Beverley spellbound by 2018 New Paths music festival

Last week Beverley was ‘taken-over’ by the New Paths music festival which stunned locals and festivalgoers alike with its scale and exuberance. Now in its third year, New Paths presented its biggest and boldest festival yet, a kaleidoscope of musical styles and performers across fifteen different venues, celebrating the town and the people in it. The flagship ‘Musical Takeover of the Town’ – an entire day of free performances throughout Beverley – featured music everywhere from Saturday Market to the Beck, with the town mascot Bertie Beaver leading the trail, and the vintage Beverley Bar Bus joining the celebrations. The festival attracted a large audience from all over the country, and numerous events were sold out.

“We’re delighted that Beverley can boast of being home to one of the most exciting and dynamic new classical music festivals in the land. The town is a constant source of inspiration for us in programming the festival, and the musicians adore it. We are enormously grateful to the people of the East Riding for giving them such a warm welcome”

said Roland Deller, founder of New Paths.

The town welcomed over thirty of the country’s leading classical musicians for a festival packed with over forty musical events, exploring particularly Scandinavian music and – paying homage to Beverley’s most famous festival of all – folk-inspired music. Over 4,000 people encountered world-class classical music during the festival.

A gallery of photos, capturing the vast array of events can be viewed here:

Reflecting on the enormous success of the community event, New Paths’ artistic director Libby Burgess said:

“We had an absolute ball last week, and are thrilled at the reception New Paths has had from locals and visitors alike. We believe passionately that music is for everyone and are so excited at the way we’ve been able to build up new audiences, as well as cherish existing music-lovers. We’re very proud that local children made up a quarter of our audience and that 70% of our events were free. I have no interest in dumbing down what music we offer – our programming is hugely eclectic, as quality speaks for itself whether to an expert or a total newbie – but at New Paths we are hugely interested in exploring new ways of presenting music, to show that it can be a part of life everywhere and for everyone.”

The programme was replete with music by living composers, a number of whom visited Beverley especially. Of the sixteen works by living composers performed in the festival, two were world premieres of pieces commissioned by the festival: Viking Voyage by Hollywood film composer David Buckley; and Two English Folk Songs by Diana Burrell. Diana is celebrating her 70th birthday this year and the commission was funded by the Finzi Friends, who supported a day exploring Finzi’s music.

Eight of the events in the festival gave a performance platform to amateur musicians and children and also to three highly talented young organists selected by Oundle for Organists, who took part in a masterclass and whose superb performances in Beverley Minster during the Musical Takeover of the Town drew a large crowd.

Three new instruments were added to the mix this year: harp; double bass; and recorder! Ian Wilson’s electrifying performance of Handel recorder sonatas in the beautiful courtroom of the Guildhall was so popular that he had to repeat it.  Ian was joined by Eleanor Turner (harp) and Marianne Schofield (double bass) for the sell-out concert ‘At Sixes and Sevens’ in the Beverley Art Gallery where they, and other New Paths artists, performed in front of the world’s largest cattle painting!

It is impossible to pick out highlights from such a joyful and intense festival but if we had to mention three very special moments, they would be:

  1. The performance of Viking Voyage by pupils from Frederick Holmes School in Hull (for children with severe physical disabilities and profound and multiple needs) alongside New Paths artists, to a packed Toll Gavel United Church.  The performance received a unanimous standing ovation and brought many in the audience to tears.  It was an emotional culmination to an extremely enjoyable project.
  2. The Songs of Praise concert in St Mary’s Church on Sunday afternoon, which showcased the beautiful singing of our choir in residence, that of Jesus College Cambridge, in Schubert’s setting of Psalm 23 and in Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs – in which the choir was joined by baritone Nicholas Merryweather and other New Paths artists.
  3. The matinee show Larkin’ About, in which celebrated local actor Malcolm Tomlinson gave touching and entertaining renditions of Larkin’s poetry in a ‘living room’ setting at the East Riding Theatre. Caroline MacPhie and Carris Jones sang settings of Larkin by Huw Watkins and Thomas Hyde, and the programme also featured settings of Auden and Hardy – who both influenced Larkin – alongside music reflecting his jazz tastes.

For some the Ceilidh was an unforgettable party!  For others, time stood still during the exquisite singing of Katherine Broderick and Katarina Karnéus.  And many people were profoundly moved by the late-night events – Compline in St Mary’s and Transfigured Night in St John of Beverley RC Church.

But the overwhelming impact of the festival appears to have been the energy of the performances and the convivial atmosphere of the events.

We are chuffed that our audience is champing at the bit for our 2019 dates, which will be announced to our mailing list (subscribe here) as soon as they are decided. Meanwhile, we are honoured to have been asked to take on the running of the Beverley Chamber Music Festival, of which Libby will be co-Artistic Director with Martin Roscoe. The 2018 dates for this are 26th – 29th September.

There are exciting plans in the pipeline for our future projects, none of which we could carry out without the tireless support of our audience. We are especially grateful for the particular financial support given to New Paths by our circle of Friends. Just a few months after launching our Friends scheme we are delighted to have attracted over 90 Friends. We would love to reach 100: please do consider supporting New Paths in this way.