Orchestra of the City gives talented and enthusiastic voluntary musicians the opportunity to play in an orchestra of the highest standard with challenging repertoire. The orchestra is noted for its relaxed and innovative ethos, alongside its active and friendly social culture. The Orchestra is made up of teachers, solicitors, bankers, doctors, researchers, scientists, recording engineers, arts administrators and a variety of other professions.
Named as one of the top five non-professional orchestras in London by Classical Music Magazine, Orchestra of the City was founded in April 2003 by conductor Benjamin Bayl and made its debut at St John’s Smith Square in July of that year. When Benjamin Bayl was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in September 2006, the orchestra worked with a number of guest conductors, including Nicholas Collon, Robert Tuohy, Dominic Grier and Sam Laughton. Chris Hopkins was appointed as the new Music Director of Orchestra of the City, taking up the role in September 2008. The orchestra has been extremely lucky to work under Chris from 2008 to date.
Performing five concerts per year at its regular home, St James’s Piccadilly, Orchestra of the City thrives on a diverse range of challenging repertoire. Recent programmes have included Stravinsky’s Suite from the Firebird, Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2, Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 7, Vaughan Williams’ ‘A London Symphony’, and narrated performances of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. The orchestra enjoys working with a range of exciting young soloists and established artists, including Craig Ogden, Charlie Siem, Mary Bevan, Guy Johnstone, Benjamin Grosvenor, Piers Lane and Ivana Gavrić.
In 2013, the orchestra’s tenth anniversary year, Orchestra of the City collaborated with Opera Danube for a semi-staged production of Lehar’s operetta 'The Merry Widow' at St John’s Smith Square, and in October 2017 gave an outdoor performance at the OXO Bargehouse as part of Tribe17 festival. It has also appeared on film and television, including ‘Derren Brown - Trick of the Mind’ and the 2013 British film ‘The Magnificent Eleven’, for which the orchestra recorded the title theme.
An advocate of contemporary classical music, in April 2014 the orchestra performed the world premiere of Nedudim ("wanderings") Fantasia-Concertante for mandolin and string orchestra by emerging Israeli composer Gilad Hochman, with mandolin-player Alon Sariel. The orchestra also premiered Christopher Gunning’s Guitar Concerto with the acclaimed guitarist Craig Ogden in 2011 and, in 2004, gave the first European performance of Sir John Taverner’s Lament for Jerusalem at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge with the Rodolfus Choir, in the presence of the composer. In 2016 members of Orchestra of the City joined Chantage for the first performance of Missa Popularis by Swedish composer, Mårten Jansson.
As a now well-established fixture of London’s non-professional music scene, Orchestra of the City is looking to build upon its strong foundations and take on new projects alongside its core concert series. The Orchestra always welcomes interest from individuals or groups looking to collaborate on new projects, or from talented individuals looking to join a new orchestra.