Chetham’s play Mahler and say ‘goodbye’ to Stephen Threlfall

Stephen Threlfall: Photo Sara Porter

This summer, Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester will become the first School orchestra ever to perform Gustav Mahler’s monumental ‘Symphony of a Thousand’, as the central event in a season marking half a century since its formation as the country’s largest specialist music school. The date also marks the departure of Stephen Threlfall, after 24 years as the School’s Director of Music.

Chetham’s will perform the Symphony in its end of term concert on Friday 5 July at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Joined by guest choirs from Hereford, Leeds and Manchester, and with visiting soloists from across the world, the concert is expected to fill the venue with Mahler’s vision of ‘the whole universe ringing and resounding’. Among their audience will be the School’s Patron, HRH the Earl of Wessex, whilst the entire concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is made up of students aged 15-18. All Chetham’s students follow an unparalleled musical programme alongside a full academic curriculum – so many of the evening’s players will have entered rehearsals directly from their GCSE and A-level exams. Funding through the Department for Education’s Music and Dance scheme ensures that Chetham’s exceptional training is accessible to all young people, with bursaries up to full fees available for all students accepted to the School from the UK and EU.

Hereford and Manchester Choristers to take part

Chetham’s orchestra will be joined onstage by professional soloists including former student Kitty Whately, now a celebrated mezzo soprano; whilst the Chorus will be boosted by voices from Leeds Festival Chorus, Poynton’s St George’s Singers, and the choristers of Manchester and Hereford Cathedrals. Young players from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and from Wells Cathedral School, as well as alumni from across the School’s 50 year history, will also boost the numbers onstage to fulfil Mahler’s colossal vision.

Chetham’s at The Bridgewater Hall Photo: Tom Bangbara

Chetham’s Principal Alun Jones said, “Chetham’s is a truly remarkable institution, filled with astonishingly talented young people, and this concert is testament to their dedication and musical ability. To the best of our knowledge, no other school has ever attempted Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’, and perhaps no other school could – only here, in the country’s largest community of young musicians, is such a feat possible. It’s a fitting celebration of our Golden Anniversary, and also a triumphant send off for Stephen Threlfall, whose inspirational leadership over the past 24 years has ensured that our music programme remains truly at the forefront of music education.”