Where Are They Now?

About this project
Maggie Carver CBE DL (Flute), Deputy Chair of Ofcom and an extensive career in media
Charlotte Woolley (Clarinet), Programme Director for R&D at the Ministry of Defence
Benjamin Wardhaugh (Bassoon), writer (see books here), historian of mathematics, previously Fellow at All Souls College
Jaymee Coonjobeeharry (Flute), freelance flautist and Chemistry PhD student at UCL


Others coming soon, watch this space! Or follow our instagram account where updates will be advertised

Please let us know if you’d like to be involved in the project: OUO@ox.ac.uk

About this project

       I’m sure we all have friends from our time in OUO who have gone on to exceptional and varied careers, maybe we’ve heard of even more impressive stories from the generations before us too. Therefore, I wanted to collate some of these achievements and stories for everyone to see, from STEM researchers to leaders of public organisations and international music performers. I doubt any other student society has quite such a diverse range of impressive careers from its alumni?

       There were a few aims and reasons for putting this project together. Firstly, for current players to understand what we are a part of, and to have a sense of what paths could be followed and what we might achieve following our time in the orchestra. Secondly, to give alumni the opportunity to reconnect and reminisce about the time they spent in OUO. Hopefully you will appreciate seeing the high standards, enthusiasm, and exciting projects being continued and developed by the current group of players. Orchestral music in the UK relies heavily on generous donations and OUO uses all its financial capacity to provide the most enjoyable and developmental opportunities for our players within the constraints of limited university support. Any financial support that you might be able to give would be very welcome. But this is not the only type of support and we would also love to hear if you would be interested in supporting OUO in any other way, perhaps through performance opportunities, musical coaching, or something else entirely. If you would like to support us, we would be incredibly grateful and you can find more details on the ‘Support Us’ page or please get in touch with Sarah via OUOfriends@gmail.com

       Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I hope this project can exhibit the benefits of music within education. It’s too easy to find endless examples of funding cuts to music provision within education programmes in the UK. This is something which I’m sure the OUO family would agree is not just a shame but also a detriment to the young people involved. We have probably all intuitively realised the benefits of music within our education, but our anecdotal evidence is also frequently backed up by plentiful scientific research (I have too many links to include here!). Even our own university doesn’t buck this trend. Whilst we are aware of Oxford’s emphasis on academics over extra-curricular pursuits, I have found the disparity in funding, support, prestige, and facility provision between sport and music to be genuinely shocking. Returning to a more positive note, I hope that this demonstration of the diverse and exceptional achievements of OUO alumni may open some eyes to the benefits which we have enjoyed and continue to enjoy by practising our instruments and collaborating in rehearsal halls.

       Thank you for being part of this project, whether you have come to read or have contributed your own story, I hope you enjoy discovering a selection of the profiles included here. If you are a previous member of OUO, I would love to hear from you, to hear about your time in OUO, to tell you more about what we’re doing now, and to welcome you to contribute to this project, however self-deprecating you are about your career and achievements!


Bradley Young, OUO French Horn, 2017-present (email: OUO@ox.ac.uk)

Maggie Carver CBE DL

       Thank you for inviting me to participate in this project.  Here’s a few reminiscences on my Oxford musical days and an update on where I am now.

       I arrived at Teddy Hall to study biochemistry but music was my passion.  I began by auditioning for absolutely everything and was lucky enough to be offered various places in orchestras although I got into OUO on my second try.  Flute players are always in over supply so I was fortunate.  I set up, with a friend, a wind quintet called “Airs and Graces”, primarily with the purpose of obtaining free ball tickets.  The quintet went on to play professionally at events when we got to London.  I was also very active in college music, organising concerts and choirs and even a Strauss orchestra to play as the sun rose on the survivors of the Teddy Hall ball.  After university, I studied my flute at the Paris Conservatoire for a term, taking my diploma at the Royal College of Music, before starting my job in the city.

       Where am I now?  After a career mainly in media, latterly as Chair of TV and online news provider ITN, I’m the Deputy Chair of Ofcom and Chair of its Content Board.  I also serve as a Deputy Lieutenant in Hampshire.  In this role I represent HM The King when the Lord-Lieutenant is unable to do so.  Music is still my passion and I regularly play the piano and occasionally my flute.  For the last 30 years, family music has been the focus as my husband sings and my daughters also play musical instruments so we often play together.  My daughter Rachel (harpist) followed me into the OUO and my other daughter Siena (oboe) was in the CUO.  Music is not just food for the soul, it teaches us many things – the discipline of practicing, how to play with others and listen to them, organising skills, performing skills, even how to count and work out fractions!  Add in life-long friendships and a deeper understanding of music than most, it’s an immense dividend for all those hours of practice.

Charlotte Woolley

       I studied Physics at Oxford (Keble College) as both undergraduate and graduate and was involved with OUO for many years from 2002 as both a clarinettist and in various committee roles. The music scene at Oxford has always been at an incredibly high standard with loads of opportunities for students in any subject to get involved, and OUO in particular brings fantastic players, world-class conductors and challenging repertoire together to achieve exceptional concerts. My memories of playing concerts with OUO are amongst my most cherished memories of my time at university, with highlights including Shostakovich’s Symphony No 7 with an utterly enormous brass section and Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphonie with its eerie ondes Martenot. I made many friends through OUO and spent many, many evenings in the Old Tom after rehearsals chatting and laughing late into the night.

       Currently, I am living and working in London as a Civil Servant for the Ministry of Defence, and have worked for more than a decade in the Defence and Security sector. Today I work as a Programme Director for innovative and cutting-edge areas of Research & Development, commissioning projects that deliver analysis, data and equipment for the benefit of the UK military. I have worked on topics as varied as operational support to counter nuclear terrorism, modelling & simulation of intelligence systems, and most recently collaborating with a host of industry partners to build prototype directed energy weapons. It is a fascinating sector to work in with an endless variety of opportunities.

       I balance this with my continued passion for music and am privileged to have been a founding member in 2012 of the South East London Orchestra (SELO) (www.southeastlondonorchestra.com). More than 10 years later we are an established charity and SELO is an incredibly friendly and positive group which delivers playing opportunities in southeast London for high standard amateurs/ex-pros and covers contemporary symphonic repertoire as well as the greats. If anyone is reading this as a student about to make a move to London please do contact SELO on seorchestra@gmail.com as we’d love to welcome you to the group! Music making is all about the friends you make along the way, and I also play with the City Of London Symphonic Winds (CLSW) (www.clsw.org.uk) which in addition to tackling incredible and fun repertoire provides a fantastic way to meet and network with woodwind and brass players across the city and identify and share other chamber/orchestral playing opportunities. The most challenging aspect to my music life currently is as part of the LIPS Wind Quintet, which performs regularly across the south of England picking from the classic wind quintet repertoire and partnering it with less well-known pieces.

Benjamin Wardhaugh

       I came to Oxford and OUO after a year in London and a BA in Cambridge, where I’d done a lot of playing. Quite a lot of what I had had done over the previous few years was in chamber orchestras and other smaller groups, so it was fun to be involved in some of the large ambitious pieces that OUO was playing at the time: I have particularly fond memories of Sibelius’ fifth in the Sheldonian. If I remember correctly, I had the chance to play the bassoon solo in The Rite of Spring twice during my time in OUO, which is just about the pinnacle of orchestral playing if you’re a bassoonist.

       Since leaving studenthood I have remained in Oxford: I was a fellow of All Souls for twelve years and am now a full-time writer. Music took a back seat for several years while my children were young, but I have continued to sing and occasionally play. Over the last couple of years my musical life has taken a most unexpected turn as I dusted off my very rusty keyboard skills and learned to play the organ. I now have a regular gig in a local church: not something I would have predicted a few years ago. You never know where music is going to take you, and there always seems to be something new to play.

Jaymee Coonjobeeharry

       My time as principal flute for 3 years with the Oxford University Orchestra was invaluable, especially during my undergraduate days in Chemistry. The opportunity to play top-level music alongside incredibly talented music students, many of whom were ex-NYO principals now enjoying successful careers in the music profession, was very enriching. This experience played a pivotal role in my decision to pursue a career in music alongside my scientific endeavours. The social scene was equally memorable, offering a unique chance to network with top world-class conductors at the pub, (which they might not usually do in the profession…!). The insights and inspiration I gained from these interactions were instrumental in my decision to study at the Royal College of Music (RCM) for three years after completing my Chemistry degree at Hertford.

       Currently, I am enjoying a busy freelance career, performing with prestigious orchestras like the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Chineke! Orchestra. Alongside my musical career, I am pursuing a doctorate in Computational Chemistry at University College London, and my passion for science and music still very much go hand in hand.