Manchester Chamber Choir is one of the UK’s most versatile and accomplished vocal ensembles. Formed in 2002, its repertoire encompasses over five hundred years of music both sacred and secular, from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. The choir is at the very forefront of Manchester’s vibrant music scene, and it prides itself on the breadth and diversity of its repertoire and the professionalism of its performances.
At the heart of the choir’s work is the great canon of European and American a cappella choral music, from Monteverdi to Macmillan, and from Tallis to Tavener. The choir regularly performs with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, and has appeared on a number of occasions in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. First performances include James Macmillan’s Credo at the 2012 BBC Proms, and Mark Simpson’s acclaimed oratorio The Immortal at the 2015 Manchester International Festival.
The choir is frequently heard on BBC television and radio, most recently in April 2017, in a live broadcast of Bach St Matthew Passion with Nicholas Kraemer and the BBC Philharmonic. It broadcasts “Daily Service” and “Sunday Worship” on BBC Radio 4. MCC has appeared on Radio 2’s Sunday Half Hour, Radio 5 Live’s Tony Livesey Show and BBC Television’s Songs of Praise. Other collaborations have included broadcasts of Bach Cantatas conducted by Nicholas Kraemer, Poulenc’s Les Biches conducted by HK Gruber, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio conducted by Juanjo Mena, and a CD recording for Chandos of Holst’s The Planets, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Complementing its work with distinguished classical artists, the choir has also appeared with performers from other musical spheres, including Jarvis Cocker, Andrea Bocelli, and the Pet Shop Boys.
Over New Year 2017/8, MCC was invited to perform with the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in China. Fifty singers made the long flight via Hong Kong to take part in concerts and workshops. In addition to the headline concert of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony performed with the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the choir gave a concert of English choral music with works by Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and The Bee by Frank Bridge, which was included as a tribute to the people of Manchester. The choir also performed items in Chinese with young singers from the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra children’s chorus. It was a great honour for MCC to give these concerts and to represent the choir’s home city. Members of the choir were also able to spend time exploring the fascinating ancient city of Xi’an and to visit the famous Terracotta Army.
Throughout its existence, Manchester Chamber Choir has worked with a number of distinguished guest conductors, including Nicholas Kraemer (Berlin Philharmonic; Chicago Symphony, BBC Philharmonic), Eamonn Dougan (The Sixteen), Justin Doyle (RIAS Kammerchor, Berlin), Bart Van Reyn (Collegium Vocale, Ghent; Danish Radio Choir, Copenhagen), and Paul Spicer (Finzi Singers). Working with guest conductors has proved to be valuable in diversifying the choir’s repertoire and developing the vocal technique of its members.
In recent years the choir has engaged a Principal Conductor to lead on musical programming and to develop particular aspects of the choir. The present postholder is Jonathan Lo.
Jonathan is currently Conducting Fellow with the Birmingham Royal Ballet & Rambert Dance Company, Principal Guest Conductor of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, as well as Principal Conductor of the Manchester Chamber Choir and the New Bristol Sinfonia. In addition, Jonathan maintains his passion for working with young musicians through his work as Musical Director of the King’s College London Symphony Orchestra and University of Southampton Sinfonietta. He was also Senior Lecturer in conducting at the Leeds College of Music and continues to teach privately.
Hong Kong-born Briton Jonathan read music at the University of Oxford, before going on to study conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music on a major scholarship. Jonathan was appointed to his first music directorship after winning the Oxford University’s conducting competition aged 18. Since then, Jonathan has conducted orchestras internationally and nationally, most notably the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the London Sinfonietta, the Manchester Camerata, the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Cover Conductor). He was a semi-finalist in the London Symphony Orchestra Donatella Flick Competition, and was an assistant conductor to Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort.