Managing the rebrand: the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra

Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra’s Marios Papadopoulos on how the renaming of the orchestra could herald success for the future.

When I was thinking of starting an orchestra in Oxford, back in the spring of 1998, I thought the name Oxford Philharmonic would be appropriate. I was then informed, erroneously as it turned out, that a student orchestra went by the name ‘Philharmonic’ and that we could not use the same. However, as I was keen to use the commissioned logo, I had to find another name to fit the characters.

The natural sign in the logo is a cryptic ‘h’ and therefore I had to find another name starting with ‘Ph’. The Philomusica, which literally means ‘friends of music’, seemed appropriate.

OP logo bit
OP Logo

In recent years, the activities of Oxford Philomusica expanded rapidly, partly because of our collaborations with many of the world’s greatest artists and also because of a rise in awareness of the ensemble’s quality performances.

The former name of Philomusica served us well but, as one of our trustees pointed out, we have now outgrown it. The orchestra’s board of trustees unanimously approved and ratified the name change for the new 2015-16 season – it was a landmark decision, which allows the orchestra to move forward and pursue its full potential.

I am immensely proud of the Orchestra’s new title. ‘Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra’ truly represents the ensemble’s professionalism and status within the industry, and not only portrays the breadth and depth of the organisation’s current activities, but also the boundless potential that lies ahead.

The Oxford Philomusica was not the first organisation of its kind to change name: the Philharmonia once changed to ‘New Philharmonia’, and back again. Other examples include the Danish Radio and Minneapolis orchestras. Organisation titles can sometimes sound parochial; the new name will act as a catalyst as we forge ever higher national and international repute, and will continue to affect public perception of the Orchestra and its marketing.

The orchestra will still be known colloquially as ‘the Oxford Phil’. In the initial stages, we will retain the logo so that people connect clearly with the change. While the domain name of has remained the same, we have launched a brand new website as a stellar complement to the orchestra’s enhanced image.

Constitutionally, the legal bodies representing the organisation, namely (and formerly) the Oxford Philomusica Trust and Productions Ltd., have remained intact and all existing contracts, including our agreement with the University of Oxford, will require minor modifications to reflect the change.

It is our hope that the new name, together with the quality of our performances, will gain us access to major UK and international musical centres as we continue to attract world-class artists to perform with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra.

Alongside their artist in residence Maxim Vengerov, Marios Papadopoulos and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra play London’s Cadogan Hall on 8 November 2015, and Barbican Centre on 6 June 2016. The orchestra will also join Nicola Benedetti in Cheltenham’s Town Hall on 26 November 2015 and Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on 28 November 2015.  
Marios Papadopoulos is the founder, music director and driving force behind the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly Oxford Philomusica), orchestra in residence at the University of Oxford.