New Conductor for the Oxford University Orchestra

Natalia Luis-Bassa (Professor, Royal College of Music) will join OUO as our first ever Principal Guest Conductor to develop our performances long-term.  

We have produced two virtual performances during the pandemic which can be watched on our Facebook page (no account required). E-mail ouotickets@oums.org to be added to the the mailing list and stay up-to-date with our upcoming performances.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Oxford University Orchestra had developed into an excellent position. The last two concerts were both sell-outs of the Sheldonian Theatre with Mahler’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Natalia Luis-Bassa (Professor, Royal College of Music) and An Evening of Wagner led by Jan Latham-Koenig OBE (Novaya Opera, Moscow; Flanders Symphony Orchestra; Orquesta Filarmónica de México UNAM). These were preceded by our hugely successful Japan tour in 2019, which was the first overseas tour in OUO’s c.150-year history. On this tour, the orchestra not only performed to a sell-out audience in Tokyo, but also travelled to Fukushima to engage and perform with El Sistema Japan who are encouraging regeneration in the region through music following the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster. 

Owing to this success, OUO was invited to represent the UK in the BTHVN2020 Youth Music Festival in Bonn as part of Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebrations. Unfortunately, this, and many other events, were cancelled due to the pandemic. OUO has managed to produce two virtual performances during the pandemic and has developed new plans to develop the orchestra in the future. You can follow these links to watch the lockdown performances of Bizet’s Farandole and Coleridge-Taylor’s Christmas Overture

The orchestra has, for many years, invited guest conductors for each of its termly concerts. These have included names such as Daniel Harding, Peter Stark, and Ben Palmer. We would like to thank all of the conductors who have taken the podium, for the work they put in and the impression they left on us. The OUO committee has now taken the decision to appoint a Principal Guest Conductor who will return to conduct the orchestra annually. This appointment will allow a conductor to work with the orchestra on a regular basis and therefore to contribute to our long-term growth and improvement, whilst continuing the benefits of inviting guest conductors regularly. 

OUO is delighted that Natalia Luis-Bassa has accepted the invitation to be our inaugural Principal Guest Conductor. Her high-quality performances and relationship with the orchestra have led to Natalia being invited to lead us six times since 2012, and together, we have performed challenging symphonies by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Mahler. In February 2022, Natalia is due to return to our podium for a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring

As student musicians ourselves, we have now also committed to inviting a graduate or early-career conductor to take the helm once-per-year. This will provide an exciting development opportunity for the conductor as well as giving them the opportunity to learn from Natalia’s talent and experience.  

This commitment to the long-term development of the orchestra comes with financial commitments. OUO relies on ticket sales and generous donations to continue giving exciting opportunities to the best musicians that Oxford University has to offer. We would love to invite you to one of our future concerts; please e-mail ouotickets@oums.org to sign up to the OUO mailing list to be notified about upcoming performances. You can also stay up-to-date via the OUO Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. You can support the orchestra by becoming a Friend of OUO, and receive benefits such as reserved seating, priority booking and the Friends’ Newsletter. You can become a friend by visiting the website (ouo.oums.org/friends/) or enquire by e-mailing ouofriends@oums.org .


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