More Things To Do in and around York for Grayson Perry’s ‘normal people’. List No. 47, courtesy of The Press, York

What’s up Duck? The Dead Ducks sketch comedy troupe head for Theatre@41 Monkgate, York

CLOWNS, ominous things, Grayson, James, tango, chamber music, horrible British history and watercolours in teamwork add up to shows aplenty for Charles Hutchinson and normal people alike to check out.

Sketch comedy show of the week: The Dead Ducks: Ducks Out Of Water, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, tomorrow (3/9/2021), 8pm

UNIVERSITY of York Comedy Society sketch troupe The Dead Ducks make their Theatre@41 debut with Ducks Out Of Water as a cast of five serves up fun scenes that range from the relatable to the ridiculous.

Be prepared for completely original content in a humorous mix of parody and farce with a delectable side order of top-notch acting.

Look out for pirates, cowboys, clowns and assorted animals, alongside Winnie the Pooh, Sherlock Holmes and Mickey Mouse “like you have never seen them before”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk/events/.

Sunset Gazing, by Suzanne McQuade, on show at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York

Exhibition of the week: Suzanne McQuade, Touch Of Tranquillity, Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, until Octoger 23; open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm

LEEDS watercolourist Suzanne McQuade quit her long-standing customer service job five years ago to take the plunge and become a full-time artist.

“Using watercolours is like teamwork; I have to allow the watercolour to move and merge, and utilise the patterns it creates,” says Suzanne, who loves how this medium’s translucency enables light to flood into her landscapes and seascapes.

Drawing inspiration from the British countryside and coastline, she paints what she finds captivating, from a dramatic sky to underwater rocks. “I try to make the scene in front of me to be as beautiful as possible,” she says.

Alexander Wright: Performing Small, Small Ominous Things with Megan Drury at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington

Open-air theatre show of the week: Small Small Ominous Things, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, Saturday, 8pm

LOOK out for a tiny red gun hidden in the grass; a picture of a puppy eating a toy dinosaur; a dull feeling in the pit of your stomach; a bug burrowing into your skin.

Welcome to a late-night mix of stories, tales and unsettling considerations from partners Megan Drury and Alexander Wright, Australian actor, writer and creative artist and North Yorkshire writer, theatre-maker and visionary facilitator respectively.

Gather around the fire as they collaborate for the first time live At The Mill, bringing small, small ominous things out into late-summer’s fading light. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/

Making a splash: The new Normal for artist Grayson Perry, performing on tour at York Barbican

Who-knows-what-to-expect gig of the week: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, York Barbican, Monday, 7.30pm

IN his own words, despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.

Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, where Grayson takes you through an enlightening, eye-watering evening wherein this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. “You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.

Grayson asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in a show “sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Home, James? Briefly, yes, when rehearsing at Broughton Hall, near Skipton. Scarborough Open Air Theatre awaits. Picture: Lewis Knaggs

Gig of the week outside York: James, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, September 9, gates open at 6pm

WHERE better for James to play a summer show in the wake of releasing their 2021 single Beautiful Beaches than at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

The Manchester legends will be combining myriad anthemic favourites with selections from their “sweet 16th” album, All The Colours Of You, released in June.

Fronted by Clifford-born Tim Booth, James are completing a hattrick of Scarborough OAT visits after shows in May 2015 and August 18. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com

Prima Vocal Ensemble artistic director Ewa Salecka with Misatango composer Martin Palmeri

Well worth the wait: Misatango: Prima’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration, Temple Hall, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York, September 11, 7.30pm

AFTER a year’s delay, Prima Vocal Ensemble director Ewa Salecka is thrilled to be holding the York choir’s tenth anniversary concert at last at a socially distanced Temple Hall.

At the concert’s core will be “the fabulous Misa a Buenos Aires, Misatango, an exhilarating fusion of Tango and Latin Mass”, by Argentinian composer Martín Palmeri, performed with the Mowbray Orchestra string quartet, bandoneon virtuoso Julian Rowlands, pianist Greg Birch and mezzo-soprano soloist Lucy Jubb. Box office: primavocalensemble.com.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 16 to 18

CANADIAN pianist Angela Hewitt plays YCMF’s opening recital on September 16 and joins fellow festival artists Anthony Marwood and Pablo Hernan, violins, Lilli Maijala, viola, and Tim Lowe, cellist, for the closing gala concert on September 18, both at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

Marwood, Hernan, Maijala and Lowe play string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at the NCEM on September 17.

Festival director Lowe joins pianist John Paul Ekins for the first 1pm concert at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on September 17; on the next lunchtime, Ekins plays works that connect Beethoven and Liszt. Box office: tickets@ncem.co.uk.

The Horrible Histories poke fun at Barmy Britain at the Grand Opera House, York, in October

History in the re-making: The Horrible Histories in Barmy Britain, Grand Opera House, York, October 21 to 24

CAN you beat battling Boudicca? What if a Viking moved in next door? Would you lose your heart or head to horrible Henry VIII? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England?

Will Parliament survive gunpowder Guy? Dare you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin? Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria?

So many questions for The Horrible Histories’ Live On Stage team to answer with the aid of the 3D illusions of Bogglevision as skulls hover, dams burst and missiles fly into the family audience. For tickets for Birmingham Stage Company’s eye-popping, gruesome, scary and unbelievable trip through British history, go to atgtickets.com/york.

York Chamber Music Festival returns for live concert series from September 16 to 18

Angela Hewitt: Canadian pianist to play recital and gala concert at York Chamber Music Festival

YORK Chamber Music Festival 2021 celebrates the return of live chamber music with a stellar cast of musicians and “some of the most beautiful music ever written” from September 16 to 18.

Billed as “the chance for a few days to refresh ourselves after the lockdown”, the festival opens with a solo recital by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt, performing works by Francois Couperin, Mozart and J S Bach at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, on September 16 at 7.30pm.

Two nights later, she joins fellow festival artists Anthony Marwood and Pablo Hernan, violins, Lilli Maijala, viola, and Tim Lowe, cellist, at the Lyons for the 7.30pm closing gala concert of Mozart’s String Quartet No. 17, The Hunt, Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A Minor and Dvořák’s sunlit Piano Quintet in A Major.

Festival artistic director Lowe persuaded Angela Hewitt to come to York at a dinner party in London. “Her passion, on which her international career has been built, is playing Bach’s keyboard music on the piano,” he says.

“This music would have been composed for harpsichord or clavichord. Bach himself was always a great experimenter and surely would have loved the sound world of the piano, which, apart from anything else, is much more suited to modern concert halls.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist

“Why not do the same for Bach’s contemporary, the French composer François ‘Le Grand’ Couperin, who also composed for the harpsichord? So, Angela’s recital is based around these two great composers.”

Festival artists Marwood, Hernan, Maijala and Lowe play string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, on September 17 at 7.30pm.

Two lunchtime concerts at 1pm at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, complement the programme. On September 17, Tim Lowe and pianist John Paul Ekins perform Beethoven’s  12 Variations on a Theme from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, Schumann’s Fantasiestücke and Rachmaninov’s lush, romantic Cello Sonata for Cello and Piano.

Ekins returns on the Saturday to play works that connect Beethoven and Liszt: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, followed by Liszt’s Sonetto del Petrarca and Liebesträume No. 1 in A flat, concluding with Beethoven’s Adelaide, arranged for piano by Liszt.

Lowe, once a chorister at York Minster, looks forward to this month’s festival enriching his home city’s cultural life. “The idea is that everyone, players and audiences, should have a joyous few days of deep listening to music that is both intimate and compelling. We’re going live!” he says. “Please note, we’re offering an outreach free ticket for young people aged 18 and under.” 

Festival tickets for adults cost £10 to £15. To book, go to: tickets@ncem.co.uk. Full festival details can be found at ycmf.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home, as opposed to a “social gathering” for the joy of six. List No 14, from The Press

Helen Wilson in a damned spot of Scottish bother in York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York. Picture: John Saunders

MUSICAL theatre in a park, drag cabaret at a sports club, Shakespeare sonnets and songs in churchyards, high-speed film action at an airfield and chamber music online catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye

Graveyard smash of the week: York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets, Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York, until Saturday

WHEN York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth bit the dust in March, put on hold by the Covid lockdown, York’s purveyors of Shakespeare’s Sonnet Walks decided to stage a sit-down, but not as an act of protest.

Director Mick Taylor and producer Maurice Crichton hatched a plan to present assorted familiar Shakespeare characters, brought into the modern world, to reflect on the pandemic with an accompanying sonnet.

Holy Trinity’s churchyard, with its five park benches, tree shelter and mown grass, provides an ideal socially distanced open-air setting. Bring a rug, cushion, camp chair, flask and biscuits, suggests Maurice, to performances at 5.45pm and 7pm, plus 4.15pm on Saturday.

Polly Bolton: Sharing a double bill with Henry Parker in the NCEM churchyard

Double bills in another churchyard: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, tonight, September 16 and 17

SONGS Under Skies brings together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts.

The opening night with Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton on September 2 was driven inside by the rain. Fingers crossed for more clement conditions for Wolf Solent and Rosalind tonight, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker on September 16 and Elkyn and Fawn the following night.

Gates will open at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm. 

The Bev Jones Music Company in a socially distanced rehearsal for Sunday’s show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre

Musical theatre showcase part one: Bev Jones Music Company, Strictly Live In The Park, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, Sunday, 3pm.

THE Bev Jones Music Company stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band on Sunday afternoon.

Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy”, under the musical direction of John Atkin with choreography by Claire Pulpher.

Expect numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables, all arranged by the late company driving force Bev Jones. Also expect temperature tests on arrival.

Conor Mellor in York Stage Musicals’ first show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York. He will be back for the second one too. Picture: Jess Main

Musical theatre showcase part two: York Stage Musicals present Jukebox Divas, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, September 18 to 20, 7pm

AFTER the sold-out three-night run of York Stage Musicals’ first ever outdoor show last month, producer/director Nik Briggs and musical director Jessica Douglas return to their Rowntree Park psychedelic igloo to stage Jukebox Divas.

Jessica’s band line-up has changed, so too has the singing sextet, with Conor Mellor from the debut show being joined by Dan Conway, Sophie Hammond, Grace Lancaster and Eleanor Leaper.

“With music from We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and more modern releases like + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, audiences will be entertained for 90 minutes with vocal tributes to artists such as Elvis Presley, Queen, Meat Loaf, Katy Perry, Carole King and many more,” says Nik.

Baby Driver: one of the films with high-speed thrills to be screened at AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema at Elvington Airfield

Car experience of next week: AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema, Elvington Airfield, near York, September 18 to 20

AFTER Daisy Duke’s Drive-in Cinema on Knavesmire, now comes a celebration of high-speed thrills and derring-do skills at Elvington Airfield…on screen, courtesy of AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema.

Tickets have sold out already for the September 19 screenings of James Gunn’s 2014 space chase, Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A), at 2.30pm and James Mangold’s 2019 Ford v Ferrari race-track clash, Le Mans 66 (12), at 7.30pm.

Bookings can still be made, however, for Guardians Of The Galaxy on September 18 at 2.30pm and September 20 at 7.30pm and Edgar Wright’s 2017 getaway-car heist thriller, Baby Driver (15), September 18, 7.30pm, and September 20, 2.30pm.

No more kitchen-sink dramas for Velma Celli as York’s drag diva deluxe swaps live-streaming for the great outdoors in Acomb tomorrow

Stepping out of her Bishopthorpe kitchen into the York open air: Velma Celli: An Evening Of Song, York RI Community Sports Club, New Lane, Acomb, tomorrow, 8pm.

AFTER a spring and summer of concerts live-streamed from home, York drag diva Velma Celli takes to the outdoor stage at a sports club.

“The show will be a mixed bag of whatever I fancy on the day – pop, rock, impressions and some musical theatre obviously – and of course requests online. Message me on Facebook,” advises Velma.

Very special guests are promised: definitely York soul powerhouse Jessica Steel will be among them.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 18 to 20

THE 2020 York Chamber Music Festival is going online to live-stream three concerts from the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, in a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Festival artistic director and cellist Lowe will be performing with Simon Blendis and Charlotte Scott, violins; Matthew Jones, violin and viola; Jon Thorne, viola, and Katya Apekisheva, piano. For full details on the programme and on how to watch the concerts, go to ycmf.co.uk.

Strictly between us: Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice’s tour poster for Him & Me next summer at the Grand Opera House, York

One for the 2021 diary: Anton & Giovanni, Him & Me, Grand Opera House, York, July 12

STRICTLY Come Dancing staples Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice will link up for their debut tour together, Him & Me, next year.

Details are sketchy, but the dapper Sevenoaks ballroom king and the Italian stallion say: “This show promises to be the best night out in the Summer of 2021 for all ages…A true dance extravaganza!”

Anton and Giovanni will be joined by a “world-class cast” of dancers and singers for a show produced by Strictly Theatre Co and directed by Alan Burkitt.

And what about…?

A visit to the reopened Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre exhibition in Blossom Street, York. Malton Harvest Food Festival on Saturday. New Light Prize Exhibition, with more than 100 artists, opening at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19. York Walking Festival, running or, rather, walking until Sunday (details at iTravel York website).

Jon, by Laura Quin Harris, at the New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery

York Chamber Music Festival goes online to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary

THE 2020 York Chamber Music Festival is going online to live-stream three concerts from the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, from September 18 to 20.

Festival artistic director Tim Lowe says: “This year, we can’t have an audience because of the Covid-19 virus, but we were determined to put on some wonderful concerts anyway.

“We’ll be able to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth as first planned, and the only change is that we’ve decided it’s not possible to stream the lunchtime recitals”

Cellist Lowe will be performing with Simon Blendis and Charlotte Scott, violins; Matthew Jones, violin and viola; Jon Thorne, viola, and Katya Apekisheva, piano.

On September 18, their programme will be: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95, Serioso; Herbert Howells’ Fantasy String Quartet, Op. 25 and Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E Flat major, Op. 44.

On September 19, they will play: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op.18, No. 1; Josef Suk’s Piano Quartet in A minor, Op.1 and César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor.

September 20’s festival climax will open with Beethoven’s String Quintet in C major, Op. 29, followed by Antonín Dvořak’s String Quintet in E Flat major, Op. 97.

“In each of the three online concerts, I’ve selected one work to represent or point to key moments in Beethoven’s artistic evolution and spiritual journey,” says Tim. “It was Beethoven’s great tragedy that for much of his adult life he became progressively deaf until there was nothing left. It would seem that as his outer-ear faded, so his inner-ear quickened.”

Assessing each Beethoven piece, Tim says: “In the String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op.18, No. 1, we catch Beethoven thinking hard about his entry to this genre and already changing convention, poetic and assured.

“The String Quintet in C major, Op. 29 is a pivotal work that is the harbinger of his middle-period chamber music, a bubbling attractive piece that belies Beethoven’s realisation of impending deafness.

“The enigmatic, experimental F minor String Quartet, Op. 95 is the forerunner of his last series of ‘late’ quartets, already reaching for the stars but with a new sort of music never heard before, light years ahead.”

​Summing up the accompanying works, he says: “Almost everything else in the programme can be thought of as a legacy of this one man [Beethoven]. A feature of the 2020 event is that we’re playing piano quintets, which was more or less invented as an ensemble by Robert Schumann – having immersed himself in a study of Beethoven’s trios and quartets – Mozart and Haydn too – while his wife, international pianist Clara, was away on tour.” 

A Yorkshireman’s favourite price will apply. “To maximise our outreach, we’ve decided that the concerts will be free to listen to and we hope you will join us this month to enjoy them,” says Tim. “But we ask that you make a donation if you possibly can, in lieu of buying tickets.

“Putting on these concerts and recording them is very costly. York Chamber Music Festival is a non-profit charity that depends on support from donors and sponsors. Please help if you possibly can: there is a ‘Donate’ button on our website, ycmf.co.uk, should you wish to help.”

Over the past seven years, York Chamber Music Festival has presented more than 40 concerts and recitals. “We’ve brought to the city some of the country’s best, internationally renowned players,” says Tim.

“Feedback and press reviews both refer to the freshness and vitality that the festival artists bring to core and less familiar chamber music repertoire. Steven Isserlis, Anthony Marwood, Ian Brown, Adrian Brendel, Charles Owen, Emma Johnson, to name but a few, have joined us for great music-making.”

For full details on the 2020 festival programme and participating musicians and on how to watch the concerts, go to www.ycmf.co.uk.

“We hope you can join us for some wonderful live concerts from York. Stay safe and well,” concludes Tim.