Proms at St Jude’s: Baton-waver Oliver Zeffman is one to watch

PUBLISHED: 16:38 16 June 2015

proms at st jude's oliver zeffman

proms at st jude's oliver zeffman


The young conductor has the kind of whizzkid business skills you find in future chief executives of Google, says Michael White.

It’s easy to feel slightly crushed when you meet young musicians bursting with ambition, energy and enterprise: just listening to their plans can be exhausting.

But the job of a critic is to spot and celebrate new talent. And one that strikes me as worth watching right now is a young conductor called Oliver Zeffman who runs his own ensemble, the Melos Sinfonia, with the kind of whizzkid business skills you find in future chief executives of Google.

He’s just finished at Durham University where he wasn’t even reading music (it was Russian & history), and he’s only now about to start a year of serious conducting lessons with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy. But he’s already out there with a vengeance, touring concerts and operas to Edinburgh, Italy and Russia.

He does things on a grand scale. He raises the money and does most of the marketing himself. He has a peculiar knack for getting people onside and sweet-talking musicians of real talent to work with him. And the shows he puts on are seriously impressive. So I’m expecting a lot from the St Jude’s concert in which he conducts the Melos Sinfonia in a programme of Debussy, Poulenc and Schubert.

The Melos players are all young, fresh out of music college, but hand-picked. They play at serious venues – later this year they’re at LSO St Lukes and the new Milton Court. And last autumn Zeffman took them to St Petersburg where by all accounts they made a big impression.

People walked out - but the piece was Peter Maxwell Davies’s notorious Eight Songs for a Mad King. If you drive your audience to the exits with that, you’re doing it exactly as intended. And with impact.

Oliver Zeffman conducts the Melos Sinfonia, St Jude’s, Thurs 25th, 7.45pm

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

Yesterday, 19:22

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall revealed that England number eight Billy Vunipola is having a scan on his knee after leaving the field injured during the 41-13 win over Sale.

Yesterday, 19:17

England number eight Billy Vunipola was helped from the field with a leg injury as Saracens cruised to a convincing win over Sale at Allianz Park.

Yesterday, 16:24

Harry Kane certainly made an impression on Mauricio Pochettino after his two goals helped secure a 3-2 win for Tottenham at West Ham.

Mistakes cost West Ham dear as Spurs take the points in lunchtime London derby

Yesterday, 11:15

Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones is set to miss England’s winter Ashes after scans confirmed he has a stress fracture in his back.

Fri, 19:22

A “predatory” man who attacked and attempted to rape a woman at knifepoint in her own home has been jailed.

Fri, 18:45

Poet William Blake, perhaps the most famous member of the Druid Order, wrote, “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”

Fri, 18:03

A schoolboy and teacher are reported to have been injured when an intruder armed with a knife attacked pupils and staff at William Ellis School.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now