Yorkshire & North East

A very warm welcome to all! We meet on designated Saturdays from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. In view of the ongoing situation with COVID-19 we request that face coverings are worn during our meetings. There is also a possibility that we may have to go back to online meetings but, currently, we hope to continue ‘live’ – please check this webpage for up-to-date information.

The Bar Convent, Blossom Street, York, the venue for the Yorkshire & North East Branch meetings

All are welcome — no charge. Refreshments: A donation of £3 is requested for refreshments in the interval. Please let us know on arrival if you require refreshments – this is optional.

Our Venue for live meetings: The Bedingfield Room, The Bar Convent, 17-19 Blossom Street, YORK YO24 1AQ

To find the Bar Convent: The historically significant and architecturally notable Bar Convent is a five-minute walk from York Railway Station; at the station exit turn right onto Queen Street, follow the road round to the traffic lights, cross the road, turn right and the Bar Convent is immediately on your left. Park and ride buses from Askham Bar (White Line, No 3 service) stop outside the Everyman cinema; this is across the road from our venue. There is a pay-and-display car park close to the Bar Convent on Nunnery Lane – SATNAV YO23 1AA.

Branch Contact
Paul Grafton
Fair Winds
Parsons Green
LS22 6RQ

Telephone: 01937 583723


Our Branch Newsletters


Elgar Newsletter April 21 Press


Elgar Newsletter Sept 20 Press


Elgar Newsletter May 20 Press


Elgar Newsletter April 20 Press

Programme 2022

22 January (Commencing with the AGM): HOWARD GREGG (Committee Member) on ‘Elgar’s Part Songs’

Elgar’s part songs are highly regarded and reflect another aspect of his great musical gifts yet they are rarely heard. The talk will look at their place in Elgar’s creative life and the context for which they were written. With musical examples.

26 March: STUART FREED (Chairman of the Elgar Society) on ‘Elgar and the Critical Ear’ – with particular reference to the Introduction and Allegro for Strings

In a light-hearted programme, Stuart guides us through 18 different recordings with the aim of choosing just one.

30 April: WENDY HILL (Member of the West Midlands Branch) on ‘Elgar’s Early Years’

This exploration of Elgar’s musical beginnings and rise to international prominence will include numerous musical examples.

21 May: SARAH LISTER (Archivist at the Settle Museum) on ‘Elgar and Settle’

An examination of Elgar’s acquaintance with and love of the Yorkshire Dales through his friendship with Charles William Buck, the GP and amateur cellist.

25 June: JULIAN RUSHTON (Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Leeds and a Committee Member) on ‘Elgar’s Symphonic Study Falstaff’

Falstaff is Elgar’s most openly programmatic music. Not wishing to be misunderstood, he published a note to make clear that this is the Falstaff of the Henry IV—V plays, not the Merry Wives, and to associate his abundance of themes with characters and episodes.

24 September: DANIEL GRIMLEY (a Professor of Music at the University of Oxford and Douglas Algar Tutorial Fellow at Merton College) on ‘A Tale of Two Concertos: Elgar, Delius and Beatrice Harrison’

An examination of the genesis of the concertos by Elgar and Delius, both of which were performed by Beatrice Harrison.

15 October: JACQUELINE EDWARDS (concert, opera and cabaret singer and a descendent of Dame Clara Butt) presents a live, lecture/recital on ‘Dame Clara Butt’

As mezzo soprano and pianist Jacqueline discusses and illustrates the life and career of the celebrated Edwardian contralto Dame Clara Butt, for whom Elgar composed Sea Pictures.

26 November: PAUL KAMPEN (Horn Player and Committee Member) on ‘Barbirolli in Yorkshire’

An examination of how Sir John Barbirolli revived musical life in Leeds, a decade before he did the same for Manchester, though his conductorship of the Northern Philharmonic Orchestra.

Future Performances of Elgar’s Music in our Region

Saturday January 22nd 2022; Huddersfield Town Hall; 7.30pm
Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Benjamin Ellin
Piano: Andrew Zolinsky
Emperor and Empire
Sibelius: Finlandia
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5, Emperor
Elgar: Symphony No 1
We welcome back Andrew Zolinsky for a mighty journey through one of the giants of the concerto repertoire.
Elgar’s 1st Symphony, a towering work within the genre, makes an eagerly anticipated return.
Pre-concert talk in the hall at 6.30 is free to all ticket holders.
Saturday 19th March 2022; Ripon Cathedral; 7.30pm
Ripon Choral Society
Elgar: The Kingdom
Tickets: £23 reserved, £20 unreserved (student concessions available)
Ticket line: 07986 861 332 or book online at www.riponchoralsociety.org.uk
Conductor; John Dunford with Orchestra D’Amici
Samantha Hay (soprano)
Anna Burford (mezzo-soprano)
Joshua Ellicott (tenor)
Grant Doyle (baritone)

Branch News

Reflections on a Landmark Event
On 23 May 2020, the Elgar Society Yorkshire & North East Branch put on its first ever on-line presentation. The extended period of corona- induced lockdown appeared to have left us with the choice of either doing nothing or keeping up the interest by means of a presentation via a suitable on-line platform, which came in the form of Zoom, perhaps the best known of such devices for transmitting virtual meetings.
There were, of course, important considerations before going ahead. Would the technology hold up? Would the sound quality be satisfactory, not only in terms of the speaker but crucially the music extracts? Would our members feel sufficiently confident with the technology to ‘attend’ the meeting? What were the licencing requirements for transmitting music on-line?
Not least of all, we had to find a speaker who was prepared to engage with the project, and in this we were singularly fortunate in Christopher Wiltshire, and his topic ‘Elgar as Remembered in Radio Interviews by Those who Knew Him’. Christopher had presented the first part of his talk in October 2017 and we were eagerly anticipating the joy of hearing more voices from the past from Chris’s extensive collection of archive recordings, and so an on-line presentation seemed the only way of going ahead at the advertised date.
Two trial runs, during which our speaker heroically maintained his good humour and positive attitude, proved invaluable in uncovering various technical difficulties, such as the presenter’s image and voice regularly freezing, and the music clips being at first inaudible. Part of the difficulty was marrying different platforms: Powerpoint, which brought together archival interviews, visual images, and music clips (many of them from old recordings conducted by Elgar), and Zoom. All this was perfectly possible but required considerable technical guidance. Once again we were fortunate in that Anne-Marie Grafton gave of her expertise and guidance with such generosity, patience and good humour as to make the entire process, whilst not exactly relaxed, far less stressful than it would have otherwise been.
The meeting went ahead with the speaker, subject, and time exactly as advertised, with an ‘attendance’ of 31 members, friends and members of the Executive of the Elgar Society – in other words, pretty much like a regular branch meeting (including tea break half way through and questions at the end), but conducted from a distance. The consensus was that the event was a success, but not without a few technical hitches, which were overcome on the way. Most importantly we experienced a fascinating delivery combining voices, images and music, by a presenter who has assembled an invaluable collection of archive material, much of which throws new light on our knowledge and understanding of a composer who continues to enrich and ennoble our lives.
The most important lessons to be learned from our experience are as follows:
1. Hold at least two trial runs to sort out the inevitable technical challenges; this is most important
2. Ensure you have an expert in the technology to guide you
3. Look carefully into the licencing requirements for transmitting music on-line and any copyright images
4. Make sure that the speaker uses suitable equipment – personal computer, laptop, or whatever, that the signal is adequate, and that the machine is not overloaded with data, for this will slow down the process
5. Send out in advance easy to follow instructions on logging on to Zoom (or whatever platform) to the prospective attendees, and point out that sound quality may be improved by connecting the computer or laptop to speakers or wearing earphones, but this is by no means necessary
6. Consider muting all attendees (except the speaker, of course!), for any sounds, whether a hoover in the background or a couple whispering whilst listening, will come across loud and clear – you can unmute at the end for questions – but seek the wishes of the speaker first.
David Young
Branch Chairman
New Pull Up Banner Commissioned!
To help develop our branch, increase its membership and encourage attendance at meetings, Branch Chairman Professor David Young commissioned a ‘pull up’ banner which can be taken to performances of Elgar’s music, and to other events as appropriate.
It was used for the first time on Saturday November 9th at the Royal Hall in Harrogate where the Harrogate Choral Society and the Amici Ensemble gave an all-Elgar programme conducted by Andrew Padmore. Dr Padmore will be the speaker for a future branch meeting.

Seen here above with the banner at Harrogate Royal Hall, before the concert including The Music Makers and The Spirit of England, are branch committee members (L-R) David Young, Caroline Gilderdale and Paul Grafton.

Previous Branch Meetings

22 January (Commencing with the AGM): HOWARD GREGG (Committee Member) on ‘Elgar’s Part Songs’

Elgar’s part songs are highly regarded and reflect another aspect of his great musical gifts yet they are rarely heard. Howard’s talk looked at their place in Elgar’s creative life and the context for which they were written. With musical examples

4th December 2021: Tom Kelly – ‘Beyond and Within Elgar’s Enigma Variations’
22nd May: ‘Elgar’s Enigma: thoughts in season‘.

Julian Rushton published a short book on Elgar’s Variations in 1999. Some autograph material has since resurfaced; and the number of proposed ‘solutions’ to the ‘Enigma’ has considerably increased. Julian’s talk did not propose a new solution, nor did it review these new ideas, whose propagation can safely be left to their authors; rather, Julian reviewed the question of whether there really is a question to be answered.

26th June 2021: Richard Westwood-Brookes

Elgar’s Violin Concerto

17th April: David Owen Norris – Elgar and the Note A flat

Elgar Society Vice Chairman Stuart Freed writes: To those of us with limited academic schooling, music theory can be both dry and baffling.  Consequently, it takes a teacher of rare quality to bring into the light the sometimes labyrinthine complexity of music and its relationship with science, whilst holding the attention of an audience. However, such was the case on Saturday, when David Owen Norris presented his talk on Elgar and the Note A flat, the latest in the series of virtual meetings presented by the Yorkshire and North East Branch.  If nothing else, it was worth hearing his explanation of the difference between A flat and G sharp.

27th March: Steven Halls – Elgar’s Chamber Music: From Shed to the World
30th January 2021 (Branch AGM – held by Zoom)

 Our 2021 AGM was followed by a talk by Branch Treasurer Paul Kampen on preliminary findings which he has made on Sir John Barbirolli’s time as Principal conductor of the Northern Philharmonic Orchestra in Leeds; this lasted from 1932 until Barbirolli (he was not ‘Sir John then) went to New York in 1936. The NPO  was a professional orchestra whose membership comprised players whose daily work was in the various theatres and cafes in Leeds; it gave some 25 concerts per year and made many BBC broadcasts.

28th November 2020

Our final meeting of 2020  featured a Zoom presentation by committee member Prof. Bernard Porter on ‘Elgar, the North, and King Olaf’, in which Bernard took a brilliant, multi-disciplinary approach, highlighting various strands of cultural history.  The talk was enjoyed not only by branch members but by the good number of guests who joined us from other branches, a characteristic of all four on-line meetings.

On Saturday 31 October at 1.30 pm

 The Yorkshire & North-East Branch presented a talk by Peter Newble, followed by a Zoom discussion at 4.00.

Elgar’s portrayal of Judas Iscariot in his oratorio, The Apostles, is perhaps his most heartfelt characterisation. In this illustrated talk, Peter Newble explored how Judas’s portrayal in musical works has evolved over a period of nearly 500 years, and examined his role in The Apostles in more detail.

27 June 2020 STUART FREED - The Lighter Side of Elgar

Using Zoom in a meeting attended by many visitors from other branches, Stuart explored Elgar’s lighter fare, examining how the pieces came to be composed, where they fit into the wider canon and how they have continued to maintain their popularity. Stuart showed how there is much more to Elgar than ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ which is what the general public associate him with – or even the great symphonies, concertos, overtures and choral works which immediately spring to mind for music lovers.

Stuart Freed is Vice-Chairman of the Elgar Society.

25 January 2020, (Branch AGM)

The AGM was followed by a talk given by Branch Chairman Professor David Young entitled Reading The Music Makers
After reading the poem, the score, and press reviews, one is left wondering why Elgar’s The Music Makers at first met such a muted response. David’s talk included a specially prepared Listener’s Analytical Guide and a complete recording conducted by Sir Adrian Boult and featuring Dame Janet Baker.

23rd NOVEMBER 2019 Andrew Neill The Pursuit of Grania and Diarmid

Andrew has been writing up CD notes on Grania and Diarmid as well as a forthcoming recording of Caractacus, and shared with us some of the highlights of his researches.
Andrew is a Vice-President of the Elgar Society, a member of its London Branch and a past Chairman of the Society ( 1992-2008) and has contributed to four books on Elgar’ life and music.

26 OCTOBER 2019 Jonathan Wainwright Gerontius with MS notes on Elgar

A first-edition vocal score of The Dream of Gerontius (Novello, 1900) which once belonged to Elgar’s early biographer Robert J. Buckley, contains numerous, previously unnoticed, annotations in the hand of Edward Elgar himself. Jonathan examined the significance of some of Elgar’s notes and annotations.
Jo Wainwright is Professor of Music at the University of York. He is a musicologist, conductor and performer.

28 SEPTEMBER 2019 Daniel Grimley Unfolding Elgar’s Sanguine Fan

Elgar’s 1917 ballet The Sanguine Fan, is one of his most delightful but neglected scores. In his talk, Daniel argued that the Sanguine Fan in fact constituted a means of mediating the processes of mourning, memorialisation and loss that lay at the heart of Elgar’s creative project during wartime. Daniel is a Professor of Music at the University of Oxford, and Douglas Algar Tutorial fellow at Merton College.

15th June 2019 Rev. John Knowles spoke on Elgar, Liverpool and Malcolm Sargent.

John investigated the early links between Liverpool and Elgar and between Sargent and Elgar, as an introduction to Sargent’s Elgar performances with Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. John is presently the Chairman of the North West Branch of the Elgar Society.

Saturday 25 May 2019.

Our meeting on 25th May 2019 featured Jonathan Clinch who spoke on Elgar and Herbert Howells. Edward Elgar was one of the greatest influences on the young Herbert Howells and played an important practical role in his early career. Howells in turn dedicated the middle movement of his Concerto for String Orchestra of 1938 jointly to the memory of Elgar and Howells’ son Michael. Jonathan offered new insights into the nature of their relationship. Dr Jonathan Clinch is an organist, musicologist and Lecturer in Academic Studies at The Royal Academy of Music.

Saturday May 4th 2019

Our meeting on Saturday May 4th 2019 featured live music performed by the Fairfax Ensemble.
Photo collage by Caroline Gilderdale.

Saturday March 23rd 2019

Elgar had great respect and admiration for Hubert Parry – and publicly acknowledged the debt that he, in particular, and English music in general, owed to Parry. The violinist Rupert Marshall-Luck has recently recorded a triple-disc set of Parry’s complete music for violin and piano, and is also currently editing all Elgar’s violin music. From this perspective, on Saturday March 23rd, he gave a talk to the Yorkshire and North East branch which described and demonstrated the two composers’ writing for violin; also revealing what their musical notations for the instrument can tell us of contemporary playing styles and characteristics.

November 24th 2018

On November 24th 2018 Dr Donald Hunt was to address the Yorkshire and North East branch meeting. Sadly that was not to be due to the death of Dr Hunt; but he had given Caroline Gilderdale a copy of the script which he had prepared; it was read for us by Dr Simon Lindley. Caroline Gilderdale is seen here (left) conducting an ensemble comprising singers from the Yorkshire Bach Choir and York Cantores, performing a selection of Elgar’s church music, edited by Donald Hunt. Simon Lindley (right) accompanies.