Since 1998, the Oxford Philharmonic has brought inspirational performances to Oxford and beyond. The Orchestra prides itself on creating unique musical experiences, bringing new and engaging interpretations to well-loved works in the classical repertoire. Its continual search for excellence is underpinned by the uncompromising standards of its Founder and Music Director Marios Papadopoulos, who with some of the UK’s and Europe’s finest instrumental musicians has shaped the Orchestra’s distinctive sound.
The Oxford Philharmonic works regularly with some of the world’s greatest classical artists, among them Maxim Vengerov, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Martha Argerich, Sir András Schiff, Evgeny Kissin and Sir Bryn Terfel.
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 and recorded the violin concertos of Brahms and Sibelius as well as Mendelssohn’s Octet with members of the Orchestra.
In addition to its annual concert season in Oxford, its performances across the UK, its family concerts and its annual Piano Festival and Chamber Music Series, the Oxford Philharmonic is in growing demand internationally. It appeared for the first time at the Tivoli Festival in Copenhagen in June 2019 and, in June 2022, made its critically acclaimed US debut at Carnegie Hall. In February 2023, the Orchestra celebrates its 25th anniversary with a gala concert at the Barbican in which Maxim Vengerov will play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Upcoming engagements during the Orchestra’s Silver Jubilee year include concerts in Dubai in February 2023, and in the spring a tour of Germany and Austria, including the Orchestra’s debut at Musikverein, Vienna and Isarphilharmonie, Munich.
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 for the occasion. The Orchestra was joined in its tribute by Sir Bryn Terfel and by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. The film included a bespoke 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.
Since its founding the Oxford Philharmonic has been firmly committed to outreach work, with projects taking music to areas of social and economic disadvantage including hospitals and special schools, in 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 during the pandemic.
The Oxford Philharmonic was appointed Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford in 2002, the first relationship of its kind between a symphony orchestra and a higher education institution. In this capacity, the Oxford Philharmonic offers tuition and performance opportunities to university students, including the 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 albums of works by Nimrod Borenstein for Chandos and cello concertos by Shostakovich and principal cello Mats Lidström on BIS Records (both conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy); A Merton Christmas with the Choir of Merton College; 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.
A partnership with J & A Beare provides the Oxford Philharmonic’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.