Founded in 2002 under the designation of Orquestra do Algarve, the orchestra changed its name to Orquestra Clássica do Sul (OCS) in September 2013 in order to enhance its mission of offering a high artistic quality programme to the regions of Algarve, Alentejo and the Setubal peninsula, as well as to the Spanish region of Andalusia.
Besides the Turismo do Algarve and the University of Algarve, the original founders of OCS include the regional municipalities of Albufeira, Faro, Lagos, Loulé, Portimão and Tavira. Subsequently, the municipalities of Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Olhão, Lagoa, São Brás de Alportel, Vila Real de S. António, Silves, Vila do Bispo and the University of Évora also joined as associates of OCS. In addition, the orchestra is pleased to count on ‘Caixa Geral de Depósitos’ as its sponsor.
The Orquestra Clássica do Sul is composed by musicians selected in international public competitions, gathering 12 different nationalities. The OCS programme includes chamber music concerts, opera productions, Promenade concerts (for families), concerts in association with different musical genres (e.g., jazz, fado) and other artistic expressions (e.g., dance, literature), workshops and master classes. Along with its musical activity, the orchestra dedicates a special effort to pedagogical actions in schools, promoting the musical taste of younger audiences.
With a musical repertoire embracing pieces that range from baroque to contemporary, the OCS presents thematic concert cycles with national and international soloist and conductors, besides traditional concerts in festive occasions.
The artistic debut of OCS took place in October 2013 under the direction of Cesário Costa, its Principal Conductor and Artistic Director. Since then, the orchestra has made presentations in auditoriums throughout the territory of Algarve, in Setúbal and in Mértola, Ourique, Évora, Castro Verde, Alvito, Marvão, Torrão (Alcácer do Sal), Almodôvar, Redondo, among other places in Alentejo, and has also performed regular cycles of concerts in Ayamonte (Spain).
During 2014, the OCS has played two concerts in ‘Dias da Música’ in CCB, Lisbon, one of them having Jan Lisiecki, a young pianist highly praised by the critics, as soloist. It has also embraced the project ‘Música em Comunidade’ (Music in the Community), a set of unprecedented cultural actions developed in collaboration with several entities, which offered music to hospitalized children and adults, as well as to their healthcare takers, at the Hospitals of Beja, Faro, Huelva and Setúbal, and to the ‘Estabelecimento Prisional de Faro’ (the prison of Faro).
At the 2014 “Festival Caixa a Sul” (previous “Festival Caixa Geral de depósitos”), the OCS presented a jazz programme with Joana Machado, and fado with Gisela João. At the 2015’s festival the orchestra joined Vitorino and Janita Salomé in the project “Clássico EnCante”, in which traditional music and Cante from Alentejo were mixed with classic sonorities, and presented the programme “Uma Viagem Mediterrânica” with the tenor Carlos Guilherme. In October, 2014, the OCS performed at the Sala do Senado da Assembleia da República (Senate Room of the Portuguese Parliamentary Assembly) and, after invitation of the Mexico Embassy, shared the stage of the Tivoli BBVA theatre with Kátia Guerreiro in an unparalleled concert. The orchestra joined Kátia Guerreiro once more in a concert at the 2015 Festival Internacional de Música de Marvão and at the Festival Caixa a Sul 2016, and also staged performances such as the opera “Rita” by Donizetti in co-production with all'opera - Itinerant Opera Company, the “Matrioska” ballet in co-production with Companhia de Dança do Algarve, and “The Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky by invitation of the Companhia Nacional de Bailado. In 2017 the alliance with Fado was reinforced with another performance with Kátia Guerreiro, and the debut with Fado singer Camané.
The OCS has recently been directed by invited conductors such as António Saiote, Ben Palmer, Christopher Bochmann, Eduardo Álvarez, Jean-Marc Burfin, Jan Wierzba, John Avery, José Eduardo Gomes, Maxime Tortelier, Melani Mestre, Patrycja Pieczara, Pedro Neves, Piotr Sulkowski, Rui Pinheiro, Samuel Draper and Vasco Pearce de Azevedo. In 2015, the orchestra also counted with the collaboration of the soloists Bruno Borralhinho, Gonçalo Pescada, António Rosado, Cristina Nóbrega, Rui Baeta, Carlos Monteiro, Carolina Figueiredo, Job Tomé, Sara Afonso, Daniel Hart, Bárbara Barradas, Marina Pacheco, Cátia Moreso, João Terleira, Joana Vieira, João Bettencourt da Câmara, Vasco Dantas, Pedro Meireles, António Saiote, Horia Vacarescu, Gilles Apap, and the Câmara Lisboa Cantat Choir and Coral Ossónoba Group.
The OCS 2017’s season will maintain the investment in traditional projects, such as the case of the Promenade Concerts and the Pedagogic Concerts, the concerts included in the cycles of the orchestra regular programme, like the chamber music concerts, the “Loulé Clássico”, and the “Clássica na Santa Casa”, as well as the reactivation of other cycles, such as the “Solistas da OCS”, “Música e Natureza”, “Clássicos Light” and “Grandes Sinfonias Clássicas”. This season, in addition to the co-production of the usual Festival Caixa a Sul during the summer, the OCS will also participate in 11 concerts in the 32nd edition of the FIMA - Festival Internacional de Música do Algarve (Algarve’s International Festival of Music), with presentations that will include chamber music, choral singing, piano concerts, and a gastronomic event coupled with music.
The artistic team has Rui Pinheiro as Principal Conductor, with José Colomé as Young Associate Conductor and Luís Soldado as Associate Composer.