About us

Oxford Symphony Orchestra


Who we are: Oxford Symphony Orchestra is the city's principal non-professional large orchestra. We perform three concerts a year and have a growing following with local audiences. Our list of Past Concerts illustrates the ambitious, interesting and attractive works we play, some of which are otherwise rarely, if ever, performed in Oxford. Alongside these we undertake occasional additional gigs with schools, local choirs and at the Oxfordshire Truck Festival. Our musical director is Robert Max and our leader is the well-known Oxford violinist Mariette Richter.

Robert conducting (credit: Claude Darmon)

Conducting Masterclasses: We have previously hosted opportunities for those studying music to attend masterclasses, featuring Robert Max. We last ran a conducting masterclass in December 2022.

Truck Festival logo

Truck Festival: The Orchestra has given several performances at Truck Festival, which is an independent festival in Oxfordshire featuring Rock, Indie and Dance music. The first Truck Festival was in 1998 with profits given to Amnesty International and Helen and Douglas House charities.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen

Soloists: We engage a range of celebrated solo artists to perform with us, some well-established, others at the start of their careers. Recent soloists have included the violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen, pianist Tom Poster, soprano Rachel Nicholls and violist Timothy Ridout. As orchestral players we gain stimulus from working with these talented musicians and our concerts are all the more enjoyable for players and audiences alike.

CD cover by Timothy Ellis Photography & Woven Design

Joseph Phibbs - New Clarinet Concerto: Now available in an acclaimed recording by Mark van de Wiel (clarinet) and the Philharmonia Orchestra on Signum Classics, Joseph Phibbs' new concerto was the centre-piece of our November 2017 concert. Mark van de Wiel, who had then just given world and London premieres with the Philharmonia, gave us a stunning performance. Joseph Phibbs is 'one of the most successful composers of his generation' and his works have been premiered by some of the world’s leading conductors.

Blitz Requiem

Blitz Requiem: David Goode's Blitz Requiem was first performed in St Paul's Cathedral, London in 2013 and broadcast by Classic FM. For the Oxford premiere in October 2017 we were delighted to provide the orchestra. David Goode is organist at Eton College. Blitz Requiem is composed to texts by Dr. Francis Warner which draw on his own childhood experiences during the Second World War. It uses the framework of the traditional Latin Mass, but renders the Requiem wholly in English as it speaks for the 'ordinary, decent citizens'.

Bridge Project young violinists

Education: The orchestra is very pleased to host visits by young people from Oxfordshire schools to rehearsals. Tickets to our concerts are also free to accompanied young people under 16. We are delighted that on two occasions we have been able to make music here in Oxford with children from the London Music Masters Bridge Project which is committed to enabling opportunity, diversity and excellence in classical music and to inspiring positive change for individuals and communities.

Alex Symcox

Composition Competition: In 2015 we premiered a work commissioned from our Competition winner, Alex Symcox - an exciting project made possible by the generosity of orchestra members, support from the Doris Field Charitable Trust and advice from Sound and Music. Alex's composition may be heard in rehearsal here. Alex, who graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music and who holds a masters in film scoring from New York University, now lives in Brooklyn and writes music for films and advertisements. Alex Symcox website

Engagements: From time to time, the orchestra undertakes engagements to perform alongside or to accompany local choirs. Please contact us if you are interested in hiring the orchestra.

Music hire: The orchestra has a library of orchestral parts which are available to other groups on loan or hire. See our Orchestral Library Catalogue (pdf) for further details.

Oxford Symphony Orchestra is a Registered Charity no. 284339 and a member of Making Music, the UK's number one organisation for voluntary music.