NCO prepares for final three concerts of Macclesfield season

Caroline Taylor, soprano

The Northern Chamber Orchestra, the North West’s longest-standing chamber orchestra, is busy rehearsing for the final three concerts of its 2022-23 season following its move to the brand new, purpose built, auditorium at The Kings’ School in Macclesfield, and the beautiful, intimate St Michael’s Church.  

First up is a musical setting of the Stabat Mater sequence directed by Christopher Jones and sung by soprano Caroline Taylor and countertenor Ralph Thomas Williams (Saturday March 11 7.30pm, St Michael’s Church). This meditation on the suffering of Mary as she stands at the foot of the cross by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi is profoundly moving and his most celebrated sacred work. ‘Sogno di Stabat Mater’ (2005) by Lera Auerbach, one of the most widely performed composers of the new generation, is a reworking of some of Pergolesi’s themes, seen through a contemporary lens and featuring a solo violin (Kay Stephen) and viola (Christopher Jones). Joyful Concerti Grossi by Handel and Corelli complete the programme.  

In April, the NCO returns to The King’s School in Macclesfield (Saturday 1 April 7.30pm) for a concert featuring the wind players of the orchestra, directed by the principal oboe of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, John Roberts. Mozart’s Serenade for 13 Winds, the ‘Gran Partita’, is without question a masterpiece for wind ensemble. It covers much ground, from lyrical expressions of yearning to the music of the beer garden. Joachim Raff is an unjustly neglected composer, remembered primarily for his Sinfonietta for Winds, written in 1873 and full of wit and good humour. Following a considerable resurgence of interest in her music, Ruth Gipps is now regarded as one of the foremost English composers of the 20th century. Her ‘Seascape’ (1958) is a short reflection on the sounds of the sea. 

Closing the series on Saturday 6 May (7.30pm, The King’s School in Macclesfield), Spanish violinist Jorge Jimenez directs the orchestra in three of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos interspersed with two 20th century works in which the German master’s continuing influence can clearly be felt. Jimenez is equally at home in classical or contemporary repertoire. The Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, is one of the most performed contemporary composers in the world. His Fratres is an essentially simple and contemplative work, full of bell-like resonances and elements of early sacred music. Alfred Schnittke was a leading Russian composer in the latter half of the 20th century. Suite in the Old Style is an engaging baroque pastiche, overlaid with some modern surprises. 


Tickets are on sale now from, priced at £25 full price, with free tickets for under 18s and students, and under 30s and group discounts available.  

Jorge Jimenez, violin