STRINGS

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Jan Schmolck Leader

“There is an audacity about John’s music making.  It is just fearless, it has a big heart!  And that makes it incredibly exciting to be part of.”

In addition to being leader of the Orchestra of St John’s Jan is also Principal Second Violinist of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. He has guest-led many orchestras in the UK, including the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, as well as the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in the production of Tom Ades’ opera “Powder Her Face”.

Jan’s solo performances with OSJ have included Bach’s violin concertos, the complete Brandenburg concertos, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante and violin concerto no 5, Beethoven violin concerto as well as many performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and a series of performances of Piazzolla’s Four Seasons. Solo performances with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields include the Schnittke Double concerto at the Barbican Centre and a broadcast for French Radio of duo sonatas with Kenneth Sillito from the Chatelet, Paris.

Website

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Rebecca Scott Violin

“The healing power of music cannot be measured.”

Rebecca is the daughter of two professional musicians, niece of three more and married another. Music is her daily tonic and sharing that is the greatest pleasure.

With OSJ she has experienced some of the most emotional and memorable music making. The healing power of music cannot be measured.

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John Heley Cello

“I enjoy it just as much today as in the early years.”

OSJ has been the lynchpin of my long and varied career, from the Guildhall to the Royal Opera House and much in between – including playing the cellist, Leo, in Dustin Hoffman’s film Quartet.  I am amazed to find that I have been Principal Cellist with OSJ for more than 40 years and, under John’s inspirational leadership, enjoy it just as much today as in the early years.

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Lynda Houghton Double Bass

“So many happy highlights with many concerts in the UK and Italy.”

One of my earliest concerts with OSJ was with the Labèque sisters playing Saint Saens Carnival of the Animals in Scotland and on a little tour – I was blown away by the experience with John conducting surrounded by wonderful ensemble players and the starry but down to earth French twins! Since then so many happy highlights with many concerts in the UK and Italy: the History of the Symphony series in Rome (?) and concerts on the exquisite hilltop town of Ravello on the Amalfi coast playing Barry Guy’s Flagwalk. I learnt so much playing with the then principal bass, Barry Guy who is one of the most exciting bass players ever- completely at home in baroque or ultra modern music with a great analytical mind combined with such a free performing spirit.

Of course the only real reason we want to play with OSJ is John Lubbock- his utter devotion to and passion for music is unrivalled. I am always inspired by him whether we’re playing the Messiah or some tiny arrangement- it’s always about being in the moment, finding the essence of the piece and freedom to play with John gently guiding us all with good humour and total integrity. He is one of the rare conductors who knows what he wants but doesn’t ever let his ego get in the way- I can’t imagine my musical life without these experiences. Viva OSJ.

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Richard Milone Violin

“This orchestra is a different breed.”

We would all, to a man, jump off a cliff if John said ‘jump’, that’s the rare loyalty he inspires.

This orchestra is a different breed.  It’s not a slick, shiny, untouchable thing, it is visceral, real – it’s people wanting to be there and that comes across in spades {when we play}.  And that’s why I feel privileged to be part of OSJ.

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Simon Kodurand Violin

“I’ve enjoyed some wonderful performances with the orchestra over the years.

OSJ has always played a significant role in my musical life, not least because John gave me my very first professional engagement as a violinist 20 years ago!  I’ve enjoyed some wonderful performances with the orchestra over the years, but my personal favourites have always included the core classical repertoire.  I don’t think there are many conductors that can match John’s elegance in his interpretation of Mozart and Schubert.  OSJ is fortunate to have so many fine players in its ranks that It’s rare to find an orchestra that is as much a joy to listen to as it is to play in.

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Jonathan Tunnell Cello

“An incredible instinct for musical shape and pacing makes every concert special.”

Playing with the OSJ was one of my very first professional dates 30 years ago! I never tire of working with John. His unfussy approach allied to his incredible instinct for musical shape and pacing makes every concert special.

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Tony Hougham Double Bass
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Jessica O'Leary Violin

“Playing in OSJ is always a highlight in my diary. “

Playing in OSJ is always a highlight in my diary. There is a unique sense of trust between John and his players – all hand-picked with a mutual love of music and communication. Totally devoid of ego, John nurtures each phrase with supreme musicality and when we are together, he creates a family that truly functions. No season is complete without his oratorios and he brings huge compassion to our Music for Autism projects.

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Jake Rea Violin
Matthew Ward
Matthew Ward Violin

“There are very few places however where one can feel a keener sense of that musical contribution than with OSJ.”

I first played for OSJ nearly 20 years ago and have considered performances with the orchestra and John Lubbock to be among the highlights of a varied musical calendar ever since.

After leaving the Royal Academy of Music I resisted the relative security (!?) of an orchestral ‘job’ in pursuit of the greater diversity a freelance career can bring. I was initially able to indulge a passion for the theatre as a member of ‘The Gogmagogs’. We were a string septet and collaborated with a great many writers, artists and composers to devise shows that as well as being instrumental were part song, part acting, part speech and were all about storytelling in both narrative and more abstract terms.

Returning after a number of years of international touring with the group, I reconnected with orchestral work largely in a chamber capacity, enjoying the greater sense of personal contribution performing with smaller ensembles can bring.

There are very few places however where one can feel a keener sense of that musical contribution than with OSJ. I put this down to the uniquely sincere and infectious musicianship of John Lubbock. John’s stewardship of the orchestra appears to be based on an innate trust in the musicians he gathers around him.

There is a freedom and joy in performances with John and OSJ that I believe really communicate and connect with our audiences.

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Gregory Warren Wilson Violin

“I feel exceptionally privileged and fortunate to have played for OSJ for  forty years”

As a conductor, John serves the music selflessly. Such musical humility is actually rather rare among performers, and it allows the orchestral players who play for him great spontaneity in performance. For this reason, the musicians who play in OSJ are exceptionally loyal to him and to the orchestra. His grasp of large musical structures – particularly The Messiah for example – and the dramatic element of musical narrative, is second to none. I feel exceptionally privileged and fortunate to have played for John for  forty years

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Roger Chase Viola
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Chris Pitsillides Viola

“To  this day, John’s energy and enthusiasm for music hasn’t diminished.”

I first worked with OSJ in the early nineties when the great Jane Atkins was principal viola. I still remember the wonderful  rapport she and John had back then and the love and respect between John and all the players involved. That love and respect which is innate in John is most evident in his music for autism work, which I’m privileged enough to have been part of in recent years.

One of the highlights of my musical career was playing Bach’s Brandenburg 6 for two solo violas with the late, great Gustav Clarkson in a packed Dorchester abbey.

Even though John knew I was terrified ( due to my stage fright and not being a regular soloist ), he showed me such encouragement and care, that I managed to get into the music and together we made a real performance of it.

To  this day, John’s energy and enthusiasm for music hasn’t diminished and I’m so grateful to have a continued role in his great orchestra.

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Rachel Byrt Viola
Emma Sheppard
Emma Sheppard Viola

“…connection with the extraordinary. “

My involvement with OSJ and John Lubbock has meant connection with the extraordinary. The Music for Autism concerts in schools I’ve done are one of the highlights of my professional life – nowhere else has the transformative effect of music been so palpable, the inspiration and need to play with as much love and beauty as one can muster, so strong. The young musicians of The Afghan Women’s Orchestra were an embodiment of these values: their passionate commitment to music a lifeline, and a pathway to new life. It was a real privilege to witness this, and work with them for a week.

I am currently waiting to release ‘First Meeting’ a CD made under the umbrella of Great British Viola Project – which is the culmination of research and concerts looking at unknown viola music from the first half of the 20th century.

WINDS

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Chris O'Neal Oboe
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Fiona Kelly Flute

“I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know John and all of the wonderful musicians that make up this stellar group!”

I moved to London from Ireland to begin my undergraduate studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where I first met Chris O’ Neil. After my studies I left the UK to complete my Master’s at The Juilliard School and subsequently take up the position of Principal flute at the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. After four years in Sweden I was desperate to get back to London to experience the variety the freelance world has to offer! Shortly after returning I was doing a gig where, low and behold, Chris O’ Neal was sitting beside me. He asked me to come and work with OSJ and after some performances I was delighted when John Lubbock asked if I would become a member.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know John and all of the wonderful musicians that make up this stellar group!

Ian Scott
Ian Scott Clarinet

“A very high standard of playing achieved through mutual respect and a wicked sense of fun.”

In my time as a clarinettist I have made a few special connections with orchestral conductors who seem to be thinking about music in the same way I do.

I have been fortunate to have made a bond with John Lubbock who invited me into his orchestra some years back. Whether playing trios or quintets for MfA or standing in front of the orchestra playing the Mozart Concerto in Dorchester Abbey, John and I have treated the performances in the same way. A very high standard of playing achieved through mutual respect and a wicked sense of fun.

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Gavin McNaughton Bassoon

“I enjoy appearing with John and other OSJ members in the rewarding and intensely satisfying Music for Autism programme “

Gavin has had a career playing with as a guest or member of the major symphony and chamber orchestras of London,appearing with soloists such as Murray Perahia and Alfred Brendel.

He has also appeared as soloist on many BBC broadcasts in Mozart,Weber and Vivaldi Bassoon Concerti.

He is delighted to be a member of OSJ working under John Lubbock both in the concert hall and in the studio and also enjoys appearing with John and other OSJ members in the rewarding and intensely satisfying Music for Autism programme which John leads.

Presently (Covid19 permitting) he records in the London film and TV studios playing the music of Hans Zimmer to John Williams  in the films of the great directors, varying from George Lucas to Pedro Almoldevar.

A recent film featuring his prominent bassoon is Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo” with music composed by Gary Yershon.

On TV he can be heard in the background of” Midsomer Murders” or “The Tiger who came to tea” for example.

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Alison Alty Oboe

“I love John’s warmth, musicianship, sense of humour and the respect he has for his hand picked team of players”

I think I‘ve been a member of OSJ for about 25 years.

I love John’s warmth, musicianship, sense of humour and the respect he has for his hand picked team of players – the camaraderie is really something special.

Every Music for Autism day I’ve done for John has been humbling and exhausting in equal measure and he does 100s every year – amazing!

I’ve done so many wonderful performances for him but it’s the Passions at Easter and Christmas Messiahs that really lift me.

I’ve really missed OSJ in lockdown- I really hope we can be playing together again soon!

Chris Hankin
Christine Hankin Flute

“OSJ and John Lubbock have been a vital part of my musical life.”

The standard of the performance is incredibly high and energised which is great.  Players of the utmost calibre constantly challenge my level of skill but it’s easier to play well yourself when the quality around you is unquestioned. However, it is the integrity of the performances that I cherish the most and that is down to freedom that John gives us all to make music. He has music pouring out of his very soul which is completely compelling. It’s unique to this orchestra and makes it very special indeed!

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Lee Stephenson Clarinet

First played with OSJ in 1975

First played with them in 1975, and been 2nd clarinet ever since (or on trial ever since depending on how you look at it)

Fixed from 1992 for around 20 years.

Librarian from 1995

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Stephen Maw Bassoon

“I never tire of making music with John.”

Having been a member of OSJ from almost the beginning I’m happy to say that I never tired of making music with John.

He is a world-class artist.

I dabble in a bit of conducting myself and time and time again my thoughts are ‘how would John do this?’

Brass, Timps, Keyboards

Britten Sinfonia
Paul Archibald Trumpet
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Stephen Stirling Horn

“John Lubbock is the soul of OSJ “

I’ve known John for donkey’s years. He is the soul of OSJ and his outstanding, instinctive, musicianship plus his utter trust and loyalty in his players is something which commands enormous loyalty – it is simply a joy to work for him.

Chris Nall
Chris Nall Timps

“John’s words of musical wisdom were at the forefront of my mind as I made my professional debut”

As a boy I had a part time job showing audience members to their seats at the Nottingham Albert hall. It was here that I first heard John and the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square when they visited with Vladimir Ashkenazy. The timpanist for that concert was David Corkhill who was to eventually be my teacher at the Guildhall. I looked after the autograph queue that day and I still have the signed programme!

During my second term at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama, John Lubbock directed the Chamber Orchestra. During the coffee break of our first rehearsal John took me on one side and talked to me about timpani phrasing with the trumpets in the classical Orchestra. I remember he said “… just because you are a drummer doesn’t mean you can’t phrase!”

A few months later I appeared at the Queen Elizabeth hall with John and the OSJ in my first ever professional concert playing in the percussion section for Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite”.

I was spell bound by the wonderful playing and I have to admit, more than a little nervous!

Very soon after this concert I was extremely excited to be booked to play timpani for the English Chamber Orchestra deputising for my teacher David Corkhill. It was the first concert after the opening of the Butterworth Hall at the Warwick arts centre conducted by Jeffrey Tate. The work was Mozart’s symphony 41. When maestro Tate decided not to rehearse the Symphony, I was thrown in the deep end for my first ever pro timpani concert with this wonderful orchestra and no rehearsal!

John’s words of musical wisdom were at the forefront of my mind as I made my professional debut on timpani.

I have enjoyed many musical highlights in my career such as playing a principal percussion part in the CBSO performances and subsequent recording of Messian’s mammoth Turangalila symphony with Simon Rattle. On one occasion Messian himself was in the audience and in we were introduced to the great man after the concert.

In 2016 I was handed a timpani part for the world premiere of a new work entitled “Liverpool Lullabies” commissioned by OSj from the world renowned trombonist Christian Lindberg. This piece is a concerto for Trombone and percussion written by Christian for Dame Evelyn Glennie. The timpani part was highly technical, indeed Christian was unsure whether or not it was playable. It was an exciting technical and musical challenge in keeping with life as John’s “drummer’ over the last 33 years!

I can honestly say that being OSJ timpanist over all of these years is the thing of which I am most proud. It remains a thrill to work to the highest musical standards with John and my wonderful colleagues in the OSJ.

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Howard Moody Keyboards

“With OSJ I can sit in the middle of other people’s music and relish every moment.”

I am the one who never gets to play my own instrument. What’s more, if it is a baroque programme there is always a cello part waiting on the harpsichord or chamber organ music desk and my right hand is allowed and expected to make up the rest! John encourages this creative freedom in music making and always inspires interpretation and flights of fancy as improviser-composers such as Bach and his contemporaries did. If the repertoire demands piano, celeste, harmonium, synthesiser or pipe organ I usually have to play what is written – always alongside some of the finest musicians in the business. Like us all, I love playing for/with John. I love his confidence and trust in us all and the way he embraces all styles of music. He has a deep-set belief that music is to be shared by everyone. I spend most of the rest of my musical life with the responsibilities of being a conductor or, (with 6 operas, 2 musicals, a symphony and more in my list of works as a composer), I am often the person in the room who has to take responsibility for every note of the music itself. With OSJ I can sit in the middle of other people’s music and relish every moment in a performing environment that John creates, where audience and performers can feel as one.

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Maki Sekiya Piano

“OSJ is like a musical family, and I am really privileged and proud to be part of this amazing team of musicians.”

John spotted me five years ago performing a recital as part of fringe in Dorchester Festival, at the time when I had just returned from 15 years absence in Russia, and had no concerts. He stayed until the end of my performing slot, and offered me a solo recital in his festival. Since then he has been my musical inspiration and guardian in my music career. I have learned a lot from charismatic but compassionate conductor John and John’s spouse, an incredible singer and singing teacher Christine Cairns – the two world-class musical forces who nourish life of musical community here in Oxford. I have been so lucky to witness their community work, superb concerts as part of his orchestra, and in the audience. OSJ is like a musical family, and I am really privileged and proud to be part of this amazing team of musicians. I also would like to thank loyal supporters of OSJ to whom we owe so much, and if you are new to this page, a warm welcome to you – I look forward to seeing you in our forthcoming concerts.

Forthcoming Concerts
  1. OSJ Unlocked 1 – 6pm and 7.45pm. Pre Booking essential

    September 26 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  2. OSJ Unlocked 2 – 6pm and 8pm. Pre Booking essential

    October 17 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  3. OSJ Unlocked 3 – 6pm and 8pm. Pre Booking essential

    November 28 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  4. OSJ Unlocked 4 – 6pm and 8pm. Pre booking essential

    December 12 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  5. CANCELLED OSJ Ashmolean Prom – Christmas Carols

    December 13 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
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