Musicians from around the world are descend on York's Early Music Festival

PUBLISHED: 13:33 14 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:40 20 February 2013

The massed ranks of The English Concert, who are heading to York this month Photograph: Richard Haughton

The massed ranks of The English Concert, who are heading to York this month Photograph: Richard Haughton

Musicians from around the world are descending on York for its renowned Early Music Festival

History will be repeating itself this month when the 2011 York Early Music Festival celebrates the spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain with a groundbreaking series of concerts of English music.


An inspiring line-up including the Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, The Dufay Collective, The English Concert, Mahan Esfahani and Lucy Crowe look set to cement the festivals reputation as the Mecca of early music when they perform at a range of York venues, from the glorious Minster to the Merchant Adventurers Hall, on July 8th to 16th.


This years festival celebrates the spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain and is inspired by a series of concerts which the Arts Council (then of Great Britain) promoted as part of the London Season of the Arts that year, said Delma Tomlin, the York festivals administrative director.


The theme of Englishness runs throughout our programme alongside a less obvious but nonetheless significant theme from 1951, that of the positive benefits of new ideas brought into England through migrant musicians and composers which we celebrate in programmes featuring music by Handel, JC Bach and Abel.


Young performers from America, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Croatia, Australia, Malaysia, Japan and Iran will be descending on the city in the latter days of the festival for the International Young Artists Competition, whose judging panel is led by the distinguished violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch.


The festival will also include an exhibition of photographs of religious architecture drawn from the world-class collection of the National Media Museum in Bradford. The Architecture of Faith will be on show at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) in St Margarets Church, Walmgate, York.

Tickets (5 to 25) are available from NCEM, by calling 01904 658338 or emailing boxoffice@ncem.co.uk.

Musical notes


The National Centre for Early Music is situated in an 11th century church, which was substantially rebuilt in the 17th century and latterly by the Victorians before falling into disuse in the 1960s.


The church is of considerable architectural significance as it has an ornate Romanesque porch from the 12th century and an unusual brick bell tower.


The grade one listed building was held in trust by York Civic Trust until 1997 when York Early Music Foundation secured a grant of 1.5 million from the Arts Council Lottery Fund to create a centre dedicated to early music.


Just three years later, the previously neglected church opened its doors as the National Centre for Early Music.

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