Through its incarnations as the Orchestra of St Paul's and then the Covent Garden Sinfonia, this ensemble has developed a varied repertory that includes mainstream orchestral work, contemporary minimalist music, and film scores, which it often performs live at film showings. It is adaptable in size from a small ensemble to a full symphony orchestra with 70 players.
The Orchestra of St Paul's was founded in 2007 by conductor and composer Ben Palmer, who wanted a free hand to develop programming that he felt was neglected by other British chamber orchestras. The group remains headquartered at Actors' Church, St. Paul's, in Covent Garden, London. It steadily developed an unusual repertory and has attracted major London bookings at the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cadogan Hall, and more, gaining the patronage of veteran conductor Sir Roger Norrington. The orchestra's largest audiences may have come from its performances of film music: the group has performed live for showings of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Casablanca, and Psycho, and has also premiered new scores by Neil Brand for Alfred Hitchcock's silent film The Lodger and for a silent version of Oliver Twist.
In 2017 the Orchestra of St Paul's changed its name to the Covent Garden Sinfonia. The 2018-2019 season saw it perform twice at the Purcell Room in London, offering a program of music by Max Richter, Arvo Pärt, and Peteris Vasks, and it has been noted for performances of music deriving from the minimalist school. It has also performed at the Victoria & Albert Museum among other top venues, and it made a nine-city tour of China as well as playing sold-out concerts featuring Bach's Mass in B minor, BWV 232, and Verdi's Requiem at St. John Smith's Square. In 2019, with violinist Fenella Humphreys, the Covent Garden Sinfonia released a recording of Richter's The Four Seasons Recomposed on the Rubicon Classics label.