A brief history of The Manchester Chorale

The Manchester Chorale was founded and funded by the BBC in 1979, but since the late 1980s has been totally independent. 

Jill Henderson-Wild was appointed Musical Director of The Manchester Chorale in 2006 replacing Laura Jellicoe who took over from its founding conductor, Jeffrey Wynn Davies, in 2002. 


The Chorale has always aimed to achieve high standards and that is reflected in competition successes at Sligo, Worcester and Bangor(NI); and of course The Manchester Chorale has become one of the best known names in the Sainsbury's Choir of the Year Competition with regular televised appearances in the final stages of the competition.


In addition to Choir of the Year, over the years The Chorale has made a number of other diverse television appearances. These include providing a chorus of Elvis Presleys for a Granada TV game show, and a church choir for an episode of the BBC's comedy-drama Common as Muck. In 1998, The Chorale broadcast live from the chapel of Lyme Hall for a Sunday morning magazine Lent in the Park, and in 2001 was the chosen choir for the Archbishop of Canterbury's special edition of BBC1's Songs of Praise.  In 2003, we were delighted to be invited to sing Mozart's Coronation Mass in Faro, Portugal and were extremely well looked after by our generous hosts, the Orquestra do Algarve.


Other highlights include tours to Norway, France and Germany, and performances supporting Wilhelmena Fernandez and José Carreras. But for many members the most memorable performance of all came in September 1995 at the (then new) Manchester Arena in front of 15,000 people, supporting Luciano Pavarotti.

Despite the prestige and excitement of many of these occasions The Manchester Chorale remains a down-to-earth, friendly choir which enjoys singing in a variety of styles. Check out the repertoire page for current and recent music. There is the opportunity to put on an evening of entertainment in a smaller venue for a local audience  often in aid of a charity or other good cause  which is invariably warmly received. See Booking for more information about booking The Manchester Chorale.


Separate pages are devoted to The Chorale's  21st birthday  season, which ended with a reunion weekend at the beginning of July 2001, and to our celebrations of 30 years of song in our Pearl Anniversary season. The reminiscences of one of the founder members and a table listing some of the memorable events from over the years give an excellent idea of the versatility, achievements and friendship of which we are justifiably proud. 


  Notable performances and  events
1979 First concert at RNCM 1980 Radio Manchester 10th Birthday Concert; "Blow by Blow" Champions
1981 Free Trade Hall Carol Festival
1982 Festival of Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall; tour to Angouleme
1983 Vivaldi's Gloria with the Manchester Camerata; tour to Picardy
1984 Radio Manchester Carol Festival;
1985 Morecambe Music Festival - the organisers would only allow us to win one category!
1986 Tour of Scandinavia - members' bank balances severely depleted
1987 Bach (Lobet.) & British premiere of Nystedt's Ave Maria at the RNCM with Claire McFarlane
1988 Tour of Germany and Choir of the Year finalists
1989 10th anniversary concert at the FTH; Hamilton's "The moon is silently singing" at RNCM
1990 The Chorale, and Karai's De Profondis, take Sligo by storm
1991 Premiere of Michael Ball's commissioned Nocturns and carols at FTH in aid of NSPCC
1992 Winners at the Elgar Choral Festival in Worcester, Nocturns and Carmina in Ripon Cathedral
1993 Pärt and Górecki in Manchester, Vivaldi Gloria, Mozart Requiem with Brian Kay conducting the Manchester Camerata in the Free Trade Hall. FTH Concert for Christies, and Carreras's tribute to Mario Lanza in Sheffield
1994 St. George's Day at Manchester Cathedral (Chichester Psalms), Chartres Cathedral and Notre Dame in October
1995 With Luciano Pavarotti at the new Arena, just the odd 15,000 or so to sing to!
1996 Elvis Presley and Gary Glitter for Granada, Choir of the Year finalists again for BBC2
1997 Vivaldi with BYO at Prestwich and all sorts at Stonyhurst College
1998 3-day trip to Bangor, Lent in the Park for BBC1 - live!, Carmina Burana with the Guild Singers in Bolton
1999 Rossini's Stabat Mater at the Bridgewater Hall and an autumn evening at Fountains Abbey
2000 A week with Michael Crawford, St. Anne's Square Church in the summer, Russell Watson at the Bridgewater Hall in December
2001 Oompa Loompas et al., War Requiem with Martyn Brabbins and the RPO at the Bridgewater, celebration concert and reunion weekend.
2002 Jeffrey Wynn Davies our esteemed founding Musical Director resigns after 23 years at the helm. Laura Jellicoe takes over; Walton Centenary celebrations at Oldham Parish Church.
2003 Guest Choir (Mozart’s Coronation Mass at 11pm on a hot steamy night) for the 1st anniversary of the Orquestra do Algarve, Faro, Portugal.
2004 ‘My Favourite Hymns’ for Granada TV; Faure Requiem and Rutter Gloria with the RNCM Brass Ensemble at Emmanuel Church, Didsbury. 25th Anniversary Season begins with a workshop with Bob Chilcott, Jubilee Concert at the RNCM including First Performance of Bob Chilcott’s Simple pictures of tomorrow (commissioned by The Chorale) conducted by the composer.
2005 25th Anniversary Dinner at The Palace Hotel; Hawkshead Musical festival.
2006 Brass Night at the Cathedral with the Leyland Brass Band, National Brass Band Champions of Great Britain, 2005; Leyland Brass Band’s Hymns of Praise CD (with the St Michael's Singers). Jill Henderson-Wild takes over from Laura Jellicoe.
2007 Concerts in Wilmslow, Roundhay and Bolton Abbey. The Daily Service on BBC Radio 4 LW. Manchester Cathedral Carols.
2008 Cameo-Aid concert; first joint concert with Stockport Grammar School, Mahler's Second with The Amadeus Orchestra in the Bridgewater Hall. Tour of the Mosel Valley, Germany. St. Ann's in the City Festival.
2009 Carmina Burana with Stockport Grammar School; St George's Gala in the BWH; Weekend in Aldeburgh (concert and church service); Last Night of the Autumn Proms, BWH; Spem in Alium for the Churches Conservatuion Trust; African Drumming Workshop.
Concerts at St John the Divine, Bolton Abbey, St Ann’s Church and Hawkshead; St George's Day Gala in the BWH; Pearl Dinner; Pearl Quiz; Pearl Treasure Hunt ; Pearl commission from Alan Woods - Music’s Empire.
2011 Another Cameo-Aid concert, more BBC Morning Services, a memorable 'Music for a Royal Wedding' Concert at the Bridgewater Hall, concerts in local churches and our traditional Christmas fare.
2012 Pure Gold: a 4x4 Relay by Luke Carver Goss, words by Ian McMillan, with the Black Dyke Band. World Premiere at the RNCM broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and other performances at The Bridgewater, Birmingham Symhony Hall (broadcast on BBC Radio 2), Harrogate International Festival and London South Bank as part of the Cultural Olympiad. UK Premiere of Karl Jenkins' The Peacemakers with the Manchester Concert Orchestra and the Kinder Choir with Karl conducting. Tour of the Isle of Man, with concerts in Port Erin, Peel and Douglas and also Evensong in the Cathedral Church in Peel. A busy year!
2013 'Gala for St George' at the Bridgewater. First appearance at the Didsbury Arts Festival in Emmanuel Church. Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man at the Bridgewater, with Karl conducting. Think he's getting to like us. Concerts in local churches. Daily Services for the BBC.
2014 'Organ Spectacular' at the Bridgewater. Summer visits to Cawthorne, Yorkshire and Hawkshead, Cumbria. Karl Jenkins' 70th Birthday Concert at the Bridgewater, with Sir Karl conducting, again. Concerts in local churches. Daily Services for the BBC. 'Glory of Christmas' and Jonathan Cohen's 'Christmas Carol Singalong' at the Bridgewater.
2015 Mahler's 2nd Symphony (Resurrection) with the Wrexham Symphony Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall, Bolton Priory Church, Grand Organ Gale, Christmas with Aled Jones and Jonathan Cohen's 'Christmas Carol Singalong' at the Bridgewater Hall. Concerts in Davyhulme, Stockport and Wilmslow.

Karl Jenkins' Requiem and The Healer, Organ Gale, Christmas Spectacular and Christmas Carol Singalong at the Bridgewater Hall; Visit to Antwerp as guests of Koor Acantus with a joint concert in Beveren, and Sunday Mass in Antwerp; BBC daily Service and concerts in Hawkshead and local churches.

Final BBC Daily Service; return visit of Koor Acantus with a concert in St. Ann's Church, Manchester and Sunday morning Mass in The Hidden Gem, Manchester; Jenkins' Armed Man in Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Bridgewater Hall; Visits to Cawthorne, Yorkshire and Hawkshead, Cumbria (their 50th Anniversary Concert); a busy Christmas with an appearance in Henshaws Carols by Candleight in Manchester Cathedral, our own Charity Concert (in aid of Barnabus), and Classic Carols with Alan Tichmarsh, Christmas Spectacular and Christmas Carol Singalong in the Bridgewater Hall.

WW1 Commemoration Concert with Faure Requiem, Bolton Abbey again, visit of Kent Chamber Choir (joint concert at St Ann's and Mass at the Hidden Gem), Grand Organ Gala, Christmas Spectacular and Christmas Carol Singalong at The Bridgewater Hall and our own Christmas Concert - Navidad Nuestra - to a full house in Didsbury Baptist Church.
Jenkins' Armed Man, again, in The Bridgewater Hall. Visits to Kent, as guests of Kent Chamber Choir, to Cawthorne, Yorkshire and Hawkshead, Cumbria, followed by an informal concert in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral; a busy Christmas with an appearance with Boarshurst Silver Band , in Russell Watson's Christmas Cracker, and Christmas Carol Singalong with Jonathan Cohen in the Bridgewater Hall.

Performance of Will Todd's "Mass in Blue" at St Margaret's church Prestwich to a packed house, accompanied by a 5-piece jazz band. This was the last concert before the Covid-19 lockdown.
A season of Zoom rehearsals, followed by our first concert back - "Sing for Joy!" - (and we did) in October.


Our Musical Director


Jill Henderson-Wild is now into her thirteenth season with us.

Jill's biographical notes are in the People page.

Our Assistant Musical Director

Dave Robinson

See the People page for more details