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The Glittering World of the 16th Century is brought to life in a Major Art Exhibition from Flanders at Beverley Minster

As part of the 30th Anniversary celebrations of the Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival this May 2017, and playing its part in Hull UK City of Culture 2017, the Festival will host a free seven-week art exhibition and installation in Beverley Minster, bringing to life the work of Petrus Alamire, musical scribe, composer, singer and spy. 

The exhibition, Through the Looking Glass Friday 26 May - Sunday 16 July is the first of its kind for the Beverley Early Music Festival in this significant cultural year, and it arrives direct from Antwerp Cathedral, ahead of a pan-European tour that ends in New York. The music manuscripts of the German-Dutch Petrus Alamire (1470 - 1536)  belonged to some of the most glittering personalities of the time and are some of the most decorated illustrated choirbooks in history, with some of the most intriguing stories. They portray the opulent world of the 16th century, lived in by rulers, noblemen, musicians and even spies.  

The main focus of the exhibition is the installation Speculum Musurgica by Flemish visual and music artist Rudi Knoops. The heptagonal media installation, which will fill the Minster transept both visually and audibly, consists of large-scale mirror structures and sound projections inviting visitors to walk in and around them, as the physical choirbooks themselves would have done. Two seven-voice compositions are performed by Paul Van Nevel and the Huelgas Ensemble from Leuven, and they provide a snapshot of the time, where music united performers and audiences through storytelling and imagery.

Each of the seven singers is projected individually, for both sound and vision and in the centre of the installation, the multiple layers come together into a surround sound.

Artist Rudi Knoops says: "In this multi-layered universe, visitors choose for themselves which individual musical lines to emphasise. They go in search of interesting perspectives - whether auditory, visual or a combination of the two - and create their own individual experience of the polyphonic music performed."

Fifty large format digital displays of some of the most decorated pages of the manuscripts, will also form part of the exhibition. With translations and explanations for some of them, and additional digital content to explore, there is plenty to discover at the Minster during this time. 

Delma Tomlin MBE, Festival Director and Director of the National Centre for Early Music, says: "This really is the icing on the cake for the Beverley Early Music Festival. We are delighted to present such a beautiful and fascinating free exhibition in Beverley Minster, in this our 30th anniversary year.

"We are extremely thankful to all our partners and supporters who have enabled us to get to this point, and we truly believe that the installation, and its family accessible discovery packs, contributes further to what is an extraordinary year for culture in the region, as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017."

There are many opportunities to understand more about Alamire and his music throughout the wider Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival, which takes place Friday 26 - Monday 29 May. Many of the performances and family activities take their inspiration from the works and life of Alamire. Hailed as one of the most skilled music scribes of his time, Alamire led an illustrious life, which saw him acting as a spy for the court of King Henry VIII of England, undercover as a merchant of music manuscripts.

A highlight of the Festival Exhibition is the Discovery Pack for Youngsters.
Young visitors aged 5-11 years are invited to visit Beverley Minster to delve deeper into the spy stories ad are helped by a 'Curiouser and Curiouser' discovery pack at the Minster. The free to borrow pack enables them to learn about Petrus Alamire's double life as a spy for Henry VIII and includes activities such as cracking secret codes, creating bespoke illuminated letters and finding out more about the music preserved within the pages of Alamire's amazing manuscripts. The National Centre for Early Music has created the pack, with funding from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Andrew Daines, UK and Ireland Director of VISITFLANDERS says; "Early Music enthusiasts will be familiar with the reputation that Flanders has gained over centuries in the creation of music manuscripts and composition. Today, its exceptional concert halls and historic art cities such as Leuven, Antwerp and Bruges provide the perfect backdrop for the enjoyment of a full and varied choice of early music concerts like the MA festival (Bruges) and the Laus Polyphoniae (Antwerp) both held annually in August. 

"The Alamire Foundation itself is based at Park Abbey, just outside the centre of Leuven, and organises a number of polyphonic concerts held in the Abbey church." 

Bart Demuyt, Director of the Alamire Foundation and of AMUZ, says: "We are very proud to start our international Alamire 'grand tour' in Beverley thanks to the long existing collaboration between AMUZ, Flanders Festival Antwerp, Alamire Foundation and the NCEM.  We both share the passion for spreading the splendid musical heritage. "

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Editors Notes:
*Petrus Alamire's manuscripts - the motet Memorare Mater Christi of Matthaeus Pipelare, and the anonymous chanson Proch Dolor, an elegy on the death of Emperor Maximilian.

The 2017 Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival is supported by Principal Partner East Riding of Yorkshire Council; Arts Council England; the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust; EEEmerging: Creative Europe Culture, OAE Education and the National Centre for Early Music. 

The first Beverley Early Music Festival was held in 1988. This year the Festival was awarded an Active Creative Grant from East Riding of Yorkshire Council, as part of Hull 2017. 

The Alamire Foundation was founded in 1991 as a co-operative association between the University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Musicology Research Unit) and the non-profit organisation Musica (Impulse Centre for Music) and is the International Centre for the study of early music in the low countries. 

Based in Park Abbey in Leuven, Belgium, its mission is to undertake, stimulate, and co-ordinate innovative research on music and musical life in the Low Countries from the early Middle Ages until 1800. It uses state-of-the art methods, including digital preservation. Through a continuous dialogue with scholars and musicians all over the world, the Alamire Foundation thus offers a unique and leading forum for both research and music practice.
For more information about Park Abbey see 

The exhibition has been created by the Alamire Foundation (BE, Leuven) and AMUZ, Flanders Festival Antwerp (BE). AMUZ, Flanders Festival Antwerp is an international music centre, hosting cultural, educational and research activities. The concert programme of AMUZ is inspired by the criteria of Historically Informed Performance (HIP): on the basis of a historically valid approach, music from all periods, styles and cultures is presented to a broad public in a creative, re-invigorating and accessible way. 

The Festival gives thanks to VisitFlanders and to the Flemish Government.

Press Contact: 
Lindsey Porter, on behalf of National Centre for Early Music 
m: 07568 309154 /