In founding the Lythe Chamber Music Course, Jane Booth and John Irving (both of whom hail from the North of England) were determined to shine a spotlight on the strong sense of community that they have always encountered in Lythe on their frequent visits to perform in the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival – a remarkable cultural jewel in historic churches around the North York Moors founded by cellist Jamie Walton in 2009 and which so richly contributes to the region’s cultural life.
Fulfilling this aspiration, it was deeply rewarding that the inaugural course in 2014 was so strongly supported in diverse ways by an enthusiastic Management Group (the Lythe Early Music Performance Group), St Oswald’s Church (notably Rev Josephine Evetts-Secker), Lythe Village Hall, Lythe Community Stores, The Stiddy, Alan Davies, The Turnstone Gallery and so much goodwill in the village. Bringing music and educational activity to this inspiring place and complementing the amazingly broad spectrum of craftsmanship of its surroundings was a privilege, and fundamental to our aim. But contributing in some way to a shared sense of purpose and regeneration here, expressed as financial as well as cultural investment, was something we were equally determined to do. Our course was possible to establish due to the generosity of the Normanby Trust, the Inchrye Trust and an anonymous benefactor.
There was also a significant amount of assistance in kind, and we are especially grateful to those who gave their time in so many ways to smooth the logistics of the course from day to day; donating space or post-concert refreshments; providing transport between locations; providing accommodation for student participants; welcoming audience members ‘on the door’; giving sound advice; taking and sharing photographs of the events; recording audio; giving time; and in numerous other ways.
A special word about the Lythe community Stores which celebrated its first month of business since its reopening on a voluntary basis during our course. The fact that this vital facility for the local communities (including also Kettleness, Ugthorpe and the Barnby villages) has reopened is a testament to the determination of the local population towards local service. We found this to be an inspiration and it was a natural progression to involve them in providing all the lunches for our course. Lythe Village Hall was a tremendous asset during the course, offering several suitable spaces for music making collectively and individually. Instruments were professionally moved from site to site for concerts and rehearsals by local specialist, Aidan Simms. Several participants stayed at The Stiddy (including both its B&B and campsite facilities). Others stayed nearby in Sandsend. In every respect the power of localism was evident. The event seemed thoroughly to belong to this place.