About us
Chester Sinfonia has earned a reputation as being one of the fastest growing amateur orchestras in the Cheshire/North Wales area.

It was formed around 10 years ago with a small number of founder members who have worked very hard to develop the Sinfonia’s unique spirit of being a friendly orchestra for keen and enthusiastic intermediate players.

Previous conductors have included Andrew Edwards, and since 2018 we are delighted to rehearse under the baton of Helen Thomas (please see more about Helen in the 'Our Conductor' page).

Today we have over 30 players and are currently welcoming new members almost every week.

Our repertoire is varied, challenging and fun (and often based on member suggestions). You can see a list of our current and historic repertoire in the 'Our repertiore' page.

Photos courtesy Ron Kelley
Instagram: ron_kelley_photography

What makes us unique
Well, we’d like to think we are unique in a couple of ways:

  • There is no pressure to perform as we don’t do concerts (other than the odd charitable event or social occasion for family and friends)

  • We only rehearse once a fortnight on a Friday evening from 7 pm – 9 pm (with a short break which gives us a chance to gather for a cuppa and a catch-up)

So hopefully you can see that, although we are serious and enthusiastic music-makers, we don't have the time commitment and the performance pressures that some other orchestras might require.

We’re all about just having the opportunity to gather together and play great music, having a fun experience, whilst hopefully improving our playing along the way!

We are exceptionally lucky to have found a wonderful rehearsal venue which is at St Columba's Parish Church, Plas Newton Lane in Chester (for a map to the venue please see the 'Contact Us' page)

It’s a large, airy, well-lit hall with a great acoustic and there is plenty of on-site parking – all of which make for a very enjoyable rehearsal for everyone.

Rehearsals are on alternate Friday evenings in term time from 7.00 pm - 9.00 pm.

Upcoming rehearsal dates:
March 22 April 5, 19 May 3, 17*(see note below for change of venue for 17th) June 7, 21 July 5 - Summer (informal) performance and picnic event

*Due to another booking at St Columba's we will be rehearsing in All Saints Church Centre, Hoole Road, Chester, CH2 3HZ on Friday 17 May.

September 6, 20 October 4, 18 November 1, 15, 29*
*Friday 29 November will be a festive sharing event for friends and family of the orchestra

Our conductor - Helen Thomas
In 2018 we appointed Helen Thomas as conductor of Chester Sinfonia.

Helen began conducting in Autumn 2017 after attending the Royal Philharmonic Society Women Conductors programme where she received coaching and encouragement from Alice Farnham. She also attended the Practical Conducting Course at Sherborne Summer School and received tuition from Rudolfo Saglimbeni and John Longstaff and has completed the Royal Northern College of Music Conducting Course for Music Educators led by Mark Heron (during which she was able to rehearse the Halle Youth Orchestra)

Helen enjoys introducing little known repertoire to orchestras as well as conducting Classical favourites and has conducted concerts in venues ranging from an informal performance in the John Lewis store in Chester to the more formal setting of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

She has a PhD in Music and has worked at the Universities of Liverpool Hope, Lancaster, Newcastle and Liverpool and is a keen oboe, oboe d'amore and cor anglais player, playing with Orchestra dell'arte, Wirral Symphony Orchestra and the Liverpool Bach Collective.

In addition to conducting the Sinfonia, Helen has also recently begun conducting Hope Metropolitan Orchestra and in 2022 was appointed a Trustee of Mahogany Opera Group.

  • St Columba's Church Hall, Plas Newton Lane, Chester, CH2 1PL (we rehearse in the hall behind the church)


🧑‍🎄❄️🎄 Ho! Ho! Ho! 🎄❄️🧑‍🎄

Well, what a marvellous evening of music making we had at our informal Christmas performance.

It really proved to be the perfect way to round off a fantastic year for our orchestra and we were so grateful to so many friends and family coming along to hear what we’ve enjoyed learning over the past few months.

A special ‘well done’ must go to Sarah Stuart-Gill (violin) and Hannah Thompson (voice) who gave wonderful solo performances.

And of course – a huge THANK YOU to our wonderful conductor Helen Thomas for ALL she does for us! It’s little wonder that under her leadership and baton that the orchestra is going from strength to strength, both in numbers and in confidence!

Many thanks to the church members for the super buffet they laid on for us – it was lovely enjoy the opportunity to relax and mingle with a mince pie afterwards.

And the icing on the cake is that due to the generosity of all those who attended – we managed to raise over £200 for Dee Banks School, Chester.

Happy Christmas everyone - and see you in 2024
Our repertoire
Spring term 2024:

Elgar - Enigma Variations
Tchaikovsky - The Waltz from Swan Lake
Dimitri Arnaud - Chester Overture

Previous repertiore:

Brahms - Serenade no. 1 (first movement only) 
Beethoven - Symphony no. 1 
Beardsall - Dancing on Mars
Maria Theresia von Paradis - Overture 'Der chulkandidat'
Beethoven - Romance in F (Sarah Stuart-Gill: violin)
Dvorak - Czech Suite 
Beethoven - Coriolan Overture
Beardsall - Wee Feather'd Friends
Smith - Andante for Clarinet and Orchestra
Glazunov - Serenade no. 1
Dimitri Arnauts - Chester Overture
Mozart - Two Arias from The Marriage of Figaro
Jim Cooke - And Songs Were Sweet
Delibes - Le Roi S’Amuse
Elgar - Salut d’Amour
Haydn - Symphony no. 82 ‘The Bear’
Haydn - Symphony no. 104 ‘London’
Mayer - Overture in D
Mendelssohn - Symphony no. 1
Mozart - Overture to Il Seraglio
Mozart - Overture to The Marriage of Figaro
Sancho - Three Minuets
Schubert - Symphony no. 3

How it all began
The orchestra has grown from small beginnings approximately 10 years ago.

As a group of keen music-loving friends, we would meet in each other's houses to play together, but as the group grew larger, we had to find larger and more suitable venues to rehearse. We soon realised that we needed the guidance of a conductor and were very lucky that Andrew Edwards stepped in to lead us in superb style.

Since then, the orchestra as continued to grow and develop and when Andrew stepped down in 2018, Helen Thomas was appointed as our new conductor and remains with us to this day.