City of London Sinfonia

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City of London Sinfonia

City of London Sinfonia (CLS) is an English chamber orchestra based in London. CLS performs regularly across the city of London in venues from East London clubs to traditional Central London concert halls. CLS is Orchestra-in-Residence at the critically acclaimed Opera Holland Park (since 2004) and holds a residency at St Paul's Cathedral. The Orchestra has developed close links with joint venture partners in Mexico and Japan, having toured to Mexico in May 2015 and to Japan in March 2017. It is a registered charity under English law.[1]

CLS performs chamber orchestra and ensemble repertoire from the Baroque period to the present day, and has held a particular reputation for its programming focus on the human voice. Following its 'CLoSer' concert series (2011-2017), City of London Sinfonia now holds a reputation for its 'seriously informal' style of performance, breaking down the barriers of classical concerts through its innovative programming, informal seating and relaxed concert atmosphere.

Now under the direction of Creative Director and Leader Alexandra Wood, CLS conceives and delivers imaginative performances and participation projects with associate artists, including skilled workshop leaders, musicians in classical, jazz, folk and contemporary music, and artists in film, dance or visual art. City of London Sinfonia collaborates with artists including Tony Adigun, Jessica Cottis, Soumik Datta, Brett Dean, Sian Edwards, Sam Lee and Roderick Williams.


Richard Hickox founded City of London Sinfonia in 1971 and remained its music director and artistic director until his death in November 2008.[2] Past principal guest conductors have included Marin Alsop[3] and Douglas Boyd. In November 2009, CLS announced the appointment of Stephen Layton as its second Artistic Director, effective with the 2010-2011 season. Simultaneously, CLS announced the appointment of Michael Collins also as Principal Conductor, effective in September 2010. In 2016, violinist Alexandra Wood was named Creative Director.

City of London Sinfonia has won various awards, such as the Royal Philharmonic Society's Large Ensemble Award, the "Best Opera Recording" Grammy for its recording of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes, and the Arts, Business and Sustainability Award from the national organisation Arts & Business, in recognition of the achievements of its partnership with principal sponsor MMC.

CLS has recorded chamber orchestra and opera repertoire for a number of labels, including Chandos[4][5] and Hyperion,[6] and has worked on a number of choral albums with John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers for Collegium Records.


In the 2018–19 Season, City of London Sinfonia celebrates 30 years of transforming lives through music in its reputable Participation programme, which reaches over 10,000 people every year in the UK. CLS continues to build upon strengths in mainstream education, visiting schools where social background often creates a barrier to creativity and ambition, and in wellbeing, at hospitals for young people with challenging conditions and with older people dealing with loss of loved ones and memory.

CLS was one of the first UK orchestras to establish a year-round, permanent programme of participation activity in 1988, and the programme has been running continuously ever since, with more than 150 days of activity in the UK every year. For over 20 years, CLS musicians have visited major NHS Trusts in London, including Evelina Children’s, University College London and Great Ormand Street hospitals, providing respite and emotional relief to young children and their families on hospital wards. For a similar amount of time, they have produced a series of performances in care homes in partnership with Jewish Care - a longstanding project that is currently thriving in a new development phase.

The Orchestra continues to establish new partnerships with healthcare institutions and artistic leaders. In 2017, CLS began a three-year residency at Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School, in which they work alongside young people who have severe mental health conditions to create their own music, often responding to the Orchestra’s artistic programmes. CLS also began a new partnership with Headway East London, working with brain injury survivors to produce new music through fun, creative sessions. Currently working with leading research institutions, such as King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, City of London Sinfonia aims to further measure the impact of their projects and further develop a pedagogy in the Orchestra’s health and wellbeing work.

In education settings, CLS’s creative primary projects give young children the chance to experience the joy and fun of live music for the first time, firing their creativity and boosting their learning. Education partners include music education hubs such as Tower Hamlets Arts Music Education Service and Harrow Music Service, and artistic partners such as Orchestras Live. The Orchestra’s education work has also spread as far afield as Mexico, Japan and South Korea in recent years.

Artistic directors[edit]

  • Richard Hickox (1971–23 November 2008)
  • Stephen Layton (September 2010–2016)
  • Michael Collins (September 2010–2017)
  • Alexandra Wood (Creative Director; 2017–present)


  1. ^ Charity Commission. CITY OF LONDON SINFONIA LIMITED, registered charity no. 286818.
  2. ^ Richard Morrison (25 November 2008). "Richard Hickox, doyen of British conductors, dies aged 60". The Times. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  3. ^ Charlotte Higgins (2001-06-11). "Just call me maestra". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  4. ^ Andrew Clements (2008-02-25). "Britten: Death in Venice, Langridge/ Opie/ Chance/ BBC Singers/ City of London Sinfonia/ Hickox". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  5. ^ Andrew Clements (2008-06-06). "Britten: Owen Wingrave, Coleman-Wright/ Opie/ Gilchrist/ Connell/ Watson/ City of London Sinfonia/ Hickox". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  6. ^ Edward Greenfield (2004-08-13). "Simpson: Symphony no 11; Variations on a theme by Carl Nielsen, City of London Sinfonia/ Taylor". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-13.

External links[edit]