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Anthem on film

Tue 4 Sep 2012

Here’s a short video about the huge Anthem project that we undertook this year in OAE Education. 

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Going on a journey with OAE Education

Fri 22 Jun 2012

I’ve been lucky enough to see loads of the wonderful Education work we’ve been doing over the last few months: going to Hastings to watch a fabulous Anthem for a Child concert, taking part in workshops at a special needs school in south-east London and going on a journey with OAE TOTS at the Southbank Centre (as well as lugging children’s instruments to/from school and shepherding schools into Kings Place)!
And, I have to say, kudos to our Education team Cherry and Ellie- the logistics of organising so many different projects is exhausting to even think about and they’re still smiling after every event!

Tonight, they’re taking the Anthem tour to Old Spitalfields Market at 6pm with home-grown young musicians from Tower Hamlets and CM Sounds.

Then, they’ll be travelling across to the Southbank Centre on Sunday 24 June for two free OAE TOTS workshops at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Sounds Venezuela festival…

And on Monday 25 June, the Anthem tour will be on the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall for a free concert at 5pm, where children from across London will perform the two specially written Anthems by composer James Redwood.

Finally, the whole project comes to an end on Friday 29 June at Cecil Sharp House where OAE musicians will be joined by local London primary schools and groups from the nationwide Anthem tour for a final sing and send off.

Wow. Those girls deserve a medal, or at least a well-earned rest after all that!

For full information on what happened on the Anthem tour and to watch a video about the project, visit our Education pages. 

Natasha Stehr, Marketing and Press Officer

Find out more about Natasha here.

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A big thumbs down to noise abatement!

Wed 16 May 2012

You may have read about our adventures back in March where we took a 20-piece OAE orchestra around the country to deliver workshops and concerts under the banner Anthem for a Child.  (If not, you are missing out: read about the cake, tandems, 5000 children, concerts and kettle bells here). The pinnacle of each concert was the performance of James Redwood’s ‘My Cry’ where the whole audience,  consisting of local school children, sang along with the Orchestra.  Filmmaker Joseph Bicknell filmed some of the work we did on our journey and has put together this amazing video which beautifully captures the spirit of the tour.  This video features ‘My Cry’ recorded at our final schools concert in York.  For me, this was one of the most beautiful moments of the tour as the children from York primary schools Dringhouses, Bootham, Heworth and Dunnington sang with such gusto the words echoed round the Jack Lyons concert hall long after the final note.

But don’t take my word for it… have a watch.

We are still doing plenty of work as part of the Anthem for a Child project, with lots of preparation going into our summer term performances.  As well as a host of schools concerts for local London primary school pupils, we are busy preparing for a concert in June as part of the Spitalfields Festival.  This concert will involve young performers from across the country who will join the OAE and ‘My Cry’ will be performed – I can’t wait to hear the final lines ‘I am here’ ringing out across the Old Market!

Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer


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The Tandem Diaries

Tue 17 Apr 2012

So, a week after the end of the triumphant Anthem tour, it’s high time for the four tandemeers’ blog entry we promised Ellie and Ceri in the office.

Firstly a few bald numerical facts, totted up on the train home from York as the tandem rested in the guard’s van, sleeping off its glut of miles:

10 days
11 concerts
703 tandem miles
45 hours, 17 mins cycling
1146 man miles and 5417 man minutes – a minute and a bit for every child we saw during the tour!)
2 tandems
36 cooked breakfasts
4 kilos of flapjack
2 swims
4 trips to bike shops
4 new brake blocks
3 new gear sets
2 new chains
600 jelly beans

And second, a fleeting elaboration of those facts, starting with the magnificent send-off JRed and MT (see below for abbreviations) received at the beginning of the first leg. After an interminable half hour of finding, losing and finding things again in front of a crowd of eager onlookers they finally managed to wheel away with mock-confidence from the sparkly heights of Devonport Town Hall. As they negotiated Plymouth’s roundabouts, the surprising timidity of non-London cyclists and various minor mechanical setbacks they mused on the indignity of faff. That ride to Totnes was a gorgeous and exhilarating taster of the tour to come – riding out into a sunny Devon evening with the first of many stirring renditions of “My Cry” (composed for the Anthem tour) ringing in their ears, the loveliness of the English Spring rolling past. After a while their hectic huffing and puffing eased to a smoother pace and the happy discovery of how convivial tandem journeying can be.

JT and MT needed all the conviviality they could muster in the next leg the following afternoon, a brutal 67 mile parade of very nasty ups followed by thrilling but too-brief plummets down while the horizon rapidly rose again to ominous heights. It was at the top of Blackmoor Hill ( ‘Black ‘ being their mood and more hills sadly inevitable) while lorries whooshed angrily by that MT had to ask JT whether they were going slightly uphill or slightly down. That was also the day MT discovered what glutes were and how much they could hurt.

JRed and JRees had a contrastingly delightful stretch from Crewkerne to Bradford on Avon the next morning, stopping for the tandem’s third trip to a bike shop (gears) and a most civilised morning tea in Frome. Meanwhile JT (doing workshops) and MT (a session with local music teachers) had the growing and unnerving sensation that the only place they could ease their spinning heads and aching limbs would be On The Bike.

The opportunity to indulge the onset of addiction came in the afternoon on the short ride between concerts in Bradford on Avon and Chippenham. Here was the first case of set-in-their-ways oldie control freakery in that MT found he could manage only a few minutes stoking on the back with JT as pilot, blaming his neurosis on some elaborate wobbles early on as JT set about taming the beast. For the Chippenham concert MT kept his padded lycra leggings on under his concert trousers, something he will never […]

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Green March with the OAE

Tue 10 Apr 2012

March 2012 marked the second Green celebration period for the OAE. Following the success of Green week in February 2011, this time we expanded to a month. The self-elected office green team decided to focus on 3 strands of activity for the month; firstly we would look at our concert and touring activity in March, secondly we would focus on raising awareness amongst our colleagues, and thirdly all those green ideas we had been wanting to try out but hadn’t gotten round to in our busy schedules, would be prioritised on our to-do lists. Here’s a brief summary of what we got up to in Green Month:

Concert and touring activity
UK tour with Laurence Cummings
Following a couple of concerts in London in early March, our project with Laurence Cummings visited the Wiltshire Music Centre on 9 March and then Birmingham Town Hall on the 10th. In order to reduce our travel carbon footprint, we organised group train travel for the Orchestra. Since Wiltshire-Birmingham is not a journey you can do by train, a minibus was organised for the middle leg. If we hadn’t offered this then our players would have had no other choice than to drive themselves the entire tour. In the past this would have been something we would have just let be, but we are now making sure we look ahead at the schedule and allocate time to coordinate these extra initiatives in our busy admin to-do lists! It is definitely more work to organise green travel. Amazingly on this occasion the finances worked in our favour and were comparable to letting the players make their own arrangements.

Anthem for a Child, UK Schools Concert tour
The entire tour was a model for how sustainable touring schedule within the UK should be planned. The locations of the venues we visited were plotted in a logical order around the country, to ensure the least amount of travelling between venues. All too often our touring schedules are at the mercy of where promoters want us and when – for example we could be one day in Bristol, then Edinburgh, then Plymouth, before hurtling back to London via Paris… On this occasion OAE had the opportunity to work with the venues we visited to plot in a sensible way – travelling SW to N from Plymouth, Totnes, Wiltshire, Southampton, Hastings, London, Bury St Edmunds, Chesterfield and ending in York. It was the most efficient way of plotting nearly 1300 miles of driving. Since each day of the tour started with workshops in up to 5 different locations, organising group transport for the tour wasn’t possible so car-pooling was organised. On a tour with 25 people, a total of 8-10 cars across the tour were used at any one time. That included transporting all luggage, orchestral instruments including 2 harpsichords, all of the music, stands, banners and workshop material. 4 of the players on the tour, undertook an even greener travel option by sharing riding a tandem bike from Plymouth to York! This crazy initiative was part of a wider fundraising initiative ‘Musicians Miles’ as all members of the Orchestra and office have been getting active to raise money for this project. The target – 5000 miles between us. Some staff have been walking & cycling […]

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Musicians’ Miles update

Fri 6 Apr 2012

As Ceri explained in her last blog post,  as part of our huge Anthem for a Child project we asked OAE musicians and staff to pledge to walk, run, cycle or do something else tiring for a mile per project participant, totaling 5000 miles altogether.
You can support them by sponsoring us through our JustGiving page or by sponsoring players individually via the links below. All pledges will completed by June.

Here’s a  few highlights of what they’ve been up to:

Sue Addison  committed to walk 40 marathons with her plastic trombone – and her dog!
She joined the Anthem tour and wrote a new fanfare for each setting with pupils which she then played when she undertook her marathon round their city or town  (1040 miles)

Ceri Jones, OAE Projects Director, did 500 Kettle Bell swings for 10 days.
Donate directly towards Ceri’s Swings

James Redwood (Composer and animateur), Matthew Truscott (violin), Jonathan Rees (‘cello) and James Toll (violin) cycled the tour between them on a tandem (1142 miles)

Zoe Shevlin (bassoon) (and her husband) will walk round all the outdoor pools in London and swim a length in each (52 miles between them)
Donate directly to Zoe & Charlie’s Swim

Stephen Carpenter (OAE Chief Executive) is going to swim a marathon (26 miles)

Roger Montgomery (horn) will run the London Marathon for Children’s hospices and will run the length of the tour in his training for us- since 1 Jan, he has built up a total of 1141.71 miles!

William Norris (Communications Director) will walk to or from work 2 days a week for 10 weeks (60 miles)

Cherry Forbes (Education Director) will walk, cycle and swim (100 miles)
Donate directly towards Cherry’s 100 miles

Katie Heller (viola) will dance 50 miles

Andy Watts (bassoon) will cycle from Elgar’s birthplace in Lower Broadheath to his burial place in Little Malvern and back again (30 miles)

Hilary Stock (oboe) will run 1000 miles

Tony Robson (oboe) will lose 26 pounds!

Andy Painter, teacher from Torpoint Primary, walked 103 miles (in 48 hours!)
Support Andy directly

Deborah Rees, Deputy Head of Camden Music Service , will complete 240 miles with her walking group to be completed in May

For a full run-down of Musicians’ Miles, click here.
You can also see pictures taken on tour by one of our horn players, Gavin Edwards, on our Flickr page.

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Around the country in 5000 swings…

Tue 3 Apr 2012

As part of my musicians miles for the Anthem for a Child tour I decided to do something ever so slightly different, and along with a car full of stands, clothing, pencils, banners, pritt sticks, cellos, violins, and countless suitcases belonging to tandem cycling musicians (and at one point Cajons) I packed a 14kg kettle bell.

For those of you who don’t know what a kettle bell is…  It’s a bell shaped weight, used to perform exercises which combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.  The simplest move and the first one you learn is the double arm kettle bell swing.  The weight is swung between your legs up to waist height, and back right through your legs, whilst keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. Most people have asked whether it’s a great workout for your arms, but actually it’s a great workout for all over – especially your hamstrings, glutes (bottom) and core.  I’ve been using kettle bells since I was persuaded into joining a 10 week introductory course with Fitter London (thanks to them for the loan of the bell), about 3 years ago now, and I love using them as part of my fitness routine.  I usually do about 3 classes a week that involve kettle bells, in a combination of crazy circuits dreamt up by our instructors.  There are countless ways of using them, and in combination with bodyweight exercises you can target everywhere!  Believe me I should know and regularly suffer the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  Anyway enough about the bells and on with the Anthem tour!

I set myself a sponsored target of 5000 swings (this amazing education project has reached out to 5000 children), broken down into 500 a day which I could do every day in my hotel room during the Anthem tour.  Sounds simple enough??  Or so I thought.  What I hadn’t thought about was how much of a pain it would be to lug the kettle bell from the car, up to each hotel room and back, along with my bags and whoever’s instrument I was babysitting that night… I think this was worse than the swings.  Kettle bells are not designed to be carried like a handbag!  Or that I would spend the rest of each of my days lugging around 2 bags of music stands (which were probably the same weight as the kettle bell), and driving in total 1300 miles, which did more damage to my back than a kettle bell ever could.

Here is an account of my week.  All swings were completed before breakfast and as most workshops started at 9am this meant getting up extra early on many occasions…

Day 1 – Monday – My 5th floor, city centre hotel room in Plymouth.  I set out with no real idea how long the 500 swings would take, so I must admit I took it a bit easy.  I broke them down into sets of 100, and was chuffed to finish in 17 mins.

Day 2 – Tuesday – My hotel room over-looking a very grey coastal morning in Paignton Devon (en route to Totnes).  My forearms were suffering today, presumably because I was gripping the bell a bit tightly the day before, so tried some single arm swings instead.  Mental note: […]

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Anthem: The final day

Mon 2 Apr 2012

York-concert

Unbelievably, the last day of the Anthem tour has arrived and we find ourselves in the beautiful city of York.  As it was the final day we had to go out with a bang and so had organised a complicated day starting in the University and ending in the National Centre for Early Music.  Today we performed two concerts, the first one was our ‘normal’ afternoon schools concert, where four local primary schools joined us and the second concert was a public concert where York University students joined us and played and sang alongside the OAE.

It was a big day with the Jack Lyons Concert Hall providing the perfect setting for our last schools concert of the tour.  The battle scene was the most elaborate performance yet – I was wondering how they were going to top the theatre performance, but they did – the woodwind and brass got involved with the (string only) performance by using their instruments as pretend weapons.…  The improvisation battle was also very intense with Martin Lawrence (horn) competing against Ken Aiso (violin) in a copying contest – I don’t know if you could say who won, but a stunning performance was given by both!  The pupils from Bootham, Dringhouses, Heworth and Dunnington schools were simply fantastic in their rendition of Twangling Instruments and My Cry. We were all quite emotional at the end of their performance where 300 voices rang out “I am here!”

The evening concert was a slight change of pace from the schools concerts we have been delivering and was a lovely way to complete the tour.  We were joined by university students and gave a performance of Bach’s Wachet Auf and Vivaldi’s Gloria.  The whole night was finished by a final performance of My Cry, where we invited the youngest member of the audience – Kate, a 4 year old pupil who had learnt the piece for the Schools Concert, to join the choir and sing with us.  Ceri and I even went up on stage for a final sing and it felt brilliant!

So that was the end of the tour, I have had a simply fantastic time and felt incredibly privileged to witness all the wonderful work of everyone involved.

Also, today marked the end of the tandem ride – over 700 miles completed alongside 11 concerts – a truly incredible achievement.  I think all tandemers were quite sad it was over!  It’s not over though, well the bike ride is, but we still have a London concert to go, plus the summer term Anthem projects, so… watch this space!

A tired but happy, Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer

You can also watch a video of the York concert here.

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Day Seven: Anthem in Chesterfield

Fri 30 Mar 2012

Chesterfield-concert-2

On Sunday evening we drove from Bury St Edmunds to Chesterfield after the terrific family fun day at the Apex Centre.  You know you are approaching Chesterfield when you see the crooked church spire that punctuates the skyline.  This magnificent landmark can be seen from the motorway and I was instantly reminded of a picture that hangs on the wall at my parents house of a painting of a town with a church that has a crooked spire.  All these years I had assumed the church with a crooked spire was artistic licence, only to discover that it is real and we were performing right next to it in an equally picturesque theatre!

Now, it is no secret that I have a bit of a thing for the theatre and the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield was such a sweet charismatic setting for our 9th Anthem concert.  Whilst setting the stage for the Orchestra, Ceri and I managed to take a couple of jazz hands photos (I mean, it would be rude not to, we were in a theatre) in amongst the stands and harpsichord (see below).  The stage was set ready for the OAE  but this concert was slightly different in that we were joined by the ukulele orchestra from Newbold Secondary School.  The pupils sat on stage behind the Orchestra and performed a piece they had created – Pachelbel’s canon mixed with Britney Spears!  The theatrical surroundings were perfect for this new remix and the performance of this piece was a fantastic precursor to what we can expect to develop in the summer term as part of the Anthem project.

As well as Newbold Ukulele Orchestra, we were blessed with a fantastic audience of children from four local Chesterfield schools who performed Twangling Instruments and My Cry with great aplomb.  Naturally, with the Orchestra being on stage in a theatre, the players acted even more outrageously during the Biber Battallia performance and I dread to think what will happen tomorrow to outdo this performance!

The cyclists also had a very dramatic day with the second tandem of the tour breaking mid journey – this time the gears went. Trepid tandemers Jonathan Rees and James Toll valiantly rode on with only 3 gears working and made it to the theatre with about 45 minutes to spare.  The bike then had to be taken to be fixed so Jonathan heroically cycled the tandem (solo) to a bike shop (about 2 miles from the theatre) and explained the challenge and the time frame (they had about an hour to fix it while he played a concert).  Jonathan made it back to the theatre with only a few minutes to spare before the start of the concert.  Luckily for us, J E James Cycles rose to the challenge and had fixed the bike by the end of the concert ready for the next big ride- Chesterfield to York-with an overnight stop in Thorne.

After such a theatrical day, it was with a little sadness I waved goodbye to the crooked spire of Chesterfield but I look forward to the beautiful city of York and all it has to offer tomorrow.

Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer (written on Monday 26 March)


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Day Six: Anthem in Bury

Thu 29 Mar 2012

Bury-Horn-workshop-4

The Anthem bloggers have returned to normality, after an amazing tour ended with a sell out concert in York on Tuesday evening.  We’ll be looking back at the tour and the last concerts very soon but for now, Beni Weedon tells us about his day in Bury on Sunday 25 March:

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Anthem anomaly…

Tue 27 Mar 2012

Bury-Horn-workshop

The Anthem tour is nearing its end and Ellie and her blogging team are hard at work, but haven’ t been able to send us their updates these past few days due to the lack of internet access (I know…in this day and age!?)

We’ll have their blogs up as soon as we get them, but in the meantime, here’s some pictures from the Family Orchestra Fun Day at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

There are still a few £5 tickets left for tonight’s concert at the National Centre for Early Music in York where the OAE and students from the University of York join forces for the celebratory final concert of the tour. The programme will include Bach’s Wachet Auf, Vivaldi‘s Gloria and James Redwood’s two specially commissioned pieces, Twangling Instruments and My Cry.   For more details and to book, click here.

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Day Five: Anthem in Hastings

Sat 24 Mar 2012

Afternoon sun

Natasha Stehr, OAE’s Marketing and Press Officer, ventured out of the office on a gloriously sunny Friday for the next Anthem for a Child concert in Hastings.  Here’s what she made of it:

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Day Four: Anthem in Southampton

Fri 23 Mar 2012

For those of us travelling in cars this morning started in the “normal” way: hotel in Southampton, morning workshops in schools or training at Southampton University with students.

For two of the cyclists, Matthew Truscott and James Toll, the morning started in Devizes with a 50 mile bike ride to Southampton ahead of them. A daunting task to most of us, but not our tandem riders… Not only did they arrive in plenty of time for the 1.30 concert but they squeezed in a quick swim in the River Test along the way!

The afternoon concert at Turner Sims was terrific; we were joined by OAE theorbo player, Liz Kenny who added a fantastic new timbre to the concert – my favourite was her additions to Biber’s Battalia which gets more elaborate at every concert – the orchestra have taken to acting out the battle while playing – with extra vigour and drama every day

The children from Portswood Primary and St Mary’s in Southampton were brilliant, they listened very attentively and they had learnt their songs to perfection. They all performed beautifully with amazing enthusiasm to parents and the Orchestra. On the door on the way out, as with all the concerts so far, I am overwhelmed with the infectious smiles of pupils as they file out into the sunshine.

Tomorrow (now today by the time you are reading this) we are performing in Hastings, and the cyclists have a journey from Worthing to Hastings to complete before going on stage! Maybe they’ll have time for a quick dip in the sea…

If you would like to sponsor the cyclists and the project please check out our just giving page:

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Day Three: Anthem in Wiltshire

Thu 22 Mar 2012

It’s been quite hard to decide what to write about tonight. I sit here in my hotel room in Southampton after completing a busy day in Wiltshire, reflecting on my ever-changing geographical position thanks to this tour. It is starting to get a bit surreal, good surreal, but surreal none the less.

I was thinking it would be good to share what a typical day on the Anthem tour is like, but the beauty of this project is that each day is different to suit the setting. Today in Wiltshire we performed two Anthem concerts – one concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre then one at St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham. Prior to the concert, there were school workshops and teacher training and post concert we travelled to Southampton. Well, most of us did, the cyclists set off on some of the route with the intention of completing the next half of the journey tomorrow.

Both the concerts today have been pretty special; in the first concert every single child played with the Orchestra during ‘Twangling Instruments’ which truly musically characterised the words from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that inspired the song: “Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears”  and the second concert where 300 children sang ‘My Cry’ in the most amazing setting, I hope the picture will convey the magnificence of the occasion – I had goosebumps and I spotted a few teary parents in the audience.

Tonight I am happily tired (although l haven’t done any cycling so can’t complain!) and so am gratefully retiring to bed wondering what tomorrow has in store for me on this brilliant adventure.

Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer

Don’t forget- we do have a few Anthem concerts that you can be part of:

We have tickets available for just £5 for the family concerts in:

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds: 25 March Booking/details
National Centre for Early Music, York: 27 March Booking/details

For full information on the Anthem tour and to watch a video about the project, visit our website. 

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Day Two: Anthem in Totnes

Wed 21 Mar 2012

Totnes-concert

Yesterday was day two of the Anthem tour and here’s an update from Beni Weedon in Totnes, Devon:

The Orchestra spent last night by the sea in Paignton – several of the more adventurous players even braved the night air for some beautiful walks along the coast.

We had some very encouraging sessions this morning with students from no less than eleven schools (!!!), all of which sang with such enthusiasm and helped to bring today’s concert to a wonderful and successful completion. One morning session featured the William Tell Overture played on the teachers teeth. At another, the whole class was primed by a tactical viola player (overlooked in previous concerts) to answer ‘Viola!’ when asked to spot an instrument in the concert – thus ensuring an awareness raising policy in the Totnes area schools for this dark horse of an instrument.

Today another even longer (64 mile) tandem journey was launched just after the afternoon concert and the intrepid (mad) duo were even reported as ‘smiling and looking quite chirpy!’ as they were passed on the way to the new lodgings in Wiltshire.

We’ve also had some updates from OAE Musicians that have pledged to our Anthem for a Child project:

Roger Montgomery (OAE horn player) who since 1 Jan has completed a total of 1141.71 miles, including:
Running 405.34 miles, cycling 546.38 miles, spinning 162.64 miles, rowing 18.6 miles, walking 6.2 miles, swimming 2.55 miles (he’s burned approximately 91,497 calories so far!)

Debbie Diamond (OAE violin) has completed 8.7 miles of swimming so far (out of 26) and has beaten her personal record by managing 90 lengths in 66 minutes.

Hilary Stock (OAE oboe) is halfway there – running her 500th mile on 29 February. She says that after taking part in some Anthem concerts and seen how enthusiastically the children responded and participated in the music, it feels all the more rewarding!

See a gallery showing all the hard work our musicians have put in

To find out how you can help, click here.

 

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Anthem comes to Plymouth

Tue 20 Mar 2012

Today began yesterday evening with the packing of the cycle bag. Tyre pumps were weighed, lights were measured for brightness (and number of different flashing settings). The Hotel Foyer was in fact a very convenient place for the cycling team to empty various bags and rucksacks filled with tools and miscellaneous gear onto the floor ready for the tactical decisions of what should be taken or left behind. With maps, lycra and lights-a plenty the cycle team (Matt Truscott, James Redwood, James Toll and Jonathan Rees) were raring to start their adventure – cycling the Anthem tour – but one key thing was missing… the tandem itself.

With one tyre, a saddle and a set of handle bars there was a chat about what would happen if the famed tandem never arrived; a Monty Python-esque scenario would surely ensure… Luckily, Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive of the OAE, arrived at our first education concert with him the much discussed mode of transport – to the delight and relief of the aforementioned cyclists.

After delighting and entertaining over 400 pupils from Plymouth primary schools, the OAE Anthem Orchestra merrily waved off the first two brave cyclists (Matt and James R) on their first leg of the tour, Plymouth to Totnes.

And why are we doing this? Why did we happily wave off the leader of the Orchestra and the composer of the new commissions? Well, James and Matt are clocking up the miles for our Musicians’ Miles part of the tour – a mile of activity for everyone who gets to see this concert – 5000 children/5000 miles. Find out more here.

This evening we have heard that the cyclists have safely arrived in Totnes and are happily relaxing before tomorrow’s adventure.

And I am running out of time and space, there is so much more to tell you about that has happened today – a car of cajons, an early morning radio interview, a HUGE cheque for the orchestra (you know, the kind you only see on the telly), an awe-inspiring teacher who walked 103 miles in 48 hours and a chair being played as a horn.  I’ll save that for another blog, but these pictures might help you imagine what is going on.

Tomorrow, Totnes.

Ellie Cowan and Beni Weedon – South West Music School Student Ambassador
(writing on 19 March after the first day of Anthem)

Alfie Weedon (South West Music School Young Ambassador) also wrote us a blog about his first day:

Cherry (Oboist for the OAE) and I (Double Bassist and Young Ambassador) met at 6.30am this morning for the 7am BBC Radio Devon slot. I, having not really woken up relied entirely on the word “absolutely!” for answering questions (well it’s got to be better then just “yes” right?) while Cherry, with her complete and detailed knowledge of everything about the tour answered all the important questions.

They do say that knowledge is power but it also has its disadvantages, demonstrated by the fact that Cherry, as of 9pm is imposing a 50p fine for any questions!

Today was the launch of the Anthem for a Child project with 1500 children singing at the Albert Hall as well as our double performance in Plymouth today involving 5 local primary schools! Although I knew better what […]

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Anthem: The Prologue

Mon 19 Mar 2012

Our huge Anthem for a Child tour kicks off today in Plymouth, where we’ll be visiting schools for workshops in the morning and then off to the Devonport Guildhall for a concert in the afternoon.

OAE Education Officer, Ellie Cowan will be blogging for the whole tour and here’s her first post:

“Today started in more style than I am accustomed to; I was picked up from my house by OAE Projects Director, Ceri Jones in our swanky hire car. Luckily we’d been upgraded and had an estate car because we soon filled it with all one needs for a week and a half long education tour – music, stands, paperwork, luggage, laptops, paper, scissors, glue, hoodies, stickers, a filmmaker, his equipment, and most importantly, cake.

This tour has taken a lot of preparation and I have been using the Anthem logo since starting with the OAE in September, therefore, it seemed only right to have an on-brand cake for the start of tour… a challenge that I gladly set myself. So, after many hours of cutting icing and sprinkling edible glitter (I work in education you see), I came up with quite an amazing cake which then had to sit on my knees on the 4 hour trip to Plymouth…”

Also make sure you watch out for the four OAE musicians who’ll be touring by tandem between each venue- starting today from Plymouth to Totnes and overall, covering 571 miles!

 

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The OAE gets sporty for ‘Anthem’

Wed 14 Mar 2012

Next week we’re embarking on a 10-day tour with a difference. We’re visiting towns and cities the length and breadth (well, almost) of the country as part of our biggest ever education project, Anthem for a Child. It’s a 6 month programme, and this tour is the centrepiece, kicking off in Plymouth on 19 March.

As it’s Olympic year we decided to support this initiative to ‘pass on a baton of sound’ in a sporty fashion, so our musicians and staff have pledged to run, walk, cycle, swim or do something suitably tiring for 1 mile for each of the 5000 project participants. In return for that pledge we’re looking for your support for the project – yes, we want sponsors.

You can find out more about the project with the video above or visit the Anthem section of our website for a whole lot more information. We’ll be updating the blog as much as we can too with pictures and info as the tour progresses.

Or donate right here…

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Music for now, for later, for ever…

Tue 21 Feb 2012

It was the morning of Friday 27 January 2012.  There was much clapping, chatter and the hum of excited voices from the group of Year 6 children eagerly joining in with the ‘warm up’.  I was sitting at the back of the concert hall, at Kings Place, waiting for my first experience of Anthem for a Child to begin.

Anthem for a Child is the OAE’s most ambitious education project to date, consisting of a nationwide series of workshops and concerts for as many as 5000 children, and students, of all ages.  Anthem endeavours to engage young people with music and aims to leave behind an excitement for the making of music long after they have completed their projects.  The Anthem tour focuses on two especially commissioned pieces by the composer James Redwood – a fanfare, Twangling Instruments, based on Caliban’s speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (during which the children will have the opportunity to play their instruments alongside members of the OAE) and My Cry, a song which all the children will learn…and I found myself happily joining in too – the atmosphere was so remarkably infectious!

The children began with Twangling Instruments, and were encouraged to get out their violins, cellos and recorders.  Cue further excitement and delighted giggling as the children prepared to join the Orchestra with the piece they had been practising hard for weeks.  Half of the group of youngsters formed the choir and the theme for the rest of the concert was laid out – the importance of working as a team.  The children were asked to identify how many ‘teams’ they could hear within the Orchestra itself and these various ‘teams’ were put ‘under the microscope’, where the specific job of each was pointed out.  The oboes were observed working in parallel, the strings were counted and the members of the bass ‘team’ (bassoon, cello and harpsichord) were examined also.  The emphasis was placed on how each team/instrument had an important job to do on its own and, as a result, they contributed to the sound of the piece as a whole – their individual voices, together, played as one sound.  There were further pieces played to demonstrate how the sections of the Orchestra work independently to create the complete sound of a musical piece.  The children were then taught a rhyme and divided into two sections, to sing the ‘canon’. Again myself, and other members of the OAE team, were happy to join in with the rhyme and actions.

It was the vocal fanfare, My Cry, which concluded the concert.  The children had learned sections of this ‘anthem’ in class in advance of the day and it was as though they couldn’t wait to sing it, they got up from their seats with such excitement.  The words to this piece are inspiring and enriching and celebrate what it means to sing – the power of the voice on its own and the collective strength of a choir as a whole.  It was moving to hear this group of children so proudly and enthusiastically singing the words ‘My voice is mine and it is me’.  I began to feel almost envious that I had not been involved in such a project as this when I had been at school, and it served to […]

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Anthem Spring workshops

Mon 13 Feb 2012

So we’ve been busy in the Education Department. In preparation for the Anthem for a Child school concert tour, each participating primary school receives a workshop from two OAE players – no mean feat when there are over 60 primary schools involved over 9 different locations in the UK. I’ve been routed at HQ (the office) but news from the road is good, so good in fact I wanted to share – so here we go, some snippets from emails I’ve received various people involved in the Anthem project:

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