Michael Axtell Conductor (1999-2005)

Michael Axtell conducted the HCO from  1999 to 2005

Michael first conducted the HCO in 1995 and again in 1998. At our Spring Concert in 1999, he was the soloist in Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto. He took over the baton full-time in the summer of 1999. His last concert with us was the Summer Concert in 2005.

Michael Axtell
Michael Axtell (1939-2024)

Prior to joining us, he spent eighteen years as principal piccolo and principal flute with the English National Opera company from 1967 to 1985. Before that, he played with numerous orchestras and ballet companies. His live solo concerto work includes broadcasts for the BBC Welsh, Swansea Sounds Sinfonia, and the BBC Bandstand programme, along with solo performances on both TV and radio. Internationally, he performed at renowned opera houses and concert halls in New York (Met), San Antonio, New Orleans, Austin, Munich, Bordeaux, Brussels, Lisbon, and Madrid. He also served as a flute clinician at the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair in Washington DC, ran a master class at Elon College in North Carolina, and was a chamber music coach at the Orlando Festival in Holland. His involvement in West End London musicals includes The Sound of Music, The King & I, Les Misérables, La Cage aux Folles, Barnum, and 42nd Street.

For twenty-seven years, he taught flute in Bromley, as well as at Morley, Eltham, St Dunstan’s, and Dulwich Colleges, and the Blackheath Conservatoire. Many of his pupils have gone on to music colleges and universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

Our Chairman, Graeme Wright, shares a fond memory: “He once drove off from an HCO rehearsal at Upminster Junior School having accidentally left his flute on top of his car. I don’t believe he ever found it.” Karen Williams, a long standing Orchestra Member, says he was “Charismatic, humorous, a great socialiser … His annual chamber music courses were legendary – besides good music, there was good drinking, socialising, stories and … we ended up playing cricket on the beach or croquet on the lawn. For all his humour, he knew how to get the best out of an orchestra and when to stop the jokes and start with the hard work. “ Michael led a remarkably full life.