Wond’rous Machine is a young, dynamic and unique period instrument orchestra based in London. Taken from Purcell’s great ode to the patron saint of music, Hail, Bright Cecilia, the group’s name, Wond’rous Machine, encapsulates the seventeenth and eighteenth-century awe surrounding the orchestra – a fantastical menagerie of diverse sounds.
Our ambition is to produce innovative historically-informed events rarely attempted today: reconstructions of original concert programmes and opera stagings, exploring the music’s connection with the other arts, and experimenting with performances in venues of the era, including music-halls, theatres, and public gardens.
Our core players are at the forefront of emerging talent in the UK historically informed performance community. We seek to address the challenges faced by young professional musicians by providing a platform of high-level performance experience. We are also committed to engaging with our audiences and sharing the rich and varied historical contexts of music through pre-performance talks, educational opportunities to include workshops and free concert access to local maintained schools.
Joel Sandelson recently completed two years as Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Leverhulme Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He also directs the London-based period instrument orchestra Wond’rous Machine, making recent debuts together at the Southbank Centre and St John’s Smith Square. He graduated from Cambridge University in 2016 with a double starred first in Music, receiving multiple prizes, and then studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music with Sian Edwards, gaining the DipRAM prize.
Joel recently won third prize at the inaugural Siemens-Hallé International Conductors Competition in February 2020. In various settings he has worked with orchestras including the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Hallé, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Opera, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St John’s and Red Note Ensemble. He previously reached the final 12 at the Malko Competition for Young Conductors 2018, and won first prize in the Cambridge University Conducting Competition in 2014 and 2015.
He has assisted conductors including Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Trevor Pinnock, Yan Pascal Tortelier and John Wilson. He has also studied at Tanglewood as well as with conductors including Martyn Brabbins, Sir Roger Norrington, Mark Stringer, Jorma Panula, Thomas Søndergård, Joseph Swensen, Garry Walker and Colin Metters, and was invited to participate in the 2020 Gstaad Festival Academy with Jaap van Zweden. He was conductor of the Barbican Chamber Orchestra 2013-17, and at Cambridge he was Conducting Scholar of the Cambridge University Music Society for two years, conducting concerts with the university’s flagship symphony orchestra at home and on tours in Europe.
Originally a cellist, he has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician, including several recitals at Wigmore Hall and concertos with orchestras in the UK and Europe. Other highlights include appearances at festivals in Europe, Israel and Canada; premieres of solo and chamber works by Lowell Liebermann, Sir Nicholas Jackson and Kamran Ince; a performance of Steve Reich’s cello music in the presence of the composer; chamber collaborations with the Endellion and Celan Quartets; and success in several national competitions, including reaching the strings final of BBC Young Musician. He remains active as a chamber and orchestral musician principally on historical cellos, recently performing with La Serenissima and members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.