Musicians, critics and concert promoters say that Orchestra of St John’s is one of classical music’s best kept secrets. Our Chamber orchestra was founded 50 years ago by conductor John Lubbock and boasts some of the most exceptional musicians in the country. We have performed all over the world including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Berlin Philharmonic Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall with world famous soloists such as Dame Felicity Lott, Sir James Galway, John Lill, Dame Janet Baker, Tasmin Little, Stephen Isserlis and many others.
Our Founder, John Lubbock, began his musical life as a chorister and studied singing at the Royal Academy. He was a founder member of the London Symphony Chorus and a member of the Swingle Singers. So it’s no surprise that choral works are an important part of our repertoire and OSJ is fortunate to have two choral groups. OSJ Voices has established itself as one of the country’s foremost choirs under its Chorus Master Jeremy Jackman. Critics say that our smaller ensemble, OSJ Ashmolean Voices, has become an impressive choral force since it started in Oxford four years ago.
As well as performing at venues and festivals all over the country, we appear regularly at St John’s Smith Square in London. We also present a series of Prom concerts each year in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and our own music festival “Music in the Abbey” at Dorchester on Thames, now in its sixteenth year, plus concerts at the new venue SJE Arts in Oxford.
OSJ in the Community
We pride ourselves in being different from other international orchestras. We believe that the music we perform should be enjoyed by people of all ages and all walks of life. The Orchestra has won numerous awards for its work outside of the concert hall, in particular projects involving the young, the homeless and those in prison or homes for the elderly.
One of our passions is providing music to families and their children living with autism. Christine Cairns, the wife of John Lubbock, founded the charity “Music for Autism” 12 years ago when their youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Since then the charity has enabled OSJ performers to give interactive concerts to 45,000 children and 30,000 carers and teachers at special schools all over the UK. There is a flourishing branch in the USA, and MFA International has been set up to take the charity’s work to other countries starting in Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. You can find out more at
Through our involvement with Music for Autism, the Artistic Director and members of the orchestra spend 50 days each year giving free concerts at specialist schools, day care centres and small venues around the country.We provide similar events for elderly people suffering from Dementia and their carers – a project that was recently awarded Arts Council funding.
Developing Stars of the Future
We also feel passionate about providing opportunities for young musicians to develop their skills. OSJ has a formidable track record of searching out the finest young musical talent and seeing them develop into international stars through its “Young Performers” programme. In 2014-15, the programme will continue to provide a platform for young soloists and enable young conductors to work with the orchestra.
Creating New Music
OSJ has been recording music since the 1980’s and now records under its own label “OSJAlive”. With a reputation for commissioning and performing new music, OSJ has featured on two Grammy nominated albums by the rock group Radiohead and premiered a variety of new compositions including “Escape Velocity” by Benjamin Wallfisch at the BBC Proms festival, Matthew King’s piano concerto “Blue” at the Royal Festival Hall and several works by John Woolrich.
Two pieces that OSJ has commissioned can be listened to below: