St Cecilia Orchestra brings Dance, Drama and Romance to Ripon

12 January 2023

Ripon’s St Cecilia Orchestra returns to Holy Trinity Church at 7.30 pm on Saturday, 28th January, with an exciting and accessible programme of Dance, Drama and Romance. Following the huge success of their Rachmaninov Festival weekend with pianist Peter Donohoe in October, the orchestra is looking forward to a change of pace with this varied programme of chamber orchestra gems.

Conductor, Xenophon Kelsey MBE, commented:

It’s pretty rare for us to do a concert without a soloist.  This is a glorious opportunity for all the players to develop the sense that, in a smaller, chamber-sized orchestra, everyone is a soloist – at least some of the time!  We all need to listen to each other, react to musical shapes and ideas and not simply “follow the conductor”!  That is what makes it such a delight to conduct concerts like this and to really feel you are part of the team, not just the boss at the front!

The concert opens with Richard Strauss’ delightful Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments, a single-movement piece completed when the composer was just 17 years old and the first work to gain him recognition as a composer outside his native environment. The Serenade makes strong use of the French horn, having 4 in the ensemble line-up – perhaps evidence of his father’s musical influence (Franz Strauss was principal horn player of the Munich Court Orchestra).

Next comes Sibelius’ Pelléas and Mélisande suite, written in response to a commission by the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki as incidental music for Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1892 play of the same name. The play inhabits a medieval world of dream and fantasy and tells of Pelléas’ love for Mélisande, who is unhappily married to his brother, Golaud. The story has inspired several more musical works, including an opera by Debussy.

After the interval are Bartók’s energetic Romanian Folk Dances in the chamber orchestra version. Originally written for piano, and based on tunes that would have been played on violin or a shepherd’s flute, the work consist of 6 short movements that should (according to the composer) take just 4 minutes and 3 seconds to perform!

The concert concludes with Mozart’s rarely-played but beautiful and exciting Symphony 25. In the key of G minor, the symphony is written in the sturm und drang style, characterised by emotional extremes and sudden changes in tempo and dynamics – a piece sure to leave the audience feeling energised!

Tickets for the concert, priced at £15 for adults and FREE for under 18s, can be bought online at, from the Little Ripon Bookshop and on the door.

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