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 in 2013 for an unprecedented four seasons. Since then, Vengerov has performed with the Orchestra across the UK and recorded the violin concertos of Brahms and Sibelius, as well as leading an ensemble of OPO Principals in a recording of Mendelssohn’s Octet.
In addition to its annual concert season in Oxford, performances across the UK, family concerts and annual Piano Festival and Chamber Music Series, the Oxford Philharmonic is in growing demand internationally. It appeared 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 celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala concert at the Barbican, in which Maxim Vengerov played Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Other engagements during the Orchestra’s Silver Jubilee year included concerts in Dubai in February 2023 and a tour of Germany and Austria, where the Orchestra made its debut at Musikverein, Vienna and at Isarphilharmonie, Munich with soloist Martha Argerich. An exciting 2023/24 season will see the Orchestra return to Dubai for six concerts and undertake a major tour of Japan.
In December 2020, the Orchestra filmed 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.
Since its founding, the Oxford Philharmonic has been firmly committed to outreach work, with projects taking music to areas of social and economic disadvantage, hospitals, Special Educational Needs 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 and Association of British Orchestras, 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 cello concertos by Shostakovich and Solo Cello Mats Lidström on BIS Records, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy; A Merton Christmas with the Choir of Merton College; Haydn’s The Creation with the Choir of New College; the Handel/Mendelssohn Acis and Galatea with Christ Church Cathedral Choir; and works by Nimrod Borenstein for Chandos. The Orchestra’s latest CD, The Enlightened Trumpet with soloist Paul Merkelo, was released on Sony Classical.
The Oxford Philharmonic recently signed a recording contract with the Apple-owned label Platoon to record a selection of Mozart’s symphonies in September 2023.
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.
Having begun his career as a concert pianist, Marios Papadopoulos founded the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998 and has continued at its helm as Music Director ever since. Under his direction the Orchestra has gone from strength to strength, performing regularly in Oxford and beyond, and forging a strong relationship with the University of Oxford.
Described by The Times at his 1975 piano recital debut as having ‘all the attributes of one of the world’s greatest players’, Papadopoulos has gone on to enjoy an international career both as pianist and conductor.
He has appeared as soloist with and conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras and worked with a host of eminent musicians including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Janine Jansen, Evgeny Kissin, Menahem Pressler, Maxim Vengerov, Renée Fleming, Martha Argerich and Lang Lang. His recordings of the Beethoven sonatas have been set on a level with Schnabel, Brendel, Barenboim and Wilhelm Kempff (Daily Telegraph, Classic FM Magazine Critics’ Choice).