City of London Sinfonia (CLS) is rooted in the belief that music and creativity are for anyone and everyone. We put responsive, in-the-moment music-making and musician development at the forefront of all our activities, engaging audiences in shared, meaningful music experiences wherever they may be.
CLS is an orchestra that approaches audiences as individuals who can connect with the concert experience in their own way. As such, with Creative Director and Leader Alexandra Wood, our musicians bring a uniquely collaborative approach to everything they do, utilising the skills developed through our participation programme to encourage audiences to engage more fully in the concert experience in a way that feels comfortable for everyone. Should they wish to, audiences can often speak directly to musicians before and after a concert, move around the space, or engage with interactive sound sculptures and soundscapes.
The Orchestra is leading the way in creative, collaborative practice in health and social care through its participation programme – the driver of everything we does. In the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards, we received the Impact Award for our Sound Young Minds project, which provides opportunities to young people in psychiatric hospitals to work with each other and to express themselves. Other core projects include Room to Room Music with residents in care homes, Music for Children in London hospitals, and social prescribing with the new Tessa Jowell Health Centre. Our Comfortable Classical series of relaxed concerts, adapted for online during 2020, features regularly in the Albany (Deptford) and Canada Water Theatre’s events calendar.
CLS continues to enjoy partnerships with a diverse group of artists, creating innovative artistic programmes that spark adventure, intrigue, and enjoyment, with concepts often relating to science, nature, history, or philosophy. Recent themes include Bach and the Cosmos (2018), exploring J.S. Bach and his love for mathematics; Absolute Bird (2019), featuring medieval to contemporary music influenced by birdsong, and Storytelling (2019), a Faber & Faber collaboration of spoken word and music. Our Restore and Revive series in 2020–21 brought a smile back to many people’s faces, online and in person, with live performances of CLS musicians’ favourite classical repertoires.
In the 2021–22 Season, we celebrate our 50th anniversary through our Origin concert series at Southwark Cathedral, offering colourful programmes that bring together themes established in our Richard Hickox days, such as British music and music for voice; continuing our orchestra's rich tradition of new commissions, while embodying the very best of who CLS is today. The series will see premieres of new works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Donghoon Shin, Dobrinka Tabakova and Huw Watkins, and collaborations with Jonathan Cohen (cello), William Morgan (tenor), Geoffrey Paterson (conductor), Roderick Williams OBE (baritone), and emerging countertenor Hugh Cutting.
City of London Sinfonia gives over 75 performances each year, performing regularly at the Albany (Deptford), Canada Water Theatre, Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southwark Cathedral, and St Paul’s Cathedral. We are also proud to be Resident Orchestra at Opera Holland Park, since 2004. Tours in recent years have included Japan, Ireland, and cathedrals around the UK. Recordings include King of Ghosts with sarodist Soumik Datta (Globe Music, 2017) and Stuart Hancock’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Sony Classical, 2017).
Creative Director & Orchestra Leader
Alexandra Wood has won major prizes at International Violin Competitions including Wieniawski, Tibor Varga, Lipizer and Yampolsky. Alexandra graduated from Selwyn College, Cambridge before going on to the Royal College of Music in London, where she was President Emerita Scholar and studied with Itzhak Rashkovsky. She then held the Mills Williams and subsequently the Phoebe Benham Junior Fellowships.
She has given performances for numerous International Festivals (including Cheltenham, Bath, and Aldeburgh) and also in London at the Wigmore Hall, South Bank, Kings Place and live on BBC Radio 3.
As a concerto artist she has performed with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, City of London Sinfonia, and the OSJ. She has given the premiere of violin concertos specially written for her by Hugh Wood (2009) and Charlotte Bray (2010). Leader of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (with whom she has appeared at Carnegie Hall) she also regularly guest-leads other ensembles including London Sinfonietta, Aurora Orchestra, and Music for Ballet Rambert, and has collaborated with chamber groups such as The Schubert Ensemble and Endymion.
Alexandra has won many prestigious awards including the Worshipful Company of Musicians Medal, Maisie Lewis Award, Wingate Scholarship, Hattori Award and MBF awards. She was selected for the Tillett Trust Young Artists Platform, and won a Star Award from the Countess of Munster Trust.
Her CD of world premiere recordings -Chimera- was described as “splendid” in The Sunday Times, and in BBC Music Magazine as “agile, incisive and impassioned”. In 2009, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music volume Spectrum for Violin, which she compiled, edited and recorded, was released. She has also recently recorded for NMC- two violin pieces by Oliver Knussen.
Alexandra plays a violin made by Nicolo Gagliano in 1767. This instrument was purchased with generous assistance from the Countess of Munster Trust, Abbado Young Musicians’ Trust and the Loan Fund for musical instruments.