Since 1998, the Oxford Philharmonic has brought exciting and inspirational classical music performances to Oxford and beyond. Praised as ‘remarkable’ by The Spectator, the Orchestra prides itself on creating exceptional and unique musical experiences, bringing new and engaging interpretations to well-loved works in the classical repertoire.
In June 2022 the Oxford Philharmonic made its Carnegie Hall debut, in a concert ‘enmeshed in soul-enriching playing’ (Oberon’s Grove) of ‘world-class quality’ (Blogcritics).
The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicated to the highest standards of artistic excellence and musical integrity, and strives to create bold musical statements with every concert it presents. Its continual search for excellence is underpinned by the uncompromising standards of its Founder and Music Director Marios Papadopoulos and maintained by some of the finest musicians, who ‘Papadopoulos has moulded into a stunning group’ (ConcertoNet).
The Oxford Philharmonic attracts some of the world’s greatest artists to appear in concert, including Maxim Vengerov, Angela Gheorghiu, Valery Gergiev, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Martha Argerich, Sir András Schiff, Lang Lang, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Evgeny Kissin and Sir Bryn Terfel.
In addition to its annual concert season in Oxford, touring performances across the UK, family concerts, annual Oxford Piano Festival, and Chamber Music Series, the Orchestra is proud to present a growing list of international engagements including its debut at the Tivoli Festival in Copenhagen in June 2019, and US debut at Carnegie Hall in June 2022, Munich with pianist Martha Argerich in April 2023, and joined by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford for Haydn’s Creation in September 2023, at St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York.
The Oxford Philharmonic was appointed the inaugural Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford in 2002, the first relationship of its kind between an orchestra and higher education institution.
World-renowned violinist Maxim Vengerov became the Oxford Philharmonic’s first ever Artist in Residence following his remarkable debut with the Orchestra in 2013. Over an unprecedented four-season collaboration, Vengerov performed with the Orchestra across the UK, recorded the violin concertos of Brahms and Sibelius as well as Mendelssohn’s Octet. In July 2018 Vengerov appeared at Cheltenham Music Festival and Saffron Hall with the Soloists of the Oxford Philharmonic – a tight-knit group of musicians described by The Times as ‘glorious individual players’ and by Jessica Duchen as ‘a line-up to match any top-notch international chamber ensemble and probably beat them on their own turf’.
The Oxford Philharmonic celebrated its 20th anniversary in the 2018/19 season with a gala concert at the Barbican Centre in London, featuring a star-studded line-up including long-term collaborators Maxim Vengerov, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Martha Argerich.
In December 2020, the Orchestra recorded a concert in a tribute to all those working on developing a vaccine for Covid-19 at the University of Oxford, including the world premiere of John Rutter’s Joseph’s Carol, commissioned by the Orchestra for the occasion. In addition to Rutter, the Orchestra were joined in their tribute by Sir Bryn Terfel, and the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. The film was presented by John Suchet, and also included a special performance by Maxim Vengerov alongside tributes from Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford Louise Richardson, and the Orchestra’s Royal Patron HRH Princess Alexandra.
The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra has been firmly committed to outreach work from its earliest days, with projects taking music to areas of social and economic disadvantage, including hospitals, Special Schools, and partnerships with Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. In December 2021 the orchestra’s sub-principal violin Jamie Hutchinson was awarded the prestigious Salomon Prize, a joint prize between the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) and Association of British Orchestras (ABO), in recognition of the educational initiatives she spearheaded with the Orchestra’s education team during the pandemic.
As Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford, the Oxford Philharmonic frequently collaborates with the Faculty of Music in educational programmes with various tuition and performance opportunities for talented young musicians, including the recently launched Side-by-Side scheme, which provides an opportunity for young musicians to perform within the ranks of a professional orchestra.
The Oxford Philharmonic has appeared on several recordings including works by Nimrod Borenstein for Chandos, cello concertos by Shostakovich and Mats Lidström (Solo Cello of the Oxford Philharmonic), both conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, on BIS Records, A Merton Christmas with Merton College Choir, Haydn’s The Creation with the Choir of New College, and the Handel/Mendelssohn Acis and Galatea with Christ Church Cathedral Choir. The Orchestra’s most recent disc The Enlightened Trumpet with soloist Paul Merkelo was released on Sony Classical in September 2019.
A partnership with J & A Beare provides the Orchestra’s distinguished members with opportunities to play on Stradivari instruments, adding a new dimension to the sound of the Orchestra.
The Orchestra and its Music Director were awarded the City of Oxford’s Certificate of Honour in 2013, in recognition of their contribution to education and performance in Oxford.