St Cecilia Orchestra

Ripon’s renowned St Cecilia Orchestra is much more than just an orchestra.
At its most spectacular it is an exceptionally fine and very large symphony orchestra, often working with top class international soloists and capable of giving high-quality performances


"That a rural community can provide a capacity audience is praiseworthy, that it can also provide most of an orchestra of this size and quality is little short of miraculous."
Donald Webster in the Yorkshire Post

"An evening that would have done justice to the largest City concert hall …Ripon is indeed fortunate to have a ‘resident orchestra’ of such calibre."

"…orchestral music making among the highest calibre achievements in the country."

Background Information

Background and Statistics

Ripon’s remarkable St Cecilia Orchestra began life as a small local ensemble, formed to accompany the Cathedral Choir at their annual St Cecilia's Day Concert.
It has since developed into a community orchestra par excellence, drawing on players from all walks of life and providing opportunities for professional and amateur musicians, teachers, students and talented schoolchildren to make music of supreme quality.

Since 1993, the orchestra has performed 474 different works by 147 composers at 312 Concerts in 66 venues, including;

  • 108 St Cecilia own promotions
  • 8 St Cecilia's Day Concerts
  • 13 Christmas "Spectaculars"
  • 155 Mowbray Orchestra performances
  • 17 "Specials"
  • 16 Cathedral services.

Repertoire is wide and varied, ranging from chamber works of Bach and Handel to exciting large-scale works such as Janacek’s Sinfonietta, Holst’s Planet Suite, Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, Mahler’s Symphony No 2, Elgar's Symphony No 1, Rachmaninov's Symphony No 2, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No 5.

Most of the major concerts take place in Ripon Cathedral and the orchestra cherishes its special relationship with the Cathedral, regularly performing for services as well as for the St Cecilia's Day Concerts

A highlight of recent years has been the immensely successful, annual “Christmas Spectacular” concert in Ripon Cathedral. Having produced this event for 8 years and developed it into one of Ripon’s most popular community events, St Cecilia Orchestra now participates in alternate years - the last in the Cathedral was in 2015 but in 2017 we produced a superb Christmas show in Tennant's Garden Rooms, Leyburn.

Audiences, and many of the players too, are frequently amazed at the orchestra’s high standard of performance. Its conductor Xenophon Kelsey, and all who support him, are keen to maintain the orchestra’s power to enrich the life of the community.

The orchestra is maintained and promoted by the Ripon St Cecilia Society, a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. Its voluntary board of directors consists of local musicians, business people and others. Would you like to help?

For its income the orchestra depends heavily on grants, sponsors and patrons. Are you, or perhaps your organisation, able to offer this kind of valuable help? Above all, the orchestra depends on those who buy tickets!