There’s a certain delicious irony to the way that the York-based National Centre for Early Music (forced like so many other independent venues to temporarily close its doors to the public) has been leading the way with an enthusiastic embrace of that most contemporary of technologies, video streaming, to continue to celebrate the live performance of (mostly) medieval music.
Over upcoming weekends, you’ll be able to stream Rumorum’s Medieval Music for Voices & Instruments and one of the last concerts given by the European Union Baroque Orchestra, while every Wednesday evening features a blues-beating series called Bach Bites from harpsichordist extraordinaire Steven Devine.
Anyone worried that this all sounds a bit high-brow and po-faced would surely have any preconceptions shaken up by Palisander’s terrific Beware The Spider! Fast-moving and fun with some pretty fancy footwork, this hour-long programme from the youthful recorder quartet, performing at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, explored the Tarantella, a dance to ward off the effects of a venomous spider bite, and the curious world of folk medicine in medieval Europe.
The group of Lydia Gosnell, Miriam Monaghan, Caoimhe de Paor and Elspeth Robertson are part of the EEEmerging scheme and their cleverly devised programme used music by Vivaldi and many others as well as a knowing narrative and recorders up to six feet tall (now that’s a long way from those primary school weapons of torture) to craft an entertaining and improbably informative show. Of course, the august surroundings weren’t quite as impressive as they might have been in person, but that’s just the way it is these days, and the upcoming shows in the NCEM’s online series are highly recommended for anyone looking out for something new and different, even if it’s actually been around for hundreds of years.
Rumorum, Medieval Music for voices & instruments, May 16, 1pm; European Union Baroque Orchestra: Handel & Bach, May 30, 1pm; Harpsichordist Steven Devine presents ‘Bach Bites’, Every Wednesday, 6pm
To access the above, head to facebook.com/yorkearlymusic/ or log on to the NCEM website, where you can also find details of their Cuppa and a Chorus, other news and more concert footage.