What to look for in autumn …

23rd August 2019

We are hugely excited that the 2019 Beverley Chamber Music Festival opens in five weeks.  Join locals and festivalgoers from across the country in the East Riding this autumn (25th – 28th September) for a ‘harvest’ of exceptional music-making.  Whilst combines trundle over the Yorkshire Wolds we look forward to garnering-in fifteen outstanding musicians in the beautiful market town of Beverley next month.  Just as bumper crop yields are forecast this year, ticket sales over the summer months have been abundant!  Don’t delay in buying yours – some performances will be virtually sold-out in the coming weeks.

“Silver chains of sound”

‘The Lark Ascending’, Jennifer Pike’s recital with Martin Roscoe on Saturday 28th September, is sure to be one of the most popular events in the whole festival – it will be a full house at St Mary’s that night.  The concert marks the culmination of our journey through the three great chamber works of Elgar with his passionate Violin Sonata.  It also includes Vaughan Williams’ Romance, The Lark Ascending, the epitome of English pastoral nostalgic beauty.

One corner of the East Riding where skylarks can be seen and heard is the North Cave Wetlands, which lie 11 miles to the west of Beverley.  The nature reserve is a haven for kingfisher, avocet, emperor dragonfly, ringed and little ringed plover, lapwing and oystercatcher.  A seasonal highlight during the festival is the tree sparrow.

The North Cave Wetlands mark one of the three points on the Yorkshire Nature Triangle – one of the UK’s best-kept wildlife secrets.  We’re pleased to feature the wetlands in this newsletter as we’ve highlighted the two other iconic points of the triangle in previous bulletins – Spurn Point and Flamborough Cliffs.  And so our ‘triangulation’ of the region is now complete!

Inspired by that map of the county we trace a three-cornered ‘star chart’ through the festival in this newsletter, featuring the performers in our artwork – Jennifer Pike, Kitty Whately and Laura van der Heijden.

Discover some of the best in British wildlife during your visit to the festival this autumn, but don’t forget to pack your binoculars!  If you do visit North Cave then treat yourself to brunch, lunch or afternoon tea at nearby Drewton’s on the Drewton Estate.

Vaughan Williams took a selection of lines from George Meredith’s poem – which beautifully capture the flight song of the skylark – as the inspiration for his famous piece of music.  He wrote them out by hand on the front cover of the manuscript which can be viewed online at The British Library (along with autograph scores of other classics such as Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’):

“He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,

For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes;

Till, lost on his aërial rings
In light… and then the fancy sings.”

“Wings of dreams”

The midpoint of the festival is ‘Godiva’ on Friday 27th September in which mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately is joined by Libby Burgess and Sarah-Jane Bradley.  Their recital takes us on a journey woven through tales of folklore and love.  It includes beautiful songs for voice, viola and piano by Bridge and Brahms.  The first song in each set drifts into nature:

Bridge sets words from Matthew Arnold’s poem, Parting

“Far, far from each other
Our spirits have grown.
And what heart knows another?
Ah! who knows his own?

Blow, ye winds! lift me with you!
I come to the wild.
Fold closely, O Nature!
Thine arms around thy child.

Ah, clam me! restore me!
And dry up my tears
On thy high mountain platforms,
Where Morn first appears”

And Brahms turns to the poetry of Friedrich Rückert-

“Bathed in golden evening light,
How solemnly the forests stand!
The evening winds mingle softly
With the soft voices of the birds
What do the winds, the birds whisper?
They whisper the wold to sleep.

But you, my desires, ever stirring
In my heart without respite!
You, my longing, that agitates my breast –
When will you rest, when will you sleep?
The winds and the birds whisper,
But when will you, yearning desires, slumber?

Ah, when my spirit no longer hastens
On wings of dreams into golden distances,
When my eyes no longer dwell yearningly
On eternally remote stars;
Then shall the winds, the birds whisper
My life – and my longing – to sleep.”

Translation © Richard Stokes (a speaker at the 2019 New Paths Spring Festival)

We cannot wait to welcome this outstanding song singer to Beverley.  Later in the autumn Kitty appears at the Oxford Lieder Festival.  We are so proud that Beverley is making its mark on the song map of the UK.

The Cello’s Voice

The final star in this constellation of the festival is cellist Laura van der Heijden whose recital with Libby, ‘The Cello’s Voice’ on Thursday 26th September, includes what will be for many the summit of our journey through Russian chamber music, Rachmaninov’s passionate Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano.  Here she is playing live on national TV in the Netherlands a track from on her critically acclaimed debut album “1948” which won an Edison Classical Music Award in 2018:

The Rock of Cashel & St Barnabas

 We are delighted that the festival includes a rare exhibition of linocuts by Andrew Anderson.  Andrew’s linocuts are on a monumental scale and the exhibition (which runs from 19th – 30th September) features the two largest linocuts he ever made – The Rock of Cashel and St Barnabas (which is 7 ft high).  Andrew was the inspecting architect of St Mary’s for a number of years and the church is proud to be hosting this special exhibition.  Entry to the exhibition is free and we hope that festivalgoers will enjoy viewing the works between concerts.

Norwich City FC fans will be delighted to know that Andrew designed the team’s badge in the late 1960’s! He tells the amusing story here.

Destination Beverley!

Get the new cultural season off to a flying start by spending a day or weekend at the festival – a place where music, art, poetry, history, architecture, cheap beer and countryside coalesce.  Experience the unique destination that is Beverley in five weeks’ time.


The above image and the image of harvesting at the top of this newsletter are by the local photographer, Nick Hedges.  Nick is the son of the late Tony Hedges, who was a much-loved supporter of the festival for many years.  Tony died earlier this year and we will be dedicating one of the concerts in the festival to his memory.  We’ll share more news about that in our next newsletter.  We hope that it will be a fitting tribute to a cherished and much-admired figure in the region’s musical community.