Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Late nights and difficult glockenspiels. The OAE in Bucharest.

Wed Sep 30 2015

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Earlier this week cellist Josh Salter blogged about our trip to Eisenstadt. What his blog didn’t tell you however is that for some musicians our hectic schedule meant landing from Austria and going straight into rehearsal for our next tour – to Bucharest.

Yes, some unfortunate musicians literally travelled straight from Heathrow to our rehearsal venue to get ready for this trip, which consisted of two concerts – one an all Handel concert featuring Concerto Grossi and Organ Concertos, and the other a performance of Handel’s Saul, with many of the cast members from this summer’s Glyndebourne production. Both were directed by regular OAE collaborator Laurence Cummings.

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Travelling posed some new difficulties this time. We’re used to the generally complicated process of checking double basses onto a flight but this time we also had a glockenspiel – which weighed a mere 46kgs. It got there in *almost* one piece, having lost a wheel en route which made transport rather tricky…

Not only that but we found once we arrived that one of the keys refused to work. Cue a game of ‘how many musicians does it take to fix a glockenspiel’ with soloists and Laurence Cummings gathering around to ‘help’ our Orchestra Manager Philippa Brownsword fix it (which she duly did).

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At the OAE we’re used to late start times. Our late-night Night Shift series usually kicks off at 10pm, but the scheduling of the Festival meant that our concerts started at the even later time of 10.30pm. Now Saul is not a short piece – so the Orchestra and audience were still there at 1.30am. Incredibly the audience still had the energy for a standing ovation!

This late finish made for an interesting evening when we had to be on the coach for the airport at 5.45am. We suspect a few hardy souls decided that bed simply wasn’t worth it…

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We can’t blog about the tour without making mention of the venue, the glorious Romanian Athenaeum. A truly stunning concert hall, the ceiling featuring a pictorial history of Romania.

Our two day stay also meant there was (unusually) time for a little sight seeing, including taking a look at the Palace of Parliament. It’s apparently the world’s second largest building (after the Pentagon) and despite having 3000 rooms is still unfinished. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that it was originally built by former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.

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Huge thanks to the Enescu Festival for having us – despite the intense schedule we really enjoyed playing in such a fantastic venue and to such enthusiastic audiences. Now onto the next project…

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