Orchestra of the Swan – A success story

Orchestra of the Swan in China, chamber orchestra of West Midlands

Orchestra of the Swan has its home in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and celebrates its 21st Anniversary this year (2016/2017).  OOTS is also Associate Orchestra at Town Hall Birmingham with other residencies at Number 8 Pershore, Huntingdon Hall Worcester and Malvern Theatres.

The orchestra gives over 40 concerts annually and is increasing its overseas touring.  In 2014 the orchestra undertook its first highly successful tour to China. In 2016 OOTS performed in the Istanbul International Festival and in 2017-18 tours are planned to Mexico and New York (Carnegie Hall). OOTS has also toured the UK with groups such as Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and James, with sell-out performances at London’s Albert Hall.

Recordings have been Gramophone Choice, CD of the Week on Classic Fm (UK) and Washington Public Radio and live concert recordings are frequently broadcast on USA Performance Today, in Canada and Australia.

The orchestra’s extensive discography includes repertoire by Barber, Bax, Berlioz, Brahms, Copland, Debussy, Elgar, Finzi, Ireland, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schumann, Strauss, Vaughan Williams and the world premiere recording of the complete symphonies by Hans Gál.  The latter received outstanding critical acclaim and was featured on BBC Radio 3 ‘Composer of the Week’. Most recently Mendelssohn’s D minor Violin Concerto with Tamsin Waley-Cohen was BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Recommended Recording’.

Learning & Participation

OOTS award winning L&P programme sees the orchestra working in care homes, SEN and mainstream schools and with many community groups.  Our projects have been generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the People’s Millions Lottery, Youth Music and many other trusts, foundations and donations.

UK and International Press

OOTS at ArtHouse

“you won’t hear much better than this anywhere” Classic Fm Magazine

“an atmosphere of joyous creativity” Birmingham Post

“an excellent, up-for-it orchestra and conductor” BBC Music Magazine

“A joy to hear from start to exuberant to finish, superbly played” Gramophone

“On a par with Muti, Marriner or Solti, Orchestra of the Swan is absolutely top-notch” International Record Review

“Orchestra of the Swan does a fine job”  New York Times

“Orchestra of the Swan brings the music ear-catchingly alive” Gramophone

“buy this CD” Washington Post

Associate Artists and Resident ComposersDobrinka Tabakova, composer

OOTS Associate Artists include Peter Donohoe, Tasmin Little, Julian Lloyd Webber, Benjamin Grosvenor, Raphael Wallfisch and Tamsin Waley-Cohen.  OOTS received the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society ‘Composer in the House’ award appointing Huw Watkins as Resident Composer 2012-14 and OOTS has received very generous support from the Sorel Organization, New York, appointing Dobrinka Tabakova as Resident Composer 2014-16 and American composers/performers Lucia Caruso and Pedro da Silva in 2016-18.

Dobrinka’s new work – Immortal Shakespeare – an oratorio composed for the ‘Shakespeare 400 Lives!’ celebrations – was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Orchestra of the Swan’s performance at the RSC was broadcast live on BBC 2 and networked to TV stations and cinemas around the world.

New Work

OOTS is a major champion of new music and has premiered over 70 new works by established composers and emerging talent including Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Joe Duddell, Alexander Goehr, John Joubert, Roxanna Panufnik, Paul Patterson, Joseph Phibbs, Julian Philips, Dobrinka Tabakova, Errollyn Wallen, John Woolrich and many others.

Recordings of new work include Philip Sawyers Symphonies, works for trumpet and orchestra by John McCabe, Robert Saxton and Deborah Pritchard and joint commissions with Kyo-Shin-An Arts of new work for koto, shakuhachi and chamber orchestra.


Corporate Partners

Our partners include Pertemps, Shoosmiths, DCS Europe, Ziran Land, Enable, Quotidian, Enable, Vale Press, Severn House and Turkish Airlines.


Charlotte Hunt, Orchestra Manager

Charlotte Hunt, Orchestra Manager

Originally from rural Leicestershire, Charlotte graduated from the University of Warwick in 2002 with a BA Hons in English Literature.

Her role at Orchestra of the Swan includes responsibility for managing all logistical tasks relating to the concerts. This includes stage management, managing international tours, fixing, librarianship and liaising with players, venues, soloists and agents. She also handles much of the orchestra’s marketing activity including branding and design, proofing, programme and leaflet production and mailshots.

She joined Orchestra of the Swan in 2004 and in her spare time enjoys reading and gardening.

E-mail: charlotte@orchestraoftheswan.org

Debbie Liggins, Development Director

Debbie Jagla, Business Development Director

Debbie Jagla, graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree and LRAM diploma. She began her music career as a professional soprano but moved backstage in 2006 to become Operations Director for the Worcester Three Choirs Festival. Three years later she became Development Manager for the Three Choirs Festival Association, with responsibility for fundraising and marketing of the wider organisation.

In her role as Business Development Director, Debbie is responsible for overseeing all fundraising activity and for developing business strategy to encompass wider commercial activities.

Debbie moved to OOTS from the Three Choirs Festival in May 2015. In her spare time, she sings with the OOTS chamber choir.

E-mail: development@orchestraoftheswan.org

Irina Gorbunowa, Finance Manager

Irina Gorbunowa, Finance Manager

Originally from Berlin, Irina moved to England in 1996 after graduating from the Humboldt University with a degree in physics.

She joined the KPMG graduate programme in 1998, qualifying as chartered accountant in 2002. Since leaving KPMG Irina has worked in a number of finance roles for various organisations, including Kerrang! Radio and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In her role as Finance Manager at Orchestra of the Swan, Irina is responsible for ensuring the Orchestra operates on a sound financial framework. She looks after the day to day financial operations as well preparing reports for the Board, Trustees, Donors and Regulatory Bodies.

Most of Irina’s spare time is taken up by looking after her three young daughters, and in particular being a taxi driver to aspiring gymnasts!

E-mail: finance@orchestraoftheswan.org

Lisa Marie Houghton-Reade, Development Co-ordinator for Orchestra of the Swan

Lisa Marie Houghton-Reade
Development Co-ordinator

Lisa graduated from the University of Warwick with an Educational Studies degree in 2002 and a Masters in English in 2004. She then went onto research the best ways to teach Shakespeare’s plays to engage young people in them for a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Birmingham. She was a Governor and an access adviser to the Royal Shakespeare Company during the transformation of their theatres. Lisa is severely visually impaired and is passionate about making the Arts accessible to all, regardless of background, age or disability. Her hobbies include visiting historic properties, horticulture, walks in the countryside and theatrical productions.

E-mail: Lisa-marie@orchestraoftheswan.org

Paolo Pezzangora, Marketing Manager

Paolo Pezzangora, Marketing Manager

Paolo has been involved in the music field since he was a teenager. He  graduated from the University of Parma in 2004 with a degree in Musicology and from the University of Milan in 2006 with a master degree in Art Management.

He has worked not only as Tour Coordinator for the booking agency of the most famous Italian progressive-rock band of the seventies, but also as Executive Assistant in a record label and as Sales Manager in an Italian cooperative which deals with artists’ social security.

In his spare time, Paolo plays the trumpet, loves rowing and enjoys gardening.

E-mail: marketing@orchestraoftheswan.org

Sue Pope - Learning and Participation manager

Sue Pope, Learning and Participation manager

Sue has worked for almost 20 years in museum education, managing education services at Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove and for Museums Worcestershire which included the learning services provided by The Commandery Worcester, County Museum at Hartlebury Castle, Worcester City Art Gallery and a mobile Museum bus!

A practising musician herself, Sue has developed her own multi-period historic music group A Merrie Noyse (www.merrienoyse.com) who has performed around the country at historic houses, castles, museums, events and weddings. She has also taught in schools for several midlands based music services and most recently has combined these two passions in a number of freelance heritage contracts for museums and historic groups nationally.

In her spare time (!) she enjoys travelling, concerts and reading.

E-mail: education@orchestraoftheswan.org


John Liggins, Chairman, Orchestra of the Swan

John Liggins, Chairman

John is Managing Director of commercial property developers, Ziran Land Limited, who are based in Stratford upon Avon and work extensively throughout England and Scotland in the development of retail, employment and leisure facilities.  John lives in a village close to Stratford upon Avon and has been involved in music all his life.  He has been involved in the administration of choirs and orchestras in London and has been a Member of the Board for 4 years prior to becoming Chairman.

In his musical interests he has been a member of a number of prestigious choirs both in London and the Midlands and has sung extensively throughout Europe and North America. Outside his musical interests John is a keen sportsman with a range of sporting interests in Warwickshire.

David Curtis, Artistic Director, Orchestra of the Swan

David Curtis
Artistic Director

David Curtis is Artistic Director of Orchestra of the Swan, OOTS, one of the most imaginative and successful chamber orchestras in the UK.

David’s thought-provoking programming, infectious enthusiasm and refreshing interpretations see him working in Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA with orchestras such as the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and North Hungarian Symphony Orchestra

Read David’s complete bio.

Taf Kara, board member, Orchestra of the Swan

Taff Kara

Taff is a Business-focused, International Commercial lawyer, combining strategic thinking with tactical implementation of Legal, Management and Business services.  An experienced Executive Leader in Pan-European Turnaround and Change Management in a complex multi-national environment, Taff is also involved in a number of [very] small, local business ventures.

As well as being a Trustee for Orchestra of the Swan, Taff is a Governor of the Cadbury Sixth Form College Corporation.

Having lived in 3 countries on 3 continents, home is now a village near Solihull.

Kathy Toon, board member

Kathy Toon

Kathy is a real estate lawyer and partner at the Birmingham office of Shoosmiths LLP.  Well known in the Birmingham market, Kathy has more than 25 years’ experience of commercial property, with particular expertise in development, investment and management of retail property and hotels, and is recognized as a leading individual by Chambers Legal Directory.

Kathy’s first abiding memory of classical music was a weekend spent with her grandparents when she was 10 and was introduced to Dvorak’s New World Symphony and continued to play it for most of the weekend.  She enjoys a wide range of music including blues, opera, rock and indie.

Kathy is a mother of two and enjoys spending spare time catching up with her family and running

Nick Hodges, board member, Orchestra of the Swan

Nick Hodges

Nick Hodges is a Warwickian born and bred and lives in Leamington Spa with his wife Carolyn, with whom he shares his musical interests.

Nick has recently retired, having spent over 40 years in financial services. For much of his time in investment management, Nick was involved with corporate pension schemes including those of some of the largest UK companies and he continues to provide consultancy to pension schemes and their advisers.

His interests in music began in 1966 when, at the age of 7, he joined the choir of the Collegiate Church of St Mary’s, Warwick where he continued to sing for 40 years. Nick has performed as a soloist and, as well as his membership of the Orchestra of the Swan Chamber Choir, also currently sings with Chorum and the Damian Singers.

In addition to his lifelong interest in music, Nick also holds a Private Pilot’s Licence and has a healthy interest in wine.

Ndiarka-Mbodj Orchestra of the Swan trustee

Ndiarka Mbodji

Ndiarka is a senior manager at Rolls-Royce. Ndiarka has more than 15 years’ experience in delivering operational excellence in Automotive, Aerospace and Marine industries, with particular expertise in process improvement, and business transformational projects.

Ndiarka’s first introduction to classical music was at secondary school when her music teacher took the class to an open air festival when she was 13 and was introduced to Handel’s Water Music.  She enjoys a wide range of music including African music, opera, rock and hip hop.

Ndiarka likes running, trekking and climbing mountains.

Nick Keegan, Trustee, Orchestra of the Swan

Nick Keegan

Nick Keegan is a chartered accountant and has lived near Stratford-upon-Avon since 1992 when, after spending the previous 10 years in the world of investment banking in London he moved to the Midlands to be Finance Director of a group of engineering companies.

He has now retired, having been closely involved in turning around a number of companies and groups in financial difficulties over the last 23 years. He is a school governor, and is a trustee and Treasurer of Sense, the National Deafblind and Rubella Association as well as a director and trustee of Time Out Group, a small Saturday club in Stratford for children with learning and other disabilities.

Nick is married with two daughters, one of whom is severely autistic. He has been a devotee of classical music, and especially opera, since the age of 16 when he was first exposed to both Die Meistersinger and an original recording of Caruso, and has continued to pursue this interest as and when permitted by the demands of family life.

Chris Wheeler, Friends’ Representative

Chris Wheeler, Friends’ Representative

Chris is a Stratford-upon-Avon based conceptual graphic designer with twenty five years professional experience. He has worked with the orchestra for 16 concert seasons, designing the tools the orchestra needs to communicate effectively to concert attendees, promoters, funding bodies and prospective corporate partners.

Describing his work with OOTS, Chris states “ When you’re designing for an organisation that is constantly achieving national and international recognition for outstanding performances, inspiration comes easily – its been a privilege to work with such a great orchestra.”

As Chairman of the Friends of Orchestra of the Swan, Chris is ofter seen managing front of house at most of the Orchestra’s Stratford concerts.

Tim Richards, special advisor to the Board

Tim Richards, special advisor to the Board

Tim Richards was born in South Wales. He had a musical childhood – his mother sang professionally and at school and university he played oboe and piano and sang in the College choir.

He worked at the Prudential for thirty years, qualifying as an actuary, and subsequently working in a wide range of jobs. As marketing manager he was responsible for broadening the Pru’s sponsorship activities from mainly sport into the arts and in particular linking with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

He has been involved with a number of voluntary and charitable organisations including a Parochial Church Council in Ealing and a spell as treasurer of the Rowing Foundation.

Friends of Orchestra of the Swan Committee

Chairman: Chris Wheeler

Treasurer: Martin Stanley

Secretary: Chris Boylan

Membership Secretary: Niall McChesney

Other Committee Members and Volunteers:

Alan Boddington, John Cohen, Joyce Taylor and Peter Buckroyd


Advisory Council

Sir Michael Perry GBE (Chairman)
Edwin Buckhalter
Iain Burnside
Andrew Butt
Andrew Jowett OBE
Prof Julian Lloyd Webber
Denys Shortt OBE
Jan Younghusband

Commissions and premieres

“Nothing defines the Orchestra of the Swan better than its commitment to new repertoire. While it is artistic director David Curtis’s policy to commission works that complement classical pieces, it is his own enthusiasm in presenting them that sustains the exercise. More-over, his often imaginative programmes have a knack of making connections which are genuinely stimulating”. The Guardian

New music lies at the core of OOTS programming and Orchestra of the Swan commissions and premieres numerous new works both on its own and in collaborative partnerships with organisations such as the Three Choirs Festival, Kyo Shin An Arts, The American Composers Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall and New Music USA to commission a number of Chinese and American composers including Douglas Cuomo, the Pulitzer prize winner Paul Moravec and Hannah Lash.

OOTS approach is to commission new work from well-established composers; Douglas Cuomo, David Mathews, Paul Patterson and Alexander Goehr and to champion emerging talent and the new generation of composers such as Tom Coult, Joanna Lee and Deborah Pritchard.

For OOTS 21st Anniversary in 2016-17 we plan to commission a series of 5 concertante works for OOTS principals from Douglas J Cuomo, Hannah Lash, Paul Moravec, Julian Philips and Joanna Lee.

All premieres at Stratford ArtsHouse unless otherwise stated

Arnold Bax Piano concerto (2009) World premiere recording and performance – orchestrated and edited by Graham Parlett, recorded for SOMM
Oscar Colomina I Bosch The Blue Flask (2005)
Oscar Colomina I Bosch Open the Curtains (2006)
Tom Coult Antic Rounds (2014)
Joe Cutler Music for Sunflowers (2009)
Douglas J Cuomo Black Diamond Express Train to Hell (2010) UK premiere
Tansy Davies Residuum (2005) strings
Joe Duddell Isolation (2006)
Alexander Goehr The broken lute (2000) alto flute, oboe, narrator, strings
Daron Hagen Genji for koto and orchestra (2010) recorded for MSR
Jennifer Higdon Oboe concerto (2008) UK premiere
John Ireland Sonata for cello and strings (2015) strings – recorded for Naxos
John Joubert Oboe concerto (2008) strings
Hannah Lash New work (2015) in partnership with Carnegie Hall
Joanna Lee Chansons Innocentes (2008)
William Lovelady Concerto for violin & guitar (2015) strings
David Matthews Skies are now Skies (2013) orchestral version
John McCabe Les Martinets noirs (2003) UK Premiere- 2 solo violins and strings
John McCabe Trumpet concerto ‘Primavera’ (2013) recorded for Signum Classics
Ivor McGregor Symphony no2 (2005)
Paul Moravec Shakuhachi concerto (2013) recorded for MSR
Roxanna Panufnik Spring in Japan (2008) strings
Roxanna Panufnik Tibetan Winter (2009) strings
Roxanna Panufnik Indian Summer (2010) strings – broadcast on The South Bank Show
Roxanna Panufnik The Generation of Love (2014) orchestral version
Paul Patterson Allusions (2007)
Joseph Phibbs Clarinet concerto (2007)
Julian Philips Dance Fragment no1 (2002)
Julian Philips Les liaisons dangereux (2005)
Julian Philips Swift Partitions (2006)
Julian Philips Masque for Caliban (2008)
Deborah Pritchard Skyspace (2013) recorded for Signum Classics
Guto Puw Violin concerto (2014)
Robert Saxton Shakespeare Scenes (2013) strings – recorded for Signum Classics
Philip Sawyers Concerto (2014) Recorded for Nimbus
Philip Sawyers Symphony (2014) Recorded for Nimbus
Philip Sawyers Concertante (2014) Recorded for Nimbus
Albert Schnelzer Violin concerto “Coupled Airs” (2012)
James Schlefer Shakuhachi concerto (2009) recorded for MSR
James Schlefer Concertante (2011) recorded for MSR
Paul Spicer Unfinished Remembering (2014) sop, bar, chorus, 2222 4331 tmp+3, org/pno/cel – Symphony Hall, Commissioned by Birmingham Bach Choir
Roger Steptoe Four Shakespeare Songs (2014) strings
Dobrinka Tabakova Belltower in the Clouds (2004) strings
Dobrinka Tabakova Sonnets to Sundry notes (2006)
Dobrinka Tabakova Centuries of Meditations (2012) chamber choir, strings
Dobrinka Tabakova The Immortal Shakespeare (2016)
Param Vir Spread of Dreams (2007)
Andrew Waggoner My Penelope (2008) strings
Errollyn Wallen Photography (2006) strings
Errollyn Wallen Cello concerto (2007) strings
Errollyn Wallen Concerto Grosso (2008) strings
Shu Wang Dian (2006) strings
Huw Watkins Little Symphony (2013) strings – numerous performances and Radio 3 live broadcast
Huw Watkins Remember (2014) soprano, strings
Huw Watkins Christmas Carol (2014) chamber choir, strings, hp
John Woolrich The Street of Crocodiles (2005) strings
Pete Wyer Four Shakespeare Sonnets (2010)strings
Pete Wyer Hear the Voice of the Bard (2014) chamber choir, strings – broadcast on BBC Radio 3


Stratford Box Office
Book tickets via the ArtsHouse Box Office on 01789 207100 or online at stratfordartshouse.co.uk

Birmingham Box Office
Book tickets via the THSH Box Office on 0121 345 0600 or online at www.thsh.co.uk