Michael O'Donnell grew up in Scone, Perthshire and took up the oboe aged 12, studying with Philip Alexander. Under Mr Alexander's tutorship and encouragement Michael gained a scholarship to attend the Royal Scottish Academy Junior Department. During these years he played principal oboe and cor anglais with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and Great Britain. Michael moved to London in 2002 to study with Christopher Cowie as a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music. Whilst at the RCM Michael won the Knights of the Round Table Prize and the Wind Chamber Music Prize and graduated in 2006 with first class honours and the highest mark in the woodwind faculty.
As a sought after freelance oboist, Michael has worked with some of the UK's leading symphony orchestras. Michael performs regularly with the Philharmonia Orchestra and recently made his debut as guest principal oboe with the London Symphony Orchestra. Michael's orchestral work also includes the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Michael is also a keen chamber musician and as well as performing regularly in a trio with his brother Lawrence (bassoonist), he has worked with a number of ensembles, including playing principal oboe with the London Winds directed by Michael Collins.
Michael's recent recording work has included performances for LSO live with Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra, for Chandos with the Philharmonia and for EMI with the Northern Sinfonia. Michael has also broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM.
Forthcoming performances include a tour of China performing Romeo and Juliet with the Royal Ballet, concerts with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and Spain and a series of concerts with the Symphony Orchestra of India in Mumbai.
Michael is also a keen pianist and was lucky enough to study with Perth's Bill Gordon, whom he counts as one of his biggest muscial influences.
"A personable player, Michael gave the Marcello Concerto a vivid performance making the work fresh and full of character. The lovely theme of the first movement was beautifully shaped and the phrasing let the music develop without feeling hurried. Michael played the exquisite adagio with real poignancy as the strings accompanied with repeated legato notes that gave the movement a spacial and melancholic quality. The final, and most well known movement was played with joyful brilliance and delicacy, Michael tackling all the technical demands with vigour and virtuosity. This was a superb performance from a very fine young musician and again demonstrates the wonderful talent that has been nurtured in Perthshire" Perthshire Advertiser
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