Education and Outreach


Duncan Hinnells
rehearsing school choirs



In 1998, COO appointed Duncan Hinnells as Associate Conductor in charge of its education and outreach programme.
Duncan had worked closely with Cherwell, Cheney and Rye St. Antony's Schools, Oxford Brookes University and Aylesbury Music Centre Youth Orchestra. From 1999 until 2004, the schools joined COO for marvellous Christmas Carol Concerts in the Sheldonian Theatre. 

In 2000 students sang Three Christmas Songs composed by Bob Chilcott who lives in Oxfordshire. They also backed Marianne Brett, Alice Zawadski and Nick Bicat in Take My Wish from Nick's Symphony in Morris Minor commissioned for OOMF (Oxford's Own Millennium Festival). The splendid Take My Wish was described by the Oxford Times as 'one of the few really successful popular works of the millennium'. 


To support the Oxfordshire County Council Music Service Vocal Strategy, COO has provided opportunities for Oxfordshire students to sing with the Orchestra in the Sheldonian Theatre. In the COO Christmas Carol Concert (2000), Laura Ashby and Georgia Black, described by the Oxford Times as 'two first-rate sopranos', sang Laudamus Te from Vivaldi's Gloria.

Since Christmas 2001, all COO's Christmas Concerts have been  masterminded by conductor Jacques Cohen. 2001's Tubby the Tuba, 2002's The Snowman and 2003's Duck's Diary benefited from his infectious enthusiasm. In 2005 we were delighted to welcome the choir from the Dragon School and we look forward to working with them again.


Make Music Live!


Piers Adams and
 Oxfordshire school children


International soloists and section leaders of COO continue to give workshops and master-classes supporting our concerts.

Piers Adams gave a series of workshops in the University's Music Faculty  before leading the children into the Sheldonian Theatre to perform in the COO's concert in aid of CLIC.

Highly successful workshops with brass instruments were given in Primary and Secondary schools by Onyx Brass who are  all COO section leaders.


Composing, Listening and Performing.


One part of COO's project is designed to complement GCSE and A Level coursework. It involves section leaders from the Orchestra. Worksheets and student commissions are prepared in collaboration with Heads of Music in the participating schools.

All students involved in COO educational work are entitled to free tickets for COO concerts. Students are also invited to attend rehearsals and shadow section principals.  

Onyx Brass and schoolchildren


Instrumental coaching was given by Leo Phillips and Roland Roberts, Leaders, and by Graham Mayger, principal flute, COO.


Alzheimer Project

As part of the Orchestra's celebrations for its fortieth anniversary in 2005, The City of Oxford Orchestra Trust allocated money both for school workshops and for a new project at the other end of the age spectrum. This was inspired by the work of one of the Orchestra's principal oboes, Andrew Knights, who had launched a programme in Hampshire to take music into Alzheimer Homes.  The success of the project had attracted substantial council funding and Andrew was keen to expand into other counties.

A research paper into the effects of Andrew's programme was completed by Southampton University. The results far exceeded expectations in that the music was shown to benefit severely demented patients as much as those with moderate dementia. The paper will be published shortly.

He and the Orchestra's chairman, Lindsay Sandison now go into two homes every fortnight, armed with music, instruments for the patients (castanets, tambourines, bells etc.), and make music with them. The results have been quite awe-inspiring and very moving. Patients who normally hardly communicate, suddenly come alive, sing along to well-known songs, shake their instruments in time to the music and even dance. Relations and carers now frequently attend the sessions too, often amazed by the transformation in the patients. The daughter of one elderly lady told Lindsay 'You give me back my mother for an hour.' Lindsay and Andrew are working hard to raise more money to maintain this essential work and to create a national programme.


     Andrew, Lindsay and a patient                      Andrew Knights