THIS thoughtful, intelligent and on the whole rewarding concert was part of The Sixteen on tour, or to give the term official dignity, a “Choral Pilgrimage”.
Sunday’s concert marked the 400th anniversary of William Byrd’s death. Harry Christophers’ programme was thoughtfully laid out, focusing not only on the English Renaissance composer himself, but his engagement and connections with the music of his contemporaries.
For example, there were pairings of Byrd’s famous motet Ne Irascaris, Domine with Philip van Wilder’s superb madrigal O Doux Regard and the settings of Tristitia et Anxietas by both Byrdand Clemens non Papa.
These works not only influenced Byrd, but he also “openly borrowed” from them. No such thing as copyright in those days. Throw into the mix two specially commissioned tribute pieces by Dobrinka Tabakova and we have a strong contextual identity.
What struck me throughout was the absolute fluency of the choir, the clarity of line and infectious enthusiasm for this familiar territory. But I also felt that it was perhaps a tad too reverential; I didn’t always feel the real urgency or vitality I would normally be experiencing from this terrific choir.
To be sure, the opening Arise Lord Into Thy Rest was impeccable with excellent balance, the part-singing in Civitas Sancti Tui was sublime and the concluding Vigilate, with its contrapuntal density, was a great way to sign off. But I found the detail of Jacobus Clemens non Papa’s Ego Flos Campi hard to hear, perhaps a little imprecise.
The Minster acoustic didn’t help. Certainly, it loves vowels: the opening of de Monte’s O Suavitas et Dulcedo was blessed with an other-worldly quality. But consonants, articulated consonants like the Ts and Ss in Byrd’s (smaller forces, choir down to 12 performers) Tristitia et Anxietas were just irritating. So were the hanging cadences that drifted sharp-wards as in the Amen closure of de Monte’s O Savitas.
The new works were not particularly standout pieces, but pieces with standout moments. There was a richly melismatic soprano solo (an excellent Julie Cooper) in Arise Lord Into Thy Rest. The opening of Ms Tabakova’s Turn Our Captivity, O Lord, the stronger of the two works, was both distinct and beautiful.
The high unison soprano line decorated with ornamental, quite eastern-influenced decoration was simply gorgeous and persuasively delivered. I did think that composer’s decision to go for a “distinctly homophonic texture, to contrast with the layered polyphony of Byrd’s exquisite settings” was the correct one. The juicy chordal dissonances not only delivered contrast, but also distance.
Also gorgeous was the visual: The Sixteen gathered in front of the magnificent Great East Window. The glow was illuminating. Which brings me to conductor Harry Christophers. Not only is he a joy to watch, being so obviously immersed in the music he clearly loves, but also he seems to physically blend into the musical performance itself.
Review by Steve Crowther
York Early Music Festival runs until July 14 with the theme of Smoke & Mirrors. Full details and tickets at: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/yemf. Box office: 01904 658338.
HENRY VIII and the murder of a York glazier take top spot in Charles Hutchinson’s pick of July highlights with outdoor cinema on its way too.
Community event of the month: York Theatre Royal in Sovereign, King’s Manor, Exhibition Square, York, July 15 to 30
YORK Theatre Royal’s large-scale community production, York playwright Mike Kenny’s adaptation of C J Sansom’s Tudor-set murder mystery Sovereign, will be staged outdoors at King’s Manor, where part of the story takes place. Henry VIII even makes an appearance.
Two professional actors, Fergus Rattigan’s disabled lawyer Matthew Shardlake and Sam Thorpe-Spinks’ assistant Jack Barak, lead the 120-strong community company of actors, singers, musicians and backstage workers. Tickets update: sold out.
Exhibition of the week: Tom Wilson, City Screen Picturehouse café bar, Coney Street, York, until July 29
YORK punk expressionist artist, designer, playwright, theatre director and tutor Tom Wilson is exhibiting his riots of colour at City Screen Picturehouse for the first time with sale proceeds going to MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians). Thirty-five works are on display, priced at £175 to £700.
“My art looks like an explosion,” says Wilson, whose dynamic abstract artwork is influenced by Kandinsky, Max Earnst, Otto Dix, Outsider art, German Expressionism and Rayonism (Russian Expressionism).
Tribute show of the week: Steve Steinman’s Anything For Love, The Meat Loaf Story, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm
FOR more than 30 years, Nottingham’s Steve Steinman has toured the world with his tribute to the songs of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday). Now he presents his new production, showcasing 25 chunks of Meat Loaf and Steinman’s prime cuts.
Anything For Love combines Steve’s humour and a ten-piece band with such rock-operatic favourites as Bat Out Of Hell, Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Dead Ringer For Love and Total Eclipse Of The Heart. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Don’t miss atYork Early Music Festival: The Sixteen, York Minster, Sunday, 8pm
THE Sixteen’s 2023 Choral Pilgrimage is inspired by the influence of Renaissance composer William Byrd in an exploration of his life, works and pervading Roman Catholic faith. His legacy is marked by two new compositions by Dobrinka Tabakova, bringing his musical heritage into the modern day.
The premieres, Arise Lord Into Thy Rest and Turn Our Captivity, highlight Byrd’s influence of modern polyphony and showcase The Sixteen choir in a new light. Director Harry Christophers’ programme also features works by Van Wilder, de Monte, Clemens Non Papa and Byrd himself. Box office: 01904 658338 or tickets.ncem.co.uk.
American play of the week: Amerrycan Theatre in Our Town, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee
FOUNDER Bryan Bounds directs Yorkshire’s American company, Amerrycan Theatre, in the York premiere of “America’s greatest play”, Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1938 study of mindfulness, mortality and brevity of life, Our Town.
“Wilder’s portrait of life, love and death set in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, a fictional New England town at the start of the 20th century, could happen just as easily in Pocklington,” says Bounds. Tracing the romance and marriage of Emily Webb (Emily Belcher) and George Gibbs (Frankie Bounds), Our Town reveals the hidden mysteries behind the smallest details of everyday life. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Outdoor film event of the week: City Screen Picturehouse presents Movies In The Moonlight, Museum Gardens, York, July 14 to 16, doors, 7.30pm; screenings at sundown, 9.15pm approx
CITY Screen Picturehouse heads outdoors for three films in three nights, kicking off on Friday with The Super Mario Bros Movie, wherein Brooklyn plumbers Mario (Chris Pratt) and brother Luigi (Charlie Day) are transported down a mysterious pipe and wander into a magical new world.
In Mamma Mia! The Movie, next Saturday, Greek island bride-to-be Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is set on finding out who her father is. In next Sunday’s film, Jaws, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss star as a police chief, marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop a gigantic great shark that has been menacing the island community of Amity. Box office: picturehouses.com/outdoor-cinema.
Pop nostalgia of the week: The Counterfeit Seventies, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 16, 7.30pm
IN the wake of The Counterfeit Sixties, here comes, you guessed it, The Counterfeit Seventies, the decade of glam rock, punk, new wave and everything in between. Revisit Slade, Sweet, T Rex, the Bay City Rollers and plenty more, aided by a light show, costumes of the period and archival footage of bands and events from the era. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Solo show of the week: Sarah-Louise Young in The Silent Treatment, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, July 16, 7pm
AFTER her celebrations of Kate Bush (An Evening Without…) and Julie Andrews (Julie Madly Deeply), writer-performer Sarah-Louise Young returns to Theatre@41 with the highly personal true story of a singer who loses her voice and embarks on an unexpected journey of self-revelation.
Warning: The show includes themes of trauma and sexual violence. As The Stage review put it, The Silent Treatment is a “a war cry and a message of resilience and hope to anyone who has faced abuse and been made to feel guilty about it”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
YORK Early Music Festival 2023 takes the theme of Smoke & Mirrors with many of next month’s concerts reflecting the religious uncertainty of life in Tudor times.
Running from July 7 to 14 in York’s churches and historic buildings, the nine-day extravaganza of concerts, talks and workshops features The Sixteen, Ensemble Jupiter & Iestyn Davies, Rachel Podger and the City Musick among its headline performers.
Festival director Dr Delma Tomlin says: “This year’s outstanding line-up of artists also includes Carolyn Sampson, RPS Vocal Award winner Anna Dennis, Alys Mererid Roberts and Helen Charlston, leading the charge for women across the ages.
“We are also presenting some of the most accomplished emerging ensembles from across Europe, including the 2019 and 2022 winners of the York International Young Artists Competition, who we are delighted to be welcoming back to York.”
The 2023 festival commemorates the 400th anniversary of the death of one of England’s most celebrated composers, William Byrd, a man who lived a life beset by “smoke and mirrors” – hence the festival theme – as a practising Roman Catholic composer working for a constantly threatened Protestant Queen.
“The Rose Consort of Viols and The Marian Consort will share music of state and church for voices and viols, in Byrd At Elizabethan Court, at the National Centre for Early Music, directed by Rory McCleery on July 11,” says Delma.
“You can learn about his keyboard music with harpsichord supremo Francesco Corti in Musica Transalpina, also featuring toccatas and variations by Girolamo Frescobaldi and Peter Philips, at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on July 10, and take a ‘Byrd pilgrimage’ around the churches of York with York Minster organist Benjamin Morris at All Saints’ Church, North Street, on July 12, and St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, and St Denys’s Church, Walmgate, on July 13.
“You can also enjoy the heavenly sounds of Byrd’s liturgical masterpieces in The Sixteen’s A Watchful Gaze concert with the York Minster Choir, directed by Harry Christophers at York Minster on July 9, when Byrd’s legacy will be taken firmly into the modern day with two new works by Dobrinka Tabakova, Arise, Lord Into Thy Rest and Turn Our Captivity.”
Tickets are still available for several prominent festival concerts, not least The Sixteen, the festival’s opening concert by The City Musick on July 7 and York countertenor Iestyn Davies with festival debutants Ensemble Jupiter on July 8, both at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.
Directed by William Lyons, The City Musick’s Renaissance big band – 20 musicians in all – will be focusing on the legacy of David Munrow in an homage to his iconic 1970s’ recordings but with a modern twist.
Lyons’s band brings together – deep breath – consorts of recorders, strings, shawms, crumhorns, racketts, dulcians, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, cornetts, sackbuts, keyboard, lutes and percussion to delight in the joy and richness of Renaissance instrumental sounds and dance styles, from sombre almains and pavans to effervescent bransles, galliards and ciaconnas.
Directed by lutenist Thomas Dunford, Ensemble Jupiter join with Iestyn Davies to perform Eternal Source Of Light, a selection of Handel’s most beautiful arias from the 1740s and ’50s, as heard on their award-winning Eternal Heaven album collaboration. Expect a seamless sequence of the secular and the sacred, the tranquil and the tempestuous, the sumptuous and the sophisticated.
On July 12, sopranos Carolyn Sampson, Anna Dennis and Alys Mererid Roberts join the Dunedin Consort to perform Out Of Her Mouth, three miniature cantatas written by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre.
Performed in three historic venues, the NCEM at St Margaret’s Church, the Great Hall of the Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate, and the hall’s Undercroft, these works by a woman, about women and for women reveal the stories of three Biblical women narrating their own complex, heart-searching experiences.
This concert has sold out, as have the The Rose Consort of Viols and The Marian Consort’s celebration of Elizabeth I and her courtiers, festival artistic advisor Helen Charlston’s July 10 concert with theorbist Toby Carr at the Undercroft, Merchant Adventurers Hall, and violinist Rachel Podger’s return to the NCEM with theorbist Daniele Caminiti on July 13.
Mezzo soprano Charlston and Carr explore the intimate sound-world of solo voice and theorbo in Battle Cry: She Speaks, those battle cries resounding down the centuries in song; Podger and Caminiti perform Hidden In Plain Sight, celebrating the virtuosity of the violin and its place on the concert platform.
The NCEM Platform Artists’ showcase for emerging European ensembles opens with 2019 EEEmerging+ Prize winners The Butter Quartet’s Well Met By Moonlight on July 9, moved to the NCEM after selling out Bedern Hall, followed by Apotropaïk,who scooped three prizes in last year’s York International Young Artists Competition, performing songs from a 13th century re-telling of the story of Tristan and Isolde, on July 12 at All Saints’ Church
2019 winners L’ Apothéose, from Spain, launch their new album, recorded at the NCEM last year, with a July 13 programme of Carl Stamitz chamber works from the 1780s, back at the NCEM. 2022 prize winners The Protean Quartet perform Tempus Omnia Vincit there on Juy 14 ahead of recording their debut album with Linn Records.
The festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2023 will be awarded to baroque trumpet player Crispian Steele-Perkins at the NCEM on July 9 immediately after the live edition of BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show, broadcast from there.
For the full festival programme and tickets, visit: ncem.co.uk.
I Zefirelli to play July 6 concert in NCEM gardens as part of week-long residency
AWARD-WINNING young instrumental ensemble I Zefirelli will arrive in York from Germany on July 4 for a week-long residency.
They will perform Mr Handel In The Pub! on July 6 in the National Centre for Early Music gardens, at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, where they will present a very particular blend of folk and early music as seen through the lens of life in London in the 1700s.
The ensemble will be undertaking the residency as part of the EEEmerging + programme, a large-scale European cooperation project that promotes the emergence of new talent in early music.
In the I Zefirelli line-up are Luise Catenhusen, recorder; María Carrasco, baroque violin; Jakob Kuchenbuch violoncello, viola da gamba; Tobias Tietze, lute, theorbo, baroque guitar, vihuela; Jeroen Finke, percussion, baritone, and Tilmann Albrecht, harpsichord, percussion.
Tickets for the 6.30pm to 7.30pm concert cost £10 at www.ncem.co.uk/events/i-zefirell. Refreshments will be available.
FROM open-air films to the Proms, Early Music festival connections to Nordic sunshine, Charles Hutchinson’s summer season is in full bloom.
York Light Opera Company in A Night With The Light, Friargate Theatre, Friargate, York, today at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
UNDER the direction of Jonny Holbek and musical direction of Martin Lay, York Light presents a feel-good programme of powerful, funny, emotive and irreverent numbers from favourite musicals and new ones too.
Look forward to songs from Hamilton, Waitress, Wicked, Chicago, Chess, Avenue Q, The Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables, The Sound Of Music and plenty more. “Come join us as we have Magic To Do!” say Jonny and Martin. Box office: 01904 655317 or ridinglights.org/a-night-with-the-light/.
Films under the stars: Picturehouse Outdoor Cinema, York Museum Gardens, York, tonight and tomorrow; August 5 to 7, 7.30pm
PICTUREHOUSE, owners of City Screen, York, present two weekends of open-air cinema with a summer vibe.
Tonight’s Grease (Sing-A-Long) (PG) will be followed by tomorrow’s 70th anniversary celebration of Singin’ In The Rain (U).
Next month’s trio of films opens with a 40th anniversary screening of Blade Runner (15) on August 5; next comes Steven Spielberg’s 2021 re-make of West Side Story (12A) on August 6; last up, Disney’s Encanto (Sing-A-Long) (U) on August 7. Box office: picturehouses.com/outdoor-cinema/venue/york-museum-gardens.
The sun always shines on…a-ha, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, tomorrow, gates, 6pm
NORWEGIAN synth-pop trio a-ha head to the Yorkshire coast on their 2022 World Tour of Europe, the United States and South America, 40 years since forming in Oslo.
Vocalist Morten Harket, guitarist Pal Waaktaar-Savoy and keyboardist Magne Furuholmen will be releasing a new album in October, True North, their first collection of new songs since 2015’s I, recorded in two days 25km inside the Arctic Circle.
Will they preview new songs alongside the familiar Take On Me, The Sun Always Shines On TV, Hunting High And Low and Stay On These Roads? Find out on Sunday. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.
Play of the week: Glass Half Full Productions in The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2pm, Thursday; 2.30pm, Saturday
YORK actor Ian Kelsey returns to his home city to play viperous talent-spotting agent Ray Say in his Theatre Royal debut in a new tour of Jim Cartwright’s bittersweet comedy-drama, directed by Bronagh Lagan.
Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati plays louche, greedy, loud mother Mari Hoff and American actress and YouTube sensation Christina Bianco, her daughter LV, the recluse with the hidden singing talent for impersonating Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey et al. Can Ray draw her out of her shell and with what consequences? Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Festival of the week: York Early Music Festival 2022, July 8 to 16
YORK Early Music Festival returns to a full-scale live programme for the first time since 2019 under the theme of connections.
“Concerts are linked together through a maze of interconnecting composers,” says festival administrative director Delma Tomlin. “We’re delighted to be able to shine a light on the many connections that hold us together in the past and into the future.”
At the heart of the 2022 festival will be three 7.30pm concerts in York Minster by The Sixteen (July 9, the Nave); The Tallis Scholars (July 11, Chapter House) and the Gabrieli Consort & Players (July 13, the Nave). For the full programme and tickets, head to: ncem.co.uk.
York gig of the week in Leeds: Skylights, Leeds O2 Academy, July 9, doors, 7pm
YORK indie-rockers Skylights play “the biggest gig of our lives” next weekend up the road in Leeds, where previously they have sold out Leeds University and The Wardrobe and performed at Leeds United’s centenary celebrations in Millennium Square in October 2019.
Four Acomb lads in the 30s, singer Rob Scarisbrick, guitarist Turnbull Smith, drummer Myles Soley and bassist Jonny Scarisbrick, will perform to 2,300 fans in celebration of their debut album, What You Are, reaching number 34 in the charts in May. Box office: academymusicgroup.com.
Picnic party of the week: York Proms, York Museum Gardens, York, July 10, gates, 4pm
MUSICAL director Ben Crick conducts the 22-piece Yorkshire Festival Orchestra in next weekend’s performance of classical and film pieces, a special Platinum Jubilee section in the second half and a rousing Proms finale.
Soloists will be soprano and dancer Natasha Agarwal, who performed in Opera North’s Carmen, and bass-baritone John Anthony Cunningham, who has chalked up principal roles with English National Opera, Opera North and the Royal Opera House.
York Proms founder Rebecca Newman’s special appearance includes a tribute to her husband and co-founder, Jonathan Fewtrell, who died suddenly in 2020. The Fireworkers provide a firework finishing flourish. Box office: 01904 555670 or yorkproms.com/tickets.
New Romantic nostalgia in the air: Calling Planet Earth, York Barbican, January 21 2023, 8pm
THIS New Romantic Symphony takes a journey through the electrifying Eighties’ songs of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, The Human League, Ultravox, Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Japan, ABC and Soft Cell.
Calling Planet Earth combines a live band with symphonic arrangements and vocals in a show designed to “simply define a decade”. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk or ticketmaster.co.uk.
THE 2022 York Early Music Festival takes the theme of Connections on its return to a full-scale event after the Covid restrictions of 2020 and 2021.
Taking place in glorious ecclesiastical buildings around the city from July 8 to 16, the festival celebrates the joy of music, fusing musicians and their stories across the ages.
“Concerts are linked together through a maze of interconnecting composers,” says festival administrative director Delma Tomlin. “We’re delighted to be able to shine a light on the many connections that hold us together in the past and into the future.”
At the heart of the 2022 festival will be concerts by three of the best-known Early Music ensembles in the resplendent York Minster, each starting at 7.30pm.
Directed by Harry Christophers, The Sixteen present a sublime programme of choral works focused around Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell, complemented by mediaeval carols, works by poet and lutenist Thomas Campion, Howells and Parry and a new commission by Cecilia McDowall, on July 9 in the Nave.
Under the title of Choral Connections, Peter Phillips directs The Tallis Scholars in the Chapter House in a sold-out July 11 programme of Josquin des Prez, Palestrina and Byrd works.
In the Nave, on July 13, Paul McCreesh directs the Gabrieli Consort & Players in A Venetian Coronation: a spectacular recreation of the 1595 Coronation Mass of the Venetian Doge Marina Grimani at St Mark’s, Venice.
“The Gabrielis are playing a remarkable piece on a scale that wholly suits York Minster,” says Delma. “It has that feeling of ‘We’re back’ writ large about it.
“This lavish sequence of festive music has become synonymous with these performers through recordings in 1989 and 2012 and combines brilliance and solemnity in a compelling and kaleidoscopic programme of masterpieces for combinations of voices, cornetts and sackbuts.
“A Venetian Coronation has been performed in many of the world’s greatest cathedrals and concert halls and is revived here in celebration of the Gabrielis’ 40th anniversary.”
The festival’s opening concert, Heaven’s Joy: The World Of The Virtuoso Viol, will be given by the viola da gamba duo Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM), St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, on July 8 at 7.30pm.
Taking a trip through time and space, they find connections between the late-Elizabethan music of eccentric soldier Tobia Hume and the later improvisatory divisions of Christopher Simpson, through French baroque suites by the mysterious Mr de Ste. Colombe and the “devilish” Forqueray, to reach the classical calm of Christoph Schaffrath in Berlin via JS Bach.
On July 10, at 7.30pm, the Gonzaga Band make their festival debut at the NCEM with works from Venice 1629 by Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Grandi, wind player Dario Castello and violinist Biagio Marini, under director and cornett player Jamie Savan. In the ranks too is organist and harpsichord player Steven Devine, in his last year as a festival artistic advisor.
Further festival highlights will be The Rose Consort Of Viols’ Music For Severall Friends (NCEM, July 11, 1pm); festival debutants La Vaghezza – an EEEmerging+ ensemble from Italy – presenting Sculpting The Fabric (St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, July 12, 1pm), and another festival newcomer, theorbo specialist Ori Harmelin (Undercroft, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, July 13, 9.45pm).
Profeti Della Quinta, 2011 winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, return to the NCEM on July 12 to perform Italian Renaissance music from Rore to Monteverdi at 7.30pm; The University of York Baroque Ensemble focus on Mannheim Travels To Fife (St Lawrence’s Church, July 13, 1pm); Peter Seymour directs festival regulars Yorkshire Baroque Soloists (St Lawrence’s Church, July 14, 7.30pm), and Ensemble Voces Suaves highlight Heinrich Schutz In Italy (St Lawrence’s Church, July 15, 7.30pm).
Delma is delighted by the resumption of Minster Minstrels, the NCEM’s youth instrumental ensemble, who will be performing late 17th century theatre, court and household music in Fairest Isle at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on July 10 at 4.45pm.
“Given the pressure on young people’s studies over the past two years, director Ailsa Batters has done really well in bringing them back together again,” she says.
The York Early Music International Young Artists Competition 2022 provides the grand festival finale on July 16 from 10am to 5.30pm at the NCEM, preceded by informal NCEM recitals by the ten pan-European ensembles on July 14 and 15 at 10.30am.
The winners will receive a professional CD recording contract from Linn Records, a £1,000 cheque and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the National Centre for Early Music.
“We’re delighted to be presenting a nine-day festival of music in our beautiful city, after we were caught last year in Boris Johnson’s indecision about whether venues could open or not,” says Delma.
“We were, however, able to stream the 2021 festival, drawing new audiences online, but it’s lovely to see our patrons return because that’s what festivals are all about: a celebration of being together.
“Some of this year’s artists were meant to be with us two years ago; some of them, last year. The Young Artists should have been with us last year, and it’s wonderful that we’ll have 43 young musicians coming to York for the competition. It’s amazing that these young groups have been able to keep going, to keep their spirits up, and to still be coming to York a year later than first planned.”
Delma concludes: “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 International Young Artists Competition, showcasing and nurturing the performers of the future.
“We’re so pleased to be back at full strength for what promises to be one of the most exciting festivals to date.”
For the full programme, head to: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/york-early-music-festival/. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
BBC Radio 3 will be recording the concerts by Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, The Sixteen, the Gonzaga Band and Gabrieli Consort & Players for broadcast, along with the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition 2022. The Early Music Show will be broadcast live from the festival on July 10 at 2pm.
NCEM launches ambitious Alignment online festival packed with highlights from 2022
THE National Centre of Early Music, York, is to celebrate the array of music staged in York and Beverley this year by presenting Alignment, its most ambitious online festival yet.
Highlights of the packed NCEM musical calendar will be available to download from August 1 to 30 and are on sale now.
The festival features 14 concerts from the 2022 spring season, recorded by the NCEM’s specialist digital team in glorious historic buildings.
“There’s a chance to enjoy music from the Renaissance through to the Baroque with a nod to the contemporary just to keep us on our toes,” says Delma Tomlin, the NCEM’s director .
The Alignment recordings includes Spanish vocal group Cantoria in a film made during their spring residency at the NCEM. Their vocal and instrumental programme encompasses the lives of Tudor Queens Catherine of Aragon and Mary, married to Philip of Spain, in St Mary’s Church, Bishophill, the NCEM’s home at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, and the mediaeval Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate.
Further highlights include the music of JS Bach presented by Florilegium, recorded in Beverley Minster; two festival favourites, EEEmerging ensembles Prisma and Sarbacanes, and Ensemble Molière, the first BBC Radio 3 New Generation Baroque Ensemble.
Thefeatured ensembles are:
Cantoría; Prisma; Ensemble Molière; Profeti della Quinta; Florilegium; Rose Consort Of Viols; Gonzaga Band; Sarbacanes; La Vaghezza; University of York Baroque Ensemble; Orí Harmelin; Ensemble Voces Suaves; Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.
Four different online packages are available:
Complete Box Set, £70, including all 14 concerts.
Platform Artists, £30, focusing on emerging talent with Cantoría, La Vaghezza, Prisma and Sarbacanes.
Baroque In A Box, £40: Ensemble Molière, Florilegium, Gonzaga Band, Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, University of York Baroque Ensemble and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.
Renaissance Revels, £30: Rose Consort Of Viols, Orí Harmelin, Profeti della Quinta and Ensemble Voces Suaves.
All individual concerts are priced at £10.
Delma says: “it’s been an action-packed year so for the NCEM with the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival, an outstanding York residency with young Spanish ensemble Cantoria, and now the upcoming York Early Music Festival.
“We wanted to share this wonderful music far and wide, so we’ve put together a programme of many of this year’s highlights for this online celebration. We hope that those of you who couldn’t attend the concerts, or indeed those of you who did and want to enjoy the concerts again, will join us for some musical magic this summer.”
Full details can be found at: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/alignment/
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.
THE 2020 York Early Music Festival, Britain’s biggest event in its field, is off.
“Following current government advice on the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Centre for Early Music has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 festival, due to take place this July,” says administrative director Dr Delma Tomlin.
“Regretfully, we have finally had to take this decision for the safety of our artists and audiences. This is hugely disappointing for everyone involved, and indeed the hospitality industry in York.
“The festival, started in 1977, is the UK’s largest festival of its kind and is firmly established within the cultural calendar. I would like to thank our wonderful patrons, friends, funders and supporters who have helped us at this difficult time. Many have donated and we are hugely appreciative of everyone’s kindness.”
The 2020 festival was to have run from July 3 to 11 with a theme of “the Method & Madness of musical styles, from the wild excesses of the Italian Renaissance, through the soothing virtuosity of Bach, to the towering genius of Beethoven”.
Among the artists would have been York’s international countertenor Iestyn Davies, performing Bach: Countertenor Arias with Scottish instrumentalists the Dunedin Consort; The Sixteen, singing The Call Of Rome at York Minster, directed by Harry Christophers, and Barokksolistene, from Norway, with their vivacious festival opener, Alehouse.
Lined up to take part too were Rose Consort of Viols; Voces Suaves; Prisma; Profeti della Quinta; L’Apothéose; Hubert Hazebroucq & Julien Martin and The Society of Strange & Ancient Instruments, launching their Trumpet Marine project.
Further concerts in the festival diary were by the University Baroque Ensemble; harpsichordist Steven Devine and Consone Quartet. Festival stalwart Peter Seymour would have directed a performance of Handel’s opera Orlando, with Carolyn Sampson, Helen Charlston and Matthew Brook among the soloists.
Delma has confirmed the 2021 festival will run from Friday, July 9 to Saturday, July 17. “Guest artists scheduled to join us next summer include The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, Brecon Baroque, led by violinist Rachel Podger, and gamba specialist Paolo Pandolfo,” she says. Further highlights will include the 2021 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition.
Meanwhile, the National Centre for Early Music, in Walmgate, York, will continue to share concerts from its archive on Facebook and online in its 20th anniversary year. Next up, on May 30 at 1pm, will be one of the last concerts by the European Union Baroque Orchestra, recorded in March 2017.
On June 13 comes the chance to enjoy music by past winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, a double bill of Fieri Consort from 2017 and last year’s winners, L’Apothéose.