National Centre for Early Music

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Minster Minstrels - Jo Wherry


Jo Wherry
Minster Minstrels is York's youth early music ensemble for school-age musicians of any instrument. Directed by Ailsa Batters, the ensemble learns how to interpret the wide variety of music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods with authentic character and style. They perform regularly, including appearances at York Early Music Festival and York Early Music Christmas Festival, as well as taking part in Music Hub events throughout the year. There are also opportunities to work with professional musicians in workshops and master-classes and to attend early music concerts to hear and see them in action. Minster Minstrels is run by the NCEM in partnership with York Music Hub, with support from Mayfield Valley Arts Trust. 

"I joined the Minster Minstrels at its foundation and continued playing with the ensemble until I was 18. During these years the group helped me grow in confidence with my playing as well as giving me invaluable chamber music skills. The way in which the tutors explained the pieces made a huge impact on the sessions. We were given the context behind the music - something which, as a student studying and practising historically informed performance, I value as being of huge importance.

I went on from Minster Minstrels to study at the University of Huddersfield, where I was a member of the Early Music Ensemble, in which I sang, and played the baroque violin, treble viol and the medieval vielle. The opportunities at University have been fantastic and my time with the Minster Minstrels definitely played an integral role in my decision to pursue a career in music."

Jo went on to receive a scholarship to study for an MMus in Early Music Studies at Newcastle University, where she continues to focus on early string playing, including a research project on amateur viol music and performance. Jo will be returning to Minster Minstrels as an Intern in Autumn 2016 to pass on her knowledge and enthusiasm for Early Music to the next generation of York-based young musicians.