By recognising the strong demand for good quality music in Ryedale, the Wesley Centre will be partly re-purposed as a fine concert hall, inviting choirs, orchestras and recitalists' of national and international repute to perform as part of a regular concert programme.

Enhancing a great acoustic

Musicians will be able to capture the auditory qualities of the Wesley Centre, its fine natural acoustic, and the special nature of the amphitheatre layout of the building. With a seating capacity of 550, it remains one of the largest buildings of its kind in Ryedale. Apart from Ampleforth Abbey (15 miles north-west of Malton) there are no other buildings of the size, unique shape, and capacity between York, and Beverley and Scarborough on the North Yorkshire east coast.

The retention and enhancement of a fine acoustic within the auditory form of the building is a key aim, and the materials selected for the re-ordering will be designed to enhance this, most notably through the utilisation of a new fully timbered floor, and a large double-stepped performance space. The larger stepped dais will double as a stunning new sanctuary area when the Church is used in a traditional worship setting, typically on Sunday's. With the performance space big enough to accommodate a 20-24 piece chamber orchestra, or a choir of up to 50, the Church building will be transformed into a fine concert venue.

The Ryedale Festival

The annual Ryedale Festival which was started in 1981 enjoys large audiences, and already has the support of the local community with a growing reputation as one of the most exciting and enterprising in the country.

Whilst many events are staged throughout the Ryedale district, those in Malton (which lies geographically at the heart of Ryedale and with its unrivalled transport communications) are more limited as there are very few suitable facilities. Other concerts are given at the nearby great houses of Castle Howard, Hovingham Hall, Duncombe Park and Sledmere, as well as in Ampleforth Abbey, York Minster, Helmsley Arts Centre, and at the Pickering Kirk Theatre.

The Wesley Centre will seek to work with the organisers of the Ryedale Festival and to offer it as a key venue for its programme of concerts during the second half of July. The Festival, which includes visits by internationally renowned soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras, is supported by Ryedale District Council (based in Malton) and this has enabled it to grow year on year, winning for itself a national and international reputation for the excellence of its programming, while broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 have also brought its work to a national audience.

It is hoped that through the provision of new facilities within the Community Hub at the Wesley Centre, many more significant concert events would be hosted in Malton and the town has the opportunity to become known as a significant Festival venue.

An enhanced arts offering for Malton

The contribution of new facilities at the Wesley Centre will also help to create a step-change in the ability of the Ryedale Festival to expand its offering to an even wider audience.  This change would be delivered much in the same way as the town has in recent years also become known as the ‘Food Capital of Yorkshire’, through the abundant development of different food offerings, through weekly and monthly food markets, the establishment of numerous artisan food production outlets, and the annual Food Festival, which most recently in May 2018 attracted record numbers of visitors, with an estimates of up to 35,000 people visiting the town during the two day Festival.

Reinstatement of a large pipe organ

The restoration and reinstatement of an historic pipe organ originally built for the concert hall of the Royal Normal College for the Blind in Upper Norwood, South London in 1877 will significantly enhance the Wesley Centre's appeal as a Concert Hall of distinction.

In partnership with the Royal School of Church Music and the Young Organ Scholars' Trust, the organ itself will also be made freely available for the purposes of teaching and inspiration to able teenage organists.

A number of renowned contempories and friends of Hollins are known to have played the historic instrument, including Alexandre Guilmant.

The historic Forster & Andrews pipe organ is a large Victorian instrument of a similar age to the organ removed in 1998 (1877 versus 1882). The richly decorated façade pipes and casework are being sympathetically restored to their original condition by Henry Willis & Sons, one of Britain;s greatest organ builders since 1845, and in overall appearance, they will closely mirror the existing façade pipes of the Harrison & Harrison organ, which are to be removed.

In addition to the restored pipe organ, a fine reconditioned Steinway or Yamaha concert grand piano will be acquired to augment the facilities available to visiting musicians.

Initially, it is planned to hold six major concerts and or recitals per year, rising to nine in year two, and up to 12 in year three, following its re-opening. As well as offering a mix of local Ryedale and North of England choirs and musicians in concert, a number of these will be designed around national and international music performers.

Master classes

In addition to the concert programme, and fully using its musical facilities, the Wesley Centre will seek to promote an annual master class with respected composers/ musicians such as John Rutter, Bernadette Farrell, and Graham Kendrick, as well a Big Sing/ Prom Praise, designed to attract a capacity audience of up to 550.