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About Us

Since its founding in 1983, the Chapel Hill Philharmonia (originally the Village Orchestra) has offered primarily amateur musicians the opportunity to play fine orchestral music together in a friendly atmosphere under professional leadership. In keeping with the spirit fostered by its founders, the ensemble maintains a strong collaborative relationship with the UNC Chapel Hill Department of Music, where we rehearse and perform.

In 1993, Donald Oehler took over as Music Director, and under his enthusiastic leadership, the orchestra has expanded to over 100 musicians playing an ambitious repertoire. Concerts feature the best of the orchestral repertoire, plus commissioned works and premieres by local and national composers. We present four free concerts each academic year, including our standing-room-only fall children’s concert and a spring concert featuring winners of the Young Artist Concerto Competition.

Players range in age from graduate students to spirited octogenarians, their day jobs reflecting a diverse range of interests and talents. Membership has always been open without audition to all who love to play their instruments and are dedicated to performing the best orchestral music.

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Donald L. Oehler


As Music Director of the Chapel Hill Philharmonia since 1993, conductor Donald L. Oehler brings to the orchestra a spirit of joyful music-making as well as a passion for rehearsing and performing the best of the orchestral repertoire and collaborating with soloists of the highest caliber.

Born in Wisconsin, Mr. Oehler graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and began his career as principal clarinetist of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Téhéran in Tehran, Iran. His career as a clarinet soloist and chamber musician has taken him all over the world.


In his current role as Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Oehler leads a clarinet studio, coaches chamber music, advocates for undergraduate research, and is resident director of the Burch Honors Seminar in Music held in London, England and Florence, Italy.

Donald Oehler

Music Director Donald L. Oehler is an ideal conductor for a group like this, graced with infinite patience and a reliably calm approach that reflects a performing artist and professor more than a maestro, with our without a capital "M."

JOHN LAMBERT, music critic at

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