More Things To Do in and around York when not banished to ‘see you later, self-isolator’. List No. 41, courtesy of The Press, York

Rick Astley: Soul favourite’s post-racing show is a definite runner at York Racecourse tomorrow evening

IT ain’t worth a thing if it got that confounded ping, but let’s hope this NHS Covid app hazard does not apply to any of Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions as Step 4 starts to kick in.

Outdoor concerts of the week in York: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Rick Astley, Friday evening; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon

YORK Racecourse was never gonna give up on Rick Astley performing on a race day, even if the original show had to fall by the wayside last summer. Sure enough, the Newton-le-Willows soul crooner, 55, has been re-booked for tomorrow for a post-racing live set.

McFly: Promising Young Dumb Thrills at York Racecourse on Saturday

After Saturday afternoon’s race card, the re-formed McFly will combine such favourites as All About You, Obviously and 5 Colours In Her Hair with songs from their 2020 return, Young Dumb Thrills, such as Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special. The County Stand has reached capacity for Saturday already.

Friday’s racing starts at 6pm; Saturday, at 2.05pm. For tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk.

Rachel Podger: The violinist plays, after self-isolation, for online viewing from the York Early Music Festival. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Online concert home entertainment of the week: Rachel Podger, The Violinist Speaks, York Early Music Festival

WHEN Baroque violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”, she had to forego her July 13 concert performance, condemned to self-isolate instead.

In stepped Florilegium violinist Bojan Cicic to play the very same Bach, Tartini and Biber repertoire at St Lawrence Church, Hull Road, at only three hours’ notice.

Rachel, however, subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. This online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Twinnie: Twinning with Velma Celli for tomorrow’s double bill at Impossible York

York’s queen of vocal drag meets York’s country queen: The Velma Celli Show with special guest Twinnie, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, tomorrow, 7pm, doors; show, 8pm

YORK’S international drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, will be joined by country singer Twinnie at The Velma Celli Show at Impossible York on her return home from recording sessions for her second album in Nashville.

“My mate and fellow Yorky the awesome Twinny is my v. special guest tomorrow night at Impossible – York,” says Velma, the cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair, on Instagram. Like Ian, Twinnie has starred in West End musicals, most notably in Chicago, under her stage name Twinnie-Lee Moore.

Tickets cost £15, £20 for VIP stage seating, at ticketweb.uk.

Michael Lambourne: Fenland storyteller at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, this weekend

Storytellers of the week: Michael Lambourne and Shona Cowie, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Saturday and Sunday

NOT that long ago a familiar bearded face and booming voice on the York stage before heading south, Michael Lambourne will return north on Saturday to present the 7.30pm premiere of Black Shuck, a “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia.

Penned and performed by Lambourne, Black Shuck is the tale of a hound of unnatural size, an omen of misfortune to those who see its eyes, wherein he explores the enduring effect it has on Fenland folklore in a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

Scottish storyteller and physical performer Shona Cowie will open the evening with her Celtic tale of the dreamer and visionary Bruadarach and then present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), at 2pm on Sunday. 

Shona will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Ralph Fiennes in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

First full-capacity shows at York Theatre Royal since mid-March 2020: Ralph Fiennes in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, July 26 to 31

YORK Theatre Royal will return to full-capacity audiences with effect from Monday’s performance of T S Eliot’s Four Quarters, performed and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Good news for those who had missed out on tickets for the most in-demand production of the reopening Love Season when it was first put on sale with social distancing in place. This week’s unlocking of Step 4 frees up the sudden availability of seats aplenty.

Please note, however, the wearing of face coverings will be strongly encouraged; some safety measures will continue too, but not temperature checks on the door.

Wall art: The poster for Miles And The Chain Gang’s first gig in York in 18 months. Picture: Jim Poyner

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, supported by King Courgette, The Fulford Arms, York, July 29, 8pm

AFTER an 18-month hiatus. York band Miles And The Chain Gang will return to the concert platform next week, tooled up with new material.

In the line-up are singer, songwriter, storyteller, published poet and radio presenter Miles Salter, on guitar and vocals, Billy Hickling, drums and percussion, Tim Bruce, bass, and Alan Dawson, lead guitar, augmented for this gig by Fay Donaldson’s flute and saxophone.

The Gang have been working on a debut album, recording with producer Jonny Hooker at Young Thugs Studios in York. Tickets cost £7 at thefulfordarms.co.uk or £8 on the door. 

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next week’s brace of Gilbert and Sullivan shows

Fundraiser of the week ahead: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, HMS Pinafore, July 29, 7.30pm, and July 31, 2.30pm; The Mikado, July 30 and 31, 7.30pm

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, the JoRo’s in-house performing troupe, are producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s biggest light opera hits, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, next week.

The shows will be brimful of popular tunes and brilliant characters, with all profits from this topsy-turvy musical madness going straight back to the Haxby Road community theatre.

Rachel Croft: Cafe concert at Forty Five, with Reap What You Sow EP to follow in September

Music Café society gig of the week ahead: Rachel Croft, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, July 31, 7.30m

NEXT Saturday at Forty Five, York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will showcase tomorrow’s release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9.

Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.  

Rachel will be supported by Kell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.

The Trials Of Cato: Tomos Williams and Rob Jones with new trio member Polly Bolton, playing Primrose Wood Acoustics in early August

Going down in the woods next month: The Trials Of Cato, Primrose Wood Acoustics, Pocklington, August 5, 7pm

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre, the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Leamington Spa singer-songwriter Polly Bolton joins co-founders Tomos Williams and Rob Jones for the showcase of imminent second album Gog Magog. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

When “pingdemic” rules out Rachel Podger, up steps Bojan Cicic at three hours’ notice… to perform exactly the same repertoire!

Rachel Podger: Had to self-isolate after being pinged

QUICK thinking by York Early Music Festival director Delma Tomlin saved the day when violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”.

Rachel had to self-isolate at the last minute, foregoing her 9.15pm live performance of The Violinist Speaks at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, on July 13.

In a flash, Delma asked Croatian-born Baroque violinist Bojan Cicic to step into the breach, as he had arrived in York already to perform with Florilegium at the National Centre for Early Music the following night.

Bojan Cicic: Took over solo concert programme at three hours’ notice

Not only did he say ‘Yes’ at only three hours’ notice, but also he played the very same repertoire that Rachel had selected: JS Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major; Giuseppe Tartini’s Sonata in B minor; Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s Passacaglia in G minor, for solo violin, and Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor, for solo violin.

Nothing was announced on social media beforehand by the festival organisers; only the audience was alerted of the late change by email, whereupon Bojan duly “wowed” his socially distanced crowd.

Rachel subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. Her online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Quick thinking: York Early Music Festival director Delma Tomlin

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Florilegium, York Early Music Festival

Florilegium: An evening of Bach trio sonatas

York Early Music Festival: Florilegium, National Centre for Early Music, York, July 14

FLORILEGIUM is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. So it was a privilege, not to say entirely appropriate, to have the group in this year’s festival, here cut down to four players for an evening of Bach trio sonatas.

The standard format for the trio sonata is two soloists with continuo (harpsichord and a bass instrument) providing the third “voice”, hence a group of four. So it is hardly surprising that Bach’s Trio Sonatas for organ have been constantly rearranged since Mozart’s time onwards: the ear more easily disentangles the lines when they are played on separate instruments (although I cast no aspersions on the ability of organists to play clearly).

Florilegium’s own arrangement in E minor of the trio sonata, BWV 526, with flute and violin in the leading roles, makes a tasty concoction (even if the original is in C minor). Ashley Solomon’s Baroque flute, made of wood naturally, has a smoother tone than the more incisive modern instrument, which means it provides a satisfying blend with the violin of Bojan Čičić, although both voices remain distinct. They wove around each other engagingly here, above more run-of-the-mill continuo.

But this was a mere aperitif. A lilting Largo led succulently into the Trio Sonata in G, BWV
1038 (written for these specific instruments), before a galloping Vivace. The Gute Nacht theme from Bach’s motet Jesu, Meine Freude emerged with total clarity in the Adagio, pizzicato on Reiko Ichise’s viola da gamba, which then enjoyed an active role in the final Presto.

The gamba enjoyed a more complete spotlight in the last of three sonatas Bach wrote for it,
BWV 1029, in G minor. Ichise brought immense enthusiasm to her task and Steven Devine’s harpsichord followed suit. But there was no lack of shading amongst the energy. The central Adagio was taken exceptionally slowly, which allowed its ornamentation to breathe, and the finale was firmly signposted despite its pace.

The extraordinary trio sonata from The Musical Offering, with all four movements derived from a single theme, made an exciting conclusion. The players switched neatly in and out of the texture during the first Allegro and went hell for leather in the final fugue.

The Andante was never more reminiscent of the nocturnal bass arioso in the St John Passion, beautifully scented. As if that were not enough, we then had a rumbustious Leclair encore for contrast.

Review by Martin Dreyer

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

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Stile Antico/Bojan Čičić, York Early Music Festival

Stile Antico: “Go-to” group in the early music world. Picture Marco Borggreve

York Early Music Festival: Stile Antico, York Minster, July 13; Bojan Čičić, St Lawrence’s Church, York, July 13

OVER the past few years, and especially during lockdown, Stile Antico have been something of a “go-to” group in the early music world. No-one is complaining, least of all this critic. As their name implies, style is the watchword of these dozen voices.

Next month we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Josquin des Prez, who is right up there in anyone’s shortlist of great Renaissance composers. He developed a new style that melded northern European technical precision with simpler Italian drama and clarity: it was widely influential for 200 years.

The programme was built around his Missa Sine Nomine (‘no-name’ mass, if you will), which is almost a textbook of imitation between voices, giving listeners multiple pegs to hang their hearing on.

Between the sections of the mass, we heard reminders of Josquin’s associations with his putative teacher Johannes Ockeghem, another of the greats, and two pieces by slightly younger colleagues.

After Josquin’s Kyrie, in which perfectly formed chords emerged from swirling mists of counterpoint, it was good to be reminded of Ockeghem’s sparer harmonies in his four-voice motet Alma Redemptoris Mater.

Following the Gloria, a work called Nymphes des Bois might have sounded almost lascivious in such a religious context. In fact it was Josquin’s setting of a lament by Jean Molinet on the death of Ockeghem in 1497, imploring all nature to weep for an engaging man variously described as gracious, kind and virtuous. It was indeed a gem, and faded symbolically.

Excitement at the start of the Credo became serenely dissonant at Christ’s Passion, before building again to a triumphant Amen. This was singing of the highest calibre, making perfect use of the building’s welcoming acoustic.

After Josquin’s own Salve Regina and an unusually restrained Benedictus, another lament followed, this time from Hieronymus Vinders on Josquin’s death, the dark colours of its seven voices underlined by the absence of sopranos. Finally, Jacquet de Mantua’s medley of Josquin’s greatest hits, doubtless instantly recognisable by contemporary ears, provided an upbeat conclusion.

These two straddled the soothing balm of Josquin’s Agnus Dei, completing the mass. All were a fitting tribute to a much-respected composer – and a timely reminder of his supremacy.

Bojan Bojan Čičić: Late-evening late replacement for Rachel Podger

Late evening at St Lawrence’s Church brought the unaccompanied violin of Bojan Čičić in Bach and Biber. He had gamely taken up the cudgels at the eleventh hour to replace Rachel Podger, who had been “pinged’ into self-isolation”. They have been successful duet partners on disc so are equally talented.

He began somewhat cautiously with the first of Bach’s solo sonatas from 1720, BWV 1001 in G minor. Bach was known as a keyboard layer, but also played the violin all his life so was no slouch where strings were concerned. These fearsomely difficult works from his period at Cöthen laid the groundwork for the virtuoso techniques displayed by such as Paganini in the 19th century.

But they held no terrors for Čičić, even if he warmed up slowly. The slow intro led into more rapid counterpoint, both sections in the minor, until the warm, major-key Largo that was virtually a duet. All were preparation for the moto perpetuo of the final Gigue, which was thrown off with incredible panache.

He continued to dazzle in The Guardian Angel, one of Biber’s famous Mystery Sonatas. Sixty-five repetitions of a four-note descending phrase may not sound promising, but Biber’s Passacaglia overlays them with an extraordinary exploration of technical wizardry. Čičić revelled in it. So did we.

The dance origins of Bach’s Second Partita, in D minor, were keenly emphasised. After an accented Allemanda and the running passagework of the Corrente, we enjoyed a stately Sarabanda with much internal ornamentation.

The extremely sprightly Gigue was prelude to a highly dramatic Chaconne in which Čičić positively rolled his bow all over the strings, at breakneck speed. Its ‘chorale’ in the major came as light relief before the final return to the more serious minor key. Riveting stuff. You did not dare take your eyes off him.

Review by Martin Dreyer

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

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.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Monteverdi String Quartet, NCEM, York

Monteverdi String Quartet: The Madrigal Re-imagined

York Early Music Festival, Monteverdi String Quartet, National Centre for Early Music, York, July 12

AFTER many tribulations, including the exit of several foreign groups and the ‘pinging’ of star performer Rachel Podger into self-isolation, the festival has finally re-opened its doors to live audiences, albeit slimmed down to four days. We must be grateful for small mercies.

The Monteverdi String Band’s hip-sounding monicker cloaks a Mozart-style string quintet, although with gut strings and Mark Caudle’s cello-lookalike bass violin as the lowest voice. On this occasion they were joined by soprano Hannah Ely and by Toby Carr, alternating on lute and theorbo. Their topic was The Madrigal Re-imagined.

The madrigal’s roots lie in 14th century Italian poetry and it has always been associated with voices, at least in this country. But in Italy about 1600 instrumentalists, no doubt envious, began to copy and elaborate on what voices had previously monopolised. Hence this programme. As in so much else, Monteverdi was at the forefront here.

We were offered his version for strings of Cruda Amaryllis. The strings danced with greater urgency in extracts from his Il Ballo dell’Ingrate, where Hannah Ely gave us a tasty reminder (from its finale) of what voices were still allowed. The programme ended with a meaty chunk of Monteverdi’s masterpiece Orfeo. Here it was possible to hear how keenly voice and strings were interlinked in their explorations of Striggio’s poetry.

In between, there were glimpses of other composers, notably Palestrina, in two ‘diminutions’ (elaborations) devised by MSB’s leader, Oliver Webber. In the second, his violin became ever more frenetic in its ornaments beyond, indeed, what any voice could have hoped to achieve. The strings were superbly balanced in ensemble, firmly underpinned by Caudle’s bass line.

Toby Law was graceful in his continuo role, and even contributed a Prelude of his own in 16th century style. A handful of contemporary texts were less successful, conversational rather than properly projected. But they hardly detracted from a stimulating evening.

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

Susan Brown returns to York Minster architecture for Kentmere House show

York Minster, by Yorkshire artist Susan Brown

YORKSHIRE artist Susan Brown is exhibiting her architectural paintings of York Minster at Kentmere House Galllery, Scarcroft Hill, York, until July 4.

Her artistic focus is on city life and our relationship with our environment, exploring the rhythm and movement within buildings and interiors, along with creating beautiful abstract paintings, inspired by still-life subjects and landscapes, with an emphasis on texture and pattern.

Susan, who lives in Birdsedge, Huddersfield, exhibits both in Yorkshire nationally. Initially, she studied 3-D Design at Leeds College of Art, since when she has developed her two prime areas of interest, interior design and contemporary painting, in tandem.

The painting side of Susan has involved numerous commissions and several projects where she worked both as designer and artist.

York Minster, window detail, by Susan Brown

She paints theatrical and musical scenes, still life and landscape, but is most associated with her architectural subjects, especially cityscapes. “Her paintings are bold and striking, predominantly worked in watercolour and acrylic,” says Kentmere House Gallery owner Ann Petherick. “Her style is immediately recognisable.

“In recent years, she has focused on architectural studies of a range of European cityscapes, such as Prague, Lille, Paris Venice. Since lockdown, she has enjoyed her return to painting York.”

Susan’s musical interest has incorporated the role of artist-in-residence at the 1994 York Early Music Festival, as part of the series arranged by Kentmere House Gallery.

Her paintings appear in private and public contemporary art collections aplenty, among them Halifax Plc, Allied Domecq, the Sir George Martin Trust, the Universities of York and Sheffield, HBOS and the National Trust.

York Minster, West Front, by Susan Brown

Susan has exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Watercolour Society and New English Art Club, as well as many independent galleries in London and across the country.

She has received many art prizes and awards, including the Laing Art Competition, Hunting Art Prize (regional winner) and Penrose Purchase Prize, and has published several books of her work. The latest, Landscape, will be published later this year, featuring her more abstract work.

“Susan has been showing at Kentmere House Gallery since 1990 and her new collection of paintings of York Minster is on show through late-May, throughout June and into early July,” says Ann. “The gallery is open anytime by prior arrangement or chance: you can ring or email, or just take pot luck by ringing the bell. Please ring in advance if travelling any distance.”

Kentmere House Gallery’s next open weekend will be on June 5 and 6, 11am to 5pm; the gallery has a weekly late-evening opening on Thursdays to 9pm. Ann can be contacted on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825 or at ann.petherick@kentmerehouse.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond and online as Step 3 tiptoes into the light. List No. 33, courtesy of The Press, York

Minster Men: The Howl & The Hum to play livestreamed concert at York Minster on Tuesday

THE Indian Variant may be dampening down hopes for June 21, but Charles Hutchinson’s diary is still filled with hope, concerts, festivals, exhibitions and a Minster livestreaming.

Livestreaming of the week ahead: The Howl & The Hum, Live At York Minster, Tuesday, 8pm   to 9.30pm

YORK rock band The Howl & The Hum are performing a one-off streamed concert in the Nave of York Minster on Tuesday, with tickets available via Brudenell.ticketco.events/.

The 8.15pm setlist will be built around last year’s debut album, Human Contact, whose prescient title chimed with pandemic times as such contact became more restricted, even barred. New material may well feature too. “I reckon it will,” says frontman Sam Griffiths.

Rachel Croft: York singer-songwriter to perform on Songs Under Skies acoustic double bill with Wounded Bear at the NCEM. Picture: Amy D’Agorne

A fistful of outdoor gigs: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, York, in June  

SONGS Under Skies will return to the NCEM’s churchyard gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, next month.

Five outdoor acoustic double bills from 6.30pm to 8.30pm will comprise Wounded Bear and Rachel Croft on June 1; Kell Chambers and Nadedja, June 2; Katie Spencer and Joshua Burnell, June 14; Zak Ford and Alice Simmons, June 15, and Epilogues and Sunflower Thieves, June 16.

As with last September’s debut series, the socially distanced, Covid-safe season two will be presented in association with The Crescent community venue, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance. Box office: at tickets.ncem.co.uk.

Hope Is The New Hero, by Jake T, from Rawcliffe and Clifton Without, for the Hope display at the According To McGee gallery in York

Children’s art show of the week in York: Hope projections, According To McGee, York, tonight, tomorrow, then Wednesday to Friday for the next two weeks, 6pm to 9pm nightly

HOPE springs nocturnal in a collaboration between primary school artists from York and around the world at York gallery According To McGee.

Under the title of Hope, the artwork will be on display in light projections in the window of the Tower Street gallery in a creative response to the pandemic.

Digital artists Nick Walters is overseeing evenings featuring projections of 350 artworks selected from 3,000 images from cities in 33 countries.

York artist Sue Clayton, second from right, with NHS York Vaccination Centre site manager Will McEvoy, Nimbuscare director of quality and patient experience Michelle Phillips and Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer at the unveiling – but not unmasking! – of the 21 exhibition at Askham Bar

Jab in the arm for art: Sue Clayton’s 21 exhibition, NHS York Vaccination Centre, Askham Bar, York, until June 13

WHAT a captive audience for Sue Clayton’s portrait exhibition of children and young adults with Down Syndrome, presented in association with Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC).

As many as 3,000 people a day are attending the Askham Bar vaccination centre to receive a jab in the “Tent Of Hope”, where biodegradable prints of Sue’s paintings are in place.

The theme of 21 symbolises the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have, Sue’s energetic son James among them. 

Manic Street Preachers: New tour, new album…oh, and a new single called…Orwellian

Gig announcement of the week in York: Manic Street Preachers, York Barbican, October 4

WELSH rock band Manic Street Preachers’ 14-date autumn itinerary will showcase the September 3 release of their 14th studio album, The Ultra Vivid Lament, on Columbia/Sony.

In a departure from 2018’s Resistance Is Futile, the new record is the first Manics’ studio set to be conceived initially on piano rather than guitar.

James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore last played York Barbican in May 2019. Their support will be The Anchoress, the Welsh-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and author Catherine Anne Davies. Tickets sales go live tomorrow (21/5/2021) at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Mad about the Boy: Boy George and Culture Club perennial members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig are off to the Yorkshire seaside

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, August 14

EIGHTIES’ icon Boy George and Culture Club are off to the Yorkshire seaside in a new addition to the packed Scarborough Open Air Theatre programme.

Bexleyheath-born frontman and fashion innovator George O’Dowd, who turns 60 on June 14, will perform alongside original band members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig in a “stunning live band”. Tickets go on sale for the 8,000-capacity show via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com tomorrow (21/5/2021) at 9am.

Rachel Podger: The Violinist Speaks concert at York Early Music Festival 2021. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Festival launch of the week: York Early Music Festival 2021, July 12 to 16

PRESENTED by the National Centre of Early Music, the classical York Early Music Festival 2021 will have the theme of Encounters, most vitally between audience and artists after lockdown loosening.

Among the guest artists will be violinist Rachel Podger; lutenist Jacob Heringman; bass Matthew Brook; the Monteverdi String Band; harpsichordist Steven Devine; The Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments; La Vaghezza and Ensemble Clement Janequin.

Taking part too will be vocal ensemble Stile Antico and Spanish Baroque ensemble L’Apothéose. Tickets are on sale at ncem.co.uk. Upcoming too will be YEMF 21 Online, from July 15 to 18, featuring festival concerts and commissioned highlights.

Bull in a field: York alt.rock band booked for Deer Shed: Base Camp Plus festival

No Deer Shed 11 festival, but here comes Deer Shed: Base Camp Plus, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Thirsk, July 30 to August 1

AFTER last summer’s Base Camp, Deer Shed Festival co-directors Oliver Jones and Kate Webster have created Base Camp Plus with a female-headlined main stage, live music, DJ sets, comedy and shows. As with last year’s event, each camping pitch will contain its own Portaloo and washing facilities.

Jane Weaver, Dream Wife and Porridge Radio are the headliners; York bands Bull and New York Brass Band will be playing too; John Shuttleworth, Mark Watson and Angelos Epithemiou lead the comedy.

The organisers will adhere to the Step 3 restrictions in place since Monday, limiting the capacity, with social distancing and face coverings in covered areas. For tickets, go to: deershedfestival.com/basecampplus.

And what about?

Brief encounter: York drag diva Velma Celli in Love Is Love: A Brief History Of Drag at York Theatre Royal

Velma Celli in Love Is Love: A Brief History Of Drag, York Theatre Royal, May 29, 8pm

YORK drag diva deluxe Velma Celli’s fabulous contribution to York Theatre Royal’s reopening Love Season will be one of Velma’s regular cabaret shows, re-titled Love Is Love: A Brief Of History Of Drag specially to meet the love brief.

Joining Velma – the creation of York musical actor Ian Stroughair – will be two guest acts, Jordan Fox, Ian’s co-star in Jack And The Beanstalk, and Jessica Steel, together with backing singers Kimberley Ensor and Grace Lancaster, musical director Ben Papworth, drummer Clark Howard and guitarist Al Morrison.

Ian last appeared on the Theatre Royal in Kes at the age of 14, all of 24 years ago.

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