Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Rinaldo Reworked

Fri Oct 21 2011

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On 6 October, OAE and Glyndebourne’s education departments joined music students from Blatchington Mill School and Varndean College to perform extracts from Handel’s Rinaldo.

 

Back in 1990 I’d benefitted from one of Glyndebourne’s education projects myself when my school took part in Hastings Spring by Jonathan Dove. I was 18 at the time and the sense of play, improvisation and composition encouraged in us had a profound impact on me and was instrumental to my auditioning for Glyndebourne as an actor ten years later. I spent three years there in the end. Not because I thought being a tree for Peter Hall in A Midsummer Nights Dream or speaking appalling French as an understudy in Carmen would be the highlight of my career but because I simply loved it there. Childhood and teenage experiences, stick. They become part of the fabric of who you’ll go on to be. So as I sat there in the audience watching the students and professionals working seamlessly together, I happily wondered where we’d find some of them in another five or ten year’s time.

 

Just as it had been for me, it was the sense of discovery in the newly composed or improvised pieces where the night really came to life. In an entirely improvised piece of mounting instruments and rhythm called Battle of the Bands, the sense of workshop was strong; not lost way back in rehearsals somewhere. A few heads in the audience turned and smiled to each other as if to humour the racket. But come on people, we don’t call it ‘playing’ instruments for nothing.

 

Just as Handel had commented on the current affairs and politics of the day, the story here was transposed to comment on George, a student, who’s forced to go to war instead of university due to a lack of tuition fees. It was this sense of appropriation, married with musical variations that departed from the Baroque style (folk, jazzy) and new material by composers Rachel Stott, Simone Spagnolo as well as by students (I lost my love, I lost my friend; Interlude: Nocturne) that gave the students ownership. This event was for them, by them, just as it should be.

Darren Charlton, Communications Intern

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