Founder Roland Deller appeared in interview this morning on BBC Radio Humberside, along with violin maker Peter Hall, who is hosting today’s string events. Listen again here!
The festival begins this Thursday!
As the primroses unfurl on the Yorkshire Wolds, we are reminded that the month of May is on the horizon and it will soon be time to celebrate the feast day of St. John of Beverley. For centuries pilgrims have made their way to Beverley to visit the shrine of this kindly saint in Beverley Minster. The wonderful musicians of the first New Paths festival in Beverley – the country’s leading young professional musicians – have already started to arrive in town, journeying to be here from all corners of the British Isles. In the coming days they will be joined by festival-goers coming from even further afield, all eager to enjoy the spectacular array of concerts and events taking place from Thursday until Sunday and to explore the region.
We are delighted that the first stop on our pilgrimage this Thursday is the stunning Beverley Minster. At the opening concert in the atmospheric South Transept of the Minster we are treated to a lavish combination of chamber music and song, including Brahms’s Violin Sonata in D minor, Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in Eb major, songs by Schubert and Clara Schumann, and a performance by Nick Pritchard of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte. It is pleasing that in this, the first ever song cycle written 200 years ago in April 1816, poet and composer use the tender image of primroses sleeping to capture a sense of tranquillity in nature.
On the other hand, Clara Schuman’s virtuosic song, Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen, to be sung by Mary Bevan, brilliantly paints a picture of a woman waiting for her lover making a turbulent journey through storm and rain. We wish you all a smooth journey: you can be sure of a warm welcome and some terrific music.
The Easter Bunny!
The final stop on our festival pilgrimage through Beverley this weekend is the glorious St. Mary’s Church, with its famous Pilgrim Hare, said to be the inspiration for the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland! The closing concert on Sunday night brings together the winners of the 2009 Wigmore Hall Song Competion, our artistic director and pianist Libby Burgess and baritone Marcus Farnsworth, one of the great song singers of his generation, for a special performance of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe. Schumann’s song cycle is a devastating masterpiece, beginning with an awakening of love in the month of May and ending with a piano postlude of utter genius, bringing about an extraordinary closure to the bittersweet journey.
It is fitting that in a building with an enviable reputation as a chamber music venue, our closing concert – under the starry ceiling of St. Mary’s – is another potent mixture of song and chamber music. It includes a performance by violinist Jamie Campbell, cellist Cara Berridge and pianist Libby Burgess of Brahms’s Piano Trio in B Major, a ravishing work packed with passion and beautiful melodies.
In days of old, pilgrims often carried triptychs on their journies (the form allowed for ease of transport). So we are pleased to present below a triptych of three outstanding festival artists – Anna Huntley, Mary Bevan and Libby Burgess (all ‘on the sofa’) – to inspire you on your way.
We look forward to seeing you soon for a wonderful long weekend of music in Beverley. Tickets are still available so be sure not to miss out.
Roland and Libby
PS Please note that under-18s gain free entry to all festival concerts.
New Paths is delighted to announce that eminent local actor, Richard Avery, will make a special guest appearance as narrator in the Shakespeare celebration at the East Riding Theatre on Sunday 10th April at 3.30pm. Mr Avery will join forces with Mary Bevan (soprano), Marcus Farnsworth (baritone), Simon Tandree (viola) and Libby Burgess (piano) for the one-off matinee performance.
Richard is a former Royal Shakespeare Company, Young Vic, and Bristol Old Vic actor. He is a board member of the East Riding Theatre, playing Jacob Marley in its first in-house production, A Christmas Carol, in December 2014.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare and the special concert is part of celebrations taking place around the world. The programme includes some of the most well-loved musical settings of Shakespeare plus some little-known gems. Interspersed among the songs will be prose, sonnets and speeches read by Mr Avery.
Artistic Director Libby Burgess appeared on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ programme today, performing with baritone Mark Stone. Listen out for discussion with Sean Rafferty of New Paths in this clip!
We’re delighted that violist Meghan Cassidy will be joining us for the first two days of the festival, playing in the Opening Night and Déjeuner à Paris concerts. For these she will replace Simon Tandree, who will still perform in his remaining concerts as planned.
Read more about Meghan here.
The mood I’m in …
In a fortnight, beginning on 7th April, Beverley hosts one of the most exciting new music festivals in the country. We are proud to be celebrating these new beginnings by presenting TWO world premières of new pieces commissioned by the festival from British composers:
The first will be during the atmospheric late-night organ recital of chorale preludes, Little Organ Book, on our opening night in Beverley Minster. Grayston Ives – known to many from his time with the King’s Singers with whom he recorded and performed worldwide – is making the latest contribution to the Orgelbüchlein Project, a major global composition project.
This very special recital is dedicated to Alan Spedding and is being given jointly by FIVE organists. Richard Pinel, Assistant Organist of St. George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, who earlier today played for HM The Queen at the Royal Maundy service in the castle, heads the line-up which includes international virtuoso organist Simon Johnson (Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral), plus organ students Robbie Carrol, Anthony Daly and Benjamin Newlove – all exceptional young organists (two of whom have received bursaries from the Alan Spedding Memorial Fund). Richard will perform Bill’s new composition, Es steh’n vor Gottes Thron, plus two existing entries from the Orgelbüchlein Project. The rest of the programme is entirely Bach and Brahms. View the full programme here.
The second commission is Stephen Carleston’s fantastic new arrangement of the upbeat jazz standard, The mood I’m in, which will be performed by outstanding male voice a capella ensemble, the Queen’s Six, at their barbershop drinks gig in the bar of the East Riding Theatre on Saturday 9th April. An incredible opportunity to hear for free this fine vocal ensemble, who, like Richard Pinel, live and work in Windsor Castle. For a taste of the treat in store for audiences, listen to the group’s stunning performance of Stephen’s arrangement of When I fall in love here.
The rest is silence
The Little Organ Book concert is also poignant for it includes the last piece ever written by Brahms, O Welt, ich muss dich Lassen (‘O world, I must leave thee’), “a uniquely personal testament to his craft … and his passionate belief in the spiritual value of his art”*. The genius and beauty of Brahms’s music is laid bare throughout the festival – there is the Violin Sonata in D minor in the opening concert, a selection of songs in the coffee concert on Saturday, and the Piano Trio in B Major in the closing concert.
Another extraordinary last work is being performed during the festival. Poulenc’s elegiac and deeply spiritual Oboe Sonata was his swansong and receives a special performance from James Turnbull in the Friday lunchtime concert, Dejeuner à Paris, at St. Mary’s. James is an oboist cherished by audiences around the country, who has worked tirelessly to promote the instrument and the writing of new music for it. For the performance of this ravishing piece, we are delighted that James is joined by the festival’s artistic director, pianist Libby Burgess, with whom he recorded the disc, The English Oboe: Rediscovered, released in 2013 to critical acclaim.
Brahms was greatly inspired by Bach, and turned to Bach in the loneliness of his last years. In Dejeuner à Paris, mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley will sing the exquisite song, À Chloris, by Hahn which is based on Bach’s timeless ‘Air on a G String’ – the tune made famous in the 1960s by the Hamlet adverts. If you love Bach and/or maybe find yourself in a mellow mood on 8th April then be sure not to miss this incredible concert.
Dreaming of Easter
We wish you all a blessed and peaceful Easter.
If you’re in Beverley on Easter Sunday then why not listen to the Minster choir singing joyous Easter anthems in the morning from atop the great North West tower of the Minster? This glorious Beverley tradition goes back some time.
It is, perhaps, not as famous as the May Day tradition of the choir of Magdalen College Oxford singing from atop its tower. (Festival composer Grayston Ives was for many years the director of the choir at Magdalen.) But the towers of Beverley Minster are considerably taller and, dare we say, more elegant than the tower of Magdalen College.
Then again, height isn’t everything, is it? We offer here, in jest, a vintage clip of Grayston singing a classic song with the King’s Singers which explores, in good humour, notions of the merits of physical stature. Grayston is the least tall of the singers and, as you can hear, had a golden voice.
Roland and Libby
To avoid disappointment, book your tickets as soon as possible during the next two weeks through the box office of the East Riding Theatre.
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The viola, with its velvet tone, is many people’s favourite instrument. Mozart played the viola and was fond of writing for it. Beverley has produced a number of fine viola players over the years, not least due to the inspiration of the late David Atkinson, himself a Beverley man, who taught generations of youngsters and tutored the viola section of the East Riding Youth Orchestra.
We are therefore delighted to be showcasing this beautiful instrument at several key moments in the festival. Outstanding violist, Simon Tandree, will give a rare performance with artistic director Libby Burgess of Benjamin Britten’s short masterpiece, Lachrymae for viola and piano, in our Sunday matinee Shakespeare celebration at East Riding Theatre.
Other viola highlights include Duruflé’s evocative Prélude, récitatif et variations in Friday’s lunchtime concert at St. Mary’s in which Simon and Libby will be joined by local flautist Ian Denley, and Brahms’ Two songs for alto, viola and piano in the Saturday coffee concert at St. Mary’s in which Simon and Libby will team-up with mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley for a performance of these gorgeous songs.
Come along to any of these incredible concerts to discover for yourself the rich and mellow sound of the viola.
David Atkinson enjoyed the occasional pint at Nellie’s (aka the White Horse), one of Beverley’s classic pubs. Why not pop into Nellie’s during the festival and raise a glass to David?
Celebrating local craftsmanship
We are pleased to announce that Beverley violin maker, Peter Hall, is joining in the New Paths festivities by opening his workshop to the public on Saturday 9th April. Members of the public will be given the special opportunity to see this craftsman at work.
Peter will be joined by his students from the Yorkshire Stringed Instrument Fellowship in Harrogate who will demonstrate the centuries old art of violin making. Festival artists will be giving short informal performances throughout the day at Peter’s studio.
Visit Peter Hall Violins on Norwood between 10am and 4pm to learn more about the craft of violin making and to enjoy some fun pop-up performances by festival artists.
“Those long uneven lines…”
By coincidence, Beverley has another fascinating connection with the viola. For Viola was the name given to a trawler built in 1906 on the banks of the River Hull at a shipyard in Beverley, which went on be an unsung heroine of the First World War. Viola was one of hundreds like her made for fishing duties in the North Sea. But at the outbreak of the war, this little ship was requisitioned by the Admiralty and spent almost the entire conflict at sea, patrolling for mines and submarines.
Viola has survived to this day, but lies rusting at Grytviken, a deserted whaling station in Cumberland Bay on the remote South Atlantic island of South Georgia. Read her remarkable story here and here. During the Festival, take a stroll along Beverley Beck, reflect and enjoy some stunning views of the Minster.
Lest we forget will be a moving war commemoration concert, featuring some of the greatest chamber music of the twentieth century. In the Edwardian setting of the East Riding Theatre, this Friday night concert includes Elgar’s passionate Violin Sonata played by Alexandra Reid, some poignant songs of Ivor Gurney sung by Alexander Robin Baker and Shostakovich’s powerful String Quartet No. 8 dedicated to the victims of fascism and war. See the full programme here.
Roland and Libby