Soh-Fah The Ryedale Festival magazine
A fine birthday party! Artistic director Christopher Glynn recalls the highlights – and challenges – of Ryedale 2011 ‘Never work with animals or children,’ they say – so it was a slightly worrying moment when it occurred to me on the morning of 15 July that we were about to launch the Festival with the significant involvement of both! I needn’t have worried. The children came from primary schools all over Ryedale, bussed into Hovingham for a last-minute rehearsal of various animal songs which they later performed with huge enthusiasm.
It may not have been the most polished concert in the Festival but judging from the letters and cards I have received from children, teachers, parents and audience, it was one of the most appreciated. The animals were, thankfully, not real ones but the cleverly costumed and choreographed cast of our Festival opera The Cunning Little Vixen. This was an ambitious project: nine instrumentalists took the place of the full orchestra (in Iain Farrington’s ingenious ➽
A letter from the Chairman It was good to hear that
the 30th Ryedale Festival was enjoyed by so many. On behalf of the board and management team, a big ‘thank you’ to all who took the time to write, email or phone to tell us so – and to suggest ways we can improve! Many of you commented favourably about the increased visibility of the Festival this year – and not just the number of banners that were seen locally. Christopher Glynn, Sir Thomas Allen, and Joan Rodgers all were interviewed on Radio 3 about the Festival and Classic FM made many mentions of it. Articles in the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Life and Opera Magazine, not to mention hits on our new website from all over the world, confirm that our Festival is growing in recognition and reputation. I’m happy to report that ticket sales this year were up by about 20 per cent on 2010, which itself set a record. Whether this had anything to do with our increased advertising efforts is hard to tell: as Vance Packard said in his book The Hidden Persuaders, ‘half of any advertising is wasted – but which half?’ The new gold and silver membership scheme was supported by 88 individuals; we hope they enjoyed the benefits and that they will be joined by others next year. This category of support is increasingly important to our financial health as sources of public funding become harder to access – last year we received £65,000 in public funding, nearly 30 per cent of our total costs. Private sponsorship from generous individuals and ➽
Ryedale Festival 2012 Friday 13 – Sunday 29 July
❷ Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011
A letter from the Chairman (continued from page 1)
trusts is also a vital component of our income. We are grateful to them all. Equally, we are extremely heartened by having 292 Friends, and grateful for their annual subscriptions. This year every Friend received a free programme book which seemed to be admired and valued. We hope to produce an even better one next year. A free subscription to Soh Fah plus a priority booking period are also included in the package. And one benefit for all ticket buyers that seemed to be particularly appreciated this year was the result of our investment in more comfortable seating ! Although our costs increased this year, I’m happy to predict
Best moments of 2011
Jane de Wend Fenton I took my sister, niece and mother to the cream tea and brass band event at Duncombe Park. As my sister lives in Germany, I thought this would be the quintessential English event for her. It turned out to be a lovely day: we had a picnic by the car, the sun decided to shine and my 12-year-old niece frolicked around the grounds. I think I saw a little tear in my sister’s eye, even when the German band was playing. A couple of weeks later she sent a card saying she wanted the Festival to know that the day at Duncombe Park was the high point of her holiday.
John Warrack, Festival President I think my favourite moment was in ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’, when Becky Bottone, the best Vixen I’ve ever seen for her captivatingly vulpine ways, ran away from the humans through the audience into the night. It turned out later that she had hurt herself and was advised not to continue with the performance, but would have none of it. As she sings in the opera, ‘Men can’t teach a vixen anything!’
that our annual accounts will show a small surplus. In such uncertain economic times this is a very encouraging result, but there is hard work ahead to keep the Festival solvent and sustain its high artistic standard. But the success of a Festival like ours does not depend simply on adequate finance. There is another vital ingredient; the hard work and enthusiasm of an amazingly loyal band of volunteers. They contribute throughout the year and many have been doing so for a long time. Friends gave over 230 free nights of accommodation for artists, and several free services are given to the Festival by local businesses. A huge vote of
thanks is due to everyone involved. We’re always looking for more volunteers in a variety of roles. Please do not hesitate to step forward – your commitment can be as small or large as you want, but it will always be fun. Since the Festival ended I am happy to report the recruitment of three new vice-presidents, Peter and Alex White, founders of the Helmsley Festival that evolved into the Ryedale Festival, and the great Sir Thomas Allen. We are delighted to welcome them and hope to see them all back in Ryedale in the near future. Now back to the planning for the 2012 Festival... Robin Andrews
Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011 ❸
A fine birthday party (continued from page 1)
[top, left to right] Christopher Glynn and Julian Bliss, City of Leeds Youth Orchestra, Howard Shelley (picture by Juliusz Multarzynski). [bottom, left to right] Cheryl Knight, Dame Emma Kirkby, Northern Sinfonia, Ellias String Quartet.
arrangement) and nine singers tackled 21 roles in Joe Austin’s imaginative production. Congratulations to everyone involved, not least Rebecca Bottone, whose debut in the title role would have graced any opera house in the world (and I’m sure will do in the future). We were off to a good start. Young performers continued to figure strongly in the first week with excellent contributions from the City of Leeds Youth Orchestra, Future Talent and Yorkshire Young Musicians and the cast of our own Community Opera, directed with boundless energy by Em Whitfield Brooks. We also welcomed some very well known artists. Sir Thomas Allen was on fine form at Duncombe Park (also, it seems, at Ganton the following day, where he emerged the winner of a golf match with our chairman, as well as a new vice-president of the festival!) Julian Bliss dazzled the
audience with his virtuosity. Howard Shelley multi-tasked brilliantly as conductor and pianist in an all-Beethoven programme – and proved especially magnetic to many female members of the audience! Justin Doyle’s brilliant concept of a Triple Concert at Castle Howard has become an indispensable part of our programme and it was great to see our artists in residence, Julian Bliss and the Elias Quartet, coming together there to play Brahms. This year we also had a Double Concert at Sledmere, where Dame Emma Kirkby responded to the enthusiasm of the audience with several encores – causing havoc with our timekeeping, but delighting the audience. As always, innumerable last minute disasters were narrowly averted. Pauline Robertson, Lorna Vasey, Sue Elm and the tech team worked minor miracles almost every day, with incredibly good humour, and the three former Artistic Directors who returned to perform in honour of the Festival’s 30th anniversary had similar stories to tell us about years gone by. My favourite musical moments? Rebecca Bottone as a superb Vixen; the Elias Quartet’s performance of one of Beethoven’s most elusive string quartets; the personal pleasure of accompanying Thomas Allen in Ravel and Joan Rodgers in Tchaikovsky; the Kirkbymoorside Brass Band on a perfect afternoon at Duncombe Park, and a magnificent performance by the Northern Sinfonia of one of my desert island discs, Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Not everything was totally successful – there is plenty to learn and plenty to build on. But thanks to efforts of many people this was a Festival with many excellent moments and we can all look back with some pride and satisfaction on a fitting celebration of our 30th anniversary. •
Best moments of 2011
Ann Cobb That marvellous choir, Vox Cordis, in the chapel at Castle Howard – such a brilliant contrast to the percussionist boys, the O Duo, in the Great Hall, who were wonderfully entertaining in a completely different way.
❹ Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011
Fresh air and frisbee… Mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin – the Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen – describes the Ryedale experience from a performer’s viewpoint
Rebecca Bottone and Clare McCaldin in The Cunning Little Vixen
I first visited Ryedale in 2009 to sing in Hary Janos and was knocked out by the natural beauty of the area and the friendliness of everyone I met. So I was greatly looking forward to returning this summer for The Cunning Little Vixen. We had been rehearsing near London in a deconsecrated church and
it seemed strangely appropriate to transfer to the ecclesiastical shape and Hogwarts-like interior of the Ampleforth College theatre. With a cast of busy freelancers, it wasn’t easy to get everyone together for rehearsals and it was lovely to be resident in Ryedale for the final week of the production as we pulled it all together. One of the many pleasures of the location, for a Londondweller at least, is just being able to wander out onto the lawn during a break to inhale great lungfuls of clean air and observe the wildlife. On one sunny day I was met with the sight of a Badger, a Forester, a Fox and a Mosquito playing frisbee, but mostly it was just cows, hares and the occasional hedgehog that foolishly decided to stop in the middle of the road. I remembered from my previous visit the wonderful views across Ryedale offered by the roads over the hills, and often I took a different way home just to see what I would find. One of the best moments of pure theatre was when I crested a rise to enjoy the perfect Brideshead Revisited tracking shot of Castle Howard across the lake, elegantly framed between trees. Vanbrugh would certainly have been pleased with my reaction. At the other end of the scale was the lovely domesticity of Botton Village, in whose Hall I sang a solo in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonnelle. Once I had persuaded my old car down the vertiginous incline and put out of my mind any thoughts about whether it would ever get back up again, I was able to look round the village and appreciate the extraordinary achievement of creating and maintaining such a community; it was inspiring just to be there. The concert itself was a great success, as indeed – I gather – were our performances of Vixen. It’s lovely to be invited to work in such a marvellous Festival but I won’t need any excuse to return to the delights of Ryedale. •
Best moments of 2011
Mary McAllister-Rees My memorable moment of this year’s Festival came when the new Festival website had not long been launched. There among the statistics of ‘hits’ was one from Tuvalu, a remote Polynesian island of only 10 square miles. Since then we have had hits from 63 countries, including China, Brazil, Korea, Ghana, Uraguay and Peru. Over 159,000 pages have been viewed since the site went live five months ago. Interestingly, we have the most visitors between 3pm and 4pm, with a preference for Thursdays and Fridays. Are you one of them? If you haven’t visited our website, www.ryedalefestival.co.uk, please do: it displays over 700 photos throughout its 400-plus pages, and it is up-to-date with all the latest news. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011 ❺
‘I may have a little job for you, Sue…’ Festival Events Manager Sue Elm tells her side of the story
Eduardo Niebla and friends at Botton
Imagine the scene: April, Wednesday evening, Oswaldkirk Village Hall, choir practice… Me (to our esteemed chairman): ‘Robin, you seem a little frazzled.’ Chairman: ‘Ummm, it’s the Festival…’ Me: ‘Can I help at all?’ (When will I ever learn?) Chairman: ‘I may have a little job for you…’ And so began four months of very hard work, but a lot of fun too. Life was suddenly taken over by clavinovas, pianos, tuners, orchestral managers, agents and performers – or would have been if any of them ever answered their phones or emails… but I digress. Having got a tech team together, I scheduled the first week and discovered that we all had to be in three different places at once. Hmmmm. More splendid people were drafted in and somehow it seemed it might just work. I have to admit we were occasionally a bit thin on the ground, with performers needing to be picked up in York, Malton, Thirsk and Leeds and some of the team and performers) occasionally getting lost. This year’s Festival had some surreal moments and some hilariously funny ones. There were also moments of panic which I shall gloss over, except to say
that small doses of alcohol helped us to recover from them. And moments that were simply bizarre… walking into Botton, confident that I had interpreted Eduardo Niebla’s plans to the letter, to be told… ‘No, we don’t have a choir of 100, just 30, so we won’t need the staging… (groans from tech team who have spent all morning setting the stage)… oh, and where are the ten microphones?’ ‘I beg your pardon?’, says I, these having never previously been mentioned. This was also the day the tailgate of the van broke in the ‘up’ position rendering the interior totally inaccessible. Communication with the outside world being a challenge at Botton, it was probably the nearest we came to despair in the whole fortnight. I’m told my most impressive moment was the quietening of 200 children at the start of the first concert – par for the course for a primary teacher, actually. If only the rest of it had been that easy! If I had to choose my best moment for stage-manager satisfaction, it would be getting St Peter’s, Norton, ready in time for the Opera North Orchestra rehearsal and concert. I smiled inanely all through the concert knowing that thanks to the hard work of dozens of people we had achieved in a couple of hours the demolition of one stage, the
building of another, delivery and tuning of the piano and reorientation of the seating, not to mention finding a heater to warm Howard Shelley’s fingers. In spite of lack of mobile network coverage in many venues, and in spite of having to deliver lights, harpsichords, performers, staging music stands and goodness knows what else across the length and breadth of the county, it somehow all seemed to work. The satisfaction gained from realising that our team was making the Festival happen far outweighed any minor inconveniences. A few months later, only twitching occasionally, I look back on it all with a certain fond nostalgia. No complacency though; lots of improvements to make, but hey… Roll on next year! • Robin Andrews, Chairman, and John Warrack, President
❻ Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011
Tales of the happy pig Em Whitfield Brooks sums up this year’s Community opera experience All of us in the Community Opera team were delighted with our production of The Pig’s Tale this summer. No less than 78 performers of all ages and abilities took to the stage as the culmination of just five days’ preparation was presented to our biggest audiences ever. St Peter’s, Norton, was packed with families and friends of participants as well as faithful Festival-goers, all of whom enjoyed the visual spectacle and musical strength of this darkly comic piece. It was great to revisit a show we had first commissioned in 2006 – welcoming back some performers who had performed in the original version reminded us of the wonderful longevity
of our Community Opera project. Many said this was our best production to date, and as a team we always feel we are learning more and making increasingly exciting productions. Just because it’s a community show doesn’t mean it need not be excellent – and we never cease to be amazed by the talent displayed by performers, visual artists and backstage crew who join us to make it all happen. The Community Opera, now in its twelfth year, has deep roots – the same team has led this work since it began. New this year was the involvement of the Kirkbymoorside Friday Rehearsal Orchestra, who sounded amazing, and we also welcomed 16-year-old Jolley
Gosnold as choreographer. He has performed in many of our shows over the years and he gained much through this experience – as did I, learning from working alongside him. The goal of the Community Opera every year is to create a totally integrated mixedability company, working with people from all walks of life and with all levels of ability in a visually stunning musical and physical performance. We are, as ever, grateful to the Festival for its support and we’re already planning our 2012 production. If you haven’t seen one of our shows yet, be sure to book next year, or come to one of our auditions and take part. I promise you won’t be disappointed. •
Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011 ❼
Festival dates for your diary 4 November 2011
Concert and Dinner for gold members and sponsors at Duncombe Park, with the Rhodes Trio (Michael Gurevich violin, David Edmonds cello and Robert Thompson piano) playing (inter alia) Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No 1 in D minor
6 January 2012
Twelfth Night Concert
13 April 2012 Launch Concert
13–29 July 2012
Ryedale Festival 2012
Music noticeboard Music groups, individual musicians and music teachers are welcome to post on this noticeboard – in return for helping us promote the Ryedale Festival to their own audiences and friends. Please send items for the next issue of Soh Fah to email@example.com
Howard Assembly Room, Leeds Grand Theatre Fri 18 Nov: Christopher Glynn accompanies Joan Rodgers (soprano): settings of Pushkin by Russian composers from Glinka to Shostakovich
Helmsley Arts Centre 01439 771700
Sun 13 Nov Alessandro Taverna (piano): Mendelssohn, Chopin, Scriabin, Stravinsky Sat 3 Dec Queen Mary’s School Choir Sun 19 Feb 2012 Alasdair Beatson (piano) plays Mozart, Fauré, Ravel and Schumann Sat 24/Sun 25 Mar John Petters’ Jazz Weekend Sat 19 May Tim Kliphuis (jazz violinist)
Malton Music Michael Taylor and friends have launched a series of subscription concerts in St Mary’s Church, Old Malton. For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or see the Malton Music page on Facebook.
(in St Oswald’s Church, Sowerby) www.sowerbymusic.org.uk Sat 19 Nov ‘The Naked Byrd’, Armonico Consort directed by Christopher Monks Sun 11 Dec ‘Venice in Eighteenth-century London’, with scholar/singer/pianist Peter Medhurst
Driffield & Wolds Concert Society 01377 272617
Wed 23 Nov at Bell Hotel, Driffield: Lunch and Listen to Ruby Paul, harp
Stephen Joseph Theatre
All Saints Church, Helmsley
Scarborough 01723 370541
Sun 20 Nov Armonico Consort Soloists The Glory Of Old England
Fri 11 Nov Young-Choon Park, piano Wed 30 Nov Ensemble 360 play Schubert and Janacek string quartets, with readings of Janacek’s letters
Ampleforth Abbey Sun 6 Nov All Souls performance of Fauré’s Requiem, Schola Cantorum of Ampleforth Abbey; admission free Sun 11 Dec Handel’s Messiah, the Choirs of Ampleforth College
❽ Soh-Fah | Autumn 2011
✍ Dear Friends and Members…
Festival-goers at Hovingham Hall
Andie Cattle writes What a wonderful 30th anniversary Festival we enjoyed this year. It was lovely to catch up with old Friends and new. Always a busy couple of weeks for ‘us volunteers’ (or ‘slaves’ as I understand we used to be called) but always enjoyable too. I enjoyed hearing about the Festival’s history from June Emerson and others at the lunch in Hovingham, and seeing the photographs and old programmes on display in Helmsley.
amazed at the number of Friends who come to most of these events. There were about 25 events where we served refreshments. Mostly we got the catering right, though alas I committed the cardinal sin of running out of coffee at Helmsley church! It’s an awful feeling when that queue is getting longer and that last flask has been started. I always take an extra flask of boiling water but even that ran out. So I do apologise to those who missed their coffee that day.
For me, the two concerts at St Peter’s, Norton, were highlights. It was a treat for those of us who love to hear ‘popular classics’ played so brilliantly. To have Howard Shelley and the Orchestra of Opera North perform a whole evening of Beethoven was wonderful, and the City of Leeds Youth wowed us with their amazing enthusiasm. Julian Bliss at the Kirk Theatre was a night to remember too. Dame Emma Kirkby and David Miller in Sledmere church were a joy, in such a delightful new venue.
The day at Duncombe Park was an interesting one for the catering team. The kitchen was huge, but a good distance from the garden where we were serving teas. So we decided to serve through the window – a good idea, but it involved our audience carrying tea up a steep grassy slope! Undaunted, we put our tables at the top of the slope – so now it was us ‘slaves’ who had to carry all the equipment up. Boxes of cups, saucers and plates were manhandled to the tables and a stream of stewards with teapots and scones ran up and down.
Coffee Concerts and lectures were as usual very popular and I am always
Published by: Ryedale Festival Trust, The Memorial Hall, Potter Hill, Pickering, North Yorkshire YO18 8AA tel: 01751 475777
email: email@example.com www.ryedalefestival.co.uk Chairman: Robin Andrews Artistic Director: Christopher Glynn President: John Warrack
The two bands were great, the audience all seemed to enjoy the afternoon, and the sun shone – which was just as well because ‘Plan B if wet’ would have been even more exciting! We certainly served a lot of tea and did an amazing amount of washing up in a stone sink with no drainers, for which I have to thank our chairman’s wife Hilary Andrews who along with the chairman of our Management Committee, Helen Wood, washed and dried for most of the afternoon. Even the bosses have to slave sometimes! Seriously, I have to thank everyone who helped that day – it was really hard work and you were all brilliant. Thank you so much. Some Festival venues are not the most convenient places in which to cater – much improvisation goes on behind the scenes. Challenging but fun, and we had a great team again this year. It was great to have Sue Elm back with us, and do spare a thought for the Tech Team who worked so hard to set up all the events, more often than not several in one day at opposite ends of the territory. On a personal note, since the end of the Festival I have had little time to relax. As some of you know we have had our house on the market since April. After the day at Duncombe Park I arrived home to ‘do you want the good news or the bad news first?’ Good news was that we had found a buyer, bad news that they wanted to be in on 1 August – while work on the cottage we were moving to next door was by no means complete: no electricity, no water, etc. We managed to negotiate a delay till 26 August, so that is when we moved in. Not finished yet but getting on well, and I can certainly recommend downsizing!
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