Described by The Telegraph as “phenomenally promising”, the young British conductor Oliver Zeffman was the Classical Music nominee for The Times Breakthrough Artist Award at the 2018 South Bank Sky Arts Awards, and in 2015 was the youngest of eight nominees for the Nestlé-Salzburg Young Conductor’s Award. Recent and upcoming debuts include with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, KMH Symfoniorkester, London Chamber Orchestra, Ural Youth Symphony Orchestra, Jersey Symphony Orchestra, West Green House Opera and Chelsea Opera Group, whom he leads this season in Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon.
Oliver has worked as an assistant to Valery Gergiev, preparing orchestras including the Rotterdam and Luxembourg Philharmonics; Daniel Harding, for whom he has prepared Mahler Symphony No.8 with both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the New Japan Philharmonic; and to David Zinman, Manfred Honeck and Ed Gardner with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Last summer he spent a month assisting Gustavo Dudamel, Thomas Adès and a number of other conductors with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
In 2010 Oliver founded the Melos Sinfonia, an orchestra of young professionals, where he continues as Artistic Director. Together, they have given the Russian premieres of a number of important 20th century works — including Maxwell-Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, Walton’s Façade and Ligeti’s Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures — and most recently, at the invitation of Valery Gergiev, toured a concert staging of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin to The Mariinsky Theatre. Over the last three years Oliver and the Melos Sinfonia have commissioned thirteen new works from some of the most exciting young composers of today.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Oliver originally studied History and Russian at Durham University and also spent a year at the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory under the direction of Alexander Polishchuk. He has taken part in masterclasses at the Tanglewood Music Centre and with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and London Sinfonietta.
“Zeffman revels in the score’s jagged climaxes and spine-chillingly eerie textures.”
(***** Richard Morrison, The Times, October 2017)
“Zeffman’s impressively lucid conducting and the Melos Sinfonia’s totally assured playing ensured that the rainbow of colours that Benjamin conjures from a large orchestra containing exotica […] were vividly conveyed.”
(Andrew Clements, The Guardian, October 2017)
“More impressive than the sheer violence of the sonic effects here is the detail of the quieter passages, lovingly shaped by Zeffman and his band. […] Zeffman and the Melos Sinfonia, have definitely made their mark […]. Ambitious and expert, it won’t be long before they’re making their mark on larger stages.”
(theartsdesk, October 2017)
“[Oliver Zeffman] took a historically informed approach, albeit with modern instruments (natural trumpets excepted), and the score emerged with captivating freshness, whether in passages of exquisite, floating delicacy or an epic Act 2 quartet that rode a wave of energy”.
(Yehuda Shapiro, Opera Magazine, October 2017)
“Oliver Zeffman conducts the Melos Sinfonia with the right combination of sensitivity and exuberance”
(MusicOMH, August 2017)
“Oliver Zeffman’s invigorating conducting ensuring that the orchestral support maintains sparkling momentum”
(Curtis Rogers, Classical Source, August 2017)
“Oliver Zeffman is a young conductor but there was no sense of ‘work in progress’ about this performance: it was an authentically satisfying achievement.”
(Opera Magazine, May 2016)
“This was a ‘performance of Puccini’s opera to match what one might hear in the most exalted of houses… Try as I might I could not find anything to fault.”
( Seen and Heard International, May 2016)
“Oliver Zeffman is a sensitive, highly accomplished conductor.”
(Seen and Heard International, June 2015)
“memorable, musical, and put together by someone who not only knew what he wanted but, to an extraordinary degree for his age and experience, knew how to get it.”
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