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Past Seasons






The Christ Church Festival Orchestra was founded in 1993. Conducted by James Ross, the Orchestra gives the College's most talented students the opportunity to play with professional musicians in ambitious programmes, performing in Oxford's historic Christ Church Cathedral with Christ Church Music Society.

Since 1993, the Orchestra has performed over forty concerts in Oxford, London and Bristol to critical acclaim. It has performed over 100 works from Haydn and Mozart symphonies, through 19th- and 20th-Century music from Wagner's Ring cycle, Bruckner's 7th and 9th Symphonies, Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Sir Thomas Allen, Stravinsky's Firebird, Bartůk's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and several first performances. In April 2002, the Orchestra toured to Bologna giving two concerts as guests of the University.

Several generations of Oxford students have now performed in the Orchestra; many return to play after graduation. The Orchestra offers its most talented members the opportunity to perform as soloists; it has developed a close relationship with outstanding pianist and former Christ Church student Juliet Allen, with whom it has performed most of the concerto repertoire, including Brahms 1st and 2nd, Chopin 2nd, Liszt 1st, Saint-SaŽns 2nd, Tchaikovsky 1st, Rachmaninov 2nd and 3rd and Shostakovich 2nd. In 1998 the Orchestra gave the first public performance with Clifton Cathedral Choir of the cantata An Heritage of the Lord by former College organ scholar Nicholas Andsell-Evans,  in 1999 performed Bizet's Carmen in a staged production at the Oxford Playhouse and in June 2001 premiered Jonathan Clarke's five-movement cantata, Lament, in the Sheldonian Theatre. Its leaders have included Dr Aidan Thomson, former leader of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Biranda Ford, Duncan McCombie, Aline Nassif, Joanna Dunn, Matthew Bain and Patrick Dawkins; the conductor, James Ross, was a finalist in the 1998 BBC Conducting Competition and now performs worldwide. Several of the Orchestra's leading members also have performed chamber music in Oxford's Merle Ensemble.

The Orchestra has a strong record supporting charities, and has given concerts in London at St. John's Smith Square, St. James' Piccadilly, King's College Chapel and St. Giles Cripplegate, in Bristol at the Victoria Rooms, and at Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre and Town Hall. Charities supported include The Fund for Epilepsy, Bristol Royal Children's Hospital Grand Appeal, Whizz-Kidz, Addaction, Guideposts Trust and the Sri Lanka Sunera Foundation. So far, the Orchestra has raised over £75,000 for charities. The Orchestra has also appeared on Channel 4 and is an experienced performer of Strauss waltzes and light music live at Oxford Balls.