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The Greatest Story Ever Told?


The New York Mystery Plays premiered to a full house in the National Centre for Early Music in a spectacular concert set within the Festival of Ideas.

Created entirely by students of the Department of Music, University of York, under the direction of Ambrose Field, the New York Mystery Plays are a new contemporary response to York's medieval  Mystery Play cycle. Our starting point was the idea that the Mystery Plays were originally entertainments written by the people for the people. Their themes were those that would already be familiar to anyone in the audience, and were often grand in their narrative aspiration. As a result, the students' plays juxtaposed traditional stories (such as a new interpretation of the "Flood" play) with responses to the issues within  present day culture (sensitively dealt with by the students in the "superinjunction" play). Set in five partially-staged tableaux, the New York Mystery Plays mixed historical approaches to music with modern, creative realisations and digital imaging. Instead of working from the assumption that the past is a historical artefact, the students adopted present day working methods to discover the musical material within the medieval sources.

Below are some audio clips from the Mystery Plays