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York Early Music Festival 2013 (Friday 5 – Saturday 13 July) The Eternal City

The 2013 York Early Music Festival (5 - 13 July) focuses on the unrivalled musical heritage of Rome - The Eternal City - from the time of the medieval Popes, through the Renaissance polyphony of Palestrina, to the exuberant baroque of Handel. Central to this theme is the 300th anniversary of the iconic Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli who devoted his entire career to Rome and became a pivotal figure in the development of classical music. Guest artists in the 2013 Festival include three ensembles led by some of Italy's present day superstars - Riccardo Minasi (Musica Antiqua Roma); Fabio Bonizzoni (La Risonanza) and Patrizia Bovi (Ensemble Medusa).

Another anniversary to be celebrated in 2013 is the 450th anniversary of the birth of the English composer John Dowland. York offers a celebrity series of events involving countertenor Iestyn Davies; lutenists Thomas Dunford, Jakob Lindberg and Elizabeth Kenny; the Rose Consort of Viols and American virtuoso lutenist Paul O'Dette (Sat 6 - Sun 7 July).

Delma Tomlin, Administrative Director, says: "In the year which will now see the appointment of a new Pope in Rome, the Festival's celebration of the music of the Eternal City seems all the more pertinent. We are delighted that a host of today's finest international performers on lutes, viols and voices will join us in York to perform some of the most glorious works in the repertory from Palestrina to Handel. International guests include the acclaimed viol player Wieland Kuijken; The Sixteen directed by Harry Christophers and Stevie Wishart's Sinfoyne presenting a contemporary reflection on the music of Hildegard of Bingen - unveiled at the Vatican earlier in the season. Not to mention a unique collaboration, or rather 'staged battle', between members of the Theatre of the Ayre and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain as they explore the music of two composers both named Robert Johnson - one a Shakespearean lute player, the second a 20th-century blues singer-guitarist!

"This year's Festival culminates with the 2013 International Young Artists Competition. We are thrilled to welcome such a wealth of international talent to York as young musicians from 16 different countries join us for what promises to be an extremely exciting three days.

"The 29 events which make up the Festival include concerts, illustrated lectures and workshops from the earliest chant, found in medieval libraries across Europe, to Handel's sublime music for Vespers from his triumphant stay in Rome in 1707. Our events are presented in some of the City's most beautiful historic venues, and we hope this year's Festival will provide a treasure trove of musical offerings to our audiences and visitors to York."


Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Bach Soloists directed by Peter Seymour perform the Festival opening concert with extracts from music Handel provided for a Carmelite Vespers service for the feast of the Madonna del Carmine in July 1707 including the famous Dixit Dominus, along with another of the latest fashions of the time - a Corelli concerto grosso - and spectacular motets both large and small, with sopranos Mhairi Lawson and Bethany Seymour (who is supported by the BBC Performing Arts Fund).
 (Friday 5 July, 7.30pm, York Minster)

▪ Celebrating Dowland
 A series of events marking the 450th anniversary of the birth of one of England's greatest lutenists and song-composers featuring:

' Behold a wonder here ' Lutenist Elizabeth Kenny chairs a discussion with Roger Savage, John Bryan, Michael Gale and Christopher Goodwin of the UK Lute Society, exploring Dowland's role at the centre of European music in the late renaissance, his significance then and now, and what his music has to offer to the 21st-century.
 (Saturday 6 July, 10.00am - c.11.00am NCEM, St Margaret's Church)

Jakob Lindberg lute: 'Whose heavenly touch upon the lute doth ravish human sense'
The distinguished Swedish lutenist, Jakob Lindberg, presents an anthology of this extraordinarily varied repertoire, playing it on a rare surviving lute from Dowland's lifetime  crafted by Sixtus Rauwolf, in Augsburg around 1590.
(Saturday 6 July, 1.00pm - c.2.00pm NCEM, St Margaret's Church)

Iestyn Davies countertenor and Thomas Dunford lute: The Art of Melancholy
A recital which places Dowlands songs amongst those of his contemporaries including Robert Johnston, Thomas Campion and John Danyel, and which throws open a window on the famous quotation from Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), that melancholy is 'known to few, unknown to fewer'.
(Saturday 6 July, 3.30pm - c.4.30pm St Olave's Church, Marygate)

Rose Consort of Viols: 'Teares of Sorrowe and Gladnesse'
The concert features some of Dowland's greatest ayres and lute solos, together with devotional songs, solo songs with viols, and his incomparable dance music. Along with vocal and instrumental pieces by Mogens Pederson and Melchior Borchgrevinck, and music by
Marenzio and Lassus who inspired him.
(Saturday 6 July, 7.30pm - c.9.30pm Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York)

Paul O'Dette lute: Dowland's Grand Tour
Celebrated USA lutenist, Paul O'Dette's programme traces Dowland's travels through Europe, presenting the music he might have heard on his trip including works by John Johnson, Jacques Polonais, Gregory Huwet, Melchior Neusidler, Simone Molinaro and alongside works by Dowland himself.
(Sunday 7 July 10.00pm - c.11.00pm NCEM, St Margaret's Church)

Musica Antiqua Roma directed by Riccardo Minasi:  Approaching Corelli
The brilliant Riccardo Minasi and his outstanding ensemble make their YEMF debut with a programme which explores the vibrant setting which formed the background to Corelli's achievements, performing works by some of his brilliant but less well-known Roman predecessors and contemporaries.
 (Sunday 7 July, 7.00pm - c.9.00pm Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York)

La Risonanza directed by Fabio Bonizzoni: Voicing Corelli
 Fabio Bonizzoni's award-winning ensemble presents a unique programme of vocal duets on sacred texts ingeniously adapted from Corelli's trio sonatas by his contemporary admirer Antonio Tonelli, interspersing them with examples of the real thing and a secular duet by Handel, written in London but recalling his own youthful days in Rome, with Yetzabel Arias Fernandez soprano and Elena Biscuola alto.
(Monday 8 July 7.00pm - c.9.00pm Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York)

Ensemble Medusa directed by Patrizia Bovi: Lucrezia .... the daughter of the Pope
The dazzling Ensemble Medusa directed by the charismatic Patrizia Bovi, brings together music which reflects the life and passions of Lucrezia Borgia from the time of the papal court in Rome to Naples and finally to the Este court in Ferrara, where she was a grand patron of composers such as Bartolomeo Tromboncino.
(Monday 8 July, 10.00pm - c.11.00pm NCEM, St Margaret's Church)

Lutes 'n' Ukes - Theatre of the Ayre vs The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
The Devil at the Crossroads: Robert Johnson(s)
The vogue for 'twangling instruments' in the masquing halls of 17th-century England and the ukulele boom at whose apex sits The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain were just waiting to be connected...Let battle commence on a journey through the music of Robert Johnson(s) of 19th century blues singer-guitarist fame and the earlier, Shakespearean lute player, Johnson.
(Tuesday 9 July 7.30pm Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York)

Mark Tucker tenor Paula Chateauneuf chitarrone: Songs of Religious and Erotic Passion from Rome
A concert exploring the mingling of the spiritual and the sensual in Roman music of the
17th century, featuring works by Frescobaldi, Mazzocchi, Carissimi, Luigi Rossi's pop-style tune for a brooding lover, and the recently discovered Ancidetemi pur for chitarrone by Kapsberger.
(Wednesday 10 July, 1.00pm - c.2.00pm St Olave's Church, Marygate)

Sinfonye with University of York Chamber Choir: Vespers for St Hildegard composed and directed by Stevie Wishart
A creative re-imagining of a choral evensong, devised in honour of Hildegard of Bingen - the 12th-century composer, nun and visionary who was made a Saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church in 2012. Performed in St Peter's Rome in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI in October, the piece receives its first concert performance in St Peter's York. The music, for voices, harp, organ and bells, is based on the Benedictine service of Vespers and consists of psalms, antiphons and canticles, interweaving plainchant, polyphony and some of Hildegard's own melodies.
(Wednesday 10 July, 7.30pm - c.8.45pm The Quire of York Minster)

York Early Music International Young Artists Competition
This prestigious biennial competition, which this year welcomes talented ensembles from the UK, across Europe, and musicians from as far afield as Israel and Japan, includes a non-competitive showcase performance at the National Centre for Early Music across two fascinating days of concerts and informal workshops in the company of the distinguished singer, coach and language specialist Richard Jackson.
(Thursday 11 - Saturday 13 July, at 10.15am & 2.15pm NCEM, St Margaret's Church)

Wieland Kuijken : Virtuoso Viol
One of the world's greatest players explores some of the highlights of French virtuoso viol repertoire including music by Corelli and Couperin with Asako Morikawa viols and Terence Charlston harpsichord.
(Thursday 11 July, 7.30pm - c.9.30pm Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York)

The Sixteen with Harry Christophers director: The Queen of Heaven
The Sixteen's programme focusses on Palestrina's Missa Regina Caeli, seen by many in his own time and since as a paragon of flawless and elegant Renaissance polyphony, alongside other exquisite works by Palestrina are the famous Allegri Miserere and three motets by the leading contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan.
(Friday 12 July, 7.30pm - c.9.15pm York Minster)

The Choir of York Minster with Robert Sharpe director: Rome in York Minster
A glorious musical journey from Rome to York, featuring the works of Palestrina and Victoria and bringing to life one of the treasures of York Minster's historic collection, placing the mass
movements from Palestrina's famous Missa Papae Marcelli alongside Victoria motets and plainsong from the York Missal, manuscripts of which are held in the Minster Library. The programme has been designed to celebrate the opening of new ground-breaking interactive displays in the Undercroft, 'Revealing York Minster: A heroic, human and historic journey', transporting visitors on a 2000-year journey from York Minster's Roman foundations to the modern day.
(Saturday 13 July, 7.30pm York Minster)

Full programme details available at:

Tickets: £5.00 to £25.00 are available from the NCEM at St Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL. Telephone: 01904 658338. Email: Secure online booking at:


Press Contact:
Shona Galletly, on behalf of National Centre for Early Music
m: 07813 796 733

Editors Notes:

1. York Early Music Festival is supported by the Arts Council England, Yorkshire, Media partner BBC Radio 3, the National Centre for Early Music, Tourism partners Welcome to Yorkshire, the City of York Council and members of the York Hoteliers Association.

2. For the complete diary of performances and events please visit: