the second performance.

Their programme will offer encouragement to celebrate Yule effervescently and chase out the chill from the Celtic fringes of Europe with traditional carols, lullabies, dance tunes and wassails from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Armed with fidel, harp, bells, bagpipes and voices, Joglaresa will be ringing in Christmas and the New Year.

Tickets remain available for concerts unless stated otherwise at ncem.co.uk/york-early-music-christmas-festival/ and on 01904 658338.

IN the York Christmas Box Set, seven concerts from the 2021 York Early Music Christmas Festival will be available to watch online throughout the festive season.

Billed as “the perfect festive gift for music lovers” by the National Centre for Early Music, the £40 filmed concert package can be viewed on demand from 10am on December 17 to Friday, January 14.

First prompted by pandemic restrictions, the NCEM continues to share many of its festival highlights online, reaching ever-growing audiences from as far away as Japan and Australia.

The seven festival highlights in the box set are:  

Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, performing A Baroque Christmas;

Siglo de Oro, celebrating Christmas with dance-infused 17th century Mexican music;

The Gesualdo Six, returning to York after sold-out summer concerts to present In Winter’s House, Christmas music spanning many decades;

Prisma: Baroque joy in the York Christmas Box Set

EEEmerging artists Prisma, bringing Baroque joy with fresh arrangements of Christmas music;

Pocket Sinfonia, conjuring up the atmosphere of 19th century living-room parties with Mozart and more;

Festival favourites James Gilchrist & Matthew Wadsworth, performing Divine Love And Earthly Passions, featuring music by Purcell, Schubert and Dowland;

Battaglia, the combative trio of Bojan Čičić, Gawain Glenton and Silas Wollston, staging an exuberant musical battle between the violin and cornetto, once considered rival instruments.

Festival director Delma Tomlin says: “We’re delighted to be able to bring you this fabulous array of concerts online with this wonderful Christmas Box Set, filmed at our home of St Margaret’s Church during this year York Early Music Christmas Festival. 

“We’re continuing to share our music online, so those of you who aren’t able to join us in York will be able to enjoy this fabulous feast of music in the comfort of your own homes – and it’s the perfect gift to share with family and friends.

“We hope that our online friends will enjoy seeing the beautiful surroundings of our medieval home and we hope to welcome them in person in the future.”

For tickets and more information, go to: ncem.co.uk/events/york-christmas-at-home-festival-pass/

“Financial help from the ARG Fund ensures that we can stage the annual York Early Music Christmas Festival,” says director Delma Tomlin

THE National Centre for Early Music, York, has received a “generous grant” from the City of York Council’s Additional Restrictions Grant fund to help with the cost of staging this year’s York Early Music Christmas Festival.

This discretionary scheme supports York businesses affected by the lockdowns but not eligible for Lockdown Restrictions Grant and the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed Businesses) payments, thereby helping businesses that, while not legally required to close, were still severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

In keeping with other arts organisations, the NCEM was forced to close its doors for several months but it continued to stage concerts and festivals digitally, sharing specially commissioned concerts all over the world, reaching audiences from as far away as Australia, Japan and the United States.

The return of a week-long York Early Music Christmas Festival from December 3 is one of the NCEM’S most important and high-profile events, attracting not only York residents but also audiences from all over Britain and beyond.

The NCEM, at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, is fully open once more, staging its year-round programme of concerts, not only Early Music, but jazz, folk and world music too.

NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “We’re delighted to receive this generous grant from the City of York Council.  Financial help from the ARG Fund ensures that we can stage the annual York Early Music Christmas Festival, a week of music celebration featuring a line-up of world-class performers.

“The festival is hugely popular with residents and attracts visitors from all over the UK, who make it part of their Christmas calendar. It’s wonderful to see the city coming back to life and we’re very proud to be able to be part of its fabulous programme of events celebrating the festive season. We can’t wait to welcome audiences back to our beautiful home of St Margaret’s Church.”

Councillor Derek Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, says: “York’s live music scene is a crucial and vibrant part of the city’s cultural offer. We recognise the ongoing challenges venues are facing as we ease out of the national restrictions and people get used to a new ‘normal’.

“We are committed to working with the sector to provide all possible support, including promoting the great experiences on our doorstep thanks to the many brilliant live music venues across our city.”

L’Apothéose in the grounds of the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, York, in 2019. Picture: Jim Poyner

CALLING young ensembles of the world: the deadline for applications for next year’s York International Young Artists Competition is January 14 2022.

This prestigious longstanding competition for young ensembles will take place on Saturday, July 16 at the National Centre for Early Music as part of next summer’s York Early Music Festival. 

The first prize includes a recording contract from Linn Records: a £1,000 prize; opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and a concert at the 2023 York Early Music Festival.

Other prizes include: the Friends of York Early Music Festival Prize; the Cambridge Early Music Prize and a prize for The Most Promising Young Artist/s endowed by the EUBO Development Trust.  

The competition is open to Early Music ensembles with a minimum of three members; ensembles must have an average age of 33 years or under, with a maximum age of 37 years for individuals.

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.

The competition is recognised as a major international platform for emerging talent in the world of early music. Attracting musicians from all over the globe, it offers a boost to young professional careers with opportunities for performance, recording and broadcasting and international exposure. 

NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “We are so pleased to be staging the 2022 competition, which brings together young musicians of the highest calibre from the UK and all over the world. 

“This is one of highlights of the York Early Music Festival and we are always overwhelmed by the superb quality of the performances from these fantastically talented young artists. The competition provides a joyous, optimistic finale to our festival and we are delighted to be able give these rising stars many exciting future opportunities.”

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 enthuse: “Winning the competition was a turning point in our career, bringing us to the attention of both a wider audience and professionals throughout Europe.”

Details of how to apply can be found at yorkcomp.ncem.co.uk; alternatively, send an email to yorkcomp@ncem.co.uk.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on The Gesualdo Six, York Early Music Festival

The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park, back row, centre

York Early Music Festival, The Gesualdo Six, National Centre for Early Music, York, July 15

THIS year’s abbreviated festival, which seems to have ended almost before it began, went out in style with The Gesualdo Six, another group whose visits to York are thankfully plentiful.

With a countertenor on the top line, supported by two tenors, a baritone and two basses, it is well geared for a programme of English motets, especially since its director, Owain Park, underpins them all with a firm, deep bass that would be the envy of any choir.

This was almost a roll call of the great names in Tudor music (without Orlando Gibbons), which also reached back to the early 15th century composer John Forest. He was at one time a prebendary of York before becoming Dean of Wells. His three-part motet Qualis Est Dilectus Est revealed his fondness for voices moving in thirds (once thought a quirky Anglicism).

Two tear-jerkers stood out at either end of the programme. Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus, immediately following Tallis’s Te Lucis, was touchingly intimate, which added to the reverence it naturally engenders.

Even more telling was Tomkins’s When David Heard, with five voices conducted by Park, which wrung every last ounce of pain from David’s lament for his son Absalom, killed in battle. “Would God I had died for thee” was almost unbearably poignant.

Not all was so solemn. Weelkes’s setting of Psalm 47, All People, Clap Your Hands, was cheerful enough, but not quite as imaginative as the Gibbons version of this psalm. But the group really let rip in a full-throated account of Byrd’s Vigilate, merging neatly at its conclusion. The same composer’s Laudate, Pueri was equally joyful, a full-blooded account from all six singers.

In between came two hymns, by White and Tallis, with the latter’s setting of In Manus Tuas balancing an earlier one by John Sheppard that was extremely quiet, yet creamily controlled. Several times the precentor’s role was sung off-stage, which offered an extra dimension. And then there was the Tomkins. What a piece.

The Gesualdos are coming up on the inside of a longer-lived group from a well-known Cambridge college – and may soon overtake.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Available online on demand until August 13 at ncem.co.uk/yemf.

Briefer Encounters for 2021 York Early Music Festival but it will still be jam packed

And now there are seven: The Gesualdo Six ,with director Owain Park, centre, back row, as they step into the 2021 York Early Music in a late call-up for an Early engagement

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.”

Rachel Podger: Performing works by JS Bach, Tartini and Biber in The Violinist Speaks at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, York, on July 13 at 9.15pm

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.”

Delma Tomlin: Director of York Early Music Festival and the National Centre for Early Music, Yorkl

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 Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments: 2021 York Early Music Festival concert will be recorded for BBC Radio 3

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.

Stile Antico: Renaissance vocal ensemble to perform long-awaited concert at York Minster, presented by York Early Music Festival in partnership with the Alamire Foundation, Flanders. Picture: Marco Borggreve

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.

Copyright of The Press, York

Look who will be playing at York Early Music Festival in July…

Stile Antico: Long-awaited concert at York Early Music Festival 2021. Picture: Marco Borggreve

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.

Rachel Podger: The Violinist Speaks…and plays at St Lawrence Parish Church, York, on July 13. Picture: Theresa Pewal

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. 

“We can’t wait to throw our doors wide open again,” says York Early Music Festival and NCEM director Delma Tomlin

“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

Monteverdi String Quartet: Opening concert of the 2021 festival on July 12

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.

The Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments: Playing NCEM on July 14

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.  

Jacob Heringham: Playing Merchant Adventurers Hall on July 14. Picture: Guy Carpenter

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.

L’Apothéose: Closing concert of York Early Music Festival 2021

REVIEW: Awaken, National Centre for Early Music online, York, March 27 and 28

Recorder virtuoso Olwen Foulkes at the recording of Ensemble Augelletti’s concert for Awaken. Picture: Ben Pugh

REVIEW: Awaken, National Centre for Early Music online, York, from various venues, March 27 and 28. Streaming until April 30 at www.ncem.co.uk/awaken

AWAKEN had all the right vibes. Five events over the weekend signalled the beginning of the end of our enforced hibernation. They also heralded the start of spring. As if in tune, the weather co-operated and turned warm and sunny.

All the concerts had been filmed in venues around York the previous week, but they had the feel of live events. We began with a peripatetic tour by the Gesualdo Six – a slight misnomer, since they are really seven with their director Owain Park, who also sings from time to time, though there are never more than six singers in action at once.

The group revelled in the free-wheeling motet style of four Englishmen by the name of John from the first half of the 15th century.  The rhythmic verve of John Pyamour was nicely contrasted with a smoother take on John Forest and tenderness from John Plummer; all these were trios. But John Dunstaple’s quartet Veni, Sancte Spiritus outdid them all, a step ahead of his compatriots.

In Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, three Frenchmen from later that century sounded more calculating, more predictable, though Josquin des Prez’s attention to words in Nymphes des Bois – the only secular piece in the programme – was exquisite. It was good to hear, this time in the Hall’s chapel, John Thorne’s Stella Caeli, with neat passing harmonies and major-chord cadences that doubtless were heard in York Minster during his time as Master of the Choristers (1542-73).

Extracts from Lamentations by another three Frenchmen prepared us for Holy Week, with Brumel’s warmly autumnal Good Friday lection, without countertenors, topping the bill and bringing comfort amongst the sorrow. Byrd’s incomparable Infelix Ego, reflecting our current sufferings and sung under the Minster’s Great East Window, made a transcendent finale, its coda deeply affecting. The Gesualdos could not have got Awaken off to a better start.

Ensemble Augelletti: Octet of players homed in on music connected with John Baptist Grano

At the National Centre, recorder virtuoso Olwen Foulkes led the splendid Ensemble Augelletti, an octet of players who homed in on music connected with John Baptist Grano. He was principal trumpeter in the orchestra at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket where he premiered several Handel operas. He was also an operator who had a finger in several pies, but thrived even when in prison for debt.

Given the company he was keeping here, Grano’s own Sonata in F for recorder and continuo was relatively run-of-the-mill, though its Spirituoso was indeed spirited and the succeeding Largo eloquently plaintive. Foulkes was on top of her game throughout, as also in a concerto by John Baston, where her soprano recorder danced wittily in its final Presto.

In Handel’s Trio Sonata Op 2 No 4, Foulkes worked effectively in tandem with Ellen Bundy’s violin and all five players relished its closing, very English, jig. A final word for the supremely attentive cellist Carina Drury, a player I’d be happy to have on my team any time.

Staying in St Margaret’s Church (alias the National Centre), the viol consort Fretwork was joined by York countertenor Iestyn Davies in a programme of 16th century North German music, spearheaded by two arrangements of Vaughan Williams songs. Silent Noon was an odd opener and not heat-hazy enough, but The Sky Above The Roof was much more telling, though Davies’s diction was woolly. (His Latin later was marginally better, but his German admirably clear.)

Davies’s other contributions all concerned music connected with Holy Week and proved that lockdown has in no way hurt his evocative powers, his countertenor gliding smoothly over even the most taxing challenges. In a Lamento by Johann Christoph Bach, often described as JSB’s most talented forebear, he was pleadingly penitential, amid textual floods of tears. Franz Tunder’s Salve Mi Jesu was appropriately prayerful, finding genuine serenity in its peaceful ending.

Most potent of all was Christian Geist’s reaction to Holy Saturday, with semi-recitative for the biblical narrative, culminating in an aria of considerable power, which benefited from Davies’s operatic experience.

Iestyn Davies: “Countertenor glided smoothly over even the most taxing challenges”

Fretwork alone was rhythmically lively in Schein’s Seventh Suite from Banchetto Musicale (1617), notably in the vigorous syncopation of its galliard. The rapidly changing variations in Scheidt’s Canzon Super O Nachbar Roland were brilliantly negotiated, tremolandos and all, though it was a pity we were not given a chance to hear the song by itself.

It took a while to adjust to the sound of period instruments in Schubert’s mighty String Quintet in C, played by the Consone Quartet with Alexander Rolton as second cellist, also at the National Centre.

Let us dispose of the reservations first. Balance was never quite right, though I channelled the sound through my best speakers: we needed more from the outer voices, first violin and second cello. This was almost certainly a problem of microphone setting. There was also a disparity of approach between the cellists, one using more vibrato than the other.

The work got off to a cautious start, as if every effect was being over-calculated. Spontaneity began to surface with the repeat of the exposition. The second movement hovered to the point of stasis, with definition undermined by the second cello’s over-restrained pizzicato (probably microphones again).

Thereafter things changed very much for the better. The players began to enjoy themselves in a robust Scherzo. There was a slight loss of focus in the Trio, but caution was finally thrown to the winds when the Scherzo returned with even more verve. A strong, confident finale did much to compensate for the earlier diffidence and the acceleration towards the tape was neatly managed. I also enjoyed the encore, a sensitive setting of the song Frühlingsglaube (Faith In Spring), with cello to the fore.

Awaken’s finale shifted to St Lawrence Church, where Robert Hollingworth directed his vocal ensemble I Fagiolini (with some stiffening from former members of The 24) and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble. The evening was entitled Super-Excellent, a word taken from the travel writer Thomas Coryat, preaching the wonders of Venetian music in 1608. Naturally, the programme was largely Italian or Italianate.

The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park, back, centre: “Revelled in the free-wheeling motet style of four Englishmen by the name of John”

Hollingworth himself expounded on each piece in advance. He was most informative, but his enthusiasm sometimes led him to raise expectations unreasonably. Polychoral effects that were undoubtedly stunning in St Mark’s, Venice, were not quite so impressive in the less rewarding acoustic of St Lawrence.

Music by Giovanni Gabrieli appropriately framed the programme. With voices and instruments used interchangeably, Buccinate featured thrilling fanfares. No less stirring were the recurring Alleluyas in the multi-choir In Ecclesiis at the close, in a clever reconstruction by Hugh Keyte.

There were mass extracts from the Catalan composer Joan Cererols with three choirs overlapping, almost conversationally. Juan de Araujo, Spanish-born but working in South America, gave us an exciting Dixit Dominus, with jazzy rhythms heightened by strumming theorbo and guitar.

Solo tenor and bass respectively (no individual performers’ names were available) offered tastefully decorated motets by Grandi and Schütz, the latter an angry and sorrowful lament by David for Absalom, attended by four mournful sackbuts.

A florid cornett lit up a madrigal-style arrangement of a Palestrina ‘Ave Verum Corpus’. But for me the greatest surprise was Edmund Hooper’s verse anthem ‘O God Of Gods’, in a frankly superb reconstruction by William Hunt (who issued a recording of the work only last June). It proved that an Englishman could do it too.

Streaming of concerts is notoriously difficult, a path littered with potholes. Awaken was not perfect: there were occasional breaks in the sound and the odd unintended freeze-frame. Sometimes the camera lingered too long on an individual when what you wanted was to see the whole ensemble interacting. But it still served a vital role, reminding us how valuable live concerts are and renewing hope that they will soon return.

Above all, these events showed faith in musicians, many of them young, that despite everything we treasure their talents and will welcome them back with open arms (or the socially distanced alternative) just as soon as we are allowed. You have the rest of April to catch up with all these brave souls. I heartily recommend them.

Martin Dreyer

More Things To Do in York and beyond in the months ahead and while staying home, List No. 28, courtesy of The Press, York

Bethany, from York artist Sue Clayton’s exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day, on show outside All Saints Church, Pocklington

THE diary is beginning to turn from blank to much more promising, even if online and home entertainment is still the order of the day, but Charles Hutchinson is feeling positive and so are event organisers.

Outdoor exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day: Sue Clayton, 21, All Saints Church, Pocklington, March 19 to April 19

YORK portrait artist Sue Clayton will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) on March 21 with a month-long open-air exhibition on the railings of All Saints Church in Pocklington.

Self Portrait, by York artist Sue Clayton

Her collection of 21 portraits is inspired by children and adults with Down Syndrome, especially Sue’s energetic son James. She has chosen the theme of 21 both to mark the date of WDSD and to symbolise the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have.

This is the second outdoor display to be staged by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) in lockdown at this location after fellow York artist Karen Winship’s NHS Heroes exhibition from late November to early January.

Iestyn Davies: York countertenor will perform at the NCEM’s Awaken online concert series

Springtime celebration of music online: Awaken, National Centre for Early Music, York, March 27 and 28

THE NCEM’s Awaken weekend will feature York countertenor Iestyn Davies and Fretwork, the all-male vocal group The Gesualdo Six, I Fagiolini and the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Ensemble Augelletti and The Consone Quartet.

The online festivities will celebrate the sublime sounds of spring in a range of historic venues to mark “the unique association between the City of York and the exquisite beauty of the music of the past”. Among the architectural gems will be Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the NCEM. Full details can be found at ncem.co.uk/awaken.

The Minster men: The Howl & The Hum promote their livestreamed concert at York Minster in the ultimate publicity shot for any York band

“Unique” livestreamed concert: The Howl & The Hum, York Minster, May 25

YORK alternative rock band The Howl & The Hum will perform a “unique set to compliment the unique venue” of the Nave of York Minster in a one-off 8.15pm concert livestreamed via ticket.co.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Sam Griffiths, bassist Brad Blackwell, guitarist Conor Hirons and drummer Jack Williams will combine selections from last May’s prescient album Human Contact with fan favourites and new material recorded in lockdown.

The Howl & The Hum will be the first rock act to play York Minster since York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich on March 29 2019. Tickets are on sale via thehowlandthehum.com/.

Wynne win situation: Castle Howard Proms will go ahead this summer with tenor soloist Wynne Evans

Confirmed for the summertime: Castle Howard Concerts Weekend, August 20 to 22

CASTLE Howard has announced this summer’s concerts weekend will go ahead, in light of the Government’s roadmap rollout.

First up, in the open air at the North Yorkshire country house, will be house music brand Café Mambo Ibiza on August 20, presenting Roger Sanchez, Judge Jules, Julie McKnight (live PA), Ridney and Robin S (live PA), with more big names still to be announced for the Ibiza Classics at the Castle celebration.

Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, from the Go Compare adverts, will be joined by soprano Victoria Joyce and the London Gala Orchestra for the al fresco Castle Howard Proms on August 21.

Four vocalists from We Will Rock You, a five-piece rock band and The Elysium Orchestra will combine for Queen Symphonic on August 22. Box office: castlehoward.co.uk.

Piece in our time at last: Shed Seven move all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall yet again, now in the diary for August 28

Sheds on the move: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, August 28

YORK heroes Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, is being rescheduled for a third time, now booked in for August 28.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs.

August 28? Doesn’t that clash with Leeds Festival, co-headlined that day by Stormzy and Catfish And The Bottlemen? Indeed so, but “let’s just say our fans are not their demographic,” quips lead singer Rick Witter.

Shoe-in: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…, playing the SJT this spring

The Greatest News In The History Of The World…The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…tour to open in Scarborough from May 18 to 22

THE Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Covid-safe reopening show will be the first tour dates of The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…, the hit one-woman play that Ian Kershaw wrote for his wife, Coronation Street alumnus Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Directed by Raz Shaw, it heads out on a heartfelt journey that starts and ends in a small, unassuming house on a quiet suburban road, as Hesmondhalgh narrates the story of two neighbours and the people on their street, navigating the audience through the nuances of life, the possibilities of science and the meaning of love. 

Hesmondhalgh says: “It’s a beautiful play, a love story, but a universal one about learning in time what matters in the end, about leaving a mark on the world – and maybe beyond – that shows us, the human race, in all its glorious messiness, confusion and joy.”

The Shires: Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle move York Barbican gig from 2021 to 2022

York-Shires: The Shires, York Barbican, put back by 12 months

BRITAIN’S biggest-selling country act, The Shires, are rescheduling their May 23 show at York Barbican for May 6 2022.

York is the only Yorkshire venue of their rearranged 25-date tour, when Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle are billed to be joined by Texan country singer and songwriter Eric Paslay. 

“The songs mean so much to us personally, but there really is nothing like looking out at our fans in the crowd and seeing how much of an impact they can have in someone else’s life,” say The Shires. “It’s truly a very special thing”.

And what about?

STILL stuck at home, check out Mindhunter on Netflix, Unforgotten on ITV and Sophia Loren’s Desert Island Discs on BBC Sounds. Seek out Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’s new lockdown album, Carnage.

Cave in: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis create Carnage, available digitally now and on CD and vinyl from May 28

Spring to Awaken for weekend of online celebration at NCEM on March 27 and 28

Iestyn Davies: York countertenor will perform with viol specialists Fretwork at the Awaken weekend

THE National Centre for Early Music, in York, is to play host to an online celebration of music for springtime on March 27 and 28.

The weekend programme of Awaken will feature celebrated British musicians, working across a range of historic venues to mark “the unique association between the City of York and the exquisite beauty of the music of the past”.

The two days of festivities will begin with a musical whistle-stop tour led by the all-male vocal group The Gesualdo Six, directed by Owain Park at 1pm on March 27. Beyond These Shores: A York Tapestry will explore the musical “jewels in the crown” of Renaissance Europe, as revealed in the stained glass and manuscripts of the City of York.

The journey will show off some of the city’s most beautiful buildings, such as Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate; St Olave’s Church, Marygate, and the mediaeval splendour of the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate.

At sixes and sevens: The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park, middle, back row

The weekend’s grand finale, on March 28, will feature I Fagiolini in Super-Excellent, directed by Robert Hollingworth in a 7pm concert filmed in York. They will be joined by the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble to present a multi-choir extravaganza of music from the Italian Renaissance, taking a musical journey across Spain to the New World and back again.  

Also appearing in Awaken will be York international countertenor Iestyn Davies, performing with the instrumental viol specialists Fretwork on March 27, as they bring light to the 17th century world of JC Bach and his contemporaries, interlaced with the 20th century genius of Ralph Vaughan Williams, in a 7pm programme entitled The Sky Above The Roof.

Directed by Olwen Foulkes, rising stars Ensemble Augelletti will make their York debut at the NCEM’s home, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, presenting A Spring In Lockdown on March 27 at 3pm, and BBC New Generation artists The Consone Quartet will perform Schubert’s Quintet in C major with cellist Alexander Rolton on March 28 at 3pm.

Looking forward to the reawakening weekend, NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “As we gradually move into spring, we are delighted to bring you Awaken, which through music brings us the promise of hope, joy and warmth for the coming months.

“Through music, Awaken brings us the promise of hope, joy and warmth for the coming months,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

“Since the very first lockdown, we have continued to bring you some of the finest music streamed from our beautiful base of St Margaret’s Church. For Awaken, we’ve branched out further and are very excited to be able to show off some of the city’s architectural gems, which provide us with a fitting backdrop for the glorious music.

“We’re also pleased to welcome back some of our most popular performers and to introduce a few new faces. We hope you’ll join us for these sublime sounds of spring.”

Tickets cost £10 for individual online concerts or £40 for a weekend pass on 01904 658338, at ncem.co.uk or by emailing boxoffice@ncem.co.uk. Full programme details can be found at: ncem.co.uk/awaken. The concerts will be available on demand until April 30.

Before Awaken, The Gesualdo Six will mark Early Music Day by performing a 3pm concert on March 21, toasting the genius of Josquin des Prez, French composer of the Renaissance age. The live-stream from the NCEM will form part of the annual celebrations organised in association with the European Early Music Network, REMA.

The Consone Quartet: Performing Schubert’s Quintet in C major with cellist Alexander Rolton on March 28

The musicians taking part in Awaken will be:

The Gesualdo Six: Owain Park, director; Andrew Leslie Cooper, Guy James, countertenors; Josh Cooter, Joseph Wicks, tenors; Michael Craddock and Sam Mitchell, basses.

Ensemble Augelletti: Olwen Foulkes, recorders, director; Ellen Bundy, Alice Earll, violins; Elitsa Bogdanova, viola; Carina Drury, cello; Harry Buckoke, bass/gamba; Toby Carr, theorbo; Benedict Williams, harpsichord/organ

Fretwork: Richard Boothby, Emily Ashton, Joanna Levine, Asako Morikawa, Sam Stadlen, viols, with Iestyn Davies, countertenor.

Consone Quartet: Agata Daraškaite, Magdalena Loth-Hill, violins; Elitsa Bogdanova, viola; George Ross, cello, with Alexander Rolton, cello.

I Fagiolini: Robert Hollingworth,director; Martha McLorinan, Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Long, Greg Skidmore, singers; William Lyons, Nicholas Perry, dulcians, shawms; Catherine Pierron, James Johnstone, organs; Eligio Quinteiro, Lynda Sayce, theorboes, guitars.

English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble:  Gawain Glenton, Conor Hastings, cornetts; Emily White, Miguel Tantos-Sevillano, Tom Lees, Hilary Belsey, Andrew Harwood-White, Adrian France, sackbuts.

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 hello@rowntreepark.org.uk.

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.

The Gesualdo Six vocal consort to take up March residency in York for Early Music Day

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

THE Gesualdo Six will lead the National Centre for Early Music’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 its residency – an alternative G6 summit – The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical trek around the city that will be filmed and shared in March.

The film is designed to celebrate the beauty of this historic city and its musical influences, showcasing many of York’s venues that have been unable to open their doors since last March. 

Directed by Owain Park, The Gesualdo Six brings together some of Britain’s finest young consort singers: countertenors Guy James and Andrew Leslie Cooper; tenors Josh Cooter and Joseph Wicks; baritone Michael Craddock and bass Sam Mitchell.

Formed in March 2014 for a performance of Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, the ensemble gave more than 150 performances at major festivals in the UK and abroad in its first five years.

The Gesualdo Six has been awarded the Choir of the Year prize at the Classical Music Digital Awards and its album Fading was awarded Vocal Recording of the Year by Limelight.

National Centre for Early Music director Delma Tomlin: Planning the programme for Early Music Day

Looking forward to the March residency, NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “We are delighted to welcome our good friends The Gesualdo Six, who will be spending time in York, taking advantage of some of the atmospheric acoustics within the city walls and performing a concert, a very special treat for Early Music Day.

“The concert will be shared with our friends and colleagues in Europe and beyond, as we join together for this wonderful annual celebration.”

Against the backdrop of the Brexit severance from Europe, Delma says: “I’d also like to say a special thank-you to REMA, the Early Music Network in Europe, for their hard work helping to make sure the celebrations continue.”

She adds: “Other delights in store in March include performances by many artists who have supported us over this difficult year, recording behind closed doors at St Margaret’s Church [the NCEM’s home in Walmgate, York]. You might not be able to be with us in person, but we hope you can still join us for a feast of fabulous music.” 

Director Owain Park welcomes the chance for The Gesualdo Six to undertake a residency in York. “After a challenging year, it has been a delight to put our minds to this incredibly exciting project,” he says.

“We have long admired the work of the NCEM in York and so it has been an immense privilege to curate a musical journey that weaves through the city’s historic venues. Chiming with the NCEM’s spring celebrations, we aim to highlight the extraordinary power of collaboration and unity in a world where the seeds of division are increasingly sown.”

Delma concludes: “Venues for the filming in York will be confirmed very soon. Please check our website, ncem.co.uk, and social media platforms for regular updates and more details of this year’s programme of Early Music Day celebrations. 

“The NCEM has put in place many changes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the artists, audience and staff. All performances and filming will take place following current Government Covid-19 guidelines.”