*** DEBUG END ***

Music review: The Rydale Festival

28 July 2023

Pat Ashworth hears a celestial outpouring


NORTH YORKSHIRE is rich in historic locations, and the 17-day Ryedale Festival can match its magnificent music offering to concert venues that range from Castle Howard and Ampleforth Abbey to the tiniest of moorland churches, St Gregory’s Minster at Kirkdale.

Anna Lapwood is one of the Festival’s artists-in-residence, and the choice of St Mary’s, Lastingham, for “The Echo of Angels”, an afternoon concert of organ and plainsong, roundly vindicates the church’s decision, a decade ago, to restore and enlarge a Peter Conacher organ for worship, concerts and recitals, and the support and encouragement of organists.

There is a rounded apse of softly washed stone here. Half of Lapwood’s Pembroke College Chapel Choir followed the line of its curved walls, while the rest were positioned behind the audience and in the north aisle. It was surround sound, attention drawn wholly to the music and not the individual performers. Lapwood was invisible to the bulk of the audience, too; so the outpouring of sound was celestial.

The chant, Magnificat Primi Toni, was the prelude to Bach’s Fuga Sopra il Magnificat. Then Attende Domine flowed into Sarah MacDonald’s and Jeanne Demessieux’s compositions on that theme, before Dobrinka Tabakova’s Orbis Factor — sustained thoughtfulness before the joyous outpouring of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A Minor.

The Bach was so glorious that I imagined the sound breaking out of the building and being swept over the moors. There followed Amy Summers’s beautiful O Lux Beata Trinitas; Frescobaldi’s Toccata Cromatica per L’Elevazione, and Ligeti’s accompanying Omaggio a Frescobaldi, the tiny, bell-like sound stealing away at the end and holding us in suspension.

It was such a feast that I sometimes lost track of where we’d got to, and just gave myself up to the sanctity of the voices and versatility of the organ. We reached Kyrie Cum Jubilo (Roxanna Panufnik) before the slow descent into the Norman crypt of the soprano singing Ghislaine Reece-Trapp’s In Paradisum: an ethereal moment among many.

The finale, Star Fantasy (Kristina Arakelyan), was a lovely, tumbling thing. It felt like a ship heading with abandonment into stormy waters: a rousing end indeed.


The Ryedale Festival continues until Sunday. www.ryedalefestival.com

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)