Pavilion sunset
St Hilda's College
Our people

Dr John Traill

MMus East Ang, DPhil Oxf


Dr John Traill's research interests include the history of orchestration, the history of conducting, orchestral performance post-1750, and the performance of new music.

He specialises in conducting symphonic and contemporary repertoire, and he is committed to making music accessible to all. Director and Supernumerary Fellow in Music at St Anne’s College, Oxford, he has enjoyed more than twenty years working at Oxford. During this time he has been course director of courses in Instrumental Conducting, and Orchestration, at the Faculty of Music, and held a number of college lectureships. From 2017-2020 he was a Teaching Fellow at Royal Holloway University London, responsible for courses in ensemble performance, conducting, and composition. Previous posts also include Teaching Fellow (Performance) at Kings College London, lecturer at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Bristol University (Conducting and Composition), and Head of Performance at Bangor University. In January 2022, John became a Professor at the Royal Military School of Music.

John has performed across the UK and overseas, with orchestras that include the London Mozart Players, Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sofia New Symphony Orchestra, the Kharkov Philharmonic, the SCAR Philharmonic, and the Curitiba Symphony (Brazil). His work with leading contemporary music ensembles includes the London Sinfonietta, CHROMA, the New Music Players, London Contemporary Music Group, Sounds Underground, and the Moscow Studio for New Music. He has performed at many major venues, including premieres at the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham, the Barbican, Southbank Centre, and the Fergusson Centre (Virginia). John is conductor of the St Anne’s Camerata, Ensemble ISIS (the new music group at Oxford Faculty of Music), the City of Southampton Orchestra, and the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra; His outreach work, with the Oxfordshire Music Service’s Advanced Musicianship Programme, has developed a unique collaboration between the University of Oxford and the Oxfordshire County Music Service, awarded the National Music Council Paritor Award for Achievements in New Music. John’s recordings include Thomas Hyde’s Autumnal (Guild Records), and Scherzo Capriccioso (BBC Radio 3).

Early training with Rossen Milanov at the Mt. Vitosha International Conducting Institute, Bulgaria (1998/2000) culminated in winning major prizes at the Leeds Conductors Competition (2005), and the Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition (2006). At the same time, John studied composition with Robert Saxton at the University of Oxford, becoming the youngest recipient, in 2006, of a DPhil in this field. His compositions have been performed at major venues in UK, Europe, and the USA. Specializing in both contemporary concert and music for education, highlights include Arts Council funded commissions (Double Concerto for Vibraphone, Marimba, and Orchestra, and Concerto for Trumpet (doubling Flugelhorn) and Orchestra), an arrangement of Brahms' German Requiem, with Deborah Pritchard, for the Manchester Camerata at the Litchfield Festival 2016. His oratorios for education have bought national recognition, most notably Lightbobs for 600+ performers (March 2014: Symphony Hall, Birmingham), and Oxonia for massed children’s choir, symphony orchestra, brass band, and solo cello (2011-12: Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham).

Recent projects include Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (2023), A Southampton Overture for large orchestra (2021), Sea Foam for piccolo trumpet (2020: Simon Desbruslais, Living Room Live concerts), and Ground Bass and Dance for string orchestra (winner of the 2020 Losh Atkinson Sounds competition). John has enjoyed a long association with US tenor David Sadlier. Song sets therein include Four Cornish Songs (2016), Phases (2014), Three Songs for the Britten Centenary (2012), Today for tenor and chamber orchestra (2010). He has also worked closely with trumpeter Simon Desbruslais and in addition to his 2016 concerto, they premiered his Serenade for Trumpet and Orchestra, at the Sao Bento Monastery, Brasilia, in April 2014. Highlights from John’s older catalogue include Equale for Horn and String Orchestra (2014), Concerto for Ensemble (2010), Five Piano Miniatures (2008) and Dissolving Fragments for Violin and Piano (2009/11).


  • Lecturer in Music


  • Music