The Yorkshire Autumn Festival at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, was an inspiring and very enjoyable way to learn more about some of the finest of our British music composers.
The weekend of six concerts was organised by the English Music Festival. Its founder director, Em Marshall-Luck explained: “The EMF was founded to celebrate the music of British composers of all times, with a strong focus on the Golden Renaissance of English Music – the early to mid-twentieth century – and to reintroduce to the repertoire those many wonderful works and composers who had been overlooked for many decades.”
It began on the Friday evening with a remarkable performance of Stanford’s Piano Trio no.2 in G Minor by Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin), Joseph Spooner (cello) and Duncan Honeybourne (piano).
The following morning Honeybourne (above) gave a virtuoso solo performance ranging from Alwyn’s Sonata alla Toccata to Ireland’s Sarnia: an Island Sequence. He moved effortlessly from delicately caressing the piano keys to dramatic flourishes as he shared his love of the music with his audience.
During that concert several in the audience heard some of Robin Milford’s music for the first time. “We have learnt new things during these concerts,” author Juliet Barker commented. Like others, she found it difficult to choose any highlights for all the concerts were so memorable.
The other musicians who took part and who were so exceptional were: pianists Rebeca Omordia and Kathryn Mosley; and soloist Christopher Foster.
At the end of the weekend Barker said: “It has been a rare and wonderful privilege. Hopefully they [the English Music Festival] will come back.”
Em Marshall-Luck responded that they would like to. “It’s a beautiful church, it’s a beautiful location, and we absolutely adore the Yorkshire Dales. I wanted to create a family atmosphere in a beautiful place and this building ticks all the boxes.”