Oxford University Music Society

The Musical Heart of Oxford

Oxford University Music Society

Non-affiliated orchestras

Cowley Orchestra

Cowley Orchestra is a chamber orchestra that meets during term times on Wednesday evenings (7.00pm to 9.00pm) at The Oxford Academy, off Sandy Lane West, Oxford.

The orchestra is a little unusual in that they don’t give concerts. Each week they sight read through 6 or 7 pieces from their 400+ score strong library which includes a very wide selection of music of the classical composers Handel, Mozart, Purcell, through Mendelssohn, Weber, Britten and Walton plus light music of the 19th and 20th Century, Gilbert and Sullivan, Ketelby, Rogers and Hammerstein, Leroy Anderson. They also have many of the short arrangements that used to be played on the BBC Light programme, such as Teddy Bears Picnic!

Unless at the request of a member, the orchestra don’t usually repeat a programme from week to week, so it takes around 2-3 years to get through the entire collection. A typical evening might well include; My Fair Lady, a Haydn symphony, a Gershwin piece, Lustspiel, Fingal’s Cave, The Ostracised Imp, and The Blue Danube Waltz.

The orchestra is welcoming to anyone who wishes to join them. There are no auditions. The most important qualification is that each player is willing to have a go at sight reading and to enjoy an evening’s music.

For more information, you can visit their website.


OxLOrk is Oxford University’s Laptop Orchestra, an ensemble designed for the performance of live electronic and electroacoustic music by individually expressive players.

OxLOrk performers control musical parameters digitally, in real time, with a wide variety of different controllers. Members of the orchestra are trained to code new pieces for the ensemble and to perform with their laptops, dance mats, and other digital devices, all of which aid in the creation of maximally expressive digital instruments. OxLOrk performs with specially designed hemisphere speakers, which mimic the sonic properties of acoustic instruments and allow listeners to perceive each member of the ensemble as an individual performer. The ensemble seeks to spark new kinds of creativity–musical, artistic, and intellectual–across Oxford’s academic community.

OxlOrk was set up with a generous grant from the Faculty of Music.

Oxford Millenium Orchestra

The Oxford Millennium Orchestra is a non-auditioning concert orchestra. They rehearse once a week on Monday evenings, typically perform 3 concerts a year in the spectacular Sheldonian Theatre, and go on tour to a different European city every summer. Its members are mostly students from the University, but other members of the Oxford community are also welcome.

For information about joining the ensemble, please email the orchestra.
To read about upcoming concerts, reserve tickets, or to find out more about the orchestra, visit OMO’s website.

Founded in 1984, the Oxford Sinfonia are a high standard amateur chamber orchestra. The orchestra does not have a fixed membership or a permanent musical director, enabling the ensemble to engage a wide range of accomplished musicians to direct and play in each concert. Rehearsals are in Oxford in the evenings during the two weeks before each concert, and they perform a wide range of repertoire. The Sinfonia give four concerts a year plus some special projects, in which they often accompany choral societies. They also organise instrumental workshops, and are involved in twinning concerts, fireworks concerts and concerts for charities.

The ensemble are are always keen to hear from good new players, especially violinists. To apply to play with the orchestra, please email them directly. You can also visit their website.

Oxford Studio Orchestra

The Oxford Studio Orchestra was founded in the 1960s. They play a wide range of orchestral music, from Classical to 20th century, and give three to four concerts per year, often providing young soloists with the opportunity to perform a concerto. Rehearsals are on Monday nights in school term time in Sandhills Primary School, near the Thornhill Park and Ride. Lifts are available. The orchestra is often able to welcome temporary members who are in Oxford for a short period (e.g. research students or visiting fellows), as well as more permanent residents. There are no formal auditions and the orchestra is friendly yet ambitious. Conductor Christopher Fletcher-Campbell gets the best out of players through his skill and encouragement. Anyone interested in joining should email the orchestra’s Secretary to enquire about vacancies (secretary@oxfordstudioorchestra.org.uk. Further information can be found on their website.

Radcliffe Orchestra

The Radcliffe Orchestra consists mainly of members of the healthcare profession, including many from the John Radcliffe Hospital and other Oxford hospitals, where they have been rehearsing and performing for over 26 years.   The orchestra gives three concerts each year in aid of medical charities. The Radcliffe Orchestra is always looking for charities to support, prepared to sell plenty of tickets, and to provide the refreshments for the audience at the end of the concert.  If you would like the Radcliffe Orchestra to raise money for a charity you are involved with running, if you would like details of current vacancies, or to see details of upcoming concerts, you can visit their website.

St. Giles Orchestra

The St. Giles Orchestra play three concerts each year in Oxford and one in Didcot.  Since its formation in 1980, SGO has developed a reputation amongst players and audience alike for varied and interesting concert programmes.
Repertoire is drawn mainly from the Romantic period, and its choice is based on player suggestions.  SGO has been proud to partner with a number of local choral societies and professional soloists.  In 2012 SGO recorded for a broadcast on the BBC One Show, and for a James Bond film song submission.  Rehearsals are on Thursday evenings near the Iffley Road, and feature relatively complete brass and sometimes even a harp.  When vacancies occur, they look for Grade VIII experience, but usually audition (informally) only for woodwind and brass vacancies.  For future concerts, vacancies and more, visit their website.

Oxford Open Orchestra

OOO is an accessible orchestra, and they perform a varied repertoire of music. They rehearse on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in college. You can find out more by visiting their Facebook page or Twitter feed.

OUP Orchestra

Founded in 2016, the OUP Orchestra is a new non-professional orchestra based at the Oxford University Press and made up of staff members of the Press and across the University. The majority of our players are grade 8+ standard; in the past year, we have played works by Mozart, Rossini, Beethoven, Ravel, and Vaughan-Williams. We’re a sociable group, and there are regular post-rehearsal pub trips.   The orchestra rehearses on Wednesdays from 5:15-7:15 in eight-week terms, and gives three concerts per year. For any queries, please email ouporchestra@gmail.com.


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