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 then proceeded to commission a talented designer from Manchester to create a logo who came up with this novel idea:
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 cryptive “h” and therefore I had to find another name starting with Oph. The Philomusica, which literally means ‘friends of music’ seemed appropriate.
In recent years, the activities of the Oxford Philomusica have 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 orchestra’s quality performances.
We were advised by those promoting the orchestra to change the name to Oxford Philharmonic to reflect our current status and eliminate perceptions that we are a student orchestra. The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra has a more permanent ring to it and more accurately portrays the breadth and depth of the organisation’s current and future activities.
Following discussions with all our major stakeholders including the University of Oxford we have decided to accept the recommendation of the music industry to allow the orchestra to move forward and realise its full potential. As a result, the new name was adopted for the new season 2015/16. The orchestra’s Board of Trustees have unanimously approved and ratified the change. The name Philomusica served us well, but as one of our trustees said, we have now outgrown it.
Oxford Philomusica is 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 Orchestra and Minneapolis. Organisation titles can sometimes sound parochial. The impacts of changing the orchestra’s name will affect perception, marketing and ultimately the place within the industry.
The orchestra will still be known by its colloquial name, the Oxford Phil. In the initial stages, we will retain the logo, which, as I said earlier, is an acronym for Oxford Phil, so that people clearly connect the change to our organisation. The domain name oxfordphil.com has remained the same.
Constitutionally, the legal bodies representing the organisation, namely 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 the major musical centres both in the UK and abroad and will continue to attract many world-class artists to Oxford to perform in our series.
On a more personal note, I miss Philomusica: but we have to look to the future.