Celebrating 40 years of the York Early Music Festival
A 40th anniversary is clearly a significant milestone causing us both to celebrate and to review the changes that have occurred during that period. The Festival is full of opportunities to meet and discuss ideas, old and new, and we are particularly pleased to present programmes by both John Bryan and Peter Seymour who were here at the beginning, and are still going strong!
There is also a host of talented younger artists and ensembles to celebrate. We particularly commend NCEM Platform Artists the Consone String Quartet (Tues 11th) and artists taking part in the 2017 International Young Artists Competition as musicians join us from as far afield as Russia, Japan, Israel, the UK and across continental Europe for two days of informal concerts (13th & 14th), followed by the Competition Day on Saturday 15th.
2017 also marks the anniversaries of two giants of the early music world – Monteverdi and Telemann. Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers is an enduring favourite and makes a spectacular festival opening concert as we present Robert Hollingworth and I Fagiolini (themselves celebrating their 30th anniversary) in a unique promenade performance in York Minster (Fri 7th). Telemann’s music is universally enjoyed and is represented here by both the youthful University of York Baroque Ensemble (Mon 10th), and through the genius of gamba specialist Richard Boothby (Thurs 13th).
It is perhaps timely that we are also commemorating the Reformation – a time of considerable change for the peoples of Europe. 500 years later there are some uncomfortable parallels so it is appropriate that we are taking time for reflection through the music of that great Lutheran Bach with soloists Kati Debretzeni, Carole Cerasi and Alison McGillivray (10th, 11th & 12th) and with a semi-staged production of the St Matthew Passion directed by Thomas Guthrie (Wed 12th).
Other artists joining in the festivities also include the award-winning vocal ensemble Cinquecento making their York debut in the Chapter House of the Minster (Sat 8th); the sparklingly virtuosic B’Rock Orchestra performing the music of Haydn, Mozart and Boccherini (Sun 9th); The Sixteen directed by Harry Christophers (Tues 11th) and medievalists Mala Punica led by their innovative director Pedro Memelsdorff (Fri 14th).
Further highlights include the culmination of our schools’ ‘Bassoon Extravaganza’ programme alongside the NCEM’s youth group The Minster Minstrels (Sun 9th) and a special birthday ‘Come and Sing’ performance of Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in alium which is open to everyone and should prove to be a very suitable way to celebrate a birthday (Fri 14th). One way or another, there’s every reason to think that the fifth decade of YEMF will be every bit as exciting as the first four and we look forward to seeing you!