I’ve had a necessary education in Yorkshire geography in the last two weeks, frequently traversing a vast stretch of land between York and the moors, Scarborough and the Howardian Hills. I now know there’s a clutch of famous abbeys, Rievaulx, Byland and Ampleforth; and a string of doughty market towns, Helmsley, Pickering and Malton. Not to mention stately homes, Castle Howard, Duncombe Park and so on. In unexpected extreme heat, our temporary home within a clutch of farm cottages looked like a mas in the south of France.
In two weeks of committed, serious classical music making, Ryedale Festival put concerts on in most of these places. As a long ago festival director elsewhere, I was delighted to see this happen with minimal professional administration (though aided by a large army of kind volunteer drivers, ushers, quiche-bearers etc). Orchestras and major artists were involved – just to pick out one, a solo recital by Richard Goode. There was nothing small scale about the music being offered. Meeting fellow musicians under such conditions inspired extra friendship and camaraderie. Synergy too. I returned from my own Ryedale concerts with several conversations going about new ideas for the future with colleagues I’d bumped into, or hung around with in an abbey.
Pictured: St Benedict surveys the Howardian Hills from the terrace at Ampleforth.