THE ACADEMY of ST OLAVE’S – About the Orchestra

The Academy of St Olave’s is York’s leading chamber orchestra, based in St Olave’s Church, York. Find out about us, our Musical Director & Leader.

About the Orchestra

The Academy of St Olave’s chamber orchestra is based in St Olave’s Church, York, and performs three concerts each year. The orchestra does not rehearse on a weekly basis – six  intensive rehearsals are scheduled over a 2 week period prior to each concert.

The Academy  may number between 15 and 45 players according to the requirements of the programme. Players are invited from a large pool of instrumentalists, according to the forces required. The orchestra’s repertoire ranges from music of the seventeenth century to that of the present day; from Corelli and Purcell through Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to Stravinsky, Britten and Tavener.

Members also play for occasional church services at St Olave’s. For many years members of the orchestra took part in the requiem service for Remembrance Sunday (Fauré, Duruflé and Mozart in recent years).

Players in the Academy come from a wide range of backgrounds including teachers, gifted amateurs, students, talented school children and professional players. The minimum standard is Grade 8 and we expect players to have a high level of commitment and enthusiasm.

Rehearsals are mostly in the evenings. The usual pattern of rehearsals is Tuesday – Thursday – Sunday (strings) – Tuesday – Friday – Saturday (afternoon & concert).

If you would like to play with the orchestra in the future, please contact us by email at

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Academy Wind Section

Academy of St Olave’s Wind Section, from a painting by Gillian Roberts

Alan George, Musical Director

Alan George

Celebrated viola player Alan George has been Musical Director at the Academy of St Olave’s since 2009. Alan is a founder member of Fitzwilliam String Quartet.

Claire Jowett, Leader

Claire Jowett

Claire Jowett has been leader of the Academy of St Olave’s since 1991. Her wide-ranging musical experience includes orchestral playing, singing, chamber music, conducting and teaching.

Charity Fundraising

Save the Children, Disasters Emergency Committee, Jessie’s Fund, SASH, Martin House, St Leonard’s Hospice, St Olave’s Church….
Our concerts often raise money for charities

Press & Publicity

Press articles and concert reviews for our concerts


For the latest articles from the Academy of St Olave’s