• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Johnny Ball joins OSJ for fun Peter and the Wolf concert in Oxford


Sep 22, 2022

AFFABLE and much-loved television presenter Johnny Ball will join Oxford’s longest-running professional orchestra for a fun, family-focused concert set to charm listeners of all ages.

The former Playschool star – and dad of Zoe Ball – will join the virtuosic ensemble to narrate their performance of Prokofiev’s timeless classic Peter and the Wolf.

Featuring bravery, adventure and animals galore, the piece tells the gripping story of a young boy who sets out to catch a wolf, with Orchestra of St John’s world-class musicians illustrating the many birds, beasts and situations Peter encounters along the way.

And for a mathematician like Johnny who has done so much to broaden their minds of young audiences – his educational shows ‘Think of a Number’, ‘Think Again’ and ‘Johnny Ball Reveals All’ enthusing children throughout the 70s and 80s – the concert at St John the Evangelist (SJE Arts) in Oxford’s Iffley Road this Saturday (September 24), is the perfect gig.

Oxford Mail: Orchestra of St John's

The orchestra’s mission is to spread a love for classical music throughout the wider community, and that very much includes children.

Peter’s lilting story will be told again on Sunday, October 16, at Dorchester Abbey – that time by Abingdon’s celebrity comic writer Paul Mayhew-Archer, famed for penning comedy classics from The Vicar of Dibley to Old Harry’s Game.

At both concerts, the orchestra will also perform Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne and Rachmaninov’s sublime Vocalise. And as an added incentive, tickets for under-25s are just £5.

“As an orchestra, we have long believed that classical music is for everyone,” says John Lubbock, who has directed the orchestra for more than 50 years.

“We want families in the local community to discover the joy and magic of classical music by coming along to one of our performances, even if they’ve never seen an orchestra play before.”

The family shows aren’t the only time Orchestra of St John’s will bring music into the community this autumn.

Next Friday, September 30, Ukrainian musicians will join the orchestra and OSJ Voices to perform a Concert for Ukraine in Oxford’s impressive Sheldonian Theatre, featuring masterworks by Ukrainian composers and Handel’s Messiah.

Tickets for Ukrainian nationals are free, and funds raised will support grassroots humanitarian efforts in areas of Ukraine most affected by the war.

Oxford Mail: Orchestra of St John's - Kyiv Chamber Choir

Kyiv Chamber Choir

“Handel’s much-loved Messiah journeys through suffering and loss to a place of peace and redemption,” says John.

“It seemed an appropriate piece to perform alongside incredible works by Ukrainian composers, remembering what many Ukrainians are experiencing today and looking forward with hope.

“Please come, and please give generously.”

Orchestra of St John’s performance is the culmination of a three-day Ukrainian Culture Weeks festival, which will run from next Thursday to Saturday, September 29-October 1.

Started this year to celebrate Ukraine’s rich culture, venues across Oxford will enjoy music composed and performed by Ukrainian musicians, who will come together for a memorable event, inspired by the Bouquet Kyiv Stage Festival.

Oxford Mail: Orchestra of St John's

The festival is a collaboration between Cherwell College, Oxford, the Oxford Ukrainian Society, and the Bouquet Kiev Stage Festival.

  • OSJ present Tales from the Wilderness, Peter and The Wolf –at SJE Arts, Oxford, at 6pm this Saturday, September 24, and at Dorchester Abbey on Sunday, October 16, at 4pm.
  • Handel Messiah – A Concert for Ukraine – is at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, on Friday, September 30
  • Tickets for all three concerts start from £5 and are available at osj.org.uk or call 07775 904626.