Lythe Chamber Music 3 – the countdown begins…

Just 10 days to go now before the start of Lythe Chamber Music 2016!

P1000487We have a varied line up of events, including a Beethoven concert at the lovely Chapel of St Mary’s, Sandsend on 1 August at 7pm. Featuring Jane Booth (clarinet), Ruth Alford (cello and John Irving (piano), we’ll explore a virtuosic early Cello Sonata Op.5, written for the King of Prussia and the Clarinet Trio Op.11. The Clarinet Trio will also feature strongly throughout the week as the focus of chamber music studies for our talented students. On Thursday, we close the course in St Oswald’s, Lythe (7pm) with a concert of work undertaken by students through the week, featuring recorders, clarinets, and a variety of keyboards manufactured and maintained by local builder, Johannes Secker.

P1000475In between, we have a varied and busy programme of activities, based at St Oswald’s, at the Village Hall, and at Lythe School. We’ll no doubt be congregating in the Village Stores too during the week, so if you’re around, do say hello!IMG_0973


7 May Fundraiser for Lythe Chamber Music 2016

Sneaton Castle will once again be the venue for an all-Mozart Fundraising Concert for Lythe Chamber Music 2016. Saturday 7 May, at 7.30pm.


Following the successful concert there on 5 December last year, course founders Jane Booth and John Irving return to Sneaton to perform masterpieces by Mozart with a local string quartet led by Tony Mason (Chairman of Lythe Early Music Performance Group).

John said: “Jane and I are really looking forward to this concert, which gives us an opportunity to work with Tony in a different way. We’re used to him wearing his Chairman’s hat – and also, of course, being a huge supporter of Jamie Walton’s annual North York Moors Chamber Music Festival. But we’ve never encountered him as a player. We know he’s very active as an orchestral and chamber music Leader in the area, so this is a chance to develop our contacts in a different musical way. He’s certainly got his work cut out in this concert, as he’s playing viola as well as violin!”

John will be playing Mozart’s own arrangement of his Piano Concerto, K.413 for piano and string quartet (1782); Jane’s performance of the ever-popular Clarinet Quintet (a regular winner of the Classic FM Hall of Fame!) will be on a copy of an unusual basset clarinet played by Anton Stadler, for whom Mozart originally wrote the piece; Tony will join both of them for the extraordinary ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio for viola, clarinet and piano (1786).


Mozart Piano Concerto in F, K.413 (John Irving)

Mozart Kegelstatt Trio, in E flat, K.498 (Tony Mason, Jane Booth, John Irving)

Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A, K.581 (Jane Booth)


Funding Success!

All of us at Lythe Early Music Performance Group are absolutely delighted to have received a grant from the Normanby Trust of £4000 to support Lythe Chamber Music 2016!


This year, we will be expanding the range to include classical strings (tutored by Ensemble DeNOTE’s Ruth Alford). As before, we’ll be focusing on classical woodwinds (tutor: Jane Booth), baroque recorders (tutor: James Brookmyre), and harpsichord/ fortepiano (tutor: John Irving). Master keyboard-builder Johannes Secker (whose instruments will be available for use during the course) will be on hand to give expert guidance on tuning and maintenance.

Photo 29-07-2015 11 44 30Photo 27-07-2015 17 34 24Photo 30-07-2015 14 05 38Photo 27-07-2015 14 38 18

Lythe Fundraier at Sneaton Castle

All around us was a violent storm brewing, yet inside was perfect tranquility. Sneaton Castle at Whitby, North Yorkshire, is home to St Hilda’s Priory, an Anglican monastic community celebrating its centenary in 2015. The Chapel was the perfect setting for our fundraising concert for Lythe Chamber Music 2016 and we are so grateful to the Sisters of St Hilda’s not just for allowing us to use their beautiful space for this event, but for the warmth of their welcome. It was great that a handful of them came to the concert too, taking a break for a couple of hours from hosting the Archbishop of York who is presently based there during a pilgrimage of the North York Moors.
Despite the storm, a good sized audience revelled in the wonderful acoustic which was a joy to perform in. (How fortunate the Sisters are to enjoy that every day in their sung services!) Jane and I purloined a couple of Handel Op.1 recorder sonatas for baroque clarinet, which she played on a new instrument by Guy Cowley whose tonal qualities were described by one audience member during the interval as a cross between a flute and a trumpet! Its sweetness, clarity and agility were partnered by a magnificent Flemish harpsichord by Johannes Secker (2007). I’ve performed on this machine several times now, and it just goes from strength to strength. It is surely one of the finest instruments available presently in the North of England and in the intimate acoustic of St Hilda’s, it took us on quite a journey through Bach’s French Suites nos.4, 1 and 6.
Thanks to the generosity of those present, we raised enough to support a couple of bursaries for student’s on next summer’s course which will be the third incarnation of Lythe chamber music, 31 July – 4 August 2016, in which, for the first time, we extend the remit to include classical string repertoire, c.1770-1820.
And just to cap it all, when Jane and I arrived home, we discovered that we had each been nominated as Community Heroes in the BBC Surrey/BBC Sussex Arts and Music 2015 awards!

Expanding into 2016

We’re absolutely delighted to announce that at the 2016 course (31 July – 4 August 2016) we will be expanding from keyboards and woodwinds into the world of classical strings. At least one member of Ensemble DeNOTE (Ruth Alford – our cellist whose family hails from nearby Stokesley) will be participating as a tutor for classical strings. We’ve managed to acquire a set of classical bows for our education work and will be bringing these to the course. While experienced classical string players are welcome, we hope this will also be of interest to ‘modern’ players interested in gaining an understanding of approached to period performance through classical string instruments, set ups and playing styles. Pre-formed chamber groups also welcome. Repertoire: Haydn –  Beethoven Op.30. Do please spread the word! Information on the 2016 course from James Brookmyre (

photo 1


Fundraising Concert for Lythe 2016

Planning is now seriously underway for LYTHE 2016 and there will be a meeting of the Steering Committee next week to shape ideas.

To raise awareness locally, the course founders, John Irving (harpsichord) and Jane Booth (chalumeaux and baroque clarinet), will be performing a fundraising concert for Lythe 2016 on 5 December 2015 at Sneaton Castle Chapel, with grateful thanks to the Sisters of the Sneaton Community for allowing us to use their wonderfully peaceful surroundings for our concert and showing such an interest in our venture. It’s always a real pleasure to see one or more of the Sisters at our concerts!

The repertoire will be “Giants of the Baroque” – a programme of Bach French Suites for solo harpsichord and Handel Sonatas purloined for baroque clarinet and chalumeau from repertoire originally conceived for the recorder! The harpsichord will be a lovely rich Flemish single manual instrument by Johannes Secker (2007), an instrument much used and admired in recent years, whether in the Lythe course and concerts, or in the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival. If you’re around in the Whitby area then, do drop in – it would be lovely to see you.

Here’s the concert poster.


2015 Growth


Our course grew this year! We had a great many more enquiries and eventually rather more students on the Lythe Chamber Music Course 2015 in the beautiful North York Moors. As well as graduates of the GSMD, Trinity, Boston Conservatoire, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Welsh College and Royal Academy of Music, we had some current students from Bristol University, Sheffield University and Oxford University. Three students from 2014 came back for more! Keyboards, clarinets, bassoons….. lots of interest in discovering how to approach early repertoires on copies of historical originals, and (judging from the feedback) already lots of food for thought in applying these new skills in modern playing.

This year we had to expand into three spaces, now including the local School, allowing a number of parallel sessions. There were also daily lunchtime Performance Platforms, allowing performance opportunities for ‘work in progress’ with valuable and constructive feedback from fellow student and tutors.

There were three concerts at the Alan Davies Stained Glass Gallery (a beautiful intimate space for Bach’s French Suites); the Turnstone Gallery, Sandsend (seeing two world debuts: (i) Johannes Secker’s new Italian Virginals, copied from a 1586 original; and (ii) Jane’s Booth’s appearance as a continuo player on the Basson de Chalumeau – possibly the only one of its kind in the UK presently); and St Oswald’s, Lythe, setting for a very high-quality student concert closing the course.

Tutors Jane Booth (clarinets), James Brookmyre (recorders), John Irving (keyboards) and Johannes Secker (keyboard manufacture and maintenance) were joined this year by Dr Peter Bullett (Course Accompanist) and legendary baroque oboist Anthony Robson who came to give a wonderful afternoon Masterclass for all the students on Baroque interpretation.

Many thanks of course to the Lythe Early Music Performance Group committee; the Normanby Trust (this year we were delighted to see Lord & Lady Normanby  at one of our concerts); and above all, Johannes Secker, whose wonderful keyboard instruments (fortepiano, harpsichord, clavichord, virginals…) make the course possible. We’re already planning 2016…

Photo 29-07-2015 22 14 13Photo 29-07-2015 18 32 07Photo 30-07-2015 11 45 03Photo 29-07-2015 15 48 28