BOOKING opens on Monday for this summer's York Early Music Festival 2019.

Taking the theme of Innovation – The Shock Of The New, Britain's premier annual early music gathering will run from July 5 to 13.

This year's festival marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci in a nine-day celebration of the composers, performers, instrument-makers and thinkers who, over the centuries, have moved music forward by daring to be different.

"The festival is delighted to welcome a host of the best specialist and innovative performers and musicians whose work proves that in early music, as in all art, nothing stands still," says administrative director Delma Tomlin.

Headlining the festival will be Monteverdi’s timeless masterpiece L’Orfeo, merging the new world of baroque vocal expression with the older Renaissance traditions of court entertainment and madrigal, a mixture of the novel and the unfamiliar.

Monteverdi masters I Fagiolini return to the festival to present a creative staging of this 400 year-old opera, combining singing, acting and puppetry.

"This year’s festival opens with the world’s first truly great opera, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo," says Delma. "Monteverdi is recognised as a true innovator and his masterpiece was regarded as a bold experiment when it was first performed in 1607. We are thrilled to be welcoming I Fagiolini to York with this highly acclaimed production, directed by Robert Hollingworth with stage direction by Thomas Guthrie, which promises to be one of the artistic highlights of the year."

Other festival favourites confirmed for this summer are Florilegium, Andreas Staier, the Rose Concert of Viols, Alamire and The Sixteen, who will be marking their 40th anniversary with Choral Pilgrimage, bringing together music past and present to highlight the group’s musical journey over four decades.

Appearing at the festival for the first time will be the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis, appearing in the Chapter House of York Minster, and Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, a baroque specialist who sang at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle last year. She will be accompanied by harpsichordist Steven Devine.

The York Early Music Festival always promotes emerging talent and an important element of this year’s event will be the final stage of the York Early Music International Young Artists competition.

This biennial event has been taking place for more than 30 years and this year received a record number of entrants from all over Europe and beyond.

The festival has been pivotal in launching the careers of many talented performers. In 2018, past winners Sollazzo Ensemble won the prestigious Diapason d’Or for their recording of Parle qui veut. This summer's finalists will take part in informal concerts on July 11 and 12 in the run-up to the competition on July13.

BBC Radio 3’s The Early Music Show will be broadcast live from the festival on July 7, presented by Hannah French and featuring festival guests Concerto di Margherita and singer Peter Harvey.

There will be opportunities to participate in activities based around the main festival programme. Into The Underworld will be the culmination of a creative response to L’Orfeo, with music making and puppetry devised in part by students at Heworth School, working with the National Centre for Early Music. Two singing workshops will be held: a choral workshop entitled An Adventure Through Tallis and Come & Sing, Vivaldi Gloria, a festive celebration full of Venetian vigour and energy."

Delma says: "The sharing and promotion of early music is at the heart of our work and this year’s programme celebrating The Shock Of The New provides us with the chance to join together for concerts, workshops and talks in a host of historic venues around the city."

The full programme can be found at; tickets are on sale from March 11 on 01904 658338 or at