Xen Biog

Xenophon Kelsey

A native of Ripon (North Yorkshire) and former pupil of Ripon Grammar School, Xenophon studied horn, double bass, piano and conducting in Manchester and was principal horn and conducting student on the European Summer Schools for Young Musicians in Vienna, Salzburg and Montreux from 1967-71.

He was the founder and first conductor of the Bowdon Sinfonietta and the Northern Pro Arte Ensemble and he has played horn with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Manchester Mozart and Ulster Orchestras as well as various chamber ensembles and other orchestras.

As a conductor, he has specialised in work with young musicians and has brought to his many orchestras a remarkable reputation for excellence. He was appointed Director of Stockport Youth Orchestras in 1975 and was responsible for their development into one of the UK's leading youth orchestras, undertaking no less than 15 foreign tours and twice winning 1st Prize cum laude at the European Festival of Youth Music in Neerpelt, Belgium, in 1983 & 1985.

In 1987 he became Director of the Northern Youth Orchestras Association and, in 1989, of Primavera Youth Chamber Orchestra, Cheshire.

He returned to live in Ripon in 1989, since when he has developed a varied free-lance career as conductor, chamber music coach, teacher, lecturer, composer, arranger and performer. He is the founder and director of the outstandingly successful Vacation Chamber Orchestras organisation (VaCO), promoting residential courses and performing throughout Europe as well as in the UK.

He also directs the Ripon Youth String Orchestra, the Ripon Community Orchestra, the Mowbray Ensemble and the nationally renowned St Cecilia Orchestra. He was a moving spirit behind the establishment of the Ripon Cathedral Concert Society, the St Cecilia Orchestra, Ripon Youth String Orchestra and Ripon Youth Choirs. He has also appeared as guest conductor with the Oxford University Orchestra in a performance of Mahler's Symphony No 5 at the Sheldonian Theatre and as conductor of Opus 1 Opera Company for their first production of Puccini's La Bohème.

Xenophon is also a long-standing member of the distinguished international jury at the European Festival of Music for Youth, Neerpelt, Belgium. In May 2007 he was awarded the accolade of "Ambassador of the Festival" in recognition of his services to the Festival and to youth music in Europe. For more information about this remarkable festival, visit: EMJ (www.emj.be)

In 2009, Xenophon was awarded an MBE for his services to music and music education.  He was also the first winner of the “Jewels of Ripon” Award for Culture in 2008 and, in 2010, he was given a “Hearts Appreciation Award” for his contribution to promoting music and the arts in the Harrogate District.