York Minster's most ambitious music programme unveiled

New Festival of the Passions, Early Music Festival and Handel’s Messiah for 2013

York Minster has announced details of its most impressive ever year of music with the launch of the 2013 programme of concerts and performances, which includes a new Festival of the Passions in March, participation in York’s Early Music Festival, a Summer of Music and rounding the year off with a performance of Handel’s Messiah in December.

At the heart of the programme are the York Minster Choir and resident musicians, all performing within the acoustically-celebrated cathedral. The York Minster Choir will perform JS Bach’s sacred oratio, the St John Passion on Saturday 23 March, the evening before the Palm Sunday parade through York City Centre which launches the Minster’s Holy Week, itself remarkable as York Minster is the only cathedral in the UK to host sung Evensong every day during Holy Week.  They will be joined during the Festival of the Passions by York Musical Society performing the St Matthew Passion on 9 March and the Chapter House Choir’s Passiontide Splendours on 16 March.

“In 2012, we were lucky enough to be able to perform in one of the largest services in the liturgical year on Maundy Thursday in the presence of HM the Queen, which enabled us to highlight the fantastic sound of the York Minster Choir,” comments director of music, Robert Sharpe. “This year, alongside the daily sung services, we’ll be tackling some magnificent performances pieces, particularly JS Bach’s St John Passion and Handel’s Messiah, which promise to be real highlights in York, hopefully attracting music fans from much further afield to share the experience.”

However, the music within York Minster is not confined to formal services and concerts. From 17 May to 7 June, visitors to the cathedral will be invited to enjoy a series of Organ Promenades each Friday lunchtime. Played on the organ console by the Nave altar, these informal performances enable visitors to enjoy the sound of music as they wander around the Minster and meet the musicians responsible for much of the organ accompaniment performed within the building.

During the York Early Music Festival, fans of Renaissance Music will have the rare opportunity to hear music from York Minster’s archives, including extracts from the York Missal on 13 July, performed by the Choir all in celebration of the launch of new interactive exhibitions in the Undercroft and Treasury.

Over the summer months, whilst the choristers take a well-deserved break, the pipe organs of York Minster will be given their annual work-out, with a season of concerts performed by Robert Sharpe, assistant director of music David Pipe, and guest organists each Saturday evening in August.

York Minster’s Choir will also be heard on BBC Radio 3 on 26 June 2013 when Evensong is broadcast live from York. Last year’s performance sparked considerable debate in musical circles with several eminent commentators admiring the rarely-matched quality and clarity of the boys’ voices during the service – not realising that it was sung by the girl choristers. This year, however, it will be the turn of the boys to perform live to the nation.

The York Minster Choir continues a tradition of performance at Christmas with two Christmas Carol Concerts (5 & 6 December), followed by Handel’s Messiah on 14 December.

“We very much hope that the Festival of the Passions and Handel’s Messiah will become regular fixtures in the York Minster musical calendar, as the hard work that our musicians put into every performance and service is truly outstanding – a testament to the hard work of Robert and his team,” comments the Dean of York, Very Reverend Vivienne Faull.

For more information, or to book tickets for any of the performances, please visit www.yorkminster.org or contact the York Minster Box Office on 0844 939 0015.


For further media information, please contact:

Jay Commins – PRO York Minster

Tel: 01904 500698

Mob: 07810 546567

Email: jay@pyperyork.co.uk

York Minster’s Music Calendar 2013

9 March 2013 St Matthew Passion with the York Musical Society
16 March 2013 Passiontide Splendours with the Chapter House
20 March 2013 Stabat Mater with The Ebor Singers 
23 March 2013 St John Passion* with the York Minster Choir
19 April 2013 Aled Jones in Concert
17 May 2013 Organ Promenade Performance
24 May 2013 Organ Promenade Performance
31 May 2013 Organ Promenade Performance
26 June 2013 BBC Radio 3 Evensong live from York Minster
7 June 2013 Organ Promenade Performance
13 July 2013 “Rome in York Minster” - York Minster Choir (part of York’s Early Music Festival)
3 August 2013 Organ concert – performer TBC
10 August 2013 Organ concert – performer TBC
17 August 2013 Organ concert – performer TBC
24 August 2013 Organ concert – performer TBC
31 August 2013 Organ concert – performer TBC
5 December 2013 York Minster Christmas Carol Concert
6 December 2013 York Minster Christmas Carol Concert
14 December 2013 Handel’s Messiah, performed by the Minster Choir