THE 2022 York Early Music Festival takes the theme of Connections on its return to a full-scale event after the Covid restrictions of 2020 and 2021.
Taking place in glorious ecclesiastical buildings around the city from July 8 to 16, the festival celebrates the joy of music, fusing musicians and their stories across the ages.
“Concerts are linked together through a maze of interconnecting composers,” says festival administrative director Delma Tomlin. “We’re delighted to be able to shine a light on the many connections that hold us together in the past and into the future.”
At the heart of the 2022 festival will be concerts by three of the best-known Early Music ensembles in the resplendent York Minster, each starting at 7.30pm.
Directed by Harry Christophers, The Sixteen present a sublime programme of choral works focused around Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell, complemented by mediaeval carols, works by poet and lutenist Thomas Campion, Howells and Parry and a new commission by Cecilia McDowall, on July 9 in the Nave.
Under the title of Choral Connections, Peter Phillips directs The Tallis Scholars in the Chapter House in a sold-out July 11 programme of Josquin des Prez, Palestrina and Byrd works.
In the Nave, on July 13, Paul McCreesh directs the Gabrieli Consort & Players in A Venetian Coronation: a spectacular recreation of the 1595 Coronation Mass of the Venetian Doge Marina Grimani at St Mark’s, Venice.
“The Gabrielis are playing a remarkable piece on a scale that wholly suits York Minster,” says Delma. “It has that feeling of ‘We’re back’ writ large about it.
“This lavish sequence of festive music has become synonymous with these performers through recordings in 1989 and 2012 and combines brilliance and solemnity in a compelling and kaleidoscopic programme of masterpieces for combinations of voices, cornetts and sackbuts.
“A Venetian Coronation has been performed in many of the world’s greatest cathedrals and concert halls and is revived here in celebration of the Gabrielis’ 40th anniversary.”
The festival’s opening concert, Heaven’s Joy: The World Of The Virtuoso Viol, will be given by the viola da gamba duo Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM), St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, on July 8 at 7.30pm.
Taking a trip through time and space, they find connections between the late-Elizabethan music of eccentric soldier Tobia Hume and the later improvisatory divisions of Christopher Simpson, through French baroque suites by the mysterious Mr de Ste. Colombe and the “devilish” Forqueray, to reach the classical calm of Christoph Schaffrath in Berlin via JS Bach.
On July 10, at 7.30pm, the Gonzaga Band make their festival debut at the NCEM with works from Venice 1629 by Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Grandi, wind player Dario Castello and violinist Biagio Marini, under director and cornett player Jamie Savan. In the ranks too is organist and harpsichord player Steven Devine, in his last year as a festival artistic advisor.
Further festival highlights will be The Rose Consort Of Viols’ Music For Severall Friends (NCEM, July 11, 1pm); festival debutants La Vaghezza – an EEEmerging+ ensemble from Italy – presenting Sculpting The Fabric (St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, July 12, 1pm), and another festival newcomer, theorbo specialist Ori Harmelin (Undercroft, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, July 13, 9.45pm).
Profeti Della Quinta, 2011 winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, return to the NCEM on July 12 to perform Italian Renaissance music from Rore to Monteverdi at 7.30pm; The University of York Baroque Ensemble focus on Mannheim Travels To Fife (St Lawrence’s Church, July 13, 1pm); Peter Seymour directs festival regulars Yorkshire Baroque Soloists (St Lawrence’s Church, July 14, 7.30pm), and Ensemble Voces Suaves highlight Heinrich Schutz In Italy (St Lawrence’s Church, July 15, 7.30pm).
Delma is delighted by the resumption of Minster Minstrels, the NCEM’s youth instrumental ensemble, who will be performing late 17th century theatre, court and household music in Fairest Isle at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on July 10 at 4.45pm.
“Given the pressure on young people’s studies over the past two years, director Ailsa Batters has done really well in bringing them back together again,” she says.
The York Early Music International Young Artists Competition 2022 provides the grand festival finale on July 16 from 10am to 5.30pm at the NCEM, preceded by informal NCEM recitals by the ten pan-European ensembles on July 14 and 15 at 10.30am.
The winners will receive a professional CD recording contract from Linn Records, a £1,000 cheque and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the National Centre for Early Music.
“We’re delighted to be presenting a nine-day festival of music in our beautiful city, after we were caught last year in Boris Johnson’s indecision about whether venues could open or not,” says Delma.
“We were, however, able to stream the 2021 festival, drawing new audiences online, but it’s lovely to see our patrons return because that’s what festivals are all about: a celebration of being together.
“Some of this year’s artists were meant to be with us two years ago; some of them, last year. The Young Artists should have been with us last year, and it’s wonderful that we’ll have 43 young musicians coming to York for the competition. It’s amazing that these young groups have been able to keep going, to keep their spirits up, and to still be coming to York a year later than first planned.”
Delma concludes: “This year’s theme is Connections, connecting and indeed reconnecting music, artists and, of course, our audiences. As always, we’ll be celebrating the glorious music of the past but also looking forward, as we’re able, at last, to stage the International Young Artists Competition, showcasing and nurturing the performers of the future.
“We’re so pleased to be back at full strength for what promises to be one of the most exciting festivals to date.”
For the full programme, head to: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/york-early-music-festival/. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
BBC Radio 3 will be recording the concerts by Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, The Sixteen, the Gonzaga Band and Gabrieli Consort & Players for broadcast, along with the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition 2022. The Early Music Show will be broadcast live from the festival on July 10 at 2pm.
NCEM launches ambitious Alignment online festival packed with highlights from 2022
THE National Centre of Early Music, York, is to celebrate the array of music staged in York and Beverley this year by presenting Alignment, its most ambitious online festival yet.
Highlights of the packed NCEM musical calendar will be available to download from August 1 to 30 and are on sale now.
The festival features 14 concerts from the 2022 spring season, recorded by the NCEM’s specialist digital team in glorious historic buildings.
“There’s a chance to enjoy music from the Renaissance through to the Baroque with a nod to the contemporary just to keep us on our toes,” says Delma Tomlin, the NCEM’s director .
The Alignment recordings includes Spanish vocal group Cantoria in a film made during their spring residency at the NCEM. Their vocal and instrumental programme encompasses the lives of Tudor Queens Catherine of Aragon and Mary, married to Philip of Spain, in St Mary’s Church, Bishophill, the NCEM’s home at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, and the mediaeval Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate.
Further highlights include the music of JS Bach presented by Florilegium, recorded in Beverley Minster; two festival favourites, EEEmerging ensembles Prisma and Sarbacanes, and Ensemble Molière, the first BBC Radio 3 New Generation Baroque Ensemble.
The featured ensembles are:
Cantoría; Prisma; Ensemble Molière; Profeti della Quinta; Florilegium; Rose Consort Of Viols; Gonzaga Band; Sarbacanes; La Vaghezza; University of York Baroque Ensemble; Orí Harmelin; Ensemble Voces Suaves; Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.
Four different online packages are available:
Complete Box Set, £70, including all 14 concerts.
Platform Artists, £30, focusing on emerging talent with Cantoría, La Vaghezza, Prisma and Sarbacanes.
Baroque In A Box, £40: Ensemble Molière, Florilegium, Gonzaga Band, Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin, University of York Baroque Ensemble and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.
Renaissance Revels, £30: Rose Consort Of Viols, Orí Harmelin, Profeti della Quinta and Ensemble Voces Suaves.
All individual concerts are priced at £10.
Delma says: “it’s been an action-packed year so for the NCEM with the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival, an outstanding York residency with young Spanish ensemble Cantoria, and now the upcoming York Early Music Festival.
“We wanted to share this wonderful music far and wide, so we’ve put together a programme of many of this year’s highlights for this online celebration. We hope that those of you who couldn’t attend the concerts, or indeed those of you who did and want to enjoy the concerts again, will join us for some musical magic this summer.”
Full details can be found at: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/alignment/