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About Us

Chester Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) is one of the premier non-professional orchestras in North West England.  


  Founded in 1884, we aim to perform music from a wide repertoire that will appeal to playing members and audiences alike.  Our conductors are professional musicians of the highest calibre.  We also provide an experiential platform for students from The Royal Northern College of Music.  We have hosted an impressive range of internationally acclaimed soloists including Craig Ogden, Guy Johnston and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.  


The orchestra performs four or five concerts a year, including an annual carol concert with Chester Music Society. These concerts usually take place in the magnificent setting of Chester Cathedral.   Our repertoire maintains a balance between challenging and familiar works to produce varied programmes throughout our concert season.

Chester Philharmonic Orchestra is a registered charity (No. 1181355) and is self-funded through member subscriptions, Box Office concert sales from concerts and other fundraising activities. 

We rehearse in Hoole, Chester and always appreciate interest from new, prospective players.

A Short History of the Orchestra

Chester Philharmonic Orchestra was originally called Chester Orchestral Society.  The Society can trace its origins back to 1883, when the then Cathedral Organist Dr John C Bridge organised a performance of the Messiah to an audience of over a 1000 at Chester Music Hall. The following year saw the first concert of the newly formed Orchestral Society, with a performance of Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens. 

Dr Bridge continued to conduct the orchestra until the latter part of the century, when he handed over the orchestral baton to the Cathedral’s assistant organist, J T Hughes. 

Following the Great War, the orchestra was revived under A J Armstrong, and was later taken over by the Cheshire Regiment’s former Bandmaster E P Martin, who was followed by R A Sutton, David Lyons and finally Roger Fisher, the Cathedral Organist.

In 1982 the Society adopted a policy of engaging different professional conductors for each concert. Edward Warren was the first of these in October 1982, and the following season he was invited to become our Principal Conductor. 

Under Edward Warren's direction the orchestra established an ongoing link with the rising young conductors and performers of the Royal Northern College of Music. Currently the orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor is David Chatwin who teaches at the RNCM and was the principal bassoonist with the BBC Philharmonic.

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