Levon Parikian, Musical Director

Levon Parikian

Levon Parikian’s first musical influence was his father, the renowned violinist Manoug Parikian, whose musicianship and experience as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader instilled in Levon from an early age a deep appreciation of the tradition of musical performance.

While studying timpani and percussion at the Royal Academy of Music, Levon developed his interest in conducting, and subsequently studied privately with Michael Rose and David Parry. Following further study with George Hurst, and at his encouragement, Levon auditioned successfully for a position in Ilya Musin’s class at the St. Petersburg conservatoire. Here he gained an insight into Musin’s rigorous technique of conducting, which has influenced generations of Russian conductors.

Since his return from Russia, Levon has pursued a freelance conducting career, and is much in demand as Guest Conductor with orchestras in Britain. He currently holds Principal Conductor posts with several London-based orchestras, is Principal Conductor of the City of Oxford Orchestra, and Artistic Director of The Rehearsal Orchestra. He is also very committed to training young musicians and has worked extensively with students and youth orchestras, including the Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra, National Youth Strings Academy, Royal College of Music Junior Sinfonia, and at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he also taught conducting for fifteen years.

In 2012 Levon conducted the UK premiere of Armen Tigranian’s opera Anoush with London Armenian Opera. He recently conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in a re-recording of the theme tune for Hancock’s Half Hour for lost episodes recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Levon is also a writer and his first book Waving, Not Drowning was published in 2013. It has been described as “a must-read” by Classical Music magazine, and as “mercifully short” by Levon himself.  His second book, a tale of woeful ornithology entitled Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? was publish in 2018.

Levon Parikian has been our Musical Director since 2000.

His website is

Charlie Brookes, Leader

Charlie is studying for his Masters degree at the Royal Academy of Music under Joshua Fisher. Since beginning his studies at RAM, Charlie has been selected to participate in collaborative schemes with the London Sinfonietta and with the college’s Symphony Orchestra with whom he has performed with conductors including Semyon Bychkov and Sir Mark Elder. In 2017, Charlie graduated from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he studied with Lucy Gould of the Gould Piano Trio and Itzhak Rashkovsky. In 2015 Charlie gained a place with the Royal Welsh String Soloists ensemble who performed at a Gala event at Buckingham Palace in February 2016. In his fourth year, Charlie successfully auditioned for a place on the professional experience scheme with the Welsh National Opera as part of a side-by-side partnership with the college.

In 2016, Charlie became Leader of the CBSO Youth Orchestra with whom he has worked under conductors such as Michael Seal, Jac Van Steen, Andrew Litton, Edward Gardner and Christian Măcelaru. He has performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Romance No. 2 with the orchestra. Other organisations Charlie plays with include the English Symphony Orchestra, British Sinfonietta, Cardiff Sinfonietta and Orchestra Vitae.

The Players

The rest of us come from diverse backgrounds: students, teachers, architects, artists, engineers, accountants and many more. We have several music college graduates and players from around the world: France, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan and the USA. One of our former violinists, Chonon Lewis, is an accomplished composer, and we have performed his works on several occasions.

Some of us have been in the orchestra for years, some have joined much more recently. The age range is wide and there are plenty of young members. Many of us live in the North London area, but a significant number travel in from other parts of London and from much further afield. What we all have in common is that we are passionate about music and our orchestra.

As well as playing music together, we enjoy a very strong social scene which includes post-rehearsal drinks and regular nights out.