Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey – Orchestra of St John's | Taking classical music out into the community

Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey

Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, photo by Oliver Oppitz

Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, CAYENNA PONCHIONE-BAILEY is a UK-based conductor committed to promoting social justice and environmental sustainability within and through orchestral music. Cayenna serves as the Associate Conductor of the Orchestra of St John’s, Director of Performance at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, and is the Director of Research for the Oxford Conducting Institute. She holds masters’ degrees in orchestral conducting and percussion performance, and wrote her doctoral thesis on the social psychology of orchestral musicians’ interactions and decision-making at the University of Oxford, where she is currently a postdoctoral researcher on the AHRC-funded research project Transforming 19th-Century Historically Informed Practice. Cayenna has recently been awarded a 3-year Leverhulme postdoctoral research fellowship to begin in March 2021 at the University of Sheffield.

Cayenna has received multiple awards and grants for her collaborative social and environmental work through music as well as her advocacy for women composers. Most recently she has received Arts Council funding for her projects with the Oxford Spires Academy to amplify the voices of young refugees through music, and a week-long Oxford residency with Ensemble Zohra, Afghanistan’s first ever all-female orchestra, as part of a longer-term partnership between OSJ and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Cayenna maintains two commissioning schemes: Water-Culture: Women’s Work(s), which highlights global water scarcity and women’s historic role in domestic water provision, and Sounding2020 a 5-year commissioning project to generate new works dealing with current social and environmental issues. Recent commissions have included compositions by Nicola LeFanu, Kate Whitley, Solfa Carlile, Rachel Lockwood, Shirley Thompson, Joshua Oxford, Katie Ballantyne, Max Buckholtz, Toby Young, Sadie Harrison, Arson Fahim, Deborah Pritchard, and the experimental pop duo, Limpet Space Race.

As a composer herself, Cayenna has gained international recognition through her compositions for percussion, which have been performed by leading percussionists and in top conservatoires worldwide. The Utari percussion duo, featuring Silk Road percussionist, Haruka Fujii, premiered and recorded her marimba duet, Rumble-Stiltskins in Tokyo (2014) released by ALM Records. Her newest composition, Contagion (2018) for percussion sextet was commissioned by the Caixa Trio and has already received multiple performances in the US.


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