National Centre for Early Music

[Skip navigation]
Navigation Menu

York Early Music Festival 2018 - Power & Politics

22 February 2018

Power & Politics
York Early Music Festival 2018

Power and politics, one of the most seductive, intoxicating and pertinent subjects of the modern age, is the overarching theme of the York Early Music Festival 2018, taking place Friday 6 - Saturday 14 July.

Highlighting that nothing in the world is new, music from across 400 years illustrates conflicts from medieval popes to Napoleon, punctuated along the way by the Catholic Church's endeavours to bring order to the clergy, the politics of England during the English Civil War, and a glimpse into the opulent court of Louis XIV.

Comments Delma Tomlin, MBE, York Early Music Festival Administrative Director: "Throughout all the chaos and conflict, from the medieval popes to Beethoven, the resilience of musicians to continue with their lives, travelling across borders, exchanging ideas and rebuilding society, is something to be marvelled at. We are delighted to present this year's programme and what we believe is a very strong and relevant theme.

"This Festival is a celebration of the human spirit. And our spirits could not be any higher as we welcome musicians of the uppermost calibre and reputation to our vibrant and culturally alive York City. 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, as Sollazzo Ensemble - winners of the 2015 International Young Artists Competition - return to perform. In two years they have already established an international career, and their inaugural CD Parle qui veut: Moralizing Songs of the Middle Ages has received the highest accolades. They are joined by four ensembles of exceptional talent: Prisma, Voces Suaves, Rumorum and BarrocoTout (winners of the York International Young Artists Competition in 2017). We are looking forward to the energy and enthusiasm from these young performers, to add to the mix of a full and exciting programme ahead for the York Early Music Festival."

The biennial York Early Music Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented during the Festival to acclaimed harpsichordist and long-term supporter of the National Centre for Early Music, Trevor Pinnock.

York Early Music Festival, Highly Recommended in the Best Cultural Event, York Culture Awards, 2017.
The Festival is supported in a three-year partnership by specialist insurers, Hiscox Insurance.

Full programme details are available at:

Tickets: £30.00 to £10.00 are available from the NCEM at St Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL. Telephone: 01904 658338. Email: Secure online booking at:

Festival Programme 6 - 14 July 2018

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)

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

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  
This is a limited offer and is on a first-come, first-served basis  

Tickets: £30.00 to £10.00 are available from the NCEM at St Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL. Telephone: 01904 658338. Email: Secure online booking at:


Editors Notes:
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 and Visit York; the City of York Council; selected hotels and Creative Europe - the Culture Programme of the European Union.

The headline sponsor Hiscox Insurance is working alongside JW Creers Chartered Accountants; Harrowells Solicitors; Shepherd Building Group; University of York; Dean & Chapter, York and the many individuals who support the organisation through anonymous donations and by buying tickets each year.

The Minster Minstrels is run as a partnership between the NCEM and York Music Centre with support from the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust.  For details of the weekly programme

York Early Music Festival is a member of REMA, the European Early Music Network and works alongside tourism partners Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit York, with particular thanks to  
The Grange Hotel / Middlethorpe Hall & Spa / Queens Hotel / Doubletree by Hilton, York / Novotel

The NCEM is engaged in a partnership programme with colleagues in France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia entitled EEEmerging, which is funded through Creative Europe and is designed to support young emerging professional ensembles.  See    

Thanks go to the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust and York Music Hub for their on-going support.

Press Contact: Lindsey Porter
PR & Communications
mob: 07568 309154