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, Almodôvar, Castro Marim, Évora, Lagoa, São Brás de Alportel, Serpa, Silves, and the University of Évora also joined as associates of OCS.
The Orquestra Clássica do Sul is composed by musicians selected in international public competitions, gathering 14 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 at the time. 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), and in some cities in Spain (Andalusia).
Since 2013, the OCS’ s regular programme has also included participations in the 2014 and 2018 editions of the festival Dias da Música, at the Centro Cultural de Belém, besides maintaining the commitment to the project “Música em Comunidade”, as well as establishing a set of other unprecedented social interventions in partnership with several entities, which have taken classical music to schools, the hospitals of Beja, Faro, Huelva and Setúbal, and to the Prison Establishment 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 Katia Guerreiro in an unparalleled concert. The OCS shared the stage with that prestigious fado singer yet another time in the Marvão International Music Festival 2015, and in the “Festival Caixa a Sul 2016” and in other concerts in 2017 and 2018. A new encounter with fado took place in 2017, this time with Camané, another renowned fado singer. In addition, during this period, the OCS staged performances such as the opera "Rita" by Donizetti in co-production with the all'Opera - Companhia de Ópera Itinerante, the "Matrioska" ballet in co-production with the Companhia de Dança do Algarve, and “The Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky, at the invitations of the National Ballet Company in 2015, and of the dance company Quorum Ballet in 2017. Pursuing the path of creative partnerships with other musical genres, in 2018, the OCS shared the stage with the group Ala dos Namorados and the singer Ana Bacalhau and in 2019 with the Fado singer Mariza.
The OCS has recently been directed by invited conductors such as António Saiote, Ben Palmer, Christopher Bochmann, Eduardo Álvarez, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Jean-Marc Burfin, Jan Wierzba, John Avery, José Eduardo Gomes, Maxime Tortelier, Melani Mestre, Patrycja Pieczara, Pedro Neves, Piotr Sulkowski, Robin O’Neill, Rui Pinheiro, Samuel Draper and Vasco Pearce de Azevedo. The orchestra also counted with the collaboration of the soloists António Rosado, António Saiote, Bárbara Barradas, Bruno Borralhinho, Carlos Caballero, Carlos Monteiro, Carolina Figueiredo, Cátia Moreso, Constantin Sandu, Cristina Nóbrega, Daniel Hart, Daniel Stabrawa, Fausto Neves, Gonçalo Pescada, Gilles Apap, Horia Vacarescu, Jed Barahal, João Terleira, Joana Vieira, João Bettencourt da Câmara, Job Tomé, Marina Pacheco, Máté Szücs, Pedro Burmester, Pedro Meireles, Rodrigo Gomes, Rui Baeta, Sara Afonso, Vasco Dantas and the Câmara Lisboa Cantat Choir, the Coral Ossónoba Group and the Vocal Olisipo Group.
In the 2019/2020 season the OCS maintains the investment in traditional projects, such as the case of the Promenade Concerts, or the concerts included in the orchestra’s regular programme cycles, like the chamber music concerts, as well as the “Música e Natureza”, “Clássicos Light”, “Lethes Clássico” and the “Sinfonias Clássicas”. In this season, the Orchestra presents a new project with the Pedagogical Cycle and reinforces the presence of the Choir in its performances.
The artistic team has Martim Sousa Tavares as Chief Conductor.