York Early Music Festival 2012: 6th-14th July

United KingdomUnited Kingdom York Early Music Festival 2012 : A Preview from Bill Kenny

Crossing Borders

The 2012 York Early Music Festival (6 – 14 July) welcomes a wealth of first-class musicians from around the world to York in a wide-ranging programme of concerts and events which reflect the Olympic ideals of excellence, aspiration and international harmony and crosses over European borders by exploring the merging of musical cultures between Spain, Portugal and the Americas.

Delma Tomlin, Administrative Director, says: “We are thrilled to join in the Olympic celebrations with an exciting Festival which brings some of the world’s finest early music specialists from Europe, Spain and South America together in York. Many will present programmes that are based on music which was created in Europe, carried by missionaries to the Americas and then developed by the indigenous community into something unique for each country.

We are particularly delighted to share Ashley Solomon’s passion for and interest in music from the archives of the former Jesuit missions in Bolivia in three inspiring events including two of which involve the award-winning Arakaendar Bolivia Choir. It is also a huge honour to welcome back Jordi Savall and his outstanding ensemble Hespèrion XXI with a mesmerising programme of music from the Old and New Worlds which celebrates the improvisatory skills of musicians from around the globe. And finally, it is a great pleasure to welcome the talented and colourful young Swedish group Ensemble Villancico, which makes its UK debut at this year’s Festival, with their dazzling programme of Baroque music from Ecuador.”


The Sixteen directed by Harry Christophers perform The Earth Resounds, their 2012 Choral Pilgrimage concert, which features arguably three of the most celebrated composers from the Franco-Flemish School of the Renaissance: Brumel, Josquin and Lassus in a programme featuring Latin motets by all three composers which centres on movements from Brumel’s staggering Missa Et ecce terraemotus (the ‘Earthquake Mass’). (Friday 6 July, 7.30pm, York Minster)

Related event:

Insight Day: Members of The Sixteen join festival favourites, eminent musicologist John Milsom and music editor Sally Dunkley, for this unique 2012 tour Insight Day in which they explore the music of Josquin, Brumel and Lassus. (Saturday 7 July, 10.30am – 3.30pm, St George’s Church, Peel Street)

Florilegium, directed by Ashley Solomon, joins forces with the award-winning Arakaendar Bolivia Choir bringing their engaging and uplifting interpretations of the sacred and secular works from the hitherto unknown baroque music from the Jesuit missions in Boliva in a programme entitled Bolivian Baroque. Commissioned by imove, a cultural Olympiad programme in Yorkshire. (Saturday 7 July, 7.30pm, St Michael le Belfrey Church, High Petergate) This concert will be recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

Related events:

Music From the Missions The University of York Chamber Choir and the award-winning Arakaedar Bolivia Choir, in their first collaboration with singers outside Latin America, combine music from three substantial archives recently discovered in the Missions of the Moxos and Chiquitos Indians and the ‘silver city’ of La Plata. The concept behind the collaboration was designed to share cultures between young people from very different backgrounds and musical educations. (Friday 6 July, 1.00pm, NCEM, St Margaret’s Church)

In Conversation; Ashley Solomon explores the music and culture of 17th Century Bolivia with Dr Piotr Nawrot, Director of the Association of Art and Culture in Bolivia. Chaired by Lindsay Kemp. (Saturday 7 July, 11.00am, Fountains Lecture Hall, University of York St John)

Hesperion XXI directed by Jordi Savall viola da gamba, perform The Route of the New World; from Spain to Mexico, a programme which puts music from the Old and New World side by side and explores pieces based on the frenetic style of the Portuguese dance, the ‘Folia’, through the amazing improvisatory skills with which musicians from across the globe can enliven age-old musical patterns. Jordi Savall, one of the great figures of the early music world leads the ensemble. Earlier in the day Jordi Savall will be presented with the fourth biennial York Early Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award by Catherine Bott at the end of the live broadcast of the BBC Radio 3 Early Music Show.  (Sunday 8 July, 7.30pm, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York) This concert will be recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

Related event: Xavier Díaz-Latorre, the superb Spanish guitarist, performs regularly with world-renowned ensembles including Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations. In this programme he explores the idea of universal harmony in the music of the Jesuit priest Francisco Guerau’s Passacalles, Gaspr Sanz’s dances and improvisations and Santiago de Murcia who wove echoes of African dances with sounds from Spain, Italy and France. (Monday 9 July, 10.00pm, St Mary’s Church, Bishophill Junior)

Gallicantus, directed by Gabriel Crouch with Elizabeth Kenny lute perform their critically acclaimed programme Dialogues of Sorrow (Passions on the Death of Prince Henry – 1612) which reflects the huge outpouring of grief in both the sacred and secular music of the time of the young Prince’s tragically early death. (Monday 9 July, 7.00pm, NCEM, St Margaret’s Church)

Ensemble Villancico The outstanding Swedish based Ensemble Villancico, which has earned a global reputation for its interpretations of early Latin American music, makes its UK debut with a programme based on the Codex Ibarra manuscript which lay hidden in a cloister in the Andes town of Ibarra before its rediscovery in 2006. (Wednesday 11 July, 7.30pm, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York)

I Fagiolini directed by Robert Hollingworth, with The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, Rose Consort of Viols, Fretwork, The City Musick and the University of York Chamber Choir present Alessandro Striggio’s Mass in 40 parts (1566). Staged in the round in the glorious surroundings of York Minster this ‘Prom’ performance, is given by a rare mix of the UK’s finest artists and invites audiences to experience this astonishing music in a unique way among the tone-colours of one of the world’s most inspiring ancient buildings. By promenading between groups of musicians the audience will gain different perspectives on the amazing sound world this music creates and cross their own borders to create a new and individual musical experience. The programme also includes Striggio Ecce beatum lucem, Tallis Spem in alium and G. Gabrieli Magnificat a 20.28 con il sicut locutus. The 8.00pm performance is supported by imove a Cultural Olympiad programme in Yorkshire and is followed by a 10.15pm illuminated Prom, commissioned by imove. (Thursday 12 July, 8.00pm & 10.15pm, York Minster Central Nave)

Profetti della Quinta winners of the 2011 York Early Music Festival International Young Artists Competition celebrate the many faceted art of the Italian-Jewish composers Salomone Rossi with a programme of his beautiful and refined madrigals and polyphonic settings of Hebrew prayers and psalms which brought both modernity and elegant simplicity to the music of the synagogue. (Saturday 14 July, 1.00pm, NCEM, St Margaret’s Church)This concert will be recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

A number of Olympic-themed programmes feature throughout the 2012 York Early Music Festival. These include: An Olympic Truce, Compagnia d’Instumenti directed by Peter Seymour (Saturday 7 July, 1.00pm, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate); A London Marathon, The University of York Baroque Ensemble directed by Compagnia d’Instumenti (Tuesday 10 July, 1.00pm, NCEM, St Margaret’s Church) and a performance of the opera L’Olympiade comprising music by Pergolesi, Caldara, Vivaldi and Jommelli set to Metastasio’s text, performed by the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, directed by Peter Seymour and the winner of this year’s London Handel Singing Competition (Friday 13 July, 7.30pm, St Michael le Belfrey Church, High Petergate).

This year’s Festival also marks the City of York’s own remarkable history with York 800, a celebration of the charter given by King John on 9 July 1212, with The York Waits concert Mayors, Minstrels and Mysteries in the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, itself some 650 years old, on the exact day the charter was given some eight hundred years later. (Monday 9 July, 1.00pm, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate) Tickets: £5.00 to £25.00 are available from the NCEM at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL. Telephone: 01904 658338. Email: boxoffice@ncem.co.uk.

Bill Kenny


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. imove is a cultural programme for Yorkshire which has supported the Arakaendar Bolivia Choir and the first performance of the Striggio Mass and commissioned the late night performance of the Striggio Mass. imove is part of the Cultural Olympiad and the Legacy Trust UK’s cultural programme for Yorkshire in the lead-up to the London 2012 Games creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK. imove is also funded by Arts Council England www.imove.com

3. For the complete diary of performances and events please visit: www.ncem.co.uk/yemf