Lean and adaptable we enable these amazing players to unleash all their creativity.
We can be heard in concerts and recordings, education and community settings and in workshops and gala events for world-leading businesses.
We hope to welcome you to an event soon!
Based on the border of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, just north of London in the UK, the orchestra has strong local roots. We are particularly lucky that some of the finest instrumentalists in the world happen to live in this region. Many of our acclaimed education projects have taken place in local schools and we have a close association with the magnificent Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, its world-renown choirs and the St Albans International Organ Festival. From this local base we perform in London and throughout the UK, and internationally as far afield as India.
Founder and Artistic Director David Murphy is a pupil of Leon Barzin and protégé of Sir Charles Mackerras and Pandit Ravi Shankar. He conducts throughout the world. Recent highlights have included his critically acclaimed Royal Festival Hall debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Seoul National Symphony Orchestra (in a concert for peace broadcast simultaneously on Korean and Japanese television) and concerts and workshops with the children from the townships around Johannesburg.
Three unique strands of Sinfonia Verdi’s work have developed naturally over the years. The equal virtuosity our players have on both modern and period instruments developed in line with the Artistic Director’s use of original manuscript sources wherever possible, the orchestra’s groundbreaking work with Indian music began with our Premiere of Wajahat Khan’s Concerto for Sarod and Symphony Orchestra in 2001, and our pioneering education projects exploring the wonder of the natural world came about naturally as a result of a passion we all share.
We began working with the corporate sector in 2001, and enjoy giving business seminars and workshops exploring issues of leadership, cooperation, listening and teamwork through the medium of music. We also enjoy bringing to life gala events for the corporate sector, and our clients have included leading names in the corporate world such as the investment bank Goldman Sachs.
I had just finished being a student, having returned to the UK from studying in the United States; two very happy years as a graduate teaching assistant in the Midwest, at Wichita State University. I realised I wanted to do something to draw the attention of people in the UK to the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and its irreplaceable biodiversity.
Many colleagues, fantastic musicians and contemporaries from my days as a music student in London were beginning to make their careers as musicians in the UK and Europe, and many of them shared a feeling that we had to do something to draw attention to what was happening. The obvious thing was to put on a concert. Little did we know that this concert was to be the start of a life-long creative journey.
The name Sinfonia Verdi just popped into my head as I was dropping off to sleep, thinking about the poster design for this “Rainforest” concert. It seemed to sum up the ethos of the event: the inspiration the natural world, a desire to help protect it through raising awareness and money, and of course the naturally communicative bel canto tradition of the great Giuseppe Verdi, whose music has an ability to speak to everyone.
From the first note of the first rehearsal it was clear that if you put together a group of superlative musicians who all share the same goal, amazing things can happen. It was the exhilaration we all felt, the reaction of the audience and the amount of money we raised for the World Wide Fund for Nature Rainforest Appeal that inspired us to put on another concert. So the snowball began to roll!
The UK, and London in particular has a unique freelance tradition and we discovered that with forward planning it was possible to get these great players together for more concerts. Gradually many of these original musicians became principal players in famous orchestras, and returning for Sinfonia Verdi concerts, their new contacts added another dimension to our network of great players.
By 1996, we had incorporated the orchestra as a Non-Profit making company, and became a category 1 member of the Association of British Orchestras. One of our first business sponsorships came about at this time: Telecential Communications (now Virgin Media) supported us and the partnership was so successful both in terms of the projects it enabled, coupled with what we brought to the company in the form of business workshops, that it received an award from the UK Government organisation Arts and Business. Since then we have been supported by the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, business sponsorship, ticket income and commercial bookings rather than any form of public funding.
Our work with Indian music, and incorporation of period instruments into our performances began in the new millennium. Looking for new directions in programming, I decided to tap into my love for Indian music and Indian culture and philosophy. Leafing through the British Music Yearbook, I found contact information for Wajahat Khan, one of India’s leading sarod players, who was living nearby in North West London. We met, and decided to work together on a Concerto for Sarod and Symphony Orchestra. I found the process of notating and orchestrating with an Indian musician fascinating, and working on this concerto with Wajahat was the beginning of a whole new chapter in both my and the orchestra’s life. We recently made our first visit to India as an ensemble, and I hope this will be the first of many.
The use of period instruments and even combinations of period and modern instruments came about as I searched for an orchestral sound that was as lucid and fresh as possible, so that every detail of the score is clear for the audience. In this quest, I was inspired by my work with Sir Charles Mackerras, both assisting in his rehearsals with forward-looking chamber orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and working with him on the original manuscript sources of core works, especially the Beethoven Symphonies.
Ultimately Sinfonia Verdi’s choice of modern instruments, period instruments or a combination (usually modern strings/wind with period brass and timpani) depends on the occasion and the size and acoustics of the venue. We became “the world’s most flexible orchestra” because we are all convinced that the process of reaching an audience is the same whatever tools you use – but if you have the choice, the selection of the most appropriate tools for each occasion can be extremely helpful!
~ David Murphy, 2013