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the chrysalis project

chrysalis (n.): within the chrysalis, the caterpillar undergoes a remarkable transformation, or ‘metamorphosis’, to transform into the butterfly that will emerge.

a film series by Hannah Schneider in collaboration with Oxford Alternative Orchestra and the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. The project features the work of choreographers in six different countries, with footage shot on location melded with footage of the orchestra shot in the UK to provide a blueprint for how performance might be possible in a time of social distancing.

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Series of films

2020 - 2021

About the Oxford Alternative Orchestra

OAO’s two goals render it distinct among the city’s orchestras: first, it aims to break classical music out of the concert hall and forge a vibrant dialogue with the city of Oxford, and second, it guides intriguing, under-represented classical forms back into the concert hall. Since its formation in 2016, OAO has performed in refugee detention centres, homeless shelters, hospitals, and has also performed free concerts in traditional venues to encourage accessibility. Profits from concerts are donated to charity.


In addition to standard repertoire, OAO focuses on bringing to life contemporary repertoire of edgy composers such as Einojuani Rautavaara, Steve Reich, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Rodion Shchedrin.


The orchestra was founded in 2016 and is generously supported by St John’s College, Oxford, in addition to private donations. It is directed by conductor Hannah Schneider.

About Hannah Schneider

Initiator of the Chrysalis Project, conductor Hannah Schneider is passionate about finding new avenues for classical music to thrive in the 21st century. As such, she founded Oxford Alternative Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to the intersection of classical music, social outreach, and innovative performance practices. The lockdown caused by COVID-19 prompted her to re-imagine what collaborations across borders and mediums could look like. Chrysalis was the result. In addition to her non-conventional work, Schneider regularly guest conducts in the UK, USA, Russian, and Ukraine, and works as an assistant conductor of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, as well holding upcoming engagements at The Grange Festival and the Royal Opera House. She is also a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where she is finishing her PhD on Soviet opera. 

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