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Minster Minstrels - York's youth early music ensemble

Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Dave Taylor with Alizée Currell and Molly Killeen (John Marvin Achievement Award winners 2016)

Tim Bayley donates a soprano rauschpfeife to the Minster Minstrels

Workshop with Tim Bayley of the York Waits

Minster Minstrels is York's youth early music ensemble for school-age musicians of any instrument. Directed by Ailsa Batters, with the support of Minster Minstrels interns Jo Wherry and Anna Lusty, the ensemble learns how to interpret the wide variety of music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods with authentic character and style. They perform regularly, including appearances at York Early Music Festival and York Early Music Christmas Festival, as well as taking part in Music Hub events throughout the year. There are also opportunities to work with professional musicians in workshops and master-classes and to attend early music concerts to hear and see them in action. Minster Minstrels meets 9.30am-12.15pm on Saturday mornings during term time at Millthorpe School, as part of York Music Centre. 

Recent highlights of the Minster Minstrels' performing calendar have included: performing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) as part of the national OAE Watercycle project at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the University of York; taking part in the European Day of Early Music on 21 March 2015 alongside York Music Centre's Girls' Chamber Choir and Warwickshire's Youth Viol Consort 'Gutted'; performing at historical venues such as Cawood Castle and the Treasurer's House, York. In previous years, the Minster Minstrels have performed at the Merchant Adventurers' 650th anniversary celebrations in York, at King's Place in London, and as part of the York Massed Choir at the Music for Youth Schools Prom in the Royal Albert Hall in 2009.  Some took the parts of Cupids in the Theatre of the Ayre's production of Venus and Adonis directed by Elizabeth Kenny in the 2010 York Early Music Festival.

Participants say:
  • "I have learned lots of new things like the history behind the music and about how dances and dance steps affect how we play the music"
  • "I love that we learn about the context of the music - it helps with a real in-depth understanding"
  • "I have grown as a musician and been inspired to take my music further"

Parents say:
  • "I appreciate the superb standard of performance. Whatever level they have reached the standard is truly excellent due to parts being allocated depending on each musician's personal strengths and those of their instruments"
  • "We as parents have loved our daughter's time with Minstrels, watching her grown in confidence and as a musician"

For details about joining Minster Minstrels, please contact the NCEM on 01904 632220 or email . To see examples of the ensembles previous work, please see our short video clips here and here
Minster Minstrels is run by the NCEM in partnership with York Music Hub, with support from Mayfield Valley Arts Trust.