National Centre for Early Music

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Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax


Young people from Beverley's primary schools

Student mentors from Beverley Grammar School

Hull University Chapel Choir

University of York Music Education Group volunteers
Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax was part of the  Beverley Early Music Festival, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, with festivities including an exhibition of illuminated musical manuscripts from the workshop of renaissance polymath Petrus Alamire - a German-born illuminator, based in the Low Countries, who worked as a spy for the court of Henry VIII, while journeying around Europe!  It was this intriguing historical figure whose life and work provided the inspiration for the 2017 festival learning & participation activities.

Working with student mentors from Beverley Grammar School and Year 4/5  pupils from Keldmarsh, Walkington and St Nicholas' primary schools, Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax introduced KS2, KS3 and KS4 students to the music of the past and helped them to make sense of it in the modern world, through exploration, composition and performance. Focusing on 15th and 16th Century vocal music, developing instrumental accompaniments and composing new pieces inspired by these early starting points, this project inspired an emerging generation of young musicians and supported transition links between primary and secondary schools. 

Led by early music specialist Cathryn Dew, composer Merit Ariane Stephanos and harpsichordist Masumi Yamamoto, the project provided a rare chance for school-age musicians to collaborate with industry professionals. There were also several layers of CPD built into the programme, from mentoring training for secondary students, to education-based work experience for emerging artists (including flautist Jennifer Cohen, students from the University of York's Music Education Group, and NCEM's EEEmerging ensemble in residence the Castello Consort ), from general musical skills development for non-specialist staff in primary schools, to performance opportunities for instrumentalists and singers from the University of Hull.

Training, devising and rehearsing took place throughout May and the project culminated in a spectacular musical and theatrical performance in Beverley Minster, 2pm on Friday 26 May 2017.

Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax was made possible due to the generosity of the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust, Beverley Grammar School and its trustees, the Beverley Decorative and Fine Arts Society, Ann Watson's Trust and the Rotary Club of Beverley. The involvement of the Castello Consort was made possible due to support from Creative Europe.