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York Early Music Festival 2018

Fri Jul 6 - Sat Jul 14

| £10 – £30

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Attracting the best musicians and performers from around the world to present musical performances from the 12th – 18th centuries, the 2018 Festival takes place in historic venues across York.

The theme for 2018 is Power and Politics and highlights include Brecon Baroque directed by violinist Rachel Podger, Gallicantus directed by Gabriel Crouch with the Rose Consort of Viols and The Sixteen directed by Harry Christophers.

There is also a strong focus on emerging young talent, showcasing ensembles including PrismaVoces SuavesRumorum and BarrocoTout.



Friday 6 July

Brecon Barque, directed by Rachel Podger


Venetian society in the 17th century was a hotbed of political intrigue, a powerful trading city whose fortunes were controlled by the all-pervading state and the power of the Doge. Acclaimed violinist Rachel Podger presents a colourful, uplifting and vividly pictorial programme of concertos by Vivaldi, together with Brecon Baroque, including a ‘re-arrangement of a Bach arrangement’ and a salute to a great foreign ruler in the spicy Il Grosso Mogul.


Friday 6 July at 7.30pm, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York

Reserved seating: £30 (concessions available)



Saturday 7 July

IMAGES OF VIRTUE AND WAR: Music at the Court of Charles 1

Jonathan Wainwright, Professor of Music at the University of York

The reign of Charles I is often characterised as one of political chaos and decline, with wars against Spain leading to the disastrous Civil War that culminated in the King’s execution. But Charles’s cultural achievements were many, not least in his establishment of an active and progressive musical culture at court.

Hear Professor Jonathan Wainwright from the University of York discuss English and Italian music from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Saturday 7 July 10.00am – c.11.00am, NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate Central

Reserved seating: £10 including coffee & biscuits on arrival


COME AND SING: Music for Troubled Times

A workshop for singers directed by Paul Gameson

In the elegant surroundings of York Cemetery Chapel, the workshop features some of the choral music written during the period of the English Civil War.  As well as exploring marching songs, Paul will be looking at sacred music from this troubled time.

The workshop is open to all voices with confident sight-reading skills. The music will be provided in advance.

Saturday 7 July 10.00am – 4.00pm, York Cemetery Chapel, Cemetery Road

£18.00 (students/observers £10.00)



Lucy Russell and Agata Daraskaite violins /  Rachel Gray cello /  Linda Sayce theorbo  / Peter Seymour harpsichord, organ

A rare opportunity to hear music by four formidable female composers, whose creativity and drive enabled them to overcome the social and professional hindrances of a male-dominated world: the nun Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704), harpsichordist Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729), gifted violinist Maddalena Sirmen (1745-1818), and ‘Mrs Philarmonica’, a pseudonymous composer working in London in the early 18th century.

Saturday 7 July 3.30pm – c.4.30pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate

Reserved seating central nave: £18.00 (concessions available)


Gallicantus directed by Gabriel Crouch

Clare Wilkinson mezzo soprano /  David Allsopp countertenor / Tom Robson, Nicholas Todd tenors  /  Gabriel Crouch baritone /  William Gaunt bass


Rose Consort of Viols

Ibrahim Aziz, John Bryan, Alison Crum, Alison Kinder, Roy Marks viols


England’s descent into Civil War under the reign of King Charles I took its toll on what had been one of the flourishing centres of European music – and under the austere Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell following the King’s execution, musical life died out almost completely.

Two leading ensembles explore music for voices and viols by composers whose careers spanned these years, alongside the UK premiere of a specially commissioned piece by Judith Bingham, a ‘Requiem for William Lawes’.

Saturday 7 July 7.30pm – c.9.30pm St Michael le Belfrey Church, High Petergate

Reserved seating central nave and balcony: £30.00

Unreserved seating side aisles: £23.00 (concessions available)



Sunday 8 July


Join us for a live broadcast of this popular show, presented by Lucie Skeaping and meet selected guests from the 2018 festival.

Sunday 8 July 2.00pm – 3.00pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating. Free to those attending other events within the Festival, but book in advance to avoid disappointment.


Minster Minstrels directed by Ailsa Batters


The Minster Minstrels, the NCEM’s developing Youth Instrumental Ensemble, explore how Charles II and his love of things French while in exile came to dominate music. The energetic youth ensemble discovers the French influence on music in England for decades to come.

Sunday 8 July 4.30pm – c.5.30pm Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate

Unreserved seating: £10.00 (concessions available)


Paolo Pandolfo

PARIS 1689

Paolo Pandolfo viola da gamba, director  / Amélie Chemin viola da gamba /  Thomas Boysen theorbo, baroque guitar / Markus Hunninger harpsichord

 The ‘French Revolution’ started a century before you think, when musicians broke all the rules and climbed the social layers according to their talent rather than their often-humble origins. This concert explores the chamber music of both Marais and Couperin, as well as the French Baroque’s star lutenist, Robert de Visée.

Sunday 8 July 7.30pm – c.9.30pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £30.00 (concessions available)



Monday 9 July


Patronage in 18th century London took several forms, including employment by the king or nobility, specific commissions, or the publications of specific works. Focusing on 1710 – 28, this talk by Graham Cummings, Visiting Professor of Historical Musicology at the University of Huddersfield, will examine how these factors impinged on the career of London’s foremost musician, George Frederic Handel.

Monday 9 July 10.00am – c.11.00 am Bedern Hall, Bedern

Unreserved seating: £10.00 including coffee & biscuits on arrival


University of York Baroque Ensemble directed by Compagnia d’Istrumenti

BARGING IN! Handel’s Water Music

Handel’s Water Music suites, first performed in 1717 on a barge on the Thames to accompany King George I’s water party, comprise a varied assortment of elegantly boisterous dances and a grand overture, while their lavish orchestration befits a Royal celebration.

Monday 9 July 1.00pm – c.2.00pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £16.00 (concessions available)


Theatre of the Ayre

Nicholas Mulroy tenor / Matthew Brook bass-baritone / Elizabeth Kenny lutes /  Alison McGillivray viola da gamba, lyra viol


The Civil War destroyed lives, families and the cultural fabric of a nation. But musicians are resourceful, and a few brave souls continued to experiment with the vocal and instrumental techniques they hoped would come back into service ‘when the King enjoys his own again’.

Music by Robert Johnson, Henry and William Lawes, John Hilton, Robert Ramsey and Giulio Caccini, Theatre of the Ayre is Elizabeth Kenny’s platform for bringing dramatically-minded singers and players together to create inspirational programmes of seventeenth century music.

Monday 9 July 7.30pm – c.9.30pm Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate

Unreserved seating: £30.00 (concessions available)



Tuesday 10 July  

NCEM Platform Artists

Sollazzo Ensemble

Yukie Sato, Perrine Devillers sopranos / Vivien Simon tenor / Sophia Danilevskaia fiddle / Vincent Kibildis harp / Anna Danilevskaia fiddle, artistic direction



Former winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Prize, in addition to the Cambridge Early Music Prize, the young ensemble from Basel received high praise for this debut album, which was released at the end of 2017. With a strong interest in late medieval and early renaissance repertoires, this selection of pieces presents passionate language in verse and music to honour powerful patrons of the arts.

Tuesday 10 July 1.00pm – c.2.00pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £18.00 (concessions available)



HOW MANY POPES DOES IT TAKE…? Papal rivalries and the Great Schism of 1378-1417 

The Great Schism was not the first or the only divide in Western Christendom, but it was the longest dispute about who was rightfully pope. This discussion is presented by medievalist Dr Pat Cullum, who did her doctorate at the University of York, and is Principal Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Huddersfield.

Tuesday 10 July 3.30pm – 4.30pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £10.00 including a glass of wine on arrival


Les haulz et les bas

Andrea Piccioni tamburello, tanmorra / Christian Braun, David Yacus busine, trumpets, renaissance trombones / Gesine Bänfer, Ian Harrison shawms, bagpipes / Michael Metzler percussion


THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE: A musical summit meeting

The Council of Constance was probably the most important world event of the early 15th century, when sacred and secular authorities met to resolve the problem of having three rival popes. Kings, cardinals, nobles and bishops descended on the south-west German city, bringing their courts, chapels and musicians with them, including medieval ‘loud bands’ of reeds, brass and percussion. This concert presents music by some of the international group of composers who met there, including Du Fay, Wolkenstein and Antonio Zachara de Teramo.

7.30pm – c.9.15pm St Lawrence Church, Hull Road

Unreserved seating: £30.00 (concessions available)



Wednesday 11 July

BRITTEN’S HERITAGE: A celebration for Britain’s finest 20th century composer – whose love of early music helped to inspire us all!

Lisa Colton, Reader in Musicology at the University of Huddersfield, examines how Benjamin Britten not only brought early English music to the attention of 20th century audiences through his settings of medieval carol texts and realisations of Purcell songs, but also incorporated this deep knowledge of an historically distant repertoire into his distinctly modern and personal soundworld.

Wednesday 11 July 10.00am – c.11.00am Bedern Hall, Bedern

Unreserved seating: £10.00 including coffee & biscuits on arrival



Whether you are new to the Choral Pilgrimage repertoire or want to expand your existing knowledge, Insight Days provide a fascinating exploration into the stories behind the music.

Join singer and practical scholar Sally Dunkley and musicologist John Milsom for talks, debate and discussion, and discover the rich history behind the 2018 Choral Pilgrimage repertory in the company of a consort of Sixteen singers.

Wednesday 11 July 12 noon – 4.00pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Unreserved seating: £25.00 including afternoon tea served at 2.00pm.


The Sixteen directed by Harry Christophers


Four centuries separate William Cornysh and Benjamin Britten, two representatives of English music at its finest. This concert looks at the way these composers mixed the sacred with the secular. While Cornysh’s sacred music is elaborate and rhythmically complicated, his secular music is simple and subtly evocative. Sacred and Profane is the last work Britten ever wrote for unaccompanied voices, choosing his medieval lyrics with great care.

Wednesday 11 July 7.30pm – c.9.15pm York Minster

Tickets £30.00 – £18.00



Thursday 12 July

GLORIANA AND AKBAR THE GREAT: Patronage and the Arts

The long and extraordinary reigns of Emperor Akbar (r.1556-1605) and Queen Elizabeth 1 (r.1558-1603) have given us two of history’s most charismatic and colourful figures. The end of Elizabeth and Akbar’s extensively chronicled reigns marked the birth of the momentous relationship between England and the Indian sub-continent.

This illustrated talk by director, writer and speaker Nima Poovaya-Smith, Director of arts organisation Alchemy, explores how both countries provide similar insights into the nature of patronage, power and the arts.

10.00am – c.11.00am NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £10.00 including coffee & biscuits on arrival


Nigel North & Michal Gondko lutes

MUSICA DUORUM: Lute duets from Renaissance Europe

In the 16th century the lute was a princely instrument throughout Europe, heard at courts from London to Rome to Copenhagen, and lutenists were often privy to political and private life at court. This concert presents gentle lute duets by Francesco da Milano, John Johnson, John Dowland and others.

Thursday 12 July 1.00pm – c.2.00pm St Olave’s Church, Marygate

Unreserved seating: £25.00 (concessions available)

www.nigelnorth.com      www.michalgondko.info


Uday Bhawalkar Dhrupad vocals

Pratap Awad pakhawaj


Hathor Consort

Anne Freitag renaissance flute / Thomas Baeté & Liam Fennelly viols / Romina Lischka viol, director


DHRUPAD FANTASIA: Gloriana and Akbar the Great

Dhrupad is the oldest form of Hindustani classical vocal music, a tradition which goes back almost 2000 years. Like Elizabethan consort music, it is intimate and meditative. In this meeting of the two worlds, both combine to create an entirely new sound in which the expressiveness of Dhrupad vocals joins with the instrumental eloquence of the viol consort.

Thursday 12 July 7.30pm – c.8.45pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £25.00 (concessions available)



Friday 13 July       


Franciska Anna Hajdu violin, voice / Elisabeth Champollion recorder / Alon Sariel lute, mandolin / David Budai viola da gamba, folk viola

IL TRANSILVANO: Music for a 16th– century Hungarian court

In 1541 the Ottoman army besieged and conquered the city of Buda. The Hungarian royal family fled to Transylvania, where the court was safe from attack but cut off from other European cultural centres. Music formed an important bridge to the outside world and the rustic sounds of Hungarian and Romanian music created a strong impression on Italian composers. Here Prisma present pieces in the context of the styles they have learned from local traditional musicians still active in Hungary, Transylvania and Romania.

Friday 13 July 1.00pm – c2.00pm Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate

Unreserved seating: £14.00 (concessions available)



Boxwood & Brass

Rachel Chaplin, Nicola Barbagli oboes / Emily Worthington, Fiona Mitchell clarinets / Anneke Scott, Kate Goldsmith horns / Robert Percival, Takako Kunugi bassoons / Jacqueline Dossor double bass


DECLINE AND FALL: Harmoniemusik from the twilight of the Holy Roman Empire

Harmoniemusik (wind music) was a favoured musical genre of the central European nobility in an era when cultural patronage was a means of displaying political power. This concert explores some of the most politically loaded music produced for the Harmonien at the time of the Napoleonic Wars and the decline of the Holy Roman Empire. Themes of tyranny, intrigue, freedom and revolution abound!

Beethoven (arr. Starke and Percival):     Egmont – Overture and Incidental Music

Mozart (arr. Triebensee):                      La clemenza di Tito – excerpts

Beethoven (arr. Anon 19th century):      Symphony No. 7

Friday 13 July 5.00pm – c. 6.15pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £18.00 (concessions available)



Yorkshire Baroque Soloists

Bethany Seymour soprano /  Nancy Cole, Helen Charlston mezzo sopranos /  Matthew Long, Ruari Bowen, Jonathan Hanley, Tom Kelly tenors / Frederick Long, Nicholas Ashby basses / Lucy Russell, Hetty Wayne violins / Rachel Gray cello / Lynda Sayce  theorbo / Peter Seymour organ, director


HEINRICH SCHÜTZ: Celebration, invention and deprivation

Schütz was the most gifted German composer of the 17th century. As with many of his colleagues, much of his music was shaped by the events of the Thirty Years War, when composers remained surprisingly inventive in producing a wide variety of styles and textures in the face of great horrors and deprivations. This all-Schütz concert covers the full range of music, including the composer’s great masterpiece Musikalisches Exequien, a meditation on life and death composed for a private patron.

Friday 13 July 8.00pm – c.9.15pm Chapter House, York Minster

Unreserved seating: £30.00 (concessions available)



Saturday 14 July

EEEmerging funding and supporting young emerging professional ensembles.

Showcasing the talents and successes of this four-year project, funded by colleagues from France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia www.ncem.co.uk/youngartists2019


Grace Newcombe voice, harp, direction / Ozan Karagöz voice / Jacob Mariani lute, viola d’arco / Félix Verry fiddle / Mara Winter flutes


Before the Hundred Years War, English was the language of commoners, third in importance after French and Latin, without social or political clout, and unwelcome in artistic society. Through poetry and song in English and French, Rumorum follows the wartime blossoming of a language as it finally gained political and artistic currency, from its late-14th-century roots to its acceptance in the most influential song forms of the 15th century.

Saturday 14 July 10.30am – c.11.30am Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate

Unreserved seating: £14.00 (concessions available)




Carlota Garcia flute / Izana Soria violin / Edouard Catalan cello / Ganael Schneider harpsichord


HENRI-JACQUES DE CROES: A transition of powers

We are delighted to welcome back to the stage the winners of the 2017 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, with a programme featuring the music of Belgian composer Henri-Jacques de Croes. BarrocoTout will remain in York after the festival to record their first album with Linn Records.

Saturday 14 July 1.00pm – c.2.00pm NCEM, St Margaret’s Church

Reserved seating: £14.00 (concessions available)



Voces Suaves

Lia Andres, Mirjam Berli, Christina Boner sopranos / Javier Robledano Cabrera, Jan Thomer altos / Dan Dunkelblum, Raphael Höhn tenors / Tobias Wicky baritone / Davide Benetti bass

 MADRIGALS AT YOUR SERVICE! The courts of Mantua and Ferrara

Madrigals dedicated to the ruling families in two of the most influential musical centres in Italy during the Renaissance: the Gonzagas in Mantua, and the D’Estes in Ferrara. The concert includes music by three of the most illustrious musicians of the time: Marenzio, Luzzaschi and Monteverdi.

Saturday 14 July 3.00pm – 4.00pm St Lawrence Church

Unreserved seating: £14.00 (concessions available)



Under 35s tickets

If you are under 35 or a full-time student, you can purchase £5.00 tickets for most concerts.

Call the Box Office on 01904 658338 or email boxoffice@ncem.co.uk

This is a limited offer and is on a first-come, first-served basis www.ncem.co.uk/U35



Fri Jul 6
Sat Jul 14
£10 – £30
Event Category:


Various venues across York
York, United Kingdom