Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Live on BBC Radio 3

Mon 24 Mar 2014


You might have seen that the beeb have their own specially erected pod, currently housing them in the Southbank Centre and we’re pleased to announce that tomorrow’s concert of Gamechangers: A Forgotten Cello will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 7pm.

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Current Distractions

Thu 6 Mar 2014

In this week’s Current Distractions – street art, a dressed up dad, a matchstick Hogwarts, mind music, a lady singing in a lake and much, much more.

Actually, no, that’s pretty much everything.

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Samuel West & the Labèque sisters

Mon 10 Feb 2014


It is our great pleasure to announce that actor Samuel West will be narrating our French Fancies concerts, in Reading and London, on 19 & 20 February.  Samuel will be accompanying the Labèque sisters on stage and reading Ogden Nash’s libretto to Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.  Here’s a bit about his previous work…

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Marin Alsop at The Proms – Listen Again

Mon 19 Aug 2013

We’ve had an amazing response to our performance at the BBC Proms with Marin Alsop this weekend.

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Speed Interview – Marin Alsop

Fri 16 Aug 2013

Conductor Marin Alsop joins us for BBC PROMS: Brahms- A German Requiem.  Here she tells us a bit about her heroes and the most important lesson life has taught her.

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Current Distractions (AKA a letter from America)

Fri 14 Dec 2012

So I’ve been charged with writing the latest edition of Current Distractions from across the pond (where I’m currently based, being on sabbatical from the OAE). I had thought that this would be a very USA specific list of distractions…but the world is an ever smaller place, thanks to the internet and social media, so this list is perhaps more global than local…

What do cheerleaders, the US army, Sesame Street and an orchestra have in common?
First up is a pop artist who seems to be everywhere at the moment. Carly Rae Jepson. Her insanely catchy “Call Me Maybe” is an earworm of a song that refuses to leave your head. Perhaps this explains the plethora of versions and rip-offs of her song that exist on youtube. I’m fascinated by what it is exactly that has caught people’s imagination with this song and just why it’s spawned so many imitations – is it simply because it’s catchy? And if so, what makes it so memorable?

Anyway, here are a few of those imitations. First up an insanely camp version by the US military, which was inspired by the Miami Dolphin’s cheerleaders version. Then there’s the cookie monster version. Obviously. But my favourite, and most relevant to this blog, is the version for choir and orchestra. It’s actually rather good and I love seeing how much fun all the performers  are having.

Continuing the theme

Psy’s Gangam Style has been one of the biggest global pop phenomenons of recent years, the result of a catchy song combined with a rather silly dance and a psychedelic video. The original is the most watched video of all time over on youtube and yesterday I found it had inspired a slightly unusual version in which Psy’s video is set to…Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring. It works oddly well…

Worst review ever?

This caused a stir over here last month, a rather unusual and (for those sat underneath) unpleasant night out at the theatre…

Click through to the Huffington Post for some other unusual arts and theatre happenings…

Does baby love Mozart? (or Metallica?)
A report from the UK side of the pond now. We all like to think we ‘know’ what ‘good’ music is, and often like to pass that very good taste onto our children. But is that really possible? The BBC investigates.

A dance show in your front room?

It can be a hassle going to the theatre. The tickets are expensive, you have to find someone for a rushed dinner first, then you sit in an uncomfortable chair (maybe behind a pillar) for two hours and then battle the transport system in the rain to get home afterwards. However Philadelphia based Headlong Dance Company have a solution – they’ll come to you. (As long as you open up your house to your neighbours). The project is neatly summed up on the companies website. Why? “Because every household is a universe/Because breaking bread with someone annihilates stereotypes/Because being the show is better than watching the show”.
Read more over on the Huffington Post

Now, who is up for some OAE concerts in their house while you do the washing up?

William Norris, Communications Director.


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Current Distractions

Thu 13 Sep 2012

Once again, we look at what’s been pulling at our attention strings in the OAE office. 

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Steven Devine: In Tune

Thu 19 Apr 2012

Steven Devine is one busy man- he’ll be on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune later today chatting about our concert with Ian Bostridge next week and performing some fabulous music from Bach. Tune in from 4.30pm!

The broadcast will be available on BBC iPlayer for seven days afterwards. He can be heard 1 hour and 21 minutes into the show.

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Playing our part in BBC 4’s Symphony

Wed 2 Nov 2011

Back in June the OAE spent 2 days filming in Christchurch Spitalfields with Sir Mark Elder, the results of which will be premiered on BBC Four this Autumn.


We were approached late last year by the BBC Classical Music TV team who were amidst plans to produce a programme for BBC four, tracing the evolution of the musical genre of the Symphony.  OAE would be used to show examples from earlier repertoire, and other orchestras (the BBC Symphony and the Halle) would take over at the appropriate point in the repertoire.  Whilst the OAE does perform late 19th Century and early 20th Century music at times, it was probably fairer to let a full Symphony orchestra do this but… ;).  The filming dates were held in OAE’s diary, straight away (probably the only 2 free days we had in June in amongst Glyndebourne and festival dates), but as is often the case with the recording industry (whether audio or visual) the absolute final schedule was not settled upon for quite some time.


This March we had a recce of Spitalfields Church with the whole BBC production team, and were delighted that it would work for the shoot, as it is such a stunning building.  Not much parking outside for the BBC guys, and a slightly complicated get-in for any keyboard instruments that we were using, but as Spitalfields Church is just beautiful, it was definitely worth accommodating any issues and I am sure it will make an excellent backdrop for the programme.


Musically OAE’s examples ranged from Stamitz, through Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Berlioz.  All of which require different sized orchestras… The production team had a challenging job slotting the schedule together so that we didn’t have players hanging around when they weren’t needed, and I think the schedule must have had about 10 reincarnations, and therefore 10 variations on the budget. Anyway, we got there in the end, and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result on TV.


Ceri Jones, Projects Director


Symphony, with the first two programmes featuring the OAE, starts on Thursday 4 November on BBC 4 at 9pm.

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Q: How do you get yourself on TV? A: With the aid of 400 children, recorders and tin whistles

Mon 11 Jul 2011

Schools concert

Friday saw the latest in our series of schools concerts at our London HQ, Kings Place. Around 400 children joined the OAE, and when we say joined, we really mean it – they helped swell the ranks of the Orchestra to unprecedented proportions! The event generated a fair bit of media interest, with our new OAE musicians appearing on the BBC London radio breakfast show and the concert also being covered by ITV’s London tonight – watch and listen below.

London Tonight report

BBC London Breakfast (2hrs, 45mins in)

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OAE Brass on 'In Tune'

Fri 8 Apr 2011

On Wednesday evening brass soloists of the OAE appeared on Radio 3’s In Tune programme, ahead of their concert this evening at Kings Place. While on the programme they played some of the music featured in the concert and also talked to host Petroc Trelawny about it and their instruments. You can view a picture of them in the studio here. As you’ll see, a rogue percussionist sneaked in…You can listen to us on the programme here – it’s about 14.30 into the show. Join them tonight at Kings Place to hear the concert (8.45pm) – and there’s even a free performance afterwards, in the brass section’s natural habitat – the bar.

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Elgar's Trombone

Mon 23 Nov 2009

As many of you will have heard on the radio or read in the press our performance tomorrow will feature Edward Elgar’s orginal trombone, played by our Pricipal Trombone, Sue Addison. This will be the first time it has been played in concert since Elgar’s death. Below are some links to various press stories and we’ll post some pics of the trombone very shortly.

The Times




Tom Service Guardian Blog

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An afternoon with the BBC

Fri 3 Jul 2009

Being a member of the projects team, I have a lot to do with the intricacies of planning all of our concerts and tours, but on Monday afternoon Ceri (our Projects Manager), Philippa (the Orchestra Manager) and I headed off to a meeting with the BBC about our televised Prom on 25th August with Sir Roger Norrington and it all became clear (as mud!) at just how much more complicated things can be when you add a TV broadcast into the mix.

It was my first time to White City (and to within spitting distance of the infamous Westfield shopping centre) and the famous television centre (hence the cheesy photo!). The Proms meeting was actually just down the road, so no celeb spotting for us, but instead we were greeted by a panel of about 15 members of the Proms team including everyone from lighting and sound to make up. The Sixteen were just finishing up their meeting when we arrived as this was part of two days of back to back meetings to discuss all of the logistics for the televised Proms.

Our programme is particularly complicated as we have four different orchestral set ups, a soloist to fit in, a harpsichord to tune and a change of pitch. We discussed the logistics of how to fit the TV cameras in around the orchestra, the lighting for the Orchestra, the amount of time it would take to reset the orchestra between pieces and also for the conductor to take his bow and the for the applause at the end as all of this has to be factored into the BBC’s scheduling times. There are also other Proms and Prom rehearsals for that day with some of their related equipment needing to be left on stage, and not to forget the TV crew’s lunch times!

It looks set to be a fantastic concert and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the planning that goes into the TV side of things. We might have ended up having a quick peek in the shopping centre afterwards too…!

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Reflections on the dream…

Tue 12 May 2009

I was hardly involved in the project back in 2005 (being merely the OAE’s office administrator at the time), but remembering how much I had hugely enjoyed watching the performance at the Royal Festival Hall I was excited that we’d be putting it all back together again.

The project was only confirmed a few months ago so it’s been a busy few months for everyone involved, not least for bottoms horn ears which have been to Sydney and back since February (No, not on little holiday, but to take part in the production with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra which was also care of the Tim Carroll/Jenny Tiramani team).

The performance was to take place in Middle Temple Hall, which it self brings multiple challenges – well out of the comfort zone of a concert hall, with no purpose-built auditorium, stage, ANY equipment or staff.  Cue the OAE team…

So, courtesy of our Production Manager Simon in came the stage, and making use of the chairs already at the hall, the hall was turned into an auditorium for 4 days.  Construction work started on Friday afternoon, and by Saturday afternoon the stage was built and ready for Philippa and myself to lay out the stage for the orchestra. 

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Pizza delivery!

Tue 5 May 2009

Emma Pask, our Projects Intern, is here seen modelling the latest on-trend fashion. A Domino’s Pizza uniform.
Why, you might ask?
Well, tonight we’re performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Mendelssohn’s complete incidental music) at Middle Temple, in Tim Carroll’s production which we premiered several seasons ago. And, it seems, a pizza delivery is an integral part of the production.  You’ll be able to find out whyand how because the performance is being recorded by the BBC and will be available to view on the BBC Red Button service and the BBC Radio 3 website from 10 May.

Thanks to Domino’s Pizza for donating the uniform, and to Emma for modelling it.

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