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The History of the Macclesfield Oriana Choir 1930 - Present Day


Early in 2020, the Macclesfield Oriana Choir celebrated nearly 90 years of providing Macclesfield with fine choral music, and the opportunity to hear singers of international repute. It was created in 1930 by J.L. Riley, a notable organist, and originally known as the J.L. Riley Festival Choir. Mr Riley took his fledgeling choir into the flourishing and competitive Music Festival movement and under his guidance, they acchieved the pinnacle in choral singing, winning the Festival of Britain in 1951, and the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 1954 with the Ladies' Choir.


In 1958, due to ill health, Mr Riley relinquished control of the Choir. He was succeeded for a short time by Mr E.A. Higson, but in December of the same year, the baton passed to Mr. Keith Yearsley. Under his conductorship, the choir took a different musical direction, performing some of the great choral works which have been a feature of their programmes ever since. The highlights of recent years include Bach's B Minor Mass, the St Matthew Passion. the Dream of Gerontius, Verdi's Requiem, Berlioz' Grande Messe des Morts, Vaugn Williams Sea Symphony and Balshazzar's Feast.


Some great names have performed with the Macclesfield Oriana Choir. We are proud to include Isobel Baillie, Kathleen Ferrier, Constance Shacklock, Owen Brannigan, Walter Widdop, Heddle Nash, Allexander Young and John Mitchinson amongst our past soloists.


In 1966, at the request of the Riley family, the choir changed its name to the Macclesfield Oriana Choir.


A feature of the Choir's history has always been the loyalty and long service of some of its members, ensuring a continuity of tradition and standards. Keith Yearsley, MBE, has recently celebrated 60 years as its conductor. Andy Donaldson, a much valued Accompanist, was with us for 50 years, a tremendous record of service. We have 15 life members including Andy, and Keith and Margaret Yearsley.


Throughout the 90 year period, hundreds of people from Macclesfield and its surrounds have been members of Macclesfield Oriana Choir, and each will have their own particular memories of the music that they performed together.


There is always a warm welcome for potential new members, particularly younger ones, who would like to see Macclesfield Oriana Choir continue to flourish, and to sing some of the world's greatest music. See our Contact Page for details of how to get in touch with us.


Years of Experience




Happy clients


Professional team

Macclesfield Oriana Choir