Concerts and Performances

Sing, Sing, O Heavenly Choir!

The Senior Boys and Girls Choirs of Leeds Cathedral

Senior girls choir of Leeds Cathedral holding music


The Lords of Misrule perform Hrotsvit of Gandersheim

The Marshal's Music

Trouvère celebrates William Marshal's love of music

Trouvére performance at Leeds Universities Catholic Chaplaincy, IMC 2017

This year’s concert and performance programme features outdoor dramatic performances, theatrical readings, storytelling, and live music from a diverse group of performers and sources. Check each event listing for information on tickets and locations.

You can book and pay for event tickets when you register online. Alternatively, any remaining tickets will be on sale at the Events & Excursions Desk in Parkinson Court from Monday 1 July.

The Private Life of Henry VII

Performed by The Leeds Waits

Sunday 30 June
Leeds University Union: Room 6, 19.30-21.00
This event is free of charge

King Henry VII has lost his son and heir Prince Arthur as well as his Queen, Elizabeth of York. He has but one surviving son, Prince Henry, so the Tudor dynasty is far from secure. He needs another son, and therefore he must find a second wife! The Leeds Waits and friends, as courtiers and court musicians, tell the story of the King’s search, surveying the courts of Europe for a bride with words and appropriate music.

The city of Leeds had waits to serve as its official musicians, as far back as 1530, a century before the borough had a royal charter. The Leeds Waits continued to serve the city until their abolition in 1835. Revived in 1983, with appropriate music, instruments, and livery, the current Leeds Waits cover the period from the 15th to the early 18th centuries. Over the years, they have performed many times at the IMC, in concerts, as strolling minstrels, and also providing incidental music in plays.

Swords of the Silver Screen

Presented by Dean Davidson and Stuart Ivinson

Monday 1 July
Clothworkers Court: Speakman Lecture Theatre, 19.00-20.30
This event is free of charge

Recent films such as Macbeth (2015) or television programmes like Game of Thrones often depict dramatic sword fights, but how accurate are these portrayals? Medieval martial experts Dean Davidson and Stuart Ivinson will compare two fight sequences involving the longsword, considering whether these portrayals are in any way grounded in knowledge of medieval combat or if the methods depicted would be effective in a real fight.

Dean Davidson has over 20 years’ experience in martial arts and training in historical weapons. He is the KDF International Senior Instructor and European Historical Combat Guild Chapter Master at the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Dean regularly presents at international conferences and seminars, most notably the International Medieval Congress, providing a unique insight into the arms and armour used throughout medieval warfare. He is also a founding member of the Towton Battlefield Frei Compagnie and the Creative Director of 3 Swords, a foremost medieval historical and armed combat interpretation group, the presentations of which include museum quality displays of arms and armour for organisations such as the National Archives at Kew, English Heritage and numerous British museums. Dean holds a Masters in Health Informatics from the University of Leeds and is a member of the Leeds University Medieval Society. He frequently runs workshops in historical European martial arts from an array of academic sources throughout the UK.

Stuart Ivinson has an MA in Medieval History, as well as an MA in Librarianship and a P. Dip in Heritage Management. He has made extensive studies of various aspects of medieval warfare, and has written Anglo-Welsh Wars, 1050-1300. Stuart is an assistant teacher at the Leeds chapters of KDF and the European Historical Combat Guild, and has been practicing historical martial arts for sixteen years. He has given numerous demonstrations of historical combat techniques as a member of the Towton Battlefield Society’s Frei Compagnie Living History group, and also the 3 Swords Historical Combat group. Clients for these demonstrations most notably include the Royal Armouries Museum Leeds, The National Archives at Kew, and the Leeds University International Medieval Congress. Stuart works at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, where he is the Librarian. His hobbies include hill walking, reading, and trying to make his numerous replica armours fit and work better.

‘Sing, sing, o heavenly choir!’: A Selection of Medieval Music

Performed by The Senior Boys and Girls Choirs of Leeds Cathedral

Directed by Benjamin Saunders
Organ Solo: Jane Flynn
Soloist: Anna Prosser

Monday 1 July
School of Music: Clothworkers Concert Hall, 19.00-20.30
Price: £12.50

The Diocese of Leeds has the largest church-based music programme in England. Its particular focus is on areas of social marginalisation and economic deprivation, striving to offer the best possible musical opportunities in communities which are least likely to encounter them, but where hearts and minds are at their most open. Each week 3,500 children from across the region meet together in around 100 choral groups and these include the six choirs of Leeds Cathedral. The musical repertoire of the Cathedral is centred on medieval chant and Renaissance polyphony, and therefore from an early age the children are fluent in reading both modern and Gregorian notation.

The concert consists of medieval sacred and secular song from England, Iberia, Italy, and Germany, alternating with organ music from the earliest surviving keyboard collections. Sacred songs come from the medieval office and mass as well as from popular devotions, and include music by Hildegard and selections from the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat. Secular songs include polyphonic conductus from the Las Hueglas Codex, set to verse from the Carmina Burana, and the famous rota ‘Sumer is icumen in’. The organ music includes an estampie from the Robertsbridge Codex, alternatim settings from Codex Faenza, as well as intonations and intabulations of songs from the Buxheim Organ Book.

Benjamin Saunders is Director of Music for the Diocese of Leeds and works across Europe and the United States as an organist, choral director and consultant. He is a Director on the Board of Leeds College of Music and in 2019 joined the Board of Sacred Music at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Dr Jane Flynn is a Visiting Fellow in the School of History, University of Leeds, and a freelance organist and music teacher. Her MA in Performance Practice Studies and PhD in Musicology are both from Duke University (USA). Her publications include ‘The Intabulation of De toutes flours in the Codex Faenza as Analytical Model’, in Machaut’s Music: New Interpretations, ed. E.E. Leach (2003) and ‘To play upon the organs any man[ner] play[n]song’, BIOS34 (2010).

A native of Wales, Anna Prosser studied at Trinity College, Carmarthen, graduating in 2010 with a BA(Hons) Acting. After University Anna achieved several diploma qualifications, most notably the Associate of Trinity College, London and Licentiate of London College of Music. In 2013 Anna accepted a place to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Classical Performance at Leeds College of Music, where she studied with Tim Ochala-Greenough. Anna is currently a Choral Scholar and Vocal Coach at Leeds Cathedral, and works as a singing teacher in schools throughout Yorkshire. She combines this with solo work in the area.

‘Romanz-reding on the Bok’: An Evening of Performative Reading

Performed by Alana Bennett

Tuesday 2 July
Leeds University Union: Room 2, 19.00-20.00
This event is free of charge

Sir Eglamour of Artois is a Middle English romance found in four manuscripts and two fragments. This performance focuses on the versions found in Lincoln Cathedral Library MS 91 (the Lincoln Thornton manuscript), London, British Library MS Cotton Caligula A.II and Cambridge, University Library MS Ff.2.38 – three books which are considered ‘household manuscripts’.

Described by Phillipa Hardman as medieval libraries ‘in parvo’, household manuscripts contain an eclectic assortment of texts – from saint’s lives, comic tales, romances, sermons, nonsense poems, chronicles, moral tales to medical cures – that could in theory fulfil all of the textual needs of a medieval household. Household manuscripts have drawn much scholarly attention for their contents, in particular the collection of romances found in them, and their clear connection to specific owners and users, who were often also responsible for the manuscripts’ production.

This performance invites IMC participants to experience a medieval text in an evocative and historically-informed reception context as it is read aloud. The episodic structure and vivid orality of Sir Eglamour make it an ideal candidate for this experimental performative reading, exploring the interplay of text, space, sensory experience, and material culture, and suggesting new resonances and understandings of the text.

Participants who wish to gain the most from this session are encouraged to read Sir Eglamour in advance. A version can be found online via TEAMS Middle English Text Series.

Alana Bennett is a PhD candidate at the University of York researching domestic reading practices in later medieval England. Her research investigates the reading practices associated with household manuscripts and in particular explores the performative possibilities that they open up. Outside of her thesis research she is interested in medieval and folk music and modern interpretations of the Middle Ages.

Open Mic Night

Hosted by Universities Chaplaincy in Leeds

Tuesday 2 July
Emmanuel Centre: Claire Chapel, 20.00-22.00
This event is free of charge

Not with an actual microphone (that would be silly!) the IMC Open Mic Night offers a variety of fare from poetry readings to music, song, even dance sometimes. We have had music from the troubadours, Viking sagas, medieval poetry, and a variety of musical instruments. Medieval contributions are particularly welcome but it is an opportunity to share anything you always wanted to perform with the international audience the IMC provides. Whether you come to perform or listen you will find the ambience of the Emmanuel Centre Claire Chapel, and emcee Robin Fishwick’s famous spiced fruit punch, unforgettable.

Robin Fishwick is the Quaker Chaplain at the Universities Chaplaincy and is keen that delegates to the IMC are aware that the Chaplaincy’s welcome extends to them.He is a bit of a singer/songwriter himself and plays a variety of instruments (some of them quite weird!).

The Marshal's Music

Performed by Trouvère

Tuesday 2 July
School of Music: Clothworkers Concert Hall, 20.30-22.00
Price £14.50

2019 is the 800th anniversary of the death of William Marshal, often referred to as England’s greatest knight. William Marshal lived through some of the most turbulent events of a turbulent age and, thanks to the rare fortune of having his biography written soon after his death, we know a fair amount about him. Born the younger son of a minor noble he was held as a hostage by King Stephen in the Anarchy and began his career as a landless knight. Nevertheless, he made his own fortune, transforming himself into a sporting superstar and the friend of the great and powerful, who ended up serving five kings of England and finally ruling as Regent of England under the young Henry III. A tournament champion and a crusader who made his name and his fortune through martial prowess and astute marriage, William is also known to have enjoyed music, both as a performer and as a listener – it was after all very much part of the courtly life. Our programme presents the music that the Marshal might have known and performed – music of the troubadours and the trouveres and music of the early Angevin church.

The programme also tells the epic life story of the Marshal through selected short excerpts from his biography, and the music is selected to illustrate this life story. It includes troubadour music by Bernart de Ventadorn, Gaucelm Faidit and Bertran de Born, anonymous 12th-century Anglo-Norman songs and trouvère songs, early English lyric, and not least 12th– and 13th-century liturgical and devotional music, suitable for one who died a Templar knight.

As a group, Trouvère combine thorough historical research with musical experience and understanding, focusing in particular on the music of the High Middle Ages – the time of the Crusades and the arts of courtly love. The group comprises medieval musicians Paul Leigh and Gill Page, accompanied by singer Richard de Winter. Paul founded the group 20 years ago, having become interested in the modal nature of medieval music during the course of his music degree. He originally trained as a flautist and classical guitarist, but has moved from there into recorders, whistles, lute, gittern, and bagpipes. Gill is a medieval historian with a special interest in medieval Greece; her Being Byzantine: Greek Identity before the Ottomans was published by Cambridge University Press in 2008. Her principal instrument is the harp, and she also sings and plays the medieval hurdy-gurdy. Richard de Winter is a highly experienced choral singer and historical interpreter. He was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and a choral scholar at Durham before studying Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music, and he has been singing with Trouvère since 2014.

Hrotsvit of Gandersheim’s 'Calimachus'

Performed by The Lords of Misrule

Directed by Nicola Peard

Wednesday 3 July
Beech Grove Plaza, 18.30-19.30
This event is free of charge

Written by the 10th-century cannoness Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, who is generally agreed to be the first western female playwright, Calimachus tells the story of a lustful pagan’s conversion and redemption.

The Lords of Misrule came into existence almost forty years ago, when a group of like-minded students at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York decided that there was a gap in the city’s amateur dramatics market that could be filled by their particular expertise.

Since then, the Lords have established a reputation in York and beyond for putting on productions of both medieval and other early dramas and their own adaptations of other medieval texts. Their aim has always been to make medieval literature both accessible and fun for modern audiences, not by ‘dumbing down’ the texts but by bringing out their true spirit. We hope that you enjoy the show!

The Bayeux Tapestry: The Full Yarn

Performed by Daisy Black

Wednesday 3 July
Clothworkers Building South: Room G.14, 20.00-21.00
This event is free of charge

The beasts of battle gather in the tapestry borders. Ravens, wolves, eagles. All creatures – common, fantastic, wild, domestic – hold their stitched breath and the battle gathers.


Until, at last, William and Harold face each other over some few feet of linen.

The embroidered King wants to finish his church at Westminster. The English Earl and Norman Duke want the English throne. The hawk wants to be out in the fields, hunting for mice.

Storyteller and academic Daisy Black provides a hawk’s eye view of the Bayeux Tapestry, where kings battle, oaths are broken and wheels of cheese are stolen by crafty foxes.

Interweaving the fables of the Bayeux Tapestry’s margins and human narratives with Anglo-Saxon poetry and English folk song, this one-woman show stitches together a vivid, epic and moving account of the events leading up to 1066.

Seventy metres of history in a single hour!

Daisy Black is a Sheffield-based medievalist, theatre director, storyteller and folk dance teacher. She works as a lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and is one of the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers.

Her storytelling weaves medieval narratives together with English folk song. Often moving, occasionally political, frequently feminist, just a little queer and regularly funny, Daisy’s stories underline the relevance and vibrancy of medieval narratives for today’s world. She has stories in some gorgeous and unusual venues, including two Cathedrals, at Swansea Waterfront Museum, at academic conferences and at a folk festival in California.