Our History

In 1985, Joyce Lindley Parker, the Chair and Administrator of the BBC Philharmonic Club, and Muriel Clark decided to form a choir. It initially rehearsed in New Broadcasting House, Manchester, conducted by Keiron McNiff, a vocal graduate from the Northern School of Music.

In 1989, the choir appointed John Bethell as its Artistic Director and Conductor. He was Music Librarian for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Rehearsals continued at New Broadcasting House. Under John’s leadership, the choir grew, sometime performing for the BBC Club members, accompanied by members of the Friends of the Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1990, the choir toured Denmark, Sweden and Finland with other choirs from the North West and it later sang in the Isle of Man with The Manx Festival Chorus. In 1993, the choir sang together, sang in The Latour de France International Festival of Music and Arts with Oldham Choral Society, Sale Choral Society and The Manx Festival Chorus. During this phase, the choir accompanist was Douglas Butters.

In later years, when the choir rehearsed at a different venue, its link with the BBC ended and by then it had become The Philharmonic Choir of Manchester. In 2000, John Bethell resigned and the choir appointed Douglas Butters in his place. When he returned to his native Scotland in 2005, Ian Chesworth took up the position until June 2013.

Aidan Bradley directed the choir until June 2019. Matthew Quinn took over as from September 2019. When he got a job with the BBC in his home city of Belfast, Clara Rundell took over as Our Musical Director in March 2020. .



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