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Beverley Early Music Festival 2013 Report

The 2013 Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival ran from Wednesday 22nd - Sunday 26th May - engaging some 20 professional early music specialists from across the UK who, together with student musicians from the Universities of York and Hull and over 50 year 7 and 8 pupils from Beverley Grammar and Girls' High Schools, presented a series of 10 concerts and 2 vocal workshops.
 
The Festival, which started life in 1988 at the behest of the local authority, celebrates music of the Middle Ages through to the baroque presented within some of the East Riding's finest architectural venues including Beverley Minster, St Mary's Church, Beverley Guildhall and Beverley Friary.   The Festival draws in tourists as well as local residents and mixes classical concerts, workshops, talks and opportunities to celebrate the historical culture of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
 
The highlight of the 2013 Festival for pupils, parents, school governors and council representatives was the residency of members of the acclaimed Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) in Beverley Grammar and Girls' High Schools which was planned in the spring of 2012, and culminated in a week-long residency in Beverley as part of the Festival.   Mixing the music of 18th century English composer Henry Purcell with work on Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'  the project concluded with a public performance at St Mary's Church on Thursday 23rd led by composer James Redwood and involving over 100 musicians in total.  Professional highlights  continued with a well-received recital by the world famous harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock and the vocal ensemble Gallicantus who presented a beautiful programme of Lassus and Tallis and concluded with the fun-loving Carnival Band who gave us a 'festival first' spreading their Saturday evening concert across two venues - Toll Gavel United Church and the local tavern whilst focusing on the music written for 'everyday people' between Shakespeare's death in 1616 and Queen Victoria's coronation in 1837. Other events included harpist Leah Stuttard unveiling the intriguing story of 15th century wool merchant George Cely in the Georgian splendour of the Beverley Friary;  winners of the 2007 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition Le Jardin Secret performed against the elements in the Quire of Beverley Minster (their recital marking the death of Mary Queen of Scots was accompanied by howling winds and hail) and students from the University of Hull gave a recital making a very welcome return to the Festival.
 
The Festival also included two vocal workshops presented by the director of Gallicantus, Gabriel Crouch, and folk/early music specialist, Vivien Ellis, both providing variety and musical training over the weekend.   Both workshops played to capacity audiences and both were clearly much enjoyed with one member of the audience commenting " let me repeat what I said to you in Toll Gavel Chapel: the Lassus workshop with Gabriel Crouch was a wonderful experience. I learned more in four hours about vocal music of the High Renaissance (and how to perform it) than from many hours of reading over the years. Gabriel was excellent. I do hope further workshops of the same kind will be possible at future festivals."

To see the film of the educational residency with students from Beverley Grammar and Girls' High School working with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the University of York please click here