Yorkshire Baroque Soloists was formed in 1973 by Peter Seymour to perform a repertoire from the 17th and 18th centuries for forces ranging from chamber to orchestral size. The group has performed and recorded in most European countries and has regularly appeared in baroque and classical repertoire in York Early Music Festival.
Much of the orchestra’s work has been with Yorkshire Bach Choir and recent performances have included Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. Commercially released recordings have included Bach’s Motets (Carlton); A Festal Mass at the Imperial Court in Vienna, 1648 (Carlton); Mozart’s Requiem; Psalms and motets by Tomás Luis de Victoria; Monteverdi Vespro Della Beata Vergine; Bach Family Motets. In 2011 YBS recordings Bach St John Passion and B minor Mass were released by Signum Records. In September 2013, YBS (with Charles Daniels and Peter Harvey) recorded Bach’s early version of St Matthew Passion also for Signum Records. This will be released in January 2015.
YBS has performed Purcell’s Fairy Queen and Dido & Aeneas in Festival Mitte Europa (in Germany and Czech Republic) and presented a Purcell Day of three concerts in Merseburg (Germany) and at Köthener Herbst performed a programme of music by Bach, Torelli and Handel from Bach’s library from his time at Köthen. In recent summers YBS appeared at Ryedale Festival performing B minor Mass and St John Passion and at Knechtsteden Festival (with Emma Kirkby – Handel cantatas). Last season, YBS, YBC and English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble combined to perform a Venetian Christmas Celebration and later YBS again combined with YBC in Bach St Matthew Passion. This season’s programmes include Handel’s Messiah; Mozart Requiem and Haydn Maria Theresa (14 March, 2015); and Dido & Aeneas (20 June, 2015). In the 2015 York Early Music Festival (on 10 July) YBS performs a programme of French music from the early 18th century: Concert Spirituel – Cantate et Sonate Française.
In the last years of Louis XIV’s reign musical life at court was in decline and society turned to the city for artistic stimulation and the rapid growth of concerts there are witness to this. France was establishing a clear musical identity but Italian music retained its popularity and influence on both the cantata and sonata genres, so the reference to Corelli (whose music was often performed in Philidor’s Concert spirituel) is particularly appropriate.
Alongside more familiar composers such as François Couperin (1668-1733) this programme will involve instrumental music and cantatas by Elizabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729) and so marks not only the 350th anniversary of her birth but also the work of one of the first women to achieve professional status as a composer.
YBS is an Ensemble in Association at the Department of Music at the University of York which embraces close relationships with ensembles based in York. Students benefit greatly from these interactions through performances and other collaborations and many students have ‘graduated’ to become regular members of YBS. Twenty two of the thirty five performers on the St Matthew Passion recording studied at University of York.