What’s the most beautiful place in the world? Which is the nicest little town? No contest, for me – it’s Rievaulx Abbey for the first, and for the second, Helmsley. And for two weeks in July, that wonderful little town with the glorious Abbey a walk away, hosts a Festival which any number of cities would be proud to call their own.
There are few pleasures to compare with being able to walk to a place like Duncombe Park to hear a concert, or to take a very short drive to the glory that is Ampleforth, to see an opera – after a day in which you’ve shopped for your picnic at Hunter’s, one of the best delis anywhere, explored the superb Helmsley castle or perhaps had lunch at one of the two top-rated restaurants in Harome, just a couple of miles away.
This year’s Ryedale Festival begins on July 11th, with an impressive line-up of speakers and musicians, performing over seventeen days and with several events and venues each day, so a preview can only be a personal choice from the riches on offer. Did you admire Christiane Karg’s lovely soprano at Glyndebourne this year and last? You can hear her sing Strauss’ Four Last Songs in the fabulous setting of Duncombe Park, on Sunday 20th.
Do you long to hear more Monteverdi than is usually on offer in London? Then Ryedale Festival will make you very happy, with its opening concert featuring the Vespers of 1610 at Ampleforth on the 11th, and two performances of The Coronation of Poppea at the same venue on 12th and 14th.
Poetry lovers can look forward to a reading by Carol Ann Duffy, no less, at All Saints’ Church in the beautiful village of Hovingham, on Sunday 13th (afternoon). The same village is the venue for a gala concert by the Northern Sinfonia on July 27th, held in the impressive Riding School of Hovingham Hall.
The Endellion Quartet are this year’s Artists in Residence, and you can hear them in Haydn, Ravel and Beethoven at Pickering Church on 18th and playing Schubert’s Death and the Maiden at Sledmere House on the 22nd. They join Wendy Cope at All Saints’ Church in Hovingham on the 20th, and take part in a performance of Schubert’s Octet in Scarborough on 21st.
An event unique to the Ryedale Festival is the Triple Concert at Castle Howard (Brideshead, for those old enough to recall the TV series) – this takes place on Thursday 17th, and offers three contrasting concerts, with audiences rotating around three locations; the Long Gallery, the Chapel and the Great Hall.
For lovers of show music there’s a Richard Rodgers Day, with two concerts celebrating his life and works; both shows will be introduced by Edward Seckerson, and take place on Thursday 24th at Queen Margaret’s School in Escrick. At Duncombe Park on the 16th, there’s a tribute to Donald Swann, performed by the soprano Caroline MacPhie, the tenor Benjamin Hulett, and the pianist Christopher Glynn.
All that is without even covering the WWI focus, or the Italian Day, or the Brass Band, or the Folk-classical… or the clog dancing… you can find out more at www.ryedalefestival.com