SKIPTON Music’s audience braved the worst of Storm Jocelyn to hear this enthralling and varied concert from the London-based Meliora Collective.

The “Collective” is a flexible group of musicians who can form various combinations of wind and string instruments, from quartets to decets. This was a welcome opportunity to hear some fascinating music which is rarely heard in live performance.

The outstanding work was the nonet (wind quintet plus string quartet) by the French pianist and composer Louise Farrenc – another “hidden treasure” to add to those revealed in last year’s season of music by women composers.

This piece, which firmly established Farrenc’s reputation in the Paris of the 1850s, is full of enticing melodies and imaginative instrumentation, and worthily bears comparison with Beethoven’s youthful septet. The Collective responded with verve and elegance to its very considerable technical and musical challenges, with violinist Dan-Iulian Druţac and flautist Meera Maharaj outstanding.

In the first half we heard four contemporary pieces, all composed within the last 15 years. This might seem daunting but each piece has very accessible aspects, not least the bluesy final part of Valerie Coleman’s “Red clay and Mississipi Delta” with clarinettist Steph Yim calling the shots.

Your reviewer found the two nonets the most compelling on a first hearing, Deborah Cheetham’s “Ngarrgooroon” invoking the wide Australian landscape and her aboriginal ancestors, and Jessie Montgomery’s “Sergeant McCauley” the “Great Migration” of African-Americans to the industrial cities of the northern USA.

The Collective’s committed and sensitive playing brought out all the pathos and humanity of these evocative pieces; I would gladly have heard them a second time to savour more fully their intimate details. Perhaps we can persuade the Collective to come again in a future season!

The next concert in Skipton Music’s 2023-24 season is on Tuesday February, 20 with the Palisander Recorder Quartet telling in music and speech the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII. Details and tickets from the society’s website at