The Orchestra of St John’s 50th anniversary season comes to a grand finale tomorrow night at Dorchester Abbey, the orchestra’s home for more than two decades.

Topping the bill is legendary flautist Sir James Galway – dubbed ‘the man with the golden flute’ – whose association with the OSJ and its founder, John Lubbock, stretches back to the 1970s.

“I probably first played with John in 1976,” Sir James muses. “John asked me to play in a concert – I think it was in Portsmouth – so I did that, and it was the beginning of a very long relationship.”

What has enticed him back so many times over the years? “They’re a jolly bunch,” he says. “They like doing what they do, and this sort of enthusiasm comes over in a concert.”

Belfast-born Sir James – he was knighted in 2001 – started learning the flute at the age of nine, and just two years later scooped several prizes in the local flute championships. He has since played with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, notably the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and achieved international stardom as a solo flautist of exceptional virtuosity.

He is particularly proud of his substantial recording legacy, which is incredibly varied and spans several centuries, from Mozart, Pachelbel, Vivaldi and Bach to collaborations with Irish band The Chieftains.

For tomorrow night’s concert he has chosen to play Mozart’s second flute concerto in D Major, a long-standing favourite.

“It’s a piece I play quite frequently. I like the virtuosity of it, and there’s a rondo in the last movement which is a lot of fun,” he says.

To continue the Mozart theme, acclaimed Scottish clarinettist Ian Scott will play the ever-popular Clarinet Concerto, and the orchestra will complete the programme with Mozart’s Symphony No.40.

This concert is not all about Mozart, though. It is also a showcase for some of the work that has emerged from the orchestra’s Displaced Voices project, run by associate conductor Cayenna Ponchione.

The initiative, launched earlier this year, involves students from Oxford Spires Academy, and aims to raise awareness of the issues facing refugees in Oxford through song and the spoken word.

“Displaced Voices brings the orchestra together with refugees on a variety of different levels and, most importantly, amplifies the voices of youth refugees,” explains Cayenna.

“The students we’re working with are refugees who have come over here from difficult circumstances.”

The Displaced Voices Song Cycle has seen students’ poems being set to music by professional composers. The first of these, Sadie Harrison’s My Hazara People, is a setting of words by recent Oxford Spires graduate Shukria Reazei, and will be performed at Dorchester Abbey tomorrow night by mezzo Charlotte Tetley.

Cayenna and composer Toby Young have also been working with four Oxford Spires Academy students to create backing tracks for their own poetry, and these can also be heard tomorrow night.

“I’d like fuller compositions from each of the students, to be performed at a concert focused on those works,” says Cayenna. “It’s about giving them a platform in their community.”

  • OSJ 50th Anniversary Concert
  • Dorchester Abbey
  • Tomorrow, 7.30pm
  • Tickets: