Artistic Director’s Welcome


‘Classical music thrills, comforts and amazes me’ says Sheila Hancock. ‘When I begin to lose faith in the human species, it reminds me what the best of us can do.’

That seems a good motto for the Ryedale Festival 2024 – a fortnight’s celebration of great music in beautiful and historic locations that aims to make North Yorkshire one of the best places in the UK to enjoy and encounter classical music.

Dame Sheila is just one of many stars appearing this summer. You can hear world-renowned pianist Angela Hewitt play Bach and Beethoven, or catch Royal Wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing music from Brahms to Bob Marley. One of Europe’s most famous choirs, Tenebrae, will sound stunning in the long-echoing spaces of Ampleforth Abbey, just as a spectacular church in Scarborough is the perfect location for an all-Mozart evening with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Don’t miss the inspirational Felix Klieser – a leading international horn player, despite the fact he was born without any arms – or the trailblazing guitarist Xuefei Yang, whose fascinating journey began at a time when her instrument was banned in China. Both are Artists in Residence, along with singer and ‘knockout performer’ Fleur Barron, Gramophone Young Artist of the Year Stella Chen, the superb Van Baerle Trio, and our resident ‘troubadour’ Rachel Podger, who tours a solo programme to intimate and beautiful venues across the county.

You can spot stars of tomorrow, such as Georgian pianist Giorgi Gigashvili (who started as a child pop singer and even won The Voice), conductor and ‘spark to watch’ Tom Fetherstonhaugh, Brazilian guitar pioneer Plínio Fernandes, and an array of others including our own Ryedale Festival Young Artists.

All are welcome to Come and Sing Fauré’s Requiem in Thirsk or promenade through a Triple Concert at Castle Howard. You can also picnic in the interval of a Double Concert at Sledmere, enjoy the Orchestra of Opera North in Hovingham, or join us at new venues such as Selby Abbey and stunning locations on the Yorkshire Wolds, Moors and Coast.

Jazz, folk and world music are in the mix too. Look out for Claire Martin celebrating the genius of Gershwin and a gig by folk band The Unthanks. Look out, too, for the world premiere of Spring Snow, a ground-breaking and cross-cultural meditation on sound and silence.

Also in the Festival: family concerts, a Community Song Cycle, talks, masterclasses, late-night candlelit concerts, choral evensong, one of the best Yorkshire brass bands you’ll ever hear, and seven world/UK premieres.

To our loyal followers and volunteers who return year after year, thanks for all your brilliant support. To anyone trying the Festival for the first time, we look forward to welcoming you – and please say hello to one of the festival team.

Read on to discover more about the programme –I hope you can join us this summer to be thrilled, comforted and amazed.