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YMS News

Sir Karl Jenkins to Attend Performance of The Armed Man in York Minster

York Musical Society and Orchestra ‘s (YMS) performance of The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in York Minster on Saturday, November 14 2015 at 7.30 p.m. will be attended by the composer, Sir Karl Jenkins. He will be accompanied by Guy Wilson, former Master of the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, who commissioned the work to mark the Millennium and who contributed some of the text. An audience in excess of 800 is expected to attend the concert. Karl Jenkins was knighted in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours announced on June 15 ‘for his services to composing and crossing musical genres’.

A recent survey has revealed the work to have been performed over 1500 times in 30 different countries since its premiere; thus it is the most-performed piece by a living composer. The original recording of The Armed Man has been in the official Chart List of top-selling classical albums since its launch fourteen years ago – 690 weeks in total.

The concert programme includes Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and The Lark Ascending. David Pipe, YMS Director of Music, will conduct and the soloists are soprano Katie Trethewey, baritone Greg Skidmore and violin soloist Sophie Lockett.

YMS is a large and thriving choral society that has contributed to the musical and cultural life of the city of York since 1876. We enjoy performing a challenging repertoire, including many of the large-scale choral works such as Handel’s Messiah, the Bach Passions and several well-loved Requiems. Most of our concerts are held in York Minster and attract audiences not only from the York area but also across the county. There are 160 mixed-age members of the choir.

For further information, please contact:
John Pearson
Telephone: 01904 628711


Notes to Editors

Sir Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man is a powerful and compelling account of the onset and terrible consequences of war. Set within extracts from the Christian Mass it draws on sources both musical and textual from other cultures and religions to dwell on martial themes, with a final, hopeful resolution in peace. It is both dramatic and moving.

Poignantly, its first recording, by The National Youth Choir of Great Britain and The National Musicians Symphony Orchestra, was issued in September 2001, the day before the attack on the Twin Towers in New York. It soon entered the charts of the top-50 biggest-selling classical albums, and has remained there on 690 of the subsequent 728 weeks – by far the most popular of all recordings over this period.

Essentially an anti-war piece, The Armed Man has particular resonance during current commemorations of the First World War and this performance by York Musical Society Choir and Orchestra, under David Pipe, is scheduled for Saturday November 14 following Remembrance Sunday.

Five Mystical Songs are based on poems by the Anglican priest George Herbert. Vaughan Williams’ score expresses a serious and thoughtful reflection to Herbert’s devotional verses.

The Lark Ascending is one of the most enduring works for solo violin and orchestra. Vaughan Williams combines the beauty of soaring strings with a calm background accompaniment to create a true celebration of the English countryside. This will be a joy to hear in the wonderful space of York Minster.


York Musical Society (“YMS”) returns to rehearsals, after the Easter break, on Tuesday 9th April. It is therefore an ideal time to join us and get in on the action!

Our next concert is “Summer Celebrations” which takes place on Saturday 15th June in York Minster where we will be performing:

  • Mozart: Coronation Mass (K317)
  • Rutter: Gloria
  • Haydn: Te Deum
  • Moore: Psalm 23

For further details on joining and how to arrange for your audition, please see the “Get Involved” section of our website.

We look forward to seeing you!

CONCERT PREVIEW: Bach St Matthew Passion

YORK MUSICAL SOCIETY will perform Bach’s St Matthew Passion in York Minster on March 9 at 7.30pm.

“It’s a very important and also demanding work to sing and considered to be one of Bach’s grandest works,” says conductor David Pipe.

“Our concert will be the opening event of York Minster’s Festival of the Passions and promises to be a wonderful evening.”

The York Musical Society Chorus and Orchestra will be joined by soloists Paul Smy, Julian Tovey, Laurie Ashworth, Juliette Pochin, Jo Cornwell and Jon Saunders and the Minster choristers.

Tickets are available at the Minster box office during opening hours, online at and by phone on 0844 9390015.


Reproduced by kind permission of the The Press.


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PRESS RELEASE – HRH Princess Beatrice of York becomes patron of York Musical Society


York Musical Society (“YMS”) is pleased to announce that Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York has agreed to become its Patron.
The YMS is the oldest musical society in the country, tracing its origins back to 1765. Rule 2 in 1825 said:
“No person in any business or profession shall be deemed admissible as a Member of this Society, unless he be a principal or partner in such business or profession”. The total membership was limited to sixty, who met on Mondays at 7.00 p.m. in BAYNES’S coffee house in Petergate. Supper was at 9.30 p.m. and cost two shillings (10p) which included malt liquor. Members could bring friends to meetings (but not more than one in four meetings) if they were residents of York. Instrumental performers “being disqualified by Rule 2 from being admitted into this Society” were not subject to this restriction and could be introduced at any meeting. 
Happily the Society follows a more welcoming and enlightened policy of membership nowadays.
David Pipe, Musical Director of the Society said, “It is a great honour for the York Musical Society to have a Royal Patron. We are all delighted that Her Royal Highness has accepted the invitation and we look forward to welcoming her to one of our concerts.”