TWO WEEKS of inspiring performances in the houses, churches, theatres and other venues of Ryedale gets underway on Friday.

The 33rd Ryedale Festival includes a variety of events from opera and chamber music to coffee concerts and family events.

This year’s Festival opens with a distinguished group of musicians on Friday, July 11 in the surroundings of Ampleforth Abbey. The programme features one of Monteverdi’s masterpieces, his Vespers of 1610. It will be sung by The 24 who are the highly acclaimed choir from the University of York, and by the Monks of Ampleforth Abbey in a very rare public appearance. Also performing are Echoris Ensemble from York with the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, all directed by Robert Hollingworth.

A family event takes place on Saturday, July 11 at 11am at Pickering Kirk Theatre, with the theatre company Box Tale Soup presenting Alice in Wonderland with puppets in their production suitable for all ages.

The opening weekend continues at Ampleforth on Saturday at 6pm with the festival’s annual opera production which is another great work by Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea.

Festival President John Warrack is a renowned musicologist and has written a new English translation for the production by Nina Brazier. There is a pre-opera talk by John at Festival director, Christopher Glynn conducts the young cast and Eboracum Baroque. The Saturday performance includes an extended interval for audience members to bring a picnic with them to enjoy in the grounds. The second performance of the opera is on Monday, July 14 at 7pm, with the pre-opera talk at 6pm

The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy comes to Galtres Centre in Easingwold on Sunday, July 13, at 3.30pm. In a performance featuring poems and music, she reads her own work and is joined by multi-instrumentalist and actor John Sampson with whom she has collaborated for over a decade.

World-renowned oboist, Nicholas Daniel, who is one of the few recipients of the Queen’s Medal for Music, performs with pianist Charles Owen at 8pm in the surroundings of the saloon in Duncombe Park.

The first of the morning ‘coffee concerts’ will be held on Monday, July 14 at 11am in St Mary’s Church, Birdsall, with flautist Adam Walker, alongside classical guitarist Morgan Szymanski playing a programme which includes de Falla, Debussy and Piazzolla. Coffee, tea, soft drinks and biscuits served before the concert.

The Festival marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War with world premieres of four new pieces of music, one by a young composer from Pickering and local author Lucy Beckett talks about her new novel, The Leaves Are Falling, set during the two world wars in Eastern Europe and Yorkshire, on Tuesday, July 15 at 11am in Malton Methodist Chapel.

The first of the new works to receive its world premiere is in the concert by rising star pianist, Clare Hammond on Tuesday.July 15 at 3.30pm in St Michael’s Church, Malton. Her programme features music associated a pianist who lost an arm in the war, and who then famously built a career performing music for the left hand only.

The world premiere piece is Rupture by Joseph Howard, a 21 year-old local student from Pickering, who was winner of the 2013 NCEM Composers Award and commissioned by Ryedale Festival to write a piece about the outbreak of war in 1914.

There is an informal lunch in The Talbot Hotel, Malton at 12.45pm between the two events.

The festival moves to St Peter’s Church in Norton for Tuesday’s final event at 8pm and a programme of Vivaldi, including his most famous work, The Four Seasons. This Italian evening will be played by the early music group, La Serenissima, with virtuoso violinist, Cecilia Bernardini and directed by Adrian Chandler.

The coffee concert on Wednesday, July 16 brings two more of the World War One premieres Pro patria mori by Edwin Roxburgh, in response to Wilfred Owen’s poem and Deborah Pritchard’s Seven Halts after the Somme, inspired by a new series of paintings for the National Gallery, which will be projected during the performance.

Both of these are in a concert at 11am in St Mary’s Church, Lastingham by Simon Desbruslais, trumpet and Claire Hammond, piano. At 10am there is a pre-concert talk by Deborah Pritchard about her new work and music as a response to art and synaesthesia - the sensation of feeling, tasting and hearing colours. Coffee will be served in the village hall from 9.30 - 10.45am.

Ryedale Festival director, Christopher Glynn,said: "It promises to be an inspiring summer in Ryedale and the festival looks forward to welcoming old faces and new."

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