Alas, Poor Yorick!


The Hilliard Ensemble will be celebrating the start of their 40th anniversary tour in our Winter Festival. They will be performing works by Byrd, des Prez and Britten along with a newly commissioned piece by Professor of Music at the University of York Roger Marsh.

His piece, Poor Yorick, uses text from Laurence Sterne’s 1759 comic novel Tristram Shandy, which follows Tristram and his comical mishaps. Yorick is the vicar  and is actually a minor character in the book, however he gained significance for Sterne who later adopted the name as an alter-ego.

At the première, it’ll be performed with eight voices – the four voices of the current Hilliard Ensemble together with four former members of the ensemble.

Roger is no stranger to The Hilliard Ensemble’s work having collaborated with them in 2007 and 2008, producing Il Cor Tristo which has recently been recorded and released on ECM Records.

Roger spoke about Poor Yorick and the inspiration behind the piece:

“Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy has been part of my life for a long time. Sterne lived in Coxwold near York and the Laurence Sterne Trust is now based in Shandy Hall where he wrote the novel so I’m very familiar with his work.  In 2009, I produced an event with eighty students at the university where we created an evening of music theatre inspired by the book, so my recent composition Poor Yorick in some ways stems from that. There are many references throughout the novel to the swift passing of time, so I thought this a particularly apt text with which to celebrate The Hilliard Ensemble’s long-lasting successful career.”

Tickets are still available for the Hilliard Ensemble’s performance. To book, head to our website.

The Hilliard Ensemble’s 40th Birthday Party
Wednesday 11 December
Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s)
Book tickets


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