More Things To Do in and around York, where studios are opening up for spring inspection. List No. 76, from The Press

Kimbal Bumstead: one of 30 new participants in York Open Studios

NOW is the chance to go around the houses, the studios and workshops too, as recommended by Charles Hutchinson on his art beat.

Art event of the week and next week too: York Open Studios, today and tomorrow; April 9 and 10, 10am to 5pm

AFTER 2021’s temporary move to July, York Open Studios returns to its regular spring slot, promising its biggest event ever with more than 150 artists and makers in 100-plus workshops, home and garden studios and other creative premises.

Thirty new participants have been selected by the event organisers. As ever, York Open Studios offers the chance to talk to artists, look around where they work and buy works.

Artists’ work encompasses painting and print, illustration, drawing and mixed media, ceramics, glass and sculpture, jewellery, textiles, photography and installation art. Check out the artists’ directory listings and the locations map at yorkopenstudios.co.uk or pick up a booklet around York.

Caius Lee: Pianist for York Musical Society’s Rossini concert

Classical concert of the week: York Musical Society, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, St Peter’s School Memorial Hall, York, tonight, 7.30pm

DAVID Pipe conducts York Musical Society in a performance of Gioachino Rossini’s last major work, Petite Messe Solennelle, composed when his friend Countess Louise Pillet-Will commissioned a solemn mass for the consecration of a private chapel in March 1864.

After Rossini deemed it to be a ‘poor little mass’, the word ‘little’ (petite) has become attached to the title, even though the work is neither little nor particularly solemn. Instead, the music ranges from hushed intensity to boisterous high spirits.

Caius Lee, piano, Valerie Barr, accordion, Katie Wood, soprano, Emily Hodkinson, mezzo-soprano, Ed Lambert, tenor, and Stuart O’Hara, bass, perform it tonight. Box office: eventbrite.co.uk/e/rossini-petite-messe-solennelle.

Bingham String Quartet: Programme of Beethoven, Schnittke, LeFanu and Tippett works

Late news: York Late Music, Stuart O’Hara and Ionna Koullepou, 1pm today; Bingham String Quartet, 7.30pm tonight, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York

BASS Stuart O’Hara and pianist Ionna Koullepou play a lunchtime programme of no fewer than eight new settings of York and regional poets’ works by York composers.

In the evening, the Bingham String Quartet perform Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat major, Schnittke’s String Quartet No 3, York composer Nicola LeFanu’s String Quartet No 2 and Tippett’s String Quartet No 2. Box office: latemusic.org or on the door.

The poster for York Blues Festival 2022

A dose of the blues: York Blues Festival 2022, The Crescent, York, today, bands from 1pm to 11pm

YORK Blues Festival returns for a third celebration at The Crescent community venue after two previous sell-outs. On the bill will be Tim Green Band; Dust Radio; Jed Potts & The Hillman Hunters; TheJujubes; Blue Milk; DC Blues; Five Points Gang and Redfish.

For full details, go to: yorkbluesfest.co.uk. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

The Howl & The Hum: Sunday headliners at YorkLife in Parliament Street

Free community event of the weekend: YorkLife, Parliament Street, York, today and tomorrow, 11am to 9pm

YORK’S new spring festival weekend showcases the city’s musicians, performers, comedians and more besides today and tomorrow. Organised by Make It York, YorkLife sees more than 30 performers and organisations head to Parliament Street for this free event with no tickets required in advance.

York’s Music Venue Network presents Saturday headliners Huge, Sunday bill-toppers The Howl & The Hum, plus Bull; Kitty VR; Flatcap Carnival; Hyde Family Jam;  Floral Pattern; Bargestra and Wounded Bear.

Workshops will be given by: Mud Pie Arts: Cloud Tales, interactive storytelling; Thunk It Theatre, Build Our City theatre; Gemma Wood, York Skyline art; Fantastic Faces, face painting;  Henry Raby, from Say Owt, spoken poetry; Matt Barfoot, drumming; Christian Topman, ukulele; Polly Bennet, Little Vikings PQA York, performing arts, and Innovation Entertainment, circus workshops.  Look out too for the York Mix Radio quiz; York Dance Space’s dance performance and Burning Duck Comedy Club’s comedy night. 

Oi Frog & Friends!: Laying down the rules at York Theatre Royal

Children’s show of the week: Oi Frog & Friends!, York Theatre Royal, Monday, 1.30pm and 4.30pm; Tuesday, 10.30am and 1.30pm

ON a new day at Sittingbottom School, Frog is looking for a place to sit, but Cat has other ideas and Dog is happy to play along. Cue multiple rhyming rules and chaos when Frog is placed in in charge. 

Suitable for age three upwards, Oi Frog & Friends! is a 55-minute, action-packed play with original songs, puppets, laughs and “more rhyme than you can shake a chime at”.

This fun-filled musical has been transferred to the stage by Emma Earle, Zoe Squire, Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes from Kes Gray and Jim Field’s picture books. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Mother and son: Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone and Sean Jones as Mickey in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, returning to the Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: Blood Brothers, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday

AFTER a three-year hiatus, Sean Jones has returned to playing scally Mickey in Willy Russell’s fateful musical account of Liverpool twins divided at both, stretching his involvement to a 23rd year at impresario Bill Kenwright’s invitation in what is billed as his “last ever tour” of Blood Brothers.

Back too, after a decade-long gap, is Niki Evans in the role of Mickey and Eddie’s mother, Mrs Johnstone.

Blood Brothers keeps on returning to the Grand Opera House, invariably with Jones to the fore. If this year really is his Blood Brothers valedictory at 51, playing a Scouse lad from the age of seven once more, thanks, Sean, for all the years of cheers and tears. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

May in April: Imelda May plays York Barbican for a third time on April 6

York gig of the week: Imelda May, Made To Love Tour, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm

IRISH singer-songwriter and poet Imelda May returns to York Barbican for her third gig there in the only Yorkshire show of her first major UK tour in more than five years.

“I cannot wait to see you all again, to dance and sing together, to connect and feel the sparkle in a room where music makes us feel alive and elevated for a while,” says Imelda. “A magical feeling we can only get from live music. Let’s go!”

Her sixth studio album, last April’s 11 Past The Hour, will be showcased and she promises poetry too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Corruption and sloth: English Touring Opera in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel

At the treble: English Touring Opera at York Theatre Royal, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 7.30pm

ENGLISH Touring Opera present three performances in four nights, starting with Bach’s intense vision of hope, St John Passion, on Wednesday, when professional soloists and baroque specialists the Old Street Band combine with singers from York choirs.

La Boheme, Puccini’s operatic story of a poet falling in love with a consumptive seamstress, follows on Friday; the residency concludes with Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, a send-up of corruption and sloth in government that holds up a mirror to the last days of the Romanovs. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Eleanor Sutton in the title role in Jane Eyre, opening at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on Friday

Play of the week outside York: Jane Eyre, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, Friday to April 30

CHRIS Bush’s witty and fleet-footed adaptation seeks to present Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to a fresh audience while staying true to the original’s revolutionary spirit.

Using actor-musicians, playful multi-role playing and 19th century pop hits, Zoe Waterman directs this SJT and New Vic Theatre co-production starring Eleanor Sutton as Jane Eyre, who has no respect for authority, but lives by her own strict moral code, no matter what the consequences. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.

Beth McCarthy: Homecoming gig at The Crescent in May

Welcome home: Beth McCarthy, The Crescent, York, May 2, doors, 7.30pm

BETH McCarthy will play a home-city gig for the first time since March 2019 at The Crescent community venue.

Beth, singer, songwriter and BBC Radio York evening show presenter, has moved from York to London, since when she has drawn 4.8 million likes and 300,000 followers on TikTok and attracted 465,000 monthly listeners and nine million plays of her She Gets The Flowers on Spotify. Box office: myticket.co.uk/artists/beth-mccarthy.

Oh, and one other thing

MODFATHER Paul Weller’s gig on Tuesday at York Barbican has sold out.

When a concert is postponed, not cancelled….

York Musical Society in the days before Covid-19

YORK Musical Society’s glorious celebration of Baroque music at York Minster tonight is postponed rather than cancelled.

“We are classing it as ‘postponed’ as we do plan to incorporate this fabulous repertoire at some point in the future when we are allowed to sing together again,” says YMS’s Lesley Peatfield..


“We are still rehearsing the lovely Handel anthems and the Gloria via Zoom for those members of YMS who have been taking part this term and plan to sing each piece through online in the ‘splendour’ of our own homes instead.”

Lesley adds: “With the future of choirs and singing in groups a big subject for debate, we are planning to rehearse and enjoy Handel’s Messiah for the autumn term via the Zoom platform. Keep singing and stay safe.”

York Musical Society embraces remote rehearsal revolution for singing therapy

Zoom with a view: York Musical Society members face up for Monday’s online rehearsal

YORK Musical Society’s online rehearsals are on song and on trend, as the Monday sessions on Zoom go from strength to strength.

Session host Lesley Peatfield says: “We’ve been running them from the start of the lockdown, and I’m especially proud as a lot of our older members have successfully navigated the software to be able to manage this.

“Some have even got their first computers for lockdown to be able to appear at our regular Monday night events.” 

As many as 80 singers join in, their ages ranging from an 18-year-old bass to 90. “We meet at 7pm for the sopranos and altos and 8pm for the tenors and basses, an hour each every Monday evening, when either David Pipe, our musical director, or John Bradbury, our accompanist, each take a session, leading from the piano, and swap over each week,” says Lesley.

“As well as hosting, I keep each session running technically and answer questions in the chat box.”

In the week the nation went into Covid-19 lockdown, York Musical Society was to have performed at York Minster. “That should have been a night of Faure’s Requiem, alongside a less well-known Michael Haydn requiem, which is so beautiful,” says Lesley.

“Thank you for sending the scores out – much easier to follow,” said one York Musical Society member in the online chat room after a Monday rehearsal

“We had to cancel, of course, but we do hope to offer that programme sometime next year.”

Coming next, on Saturday, June 13 at York Minster, would have been YMS’s summer concert, Splendours Of The Baroque, a joyful programme of Vivaldi’s Gloria, Marcello’s Trumpet Concerto in D minor, Handel’s Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba and Handel’s Coronation Anthems.

“We’ve had to cancel that concert too,” says Lesley. “The Corona-tion anthems – Zadok The Priest, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice and My Heart Is Inditing – and have never been more appropriate,” says Lesley, poignantly.

After one Zoom rehearsal, Lesley wrote on social media: “Over 80 members joined us for a bit of note bashing for Vivaldi and Handel. Even though we may never perform this, the feeling of the community coming together is priceless.”

Members’ post-session comments to Lesley on the chat line testify to the “virtual” rehearsals being such a breath of fresh singing air amid the pandemic. “Thank you – this is the highlight of my week in lockdown,” said one.

“A very big ‘thank you’ for the Monday evening rehearsals, which I am very much enjoying, and for sending the scores out – much easier to follow,” wrote another. “Thank you to David [Pipe] and to John [Bradbury] for their patience and efforts and to Lesley for her expertise in enabling the sessions.”

Zoom for improvement: York Musical Society members gather for a “virtual” singing session

A third commented: “I’d just like to express my thanks to you all for organising these online rehearsals. I think David is too modest about how valuable they are musically. We can learn a lot at this stage.

“There is no doubt they are a huge boost to the morale of all the individual members, restoring our sense of community and connection to those we cannot meet in person.”  

A fourth enthused: “It is amazing how some proper singing, even over only half an hour, leaves one with such a good feeling inside.  Can’t wait for the next session.”

The Zoom uplift each Monday is best summed up by one member, who confessed to “enjoying it far more than I thought I would”, concluding that “Singing is pure therapy”.

Such a sentiment no doubt will be shared by so many other singing groups in York and beyond, now in the grip of the “remote rehearsal revolution”, be it Ewa Salecka’s “Prima Virtual Ensemble” or Jessa Liversidge’s myriad groups.

Looking ahead, Lesley says: “ We’re rehearsing with a view to an informal performance for friends and family at St Olave’s School, where we normally rehearse in the Shepherd Hall, whenever we manage to get back to face-to-face rehearsals.” Roll on that day.

York Musical Society to perform Faure’s Requiem at York Minster on March 28

Soprano Anna Prosser

SOPRANO Anna Prosser and tenor Robert Anthony Gardiner will sing with York Musical Society for the first time in March 28’s performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in York Minster.

This luminous work will be complemented by Michael Haydn’s Requiem in C minor. “You might think that having two requiems in one concert isn’t an imaginative programming choice,” says conductor David Pipe.

Tenor Robert Anthony Gardiner

“Even in rehearsals, though, it’s fascinating to hear how these two works, using much of the same liturgical text but separated by over 100 years, are so very different in style and musical content. This is an unusual opportunity to savour the contrasting responses of two fine composers.”

Fauré’s Requiem, first performed in 1890, uses a shortened version of the funeral mass and is serene, peaceful and full of haunting melodies. Michael Haydn is the lesser-known younger brother of Josef Haydn. “His less frequently performed but exquisite Requiem (1772) is said to have inspired Mozart’s own final work,” says Pipe, York Musical Society’s principal conductorsince April 2012.  

Mezzo-soprano Kate Symonds-Joy

Anna Prosser, a choral scholar and vocal coach at Leeds Cathedral, and Robert Anthony Gardiner, who lives in Leeds, will be joined on solo duty by mezzo-soprano  Kate Symonds-Joy  and bass Alex Ashworth.

Both have sung previously with York Musical Society, Symonds-Joy performing Verdi’s Requiem in November 2014 and Bach’s St Matthew Passion in March 2018; Ashworth, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah in May 2015 and in Bach’s St Matthew Passion in March 2018.

Bass Alex Ashworth

Both sing with Solomon’s Knot Collective, who performed at last summer’s Ryedale Festival and enjoyed a sold-out performance at last December’s York Early Music Christmas Festival at the National Centre for Early Music, York.

Tickets for this 7.30pm concert are on sale at York Minster box office, on 01904 557256, at yorkminster.org or on the door. Prices are £25/£20 in the nave; £12 in the side aisles; £6, age 13 to 17; under-12s, free, but a ticket is required and they must be accompanied by an adult.