Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Me, Cecelia’s Bass, and I

Thu 21 Feb 2013

Tuesday 29 January, Budapest 10am.  Feeling very lucky that I had not gotten up at 5am to travel back with the Orchestra, though feeling a little bit anxious about carrying a 2mx1mx1m 45kg double bass in its case back to London. All on my own.

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Sarah Connolly on Mahler, turbo-thrust breaths and Wagnerian hysteria…

Fri 14 Jan 2011

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly who sings with us in London and Paris next week, talks to journalist Andrew Mellor about her work with later romantic repertoire such as Mahler and Wagner:

You seem to be moving in a new direction with all this Wagner and Mahler…
Yes – thank goodness I had a lot of superb training at Glyndebourne, which prepared me very well. I didn’t realise I had that dramatic sound in my voice until Vladimir Jurowski offered me a concert performance of Tristan a while ago. He seemed to think I could do it and I appreciated that leap of faith. I had sung Das Lied von der Erde with the Concertgebouw and many other orchestral lieder by Mahler so despite performing Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the same time, Brangäne’s music felt very natural. I will confess though that her extreme outbursts initially made me want to apologize to the rest of the room! I felt slightly uncomfortable with Wagnerian hysteria.

You seemed very suited to the character at your Prom performance with Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment this summer…
Actually Simon came to that rehearsal of Tristan with the LPO and Vladimir and that’s how the Prom came about. Simon was offering different ways of doing things, giving me more space than I’d been used to. He’s a wonderful accompanist; he invites the orchestra to accompany and never dominates, but at the same time he is also able to take the lead.

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Travelling by charter plane (or how to avoid Ryanair)

Tue 10 Aug 2010

The OAE had a fantastic experience earlier this week travelling on our very own charter plane to Germany for a performance in Baden-Baden.  Baden-Baden’s closest airport is Karlsruhe (about 20 mins away), which is served by Ryanair from Stansted twice a day – which would mean either leaving Stansted at 7am (eeek – a 5am check-in) or 7pm (whoops, we’ll miss the concert), also we all know what orchestras feel about travelling on Ryanair with their notorious baggage rules and restrictions… So, erm not a practical option.  Other options would have been to fly to Frankfurt then endure a 2 hour drive, or perhaps Stuttgart or Strasbourg (both at least 1 hourr away) and not necessarily with the right place sizes or flight times to suit out schedule. How different and exhausting the journey would have been had we not had the privilege of our own plane!

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A memorable moment, for the wrong reasons…

Tue 13 Jan 2009

As mentioned in our top moments post below, Chi-chi Nwanoku had a memorable, if rather stressfull moment from 2008…

‘As far as OAE stories go I think the best I can offer was the time neither my bass or stool arrived at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, for a concert the same evening at the Concertgebouw as part of our tour with Ian Bostridge. When Philippa (our Orchestra Manager) and I tried to ‘log’ it at the appropriate desk in the customs hall, we literally had the “computer says no” Dutch equivalent!….

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On tour with Sir Simon: Vienna

Tue 16 Dec 2008

After a successful pair of concerts in Brussels and some mandatory sampling of Belgian beer, we pack up the orchestra truck on Friday night and set our sights on the next stop on our tour: Vienna. It is an early start for the Orchestra with many tired looking players surfacing for a 6am breakfast. We pack off one coach of players to the airport and wait for the second coach to turn up.

Eventually the coach turns up and the remaining players load their suitcases on but in the meantime we realise that the case containing the management laptop (and the General Manager’s passport!) is missing. After some time searching to no avail I hop on the coach and head off to the airport leaving Michael (the General Manager) to work out what has happened. We manage a smooth check in and receive a call from Michael who tells us that the hotel has checked the CCTV footage and they have seen someone stealing the case. After numerous phone calls, police statements, and discussing options with the airline, we find out that there is no border control between Belgium and Austria so Michael is able to travel to Vienna with his photocard driving licence where he can get a new passport. All this excitement before 10 o’clock in the morning!

On the flight from Vienna to Brussels a few of the players catch 40 winks but I am not very good at sleeping on planes so this is a nice opportunity to chat to some of the other players that I don’t know so well. We catch a coach to the hotel which we are very pleased to see is a stone’s throw from the concert hall and after checking everyone in the group scatters in various directions to enjoy a rare afternoon and evening off. I grab some food with the other members of management (as breakfast was a very long time ago!)

and then return to the hotel for a ‘power nap’ before meeting up with the others again to hit the Christmas markets. We spend a little time enjoying the markets and then decide it is time for ‘tea and cake’. I am very proud of myself for being able to find a rather touristy tearoom that I had been to about 3 years ago and we escape from the cold for a bit.

Feeling recharged by my power nap, hot chocolate and cake I decide to wander for a bit longer and bid farewell to the others who head back to the hotel for some rest. I spend the rest of the evening taking in the sights of Vienna on a cold December evening. I eventually make my way back to the hotel for a quick sociable drink and a well earned bath.

Megan, Projects Officer

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On tour with Sir Simon: Brussels

Thu 11 Dec 2008

The first day of the tour sees us departing from St Pancras Station. The tour party includes the Orchestra (60+ players), 4 members of OAE Management and 2 members of staff from Askonas Holt, our Agents, as well as Sir Simon himself of course.

Sometimes the OAE will manage a tour itself but for some, especially long complex ones like this, we have an agent to manage the tour for us – and that includes the initial planning of the tour – getting dates with concert halls and working out the itinerary as well as on the day arrangements.

The party sets off from St Pancras at 10am minus one violinist who is unwell – he’ll rejoin us later in the tour in Birmingham. Some thought is giving to finding a replacement but its decided that the section will be ok with being one player down.

We arrive in Brussels at 1.25pm, and after a short coach transfer arrive at our hotel. Emma, from our Agents, has travelled ahead of the main party so everything is very smooth – not only is vital information available for everyone (see picture) but all 60+ people get checked in in a matter of minutes.

After a quick bite with my colleagues Michael and Megan we meet up with Orchestra Manager Philippa and head over to the concert Hall, BOZAR (a clever way of abbreviating the ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’. There we give Philippa a hand setting up the stage for the 5pm rehearsal. We’re pictured on stage here having a quick break after finishing the set up. In a rather nice touch, staff from the hall come round and put small boxes of Belgian chocolates on every music stand. Luckily there are also enough for the Management! I have a feeling these wont be the last chocolates I’ll eat during our Brussels stay…

The Orchestra assemble and when Sir Simon Rattle arrives at 5pm there are yet more chocolates – he hands around the big box he was given backstage at the Royal Festival Hall. I also learn that one of the Double Basses (the instrument, not the player) has sustained an injury during transit (the larger instruments were transported by van overnight). It’s apparently not too serious and will hopefully be fixed during the tour.

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