Our Team


Michelle Castelletti
Festival Director 

Dr Michelle Castelletti is a conductor, composer and interdisciplinary artist with a passion for cross-art and site-specific curation. After leaving her post as music lecturer and conductor at university, as well as the running of Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival, Michelle became the Artistic Director of the Royal Northern College of Music, as both an Arts Centre, and as a Conservatoire. She has been been a speaker at national and international conferences and has worked for audition and jury panels, including the British Composer Awards, European Capital of Culture and Venice Biennale. She has created and developed significant national and international partnerships and feels privileged to have worked with exceptional artists in her life. Michelle recently finished her tenure as Artistic Director of the Malta International Arts Festival, with a remit to lead towards European Capital of Culture 2018. She is now Director of Oxford Festival of the Arts.

Michelle’s latest conducting performances was Mozart’s comic opera, L’Impresario in a new production for children in a splendid 18th century theatre. She opened the 2019-20 season for Malta’s national orchestra with a free outdoor public concert of the President of Malta in Valletta’s main Square. Past personal favourites include conducting at Birmingham Symphony Hall, Richard Strauss and Mahler in Canterbury Cathedral, Carmina Burana, conducting with Carmine Lauri (co-leader of the LSO) at the Valletta International Baroque Festival, the privilege of conducting the Canterbury Cathedral choristers, conducting Arvo Pärt’s music for Arvo Pärt himself, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and a production of Sweeney Todd.

Michelle loves creating interdisciplinary projects in atypical spaces. Her performances, projects, curations and festivals have received 5* reviews and awards, one of the most prestigious being the award of the Times Higher Education Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. Michelle has curated study days at Wigmore Hall and taken performances to the Southbank Centre. Other projects she was involved in include BBC R3 Young Artists Day, BBC R3 Live In Tune and Music Matters programmes and BBC Proms Portraits. She has been interviewed extensively on various channels on the BBC. She recently welcomed Krzysztof Penderecki as resident composer/conductor, culminating in the UK premiere of his monumental Seven Gates of Jerusalem, which received a five-star review from The Guardian. Michelle feels privileged to have nominated and presented Penderecki with an honorary degree.

Michelle is on the Board of Directors of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Trustee of the ISM Trust and of ORA Singers, Governor on the Board of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is published by Universal Edition Vienna and has been broadcast on several channels (including the digital World Concert Hall), and is recorded by BIS RECORDS and ARS PRODUKTION. The BIS/ Storgårds recording has been receiving double 5* 10-10-10 reviews, across the board. It was No. 1 Orchestral Choice of the Month, on BBC Music Magazine – The Proms Edition, July 2019. The ARS Produktion recording is planned for a Spring 2020 release.

In her younger years, Michelle has acted as a repetiteur, pianist and/or accompanist and still loves chamber music very much. She is a Soprano and loves lyrical dramatic roles (when she has time!). Michelle is enamoured with history and material culture and is thrilled to have read for a Masters of Studies in Literature and Arts at the University of Oxford, based on interdisciplinarity between the Arts: a liberal degree which seemed to encapsulate everything she loves, based on interdisciplinarity, and the beautiful encounter between academia and creativity. In another life, she would have been an architect building cathedrals or a scribe illuminating manuscripts. Michelle loves being surrounded by art, her music and books. See Michelle’s answers to our Difficult Dozen Questions here

You can see Michelle conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra performing Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations as part of the #OFAvirtual concert.

Astrid Bowron
Festival Administrator

Astrid has an MA in History of Art: Modernism and Postmodernism and Research Methodology, from Oxford Brookes University, and her love of 20th century and contemporary art, architecture and design remains to this day.

Astrid’s career in arts administration began with twelve happy years at Modern Art Oxford, when it was still known as the Museum of Modern Art Oxford. She started as a marketing trainee and moved on to several positions in administration and exhibitions, eventually becoming curator, loving learning her craft in one of the UK’s leading visual arts organisations. Of the numerous artists she worked with, some of the most memorable exhibitions were by Yoko Ono, Gustav Metzger, and Marina Abramović. Of the shows Astrid curated, a favourite was Audible Light, an exhibition of sound and light installations, which blurred the boundaries between music and sculpture, and included Ann Veronica Janssens and Carsten Nicolai.

Her subsequent roles included working as a guest curator and programme consultant for Sketch in London and director of the Hampshire Sculpture Trust where she had the pleasure of presenting Yoko Ono’s Morning Beams in Portsmouth Cathedral, and later at St Paul’s Cathedral for the City of London Festival.

Astrid was delighted to return to Oxford to be the second director of OVADA and enjoyed working with Oxfordshire’s brilliant artists, arts organisations and universities.

Recent years have seen her return to her arts marketing roots as a freelance social media consultant for the arts and heritage sectors; charities she has worked for include the Orchestra of St John’s and the Ark T Centre. She is also an enthusiastic volunteer for the Ashmolean Museum and the University of Oxford GLAM (Gardens Libraries and Museums). Most recently, Astrid worked at the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education. Of her new role at OFA, Astrid has said:

“The Oxford Festival of the Arts is my local arts festival and I have watched it grow since its inception – I love the interdisciplinary nature of it and its ambitious, international remit. It is wonderful to have the opportunity work with so many arts organisations and partners in the city, bringing such a diverse and talented array of artists and performers to the heart of my community.”

See Astrid’s answers to our Difficult Dozen Questions here