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


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

Emergence Festival celebrates emerging artists in lockdown at University of York

Emergence Festival: A celebration of emerging talent, presented on Zoom from the University of York

EMERGENCE Festival, a free virtual arts festival showcasing emerging artists creating work in York in the pandemic, will run online from tomorrow (23/2/2021) until Saturday.

Co-ordinated by co-producers Olivia Maltby, Millie Feary and Blyth McPherson at the University of York, the festival on Zoom will feature six plays directed, designed and performed by students: NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood; Mike Bartlett’s Wild by Mike Bartlett; Ross & Rachel by James Fritz; Gary Owen’s killology; Wild Swimming by Marek Horn and Jez Butterworth’s The River.

Solo music by Yorkshire artists James Banks and Rumbi Tauro will book-end the festival, Doncaster pop singer Banks performing new original music and covers on the opening day; Intake R&B/soul artist Tauroplaying a live set at the online closing party.

James Banks: Doncaster musician to play online at Emergence Festival

Doncaster instructor Claire Burns will lead a Hatha yoga class, Sunshine Yoga, and the University of York Comedy Society’s sketch troupe, The Dead Ducks, will perform a sketch first aired at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe.

Panels and talks with industry professionals, such as Sorcha McCaffrey, The Paper Birds, Rocket Box Theatre, JustOut Theatre and Chris Swain, will offer the chance to discuss how to survive as an artist in a pandemic and how to break into the industry. 

These will take place in the form of live Q&As or webinars, where the artists will be to answer any and every questions.

“Celebrating the work of new and upcoming artists in the performing arts industry has never been so important,” says Olivia, introducing a virtual festival where everything will be free to attend from the comfort of home.

The River: Jez Butterworth’s play set on a moonless night in August

“With the effects of the pandemic on the arts sector, anyone in the industry has faced disruption and is challenged with fears of the future. Our festival provides a positively exciting space for emerging artists to showcase their talent far and wide and to remind us of how important art and culture is.”

Originally, Emergence Festival was intended to take place at University of York’s theatre department, but in response to Lockdown 3, the students had to adapt to what was possible, embracing the opportunity to present their work on Zoom.

After overcoming the initial fear of poor wi-fi and glitching, the artists have thrived in their new environment in their rehearsals, culminating in this week’s live performances online.

Sam Armstrong: Director of Ross & Rachel

The full schedule is: 

Tuesday, February 23

5.15pm to 5.30pm:  Welcome speech.

5.30pm to 6.20pm: Wild Swimming by Marek Horn.

A kaleidoscopic exploration of cultural progress, Marek Horn’s play Wild Swimming is an interrogation of gender and privilege and a wilfully ignorant history of English Literature.

Wild Swimming: Marek Horn’s kaleidoscopic exploration of cultural progress

6.20pm to 6.55pm: James Banks.

Doncaster singer James Banks’s songs are a fusion of pop anthems and the vocal stylings of Sam Smith, Will Heard and Conan Grey. His set will combine originals and covers.

7pm to 8.20pm:  NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood.

This sharp comedy addresses power games and privacy in the media and beyond.

Wednesday, February 24.

4pm to 5pm: Q&A with Sorcha McCaffrey.

In this interactive Q&A session, writer and actor Sorcha McCaffrey will take questions from the audience about her career in the theatre industry, writing a solo show and performing as a touring artist.

Sorcha McCaffrey: Live Q&A at Emergence Festival on Wednesday

5pm to 6.20pm: killology by Gary Owen.

In a play where a controversial new gaming experience is inspiring a generation, players are rewarded for torturing victims, scoring points for “creativity”.

7pm to 8.40pm: Wild by Mike Bartlett.

This darkly comic play explores the unexpected, bewildering and life-changing consequences of challenging the status quo at a global level.

Thursday, February 25

4pm to 5pm: In Conversation with The Paper Birds.

The Paper Birds, a devising theatre company with a social and political agenda, specialise in verbatim theatre, inspiring change through the theatre they create. In this session, they will discuss their experience of breaking into the theatre industry, devising theatre inspired by the community around them and their projects in lockdown. 

Ross & Rachel: James Fritz’s dark and uncompromising play about romance, expectation and mortality

5pm to 6.15pm: Ross & Rachel by James Fritz.

A dark and uncompromising play about romance, expectation and mortality, Ross & Rachel tells the story of what happens when two friends who were always meant to be together, get together and stay together.

7pm to 8.15pm: The River by Jez Butterworth.

On a moonless night in August when the sea trout are ready to run, a man brings his new girlfriend to the remote family cabin where he has come for the fly-fishing since he was a boy. She is not the only woman he has brought there, however, nor indeed the last.

Friday, February 26

4pm to 5pm: In Conversation with Chris Swain.

Chris Swain, lighting designer for devising physical theatre company Gecko, will answer questions on life as a technical freelancer working in theatre and dance: how to start; how theatre design jobs are structured; the difference between devised and text-led work; how to be an effective collaborator; the tech and software that are used, and the future of the industry.

Zooming in: Maria Cook and Bradley Hodgson in rehearsal for The River

5pm to 6.40pm: Wild by Mike Bartlett.

6.40pm to 7pm: Comedy Sketch by The Dead Ducks.

The University of York Comedy Society sketch troupe The Dead Ducks will stream a humorous performance during the interval. 

7pm to 8.20pm: NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood.

Saturday, February 27

10am to 11am: Sunshine Yoga with Claire Burns.

Claire Burns hosts a live yoga session of sun salutations with gentle, energising, breath-led flows, guided meditation and deep relaxation.

In concert: Rumbi Tauro to perform closing online show at Emergence Festival

11am to 12 noon: Rocket Box X JustOut Theatre.

Theatre companies Rocket Box and JustOut Theatre invite questions about their insight into life post-graduation and taking first steps into the theatre industry. Mistakes were made, lessons were learnt, so, sit down, open notebooks and let the demystifying revelations begin.

12 noon to 1.15pm, The River by Jez Butterworth.

2.40pm to 4pm: killology by Gary Owen.

4.05pm to 4.55pm: Wild Swimming by Marek Horn.

5.30pm to 6.50pm: Ross & Rachel by James Fritz.

7pm onwards: Closing party with Rumbi Tauro.

Zimbabwean-born soul and R&B singer-songwriter Rumbi Tauro, from Intake, Doncaster, will close the festival with a set of originals and covers to celebrate the work of Emergence’s emerging artists. 

Emergence Festival free tickets can be booked at: https://tftv.ticketsolve.com/shows. For more information, go to https://igpproducers.wixsite.com/website.

That Jorvik Viking Thing online festival will peak with day of live-streaming on Saturday

Late addition: Lindy-Fay Hella will discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a live-stream tomorrow. Picture: Raina Vlaskovska and May Husb

THE finale to York’s six-day online festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, will be an ambitious afternoon and evening of live-streaming on Saturday.

Ancient meets ultramodern in the challenging task faced by the team behind this week’s event, who will play host to a “truly international and extraordinary Norse-themed broadcast from 12 noon”.

Billed as the world’s largest-ever online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing has been organised by the Jorvik Viking Centre as an alternative to the Coppergate visitor attraction’s usual February half-term activities. 

Introduced by York Mix Radio presenter Ben Fry and three members of Jorvik Viking Centre’s interpretation and collections teams, Lucas Norton, Rachel Cutler and Becky Sampson, the day will mix live presentations and Q&A sessions from Jorvik, with links to other Viking attractions around the world, including Dublinia in Dublin and Lofoten Viking Museum in Norway. 

York’s Viking village at Murton Park will feature in the day too, contributing a live wood-working project that will be revisited throughout the broadcast, alongside some pre-recorded films being worked into the show. 

Event manager Gareth Henry says: “We were fortunate to be able to film a host of videos for the Thing while lockdown restrictions were lifted in the autumn, including our fun film, Arnor’s Adventure, and our daily chapters of the Saga Of Revr The Sly, which have been released each day during the Thing since Monday.

“We had hoped to be able to broadcast this day live from a fully populated Viking village; sadly the Norns* were against us, but we are pleased that we can still manage some socially-distanced filming from the village.”  

Einar Selvik: Norse musician will take part in the closing event of That Jorvik Viking Thing on Saturday

The live-streamed day will be the penultimate event in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s programme that will conclude at 7.30pm with international Nordic folk musician Einar Selvik deep in conversation with music journalist Alexander Milas.

Selvik composed the music for the History Channel’s Vikings series and the Assassins Creed: Valhalla game soundtrack, and his latest album with his band Wardruna, Kvitravn, topped the iTunes chart on release in January.

On Saturday, Selvik will discuss Norse music, demonstrate assorted instruments and perform acoustic versions of a selection of his songs. Tickets cost £15 at jorvikthing.com.

In a last-minute addition to the Thing’s programme tomorrow (19/2/2021), Selvik’s Wardruna bandmate, Lindy-Fay Hella, will be joined by Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of London bookshop Treadwells, and herbalist Johanna Elf to discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a free live-stream at 8pm, accessible through jorvikthing.com.

So far, That Jorvik Viking Thing and its educational preview during Schools Week, have drawn more than 20,000 visitors to the website to watch more than 2,500 hours of video content. Some live-streams are still attracting audiences, not least the fun Poo Day, prompting Twitter to be flooded with images of home-made Viking worm-infested poo. 

The most popular video is a free 360-degree tour of Viking-age Coppergate that can even be viewed using a VR headset for a fully immersive experience.

For more information, or to access the array of video-on-demand resources, visit jorvikthing.com

*Who are the Norns?

In Norse mythology, the Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of Gods and men.

Chart-topping Nordic musician Einar Selvik to take part in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s most ambitious online event on Saturday UPDATED 20/2/2021

Einar Selvik: Discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments and playing songs at That Jorvik Viking Thing online event on Saturday

OUT goes Europe’s largest Viking festival, the Jorvik Viking Festival, banished from York by Lockdown 3 restrictions. In comes That Jorvik Viking Thing, the world’s largest online Viking festival, organised by York Archaeological Trust.

So named as a nod to “Thing” being “a Viking public assembly”, the half-term remote event adds up to six days of new online content and live broadcasts, climaxing in An Evening With Einar Selvik, chart-topping Nordic musician and Jorvik Viking Centre enthusiast, on Saturday.

At 7.30pm that night, the Wardruna front-man will be in conversation with producer, filmmaker and journalist Alexander Milas, discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments such as the taglharpa, and performing songs, buoyed by his band’s latest album, Kvitravn (White Raven), topping the iTunes chart in late-January.

Ticket holders are invited to send questions for a live question-and-answer session too, and such questions may even stretch to asking Einar about providing the soundtrack for the History Channel’s Vikings series and composing the music for the latest Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game, released last November.

“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times,” says Einar Selvik

Einar is no stranger to the Jorvik Viking Festival. “I’ve performed there and done lectures there,” he says, recalling his sold-out events in “maybe 2017 and 2018”. “I really enjoy York as a city and I love the atmosphere during the festival,” he says.

“I do enjoy the ride at Jorvik Viking Centre – I’ve been there a few times – and maybe it’s best that the famous odour is confined to one space!”

Now comes his Jorvik Viking Festival online debut. “I was contacted, I guess it was a few months ago, by the organisers, asking if I’d be up for doing something: some sort of performance, if I’d be open to that idea.

“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times.”

Chart-toppers: Einar Selvik’s band, Wardruna. Picture: Kim Ohrling

Saturday’s online event can be viewed from all four corners of the globe, one of the changes that the pandemic has brought to arts and culture. “Absolutely that’s a good thing,” says Einar.

“Once all this started happening last year, first there was a lot of disappointment, but it’s up to us to think differently, to find a constructive and positive focus and look at the possibilities of what we can do. That’s the only way of coping and surviving.”

Einar’s band, Wardruna, last performed to a live audience in December 2019. “We were supposed to be doing our tour right after the first lockdown, when we were supposed to be playing the UK,” he says.

“The album was originally going to be released in early June last year, doing the tour of the UK in the following weeks, which has since been pushed to this spring, but that’s not likely now, and we’ll probably have to rearrange again, when Manchester will be the nearest place to York we’ll be playing.”

Artwork for Wardruna’s January album, Kvitravn

Kvitravn was completed in mid-March, before lockdown restrictions were imposed in Scandinavia, and the album release was delayed subsequently by the production plant being closed, but Einar believes that delay has turned out to be serendipitous. “I often get that question, leading up to a release, about ‘don’t you think the timing is risky?’, when you want to support it with concerts,” he says.

“But people have now adapted to new ways over the past year, they’re spending more time at home, and judging by the responses we’ve had people are really grateful to have something new for these times.”

What’s more, Einar’s songs on Kvitravn address both human nature and nature against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change. “I do feel the album is on the brink of being almost prophetic,” he says. “Even though it addresses themes that were relevant pre-Covid, everything is amplified by what’s happening now.

“If you go back and make connections with various cultures, and you connect with wild animals and white ravens, like I do, when you look at the prophecies connected with them, you find that those prophecies are very often connected to renewal or great change, so there’s great hope in that album title.”

Einar Selvik: Wardruna front-man plays lyre, taglharpa, flute, goat horn, lur, drums and percussion

Einar continues: “The raven is an animal I have a totemic relationship with, which is why I chose that for myself. But although this album is in a sense more personal and more down to earth than before, it’s also quite obscure.

“I delve into the philosophical, the esoteric, the Nordic myths and how these old traditions define human nature and nature itself. So, the white raven was not chosen as the title because of my name, but more due to the ideas which inspired me to take that name in the first place.”

Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.

“But the lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.”

“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond,” says Einar

“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond, and as the animal embodiment of the human mind and body, so almost human within nature, I guess, on many levels.”

Einar has had experiences with ravens, both in his waking hours and in the world of dreams. “They are such strong symbols, representing nature and how it speaks through you in your own symbolic language that’s connected to your intuition, whether in actual encounters with ravens or in dreams,” he says.   

Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.

“But, for me, the poetry and lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.

Alexander Milas: Producer, filmmaker and journalist hosting Einar Selvik’s online event at That Jorvik Viking Thing

“In terms of language, I have quite a playful approach to it, where I combine Norwegian with Old Norse and Proto Norse, a language from before the Viking age. It’s almost Germanic.”

Einar grew up steeped in traditional music, Norse music and metal music. “For several years I played in metal bands, but I would say I was quite done with metal on a personal level in my mid-teens,” he says. “From then, it was more of a job and the desire to do something that was more in keeping with my passions grew stronger and stronger.”

Does he see any common ground between metal music and Wardruna’s music? “Metal has always drawn a lot from Nordic culture and ideology, but I really wanted to do something where they were treated more in their own right, not just playing with it for an album cover or lyrics, but for the tonality too,” says Einar.

“I guess there are connections between metal and Norse music in that lots of melodies in Scandinavian traditional music are quite dark, like in metal.”

Einar’s childhood days were spent on the Norwegian island of Osteroy. “It’s a fairly large inland island with a fjord surrounding it, and I guess your surroundings will always affect you. Growing up amid this postcard imagery, it definitely cultivated a profound sense of appreciation of nature,” he says.

“‘Nature’ instruments have a will of their own as they’re a living thing,” says Einar Selvik of the taglharpa, a bowed instrument made with horse hair

“I also grew up with lots of stories from the past, where you can connect them with the landscapes and what happened there 1,500 years ago. In hindsight, it gave me a sense of place and a place in time.”

Looking forward to Saturday’s streamed show, Einar says: “Alexander Milas will host the event, where I’ll talk with him a little about the context of each song and about the tools I use, the instrumentation, what we know and what we think we know about them. And, of course, the best way of demonstrating an instrument is to put it to use in a song.”

Einar will find time for questions from the online audience too, but here is one in advance: what is the taglharpa instrument? “It’s basically a bowed lyre, and in Scandinavia it’s the oldest bowed instrument we know of,” he says.

“Taglharpa means ‘horse hair’, which is what it’s made out of, though when I perform, I sometimes use metal strings for practical reasons because horse hair is really weather sensitive when you’re playing outside, which is the case with a lot of ‘nature’ instruments. They have a will of their own as they’re a living thing.”

An Evening With Einar Selvik, That Jorvik Festival Thing online, Saturday, 7.30pm. For £15 tickets, go to: jorvikthing.com. Wardruna’s album, Kvitravn, is available on Sony Music/Columbia Germany.

Story copyright of The Press, York

Jorvik Viking Festival really is the Thing this year as York event goes online for six days

Einar Selvik: Live-streamed concert and Q&A session at That Jorvik Viking Thing.  Picture: Arne Beck

YORK is hosting the world’s largest online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, from today (15/2/2021) until Saturday.

The digital diary in Lockdown 3 will be filled with chart-topping music, live-streamed events for all ages, virtual tours and the first-ever 360-degree immersive video of Jorvik Viking Centre’s celebrated ride through Viking-age York.

Against the backdrop of the Jorvik Viking Festival – the largest Viking festival in Europe – being unable to take place in the pandemic, organisers from York Archaeological Trust have created an online festival based on the concept of the “Thing” – a Viking public assembly.

Six days of exclusive new online content and live broadcasts will culminate with an evening with Nordic folk composer Einar Selvik, whose band Wardruna’s latest album, Kvitran, hit the top of the iTunes album chart in January.

Members of the Jorvik team prepare for That JORVIK Viking Thing. Picture: Charlotte Graham

At 7.30pm on Saturday, Einar will discuss his Nordic music, demonstrate instruments and perform a selection of his latest compositions. Ticket holders will be invited to send their questions for a live Q&A session hosted by music journalist and film-maker Alexander Milas.

Gareth Henry, events manager for York Archaeological Trust, has been tasked with putting together the online festival. “For many people, the February half-term is synonymous with Vikings as we’ve been hosting a festival for more than 35 years,” he says.

“Whether that be families drawn by the thrilling combat displays and spectacle of hundreds of Vikings marching through the city, or academics here for our annual symposium, where the latest research from all over the world is presented by leaders in the field of Viking studies.

“We can’t replace the crowds, but we can offer several hours of Norse-themed fun, including our most ambitious live-streamed series of events, live from Jorvik Viking Centre, on the final day of the Thing (20/2/2021): perfect preparation for the evening with Einar Selvik.”

Cressida Cowell: Author will read online from her Norse-themed children’s books

The transition of many elements of the festival to online events has been “fairly straightforward”, according to Gareth.  “Our family favourite events, like Poo Day, when children can recreate their own version of the Lloyds Bank Coprolite – the world’ most famous fossilised poo, which is on display within Jorvik Viking Centre – will be broadcast online,” he says.

“So will craft workshops, learning spinning and leather working – with packs posted out before the event – and our lecture programme.  In many ways, these can reach a far wider audience than we can usually accommodate in our York venues, and we’re already seeing tickets for the symposium being bought by people all over the world.”

Reaching new audiences has been a key focus for That Jorvik Viking Thing, particularly the use of technology to help deliver the festival programme, with funding from Innovate UK and Arts Council England helping the Jorvik team to explore new opportunities, including the virtual visit. 

“When most museums talk about virtual visits, they use static 360-degree cameras at set locations for visitors to jump from place to place to view the collection from fixed perspectives,” says Gareth. 

Hapless VIking Arnor, whose adventures feature in a new short film at That Jorvik Viking Thing

“We’ve been working with a local company, Vidaveo, to create a completely immersive version of our ride through Viking-age York.  Using a smart phone, tablet or even a VR [virtual reality] headset, you can ‘ride’ in one of our time capsules with our resident Viking guide, Fastulf, for the sounds and sights of 10th century Coppergate. The only thing we can’t include are the smells.”

Best-selling children’s authors are giving their support to That Jorvik Viking Thing, in the form of Cressida Cowell, Francesca Simon, Hilary Robinson, David MacPhail, Robert J Harris and Paul Tillery IV all recording extracts from their Norse-themed children’s books. 

The Jorvikanory videos will be available throughout the week, as will a series of podcasts, one featuring Horrible Histories author Terry Deary.

In light of York Archaeological Trust’s attractions being closed, ticket sales from premium events will provide an important source of income.  “Our two main fundraisers are the Evening with Einar Selvik, which has created quite a stir around the globe, and a special Mead Tasting Evening with the Lancashire Mead Company,” says Gareth.

Jorvik Viking Centre’s resident Skald retells The Saga Of Refr The Sly

“Participants in that evening will receive a box of mead samples, delivered to their home, and then receive expert tutelage on the mead-brewing process and flavours created.  Our original allocation of tickets sold out very quickly, so we have doubled capacity for this event, and only have a small handful of tickets left.” 

A virtual tour of Jorvik Viking Centre by Dr Chris Tuckley is proving “incredibly popular”. He will leave the time capsules behind to walk visitors around the attraction, pointing out detail – based on real archaeological evidence – that went into reconstructing the past. 

Other online content available for the first time will includes a series of Meet The Vikings films, exploring crafts, weapons, food and many other aspects of Viking life; an adventure with the hapless Arnor, as he hunts around his village for a lost ring, and two live Twitch sessions where experts review Norse-themed computer games from 1984’s Viking Raiders to 2020’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to test authenticity and fun. 

A chapter from a traditional Viking saga, The Saga Of Refr The Sly, will be released each day to encourage visitors to return.

Jorvik Viking Festival normally takes place during the school holidays, so the York Archaeological Trust education team took the opportunity to create a special preview event, That Jorvik Viking Thing: School’s Week, that ran from February 8 to 12, offering free content, such as twice-daily live-streamed presentations for schools and home educators across the world. 

Much of the pre-recorded content of That Jorvik Viking Thing went live at 10am today and will remain accessible until midnight on Sunday, February 21 at jorvikthing.com, where tickets for paid-for events can be booked. Visitors to That Jorvik Viking Thing can donate to York Archaeological Trust online.

For full details of the That Jorvik Viking Thing programme, go to: jorvikthing.com

Terry Deary: Podcast for That Jorvik Viking Thing

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.

Idea of the day at online 2020 York Festival of Ideas: How To Be A Good Ancestor, philosophical talk, 4pm, 13/6/2020

The dust jacket to Roman Krznaric’s imminent new book, The Good Ancestor

WILL you even read to the end of this sentence?

I asked because social philosopher and author Roman Krznaric reckons we are “living in the age of the tyranny of the now, where the greatest challenge facing humankind is our inability to think long term,”,as he will discuss in this afternoon’s free talk at the online 2020 York Festival of Ideas.

Sorry, you can’t read his powerful new book just now. Be patient. You will have to wait until July 16 when The Good Ancestor: How To Think Long Term In A Short-Term World will be published by WH Allen (Penguin Random House).

For a taster, tune in this afternoon, when Krznaric will contend: “Politicians can barely see past the next election or businesses past the next quarterly report, and we are addicted to the latest tweet and the ‘buy now’ button.

“How can we overcome this frenetic short-termism and extend our time horizons to tackle long-term challenges from the climate crisis to threats from artificial intelligence and genetically engineered pandemics?”

Krznaric will reveal how you can expand your imagination far beyond the here and now. Exploring everything from the seventh-generation thinking of indigenous peoples and politically empowered “guardians of the future” to the history of the London sewers and the latest neuroscience research, he will argue that we have an inbuilt capacity to become “cathedral thinkers”.

“It is time to confront one of the most vital questions of the 21st century: How can we be good ancestors?” says Krznaric, a “public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society”.

His books, such as Empathy, The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, have been published in more than 20 languages. His new one, the aforementioned The Good Ancestor: How To Think Long Term In A Short-Term World, is “the book our children’s children will thank us for reading”, says U2 guitarist The Edge.

What did Roman ever do for you? Write books, plan long term, found the Empathy Museum, give a talk online today….

After growing up in Sydney and Hong Kong, Krznaric studied at the universities of Oxford, London and Essex, where he gained a PhD in political sociology.

Founder of the world’s first Empathy Museum, he is a research fellow of the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco and his writings have been influential among political and ecological campaigners, education reformers, social entrepreneurs and designers. H

His public speaking, talks and workshops have taken him from a London prison to Google’s headquarters in California. Learn more at romankrznaric.com and @romankrznaric.

Online admission is free to today’s talk but booking is required at: eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-be-a-good-ancestor-tickets-105238182236.

Oh, and good news, if you have only a short-term attention span, the talk shouldn’t take up too much if your time. It lasts only 50 minutes.

Brought to you remotely by the University of York, the 2020 York Festival of Ideas is into its last two days but is still brimful of ideas this weekend, gathered under the new online umbrella of Virtual Horizons. For full details, visit yorkfestivalofideas.com/2020-online/.

Did you know?

FOUNDED by Roman Krznaric, the Empathy Museum’s offices are in London but this international arts project does not have a permanent home.All our projects are travelling, nimble pop-ups – they’ve been across the UK and to Belgium, Ireland, the USA, Australia, Brazil and even Siberia,” says the website.

“The Empathy Museum is an experiential project exploring the art of empathy through stepping into the shoes of other people and looking at the world though their eyes.” In a nutshell, “outrospection”, rather than introspection.

Idea of the day at online York Festival of Ideas: Human Flourishing In Times Of Stress, panel discussion, 6pm, 12/6/2020

On the panel tonight: Franziska Kohlt, Tim Radford and Penny Spikins, hosted by Tom McLeish

THIS evening’s panel discussion at the online York Festival of Ideas will explore how stories, things and thinking can bring comfort in times of stress. Times like now in Covid-19 2020.

Taking part under the chairmanship of Tom McLeish, the University of York’s first professor of natural philosophy, will be Dr Franziska Kohlt and Dr Penny Spikins, from the University of York, and science journalist Tim Radford.

Franziska Kohlt asks why many of us have felt drawn to the comfort of childhood classics, often unjustly dismissed as “escapism”, she argues.

This evening, she explores how books such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows, or Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies, were written in times of epidemics, illness and crisis, and how these works can be valuable emotional tools to carry us through such times.   

Penny Spikins asks why, when in crisis, we turn to programmes such as BBC One’s The Repair Shop to find some sense of comfort, and why cherished possessions seem to help when we feel stressed or isolated.

She examines where our tendency to attach to things came from in our evolutionary past and how finding attachments to objects can compensate for missing human relationships at times of stress or isolation.

Tim Radford’s contribution is drawn from his book The Consolation Of Physics. “It is both a conversation with the past and a celebration of the shared scientific tradition of generosity and co-operation that has taken human understanding, mediated by international experiment, to the edge of the solar system, to the origins of universe and to cataclysmic star-death in distant galaxies,” he says.

Franziska Kohltis a research associate with the University of York’s department of sociology and editor of The Lewis Carroll Review. She is a researcher in the History of Science and Fantastic Literature and an active science communicator with an interest in the socio-psychological history of what narratives make science communication effective.

She has explored a broad variety of topics, from insects to AI, in journal articles and exhibitions, and regularly appears on international media as an expert on Lewis Carroll.

Penny Spikins, senior lecturer in the archaeology of human origins at the University of York, is a Palaeolithic archaeologist with a particular interest in the evolution of human emotions.

Her research has covered the human origins of our sense of compassion, gratitude and tolerance and has been published in many journal papers and in her book How Compassion Made Us Human.

Now, she is completing a new book, Hidden Depths: The Palaeolithic Origins Of Our Most Human Emotions.

New Zealand-born freelance journalist Tim Radford has spent most of his life in weekly, evening and daily newspapers. He retired as science editor of the Guardian in 2005 and is now a founding editor of climatenewsnetwork.net.

Tom McLeish is professor of natural philosophy in the physics department and in the centre for medieval studies and the humanities research centre at the University of York.

He has won awards in the UK, USA and EU for his interdisciplinary research in “soft matter and biological physics” and also works across science and humanities on medieval science, theology, sociology and philosophy of science. He is the author of The Poetry And Music Of Science and appears regularly on BBC radio.

Admission to this online panel discussion is free but booking is required at: eventbrite.co.uk/e/human-flourishing-in-times-of-stress-tickets-105648158486.

Brought to you remotely by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas is brimful of ideas until June 14, gathered under the new umbrella of Virtual Horizons. For full details, visit yorkfestivalofideas.com/2020-online/.

Idea of the day at the online York Festival of Ideas: This Golden Fleece. Talk is sheep at 6pm, 11/06/2020

Wool Britannia: This Golden Fleece author Esther Rutter weaves her way through Britain’ s knitting history this evening at the York Festival of Ideas

WOOLLY thinking will be encouraged at the online York Festival of Ideas this evening.

At 6pm, author Esther Rutter will weave a journey through Britain’s long history of knitting in her talk This Golden Fleece.

Esther grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, learning to spin, weave and knit as a child. On re-engaging with that past, over the breadth of a year, she travelled the length of the British Isles to discover the fascinating stories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool, knitting them together in her book This Golden Fleece (Granta Books).

Esther unearthed tales of mill workers of the Border countries, English market towns built on profits of the wool trade and the Highland communities cleared for sheep farming. She also found tradition and innovation intermingling in 21st century knitwear industries.

Esther, who read English at Magdalen College, Oxford, is writer-in-residence at the University of St Andrews (2017-2020) in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development.

She also works as a freelance project manager for UNESCO, developing cultural engagement projects in collaboration with Edinburgh’s City of Literature Trust.

Join Esther this evening, albeit remotely, for her discussion of the craft and history of knitting, exploring wool’s influence on our landscape, history and culture. Admission is free but booking is required at eventbrite.co.uk/e/this-golden-fleece-tickets-105237367800.

Brought to you remotely by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas is brimful of ideas until June 14, gathered under the new umbrella of Virtual Horizons. For full details, visit yorkfestivalofideas.com/2020-online/.

Another idea of the day at the online York Festival of Ideas: Friendship: Nature’s medicine, a friendly talk at 8pm, 10/6/2020

The hand of friendship: nature’s “little helper”, according to author and professor Robin Dunbar, who needs to talk tonight. Image: Symbolon from Noun Project

AT this pandemic-enforced time of alienation, disconnection, lockdown, social distancing, shielding and virtual gatherings when everyone’s gone to the Zoom, how topical for the York Festival of Ideas to host a talk on Friendship: Nature’s medicine. Online, of course.

At 8pm tonight, psychology professor and author Robin Dunbar, from the University of Oxford, will explore the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms involved in friendships and how they produce these remarkable effects as nature’s “little helper”.

“Like all monkeys and apes, humans are intensely social,” says the festival website. “Close relationships, whether family or friend, are our way of buffering ourselves against the stresses that life puts us under.

“In fact, loneliness has turned out to be the biggest killer. It turns out that friendships have a bigger effect on our quality of life, as well as our ability to resist and recover from illness, than almost anything conventional medicine can throw at us.”

The cover to Robin Dunbar’s 2010 book of evolutionary quirks, How Many Friends Does One Person Need?

Robin Dunbar is professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford, an Emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College and an elected Fellow of the British Academy.

His principal research interests focus on the evolution of sociality with particular reference to primates and humans. He is best known for the social brain hypothesis, the gossip theory of language evolution and Dunbar’s Number (the limit on the number of relationships that we can manage).

Among his science books are: Grooming, Gossip And The Evolution Of Language (1996); The Human Story (2004); How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (2010); The Science Of Love And Betrayal (2012); Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction (2014); Human Evolution: Our Brains And Behaviour (2016), and Evolution: What Everyone Needs To Know (2018).

Online admission tonight is free but booking is required at eventbrite.co.uk/e/friendship-natures-medicine-tickets-105701357606.

Brought to you remotely by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas is full of ideas until June 14, gathered under the new umbrella of Virtual Horizons. For full details, visit yorkfestivalofideas.com/2020-online/.