History and aims
St Giles Orchestra was founded in 1980, and takes its name from the street in Oxford where our first enthusiastic members met. The orchestra has developed over the years to its current size of 50 players at rehearsals and up to 80 at concerts.
We are proud to have formed part of the early musical experiences of regular members of the Orchestra who have gone on to play professionally such as former Leader Sue Lynn, who is now Assistant Principal Second Violin with the LPO. A former regular horn player, Jonathan Barrett, went on to become Principal Horn of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Former soloist Sam Elliott is now Principal Tuba with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra's founder conductor, Nicholas Hooper, well known as a guitarist, now has his compositions of television theme music frequently played on BBC and Channel 4, and composed the theme music for the latest Harry Potter films.
St Giles Orchestra aims to give enjoyment to players and audiences by performing classical music to high standards in a non-pressured, friendly environment. We also take pride in selecting repertoire that will satisfy the aspirations of all our players and creating varied and interesting concert programmes for our audiences.
Repertoire and programming
A feature of the selection of our repertoire is that players generate the suggestions of works to perform. These suggestions are then themed and balanced to make enjoyable concert programmes for audiences and players alike. We try to ensure that each programme includes some technically demanding works, with the intention of stretching and retaining advanced players.
SGO has developed a reputation for fine performances in particular of the romantic repertoire. We are also keen to support local unpublished composers by including their works in our programmes. See also our list of repertoire.
We usually give four concerts per year. January, April and June concerts are at St Andrews Church, Linton Road, Oxford. St Andrews has a pleasingly resonant acoustic and players and audiences particularly appreciate its warmth in winter and the expansive hospitality area used for socialising during interval refreshments. Occasionally we give larger concerts in Oxford Town Hall instead of St Andrews. We give our fourth concert in Didcot at the purpose-built Cornerstone ars centre every November.
For some of our Oxford concerts, we partner with students from the University of Surrey's "Tonmeister" course, and offer them an opportunity to record the concert as part of their four-year degree course in music and sound recording.
We are a full size symphony orchestra and at present have the following regular membership:
- 3 flutes
- 2 oboes
- 1 cor anglais
- 3 clarinets
- 2 bassoons
- 5 horns
- 2 trumpets
- 2 trombones
- 1 tuba
- 1 harp
- 5 first violins
- 4 second violins
- 2 violas
- 7 cellos
- 1 double bass
SGO has a loyal following of regular guest players who augment our concert forces when needed. We aim to have every part in the score covered.
Soloists are drawn from a wide range of players and singers, from local amateurs to music students and established professionals. We are especially keen to provide concerto opportunities to young professionals. If you are interested in working with us as a soloist, please visit our soloists page.
The social side of SGO
SGO prides itself on its friendly atmosphere, and members regularly organise parties, meals out, and other social events. Players are often heard to say that it is the fun and cameraderie which makes them choose SGO in preference to other orchestras of similar technical standard.
St Giles Orchestra is a Registered Charity number 1109439. SGO is funded principally by member subscriptions and by concert ticket sales. We ask members to pay their subscriptions by Gift Aid so that we can recover tax from HM Revenue and Customs. We also boost our finances by seeking support from friends, patrons and commercial sponsors