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The Works – Beethoven

Wed 6 Nov 2013

The Works

Tomorrow night we head over to Queen Elizabeth Hall for a step-by-step guide to one of Beethoven’s favourite works; Symphony No. 8. Here’s a look at what you can expect.

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Missa Solemnis audience reaction

Tue 20 Dec 2011

Back at the start of November we performed Beethoven’s epic Missa Solemnis, together with conductor Gianandrea Noseda and the Philharmonia Chorus. In this video we catch up with audience members after the concert to ask what they made of it – and there’s also some short extracts from the performance too.

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Ten things you never knew about Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis…

Tue 1 Nov 2011

Missa Solemnis flyer

Ok, maybe you know some of them already. But hopefully there’s at least a few new things here for you. Many thanks to Communications Intern Natasha for compiling such a great list. And remember, if you use Spotify you can listen to the Missa Solemnis here. And of course hear it live at the Royal Festival Hall this Friday, 4 November.

 

– Beethoven considered his Missa Solemnis to be his greatest achievement. “gave it all that he was humanly and artistically capable of, with utter devotion and fervor.”

 

– In fact, Beethoven devoted so much creative energy into the work that it was not finished until almost three years after the ceremony! In 1823 the work was finally completed and its first performance took place in 1824, in St Petersburg.

 

-This herculean work presents many challenges for the performers. Constant changes of musical character, large forces and dense textures contribute to the difficult nature of the work. Sopranos in the chorus are required to indulge in some high wire acrobatics in the Credo; singing a fortissimo top B flat for 14 beats is certainly not an easy task!

 

-The Benedictus is preceded by an orchestral prelude, inspired by Beethoven’s many ventures in organ improvisation as a boy. A solo violin (depicting the Holy Spirit) delicately penetrates the sustained texture and firmly establishes itself as a virtuoso to match the vocal soloists, undertaking 123 bars mostly in the high register.

 

– Beethoven spent over a year researching church music to become familiar with the music of liturgical masters such as Bach, Handel and Palestrina.

 

– The Missa Solemnis has not been well received by many critics. Musicologist Walter Riezler considered it to be ‘Beethoven’s least approachable work’ and Theodor Adorno thought there to be ‘something peculiar about the Missa Solemnis’.

 

– A very dramatic work, in its scale, length and instrumental requirements, it broke the boundaries of the traditional mass setting. It is often considered the Classical counterpart to Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

 

– The grand scale of the work reflected Beethoven’s intentions to grab hold of the listener. In a letter to Andreas Streicher, German piano maker and friend to Beethoven, he stated that his ‘chief aim was to awaken and permanently instil religious feeling not only into the singer but also into the listeners’.

 

– Beethoven wrote the following on the manuscript of the Kyrie: “Von Herzen — möge es wieder — zu Herzen gehn!”. An emotional statement which translates as: ‘From the heart — may it again — go to the heart!’.

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Intense. Extraordinary. Massive. But boring?! Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis

Tue 25 Oct 2011

On 4 November we’re collaborating with the Philharmonia Chorus to perform Beethoven’s epic Missa Solemnis in a concert which is given in memory of Sir Charles Mackerras, who was both President of the Philharmonia Chorus and an Emeritus Conductor of the OAE.

 

The other week we caught up with players from the Orchestra to find out more about this relatively rarely performed piece. It seems that not everyone loves it…but there’s only one way to find out for yourself – come!

 

Find out more about the concert here.

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Vladimir Jurowski conducts Beethoven Symphonies 4&7: DVD

Vladimir Jurowski conducts Beethoven Symphonies 4&7: DVD
Price: £23.00 Buy Now

A live recording from the Théatre des Champs-Elysées, Paris. Vladimir Jurowski, as part of our 2010 Beethoven Series, conducts Symphonies 4 and 7, plus the Coriolan Overture.

Running time: 89 minutes
Region Code: 0 (worldwide )

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Beethoven on DVD (couldn’t think of a more exciting title…)

Fri 19 Aug 2011

Vladimir Jurowski on the cover of the Beethoven DVD

It seems appropriate to tell you now (as we are currently, as I type, rehearsing with him) that a DVD of the OAE and conductorVladimir Jurowski has just been released. If you’re a regular OAE-goer you may remember him kicking off our Beethoven series back in January last year with a blazing performance of Symphonies 4 and 7. We later performed No.7 at the Roundhouse as a Night Shift, but after those two performances we went on to Paris and gave the concert again. There it was streamed live and that recording has now been released on DVD. It’s shot (to my mind at least) in a a really exciting way, so you often feel like you’re really inside the Orchestra, and it’s fascinating watching Vladimir, his expressions  and his cues to the Orchestra – not something you often see when you watch a concert from the audience. You can get a taster of the DVD on the clip below:

 

The DVD is available now, from, as they say, all good shops. Of course, the BEST shop is the OAE website, and you can buy it through us here. Our shop will be much improved when our new website goes live. More on that soon…

William Norris, Communications Director

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Reviews roundup: Fidelio

Tue 24 May 2011

A few weeks ago we were excited to appear at the Brighton Festival. Each year the festival has a different guest director and this years is Aung San Suu Ky, who chose Fidelio to be performed, for obvious reasons.

Here are a couple of  reviews from the performance:

Telegraph

Guardian

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Reviews roundup

Fri 6 May 2011

A quick roundup of reviews from our recent concerts of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, with conductor Roy Goodman and pianist Artur Pizarro:

Guardian

Independent

Classical Source

What did you think?

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Artur Pizarro: Speed Interview

Tue 3 May 2011

Artur Pizarro, photo taken by Sven Arnstein

We’re currently performing Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto with soloist Artur Pizarro – with him making his period instrument debut with us. Catch it at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London tomorrow – and in the mean time have a read of his Speed Interview with us:

What/when was your big breakthrough?
Well, I’ve been playing the piano all my life and always with the focus on a career as a soloist so the process has been long and gradual but if I have to highlight a moment it would definitely be winning the Leeds Piano Competition in 1990. I was just back in Leeds to play for Dame Fanny Waterman’s 90th birthday party and it was amazing to see all the friendly faces who have supported me in the last two decades! An amazing experience!

What do you fear the most?
Stupidity and cruelty, point blank!!!

Which mobile number do you call the most?
My manager Tom Croxon, who else??

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The Night Shift – May podcast

Sat 30 Apr 2011

We’re looking forward to our next Night Shift event on Wednesday (4 May), and ahead of it we’ve just released our latest podcast. In it we feature an in-depth interview with star pianist Artur Pizarro, talk to OAE violinist and Leader Alison Bury about what it’s like playing at The Night Shift, plus we look ahead to our June event in Shoreditch. First though we start off hearing from you, with audience reaction to our last event.

The Night Shift returns on Wednesday 4 May
The podcast will also shortly be available on itunes, just search for Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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There's nothing interesting happening today

Wed 27 Apr 2011

At lunchtime today my colleague Megan produced 10 metres of hand-made bunting from her bag (as you do). We were all pretty impressed with it and immediately started to put it up in the office. While we were doing this my colleague Zen starting filming and taking pictures – I remarked that it would be great to get some pictures for the blog as ‘there’s nothing else interesting going on today to put on there’. At this point Megan remarked to me that in fact there was a 50 piece orchestra rehearsing two floors below us and that was maybe quite interesting.

Of course she’s right.  Its amazing how quickly something like that becomes routine and ordinary, and you have to be reminded how special it is. After lunch I took the escalator down to level -2 here at Kings Place to listen to the Orchestra, conductor Roy Goodman and pianist Artur Pizzaro rehearse Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto. Lovely as Megan’s bunting is, listening to the OAE play Beethoven is always going to trump most things. Here are pics of both bunting and rehearsal.

William Norris, Communications Director


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Evil black poodles, electrifying Beethoven and DNA. Our top OAE moments of 2010

Thu 23 Dec 2010

As has become customary at this time of year we asked around the office and orchestra for people’s top OAE moments of 2010. There are definitely a few trends in the below… and we’d love to know what your top OAE moments of the year were too.

It’s difficult for me to decide whether Beethoven with Iván Fischer or Bach with John Butt wins my best moment of 2010? I’vedecided it’s John Butt because I have not worked with him as a director before. John is a leading Bach scholar and there were constant pearls of wisdom and humour (always a good thing in rehearsals). He is such an open and physically uninhibited musician. One of my favourite moments was when he asked us to be like evil black poodles—- all I could think of was Cruella de Vil! Not very 18th century but it worked.

Martin Kelly, Viola and Vice-Chairman

It was definitely Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne which I had the pleasure of watching twice; firstly on our annual office trip and the next time with my mum when we were caught in the worst downpour of the summer. The poor dressed up Glyndebourne-dwellers were darting, bubbly in arms, into any available shelter possible during the interval and it was a sorry, soggy lot of us who trudged back into the performance. It was my mum’s first visit to Glyndebourne though and she didn’t care at all. Don Giovanni was amazing all the way through but I especially loved the very end. Those dramatic scales over the descending bass line plus the Commendatore bellowing ‘Don Giovanni!’ certainly made for a spine tingling death scene!

Natalie Chivers, Education Projects Manager

I loved the Creation education project.

The chaos of moving 800 children that preceeded and followed the event was quite something; the silence and concentration of all those pupils watching and engaged during the performance in a packed Queen Elizabeth Hall was striking. I had great fun and learnt a lot about DNA!

The Night shift at the Roundhouse in January was amazing too.

Isabelle Tawil, Development Manager, Individual Giving

Without a doubt, the Iván Fischer Beethoven concerts in March – particularly at the Lincoln Center in New York where we gave two concerts as part of a complete cycle of the Symphonies with Iván’s “other” Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which gave two concerts as well.  The audience reaction and Iván’s inspiring and totally unique conducting style produced electrifying musical moments of the year.

Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive

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What a palava…

Wed 12 May 2010

Will’s asked me to write a few lines about our Beethoven 9 project (or ‘patch’ as we call it in the office) last month, but I’m not really sure where to start- it was extremely eventful!

It started off as a concert in London on the Friday, followed by a concert in San Sebastian on the Sunday. First change: San Sebastian ende

d up being Valladolid. Then the Spaniards decided they wanted a concert in Madrid on the Saturday and possibly in Barcelona on the Tuesday. Then the Barcelona concert was scrapped. At this point we were very sad to hear that Sir Charles Mackerras was unwell and could not do our concerts, so the hunt was on for another conductor, who could do all three.

Fortunately Ilan Volkov came to the rescue, so back to the grindstone to organise those last minute flight details. One week to go, and after months of hanging on to finalise the details we thought we were finally there, and then,

the Madrid concert was cancelled! Unfortunately it was too late to change our flights to go a day later so the orchestra were very pleased to find out they had a free night in Madrid (especially as this was the night of THE big football match – Madrid vs Barcelona…). With the Madrid concert cancelled we had some last minute changes with the instrument transport and we enrolled Bonzo ‘our man with a van’ to truck our instruments to Spain for us (we now had an extra day to do this and it is a lot safer for the instruments than flying).

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Ilan Volkov on Beethoven 9

Mon 12 Apr 2010

As you may know conductor Ilan Volkov replaced Sir Charles Mackerras for our concert of Beethoven Symphony 9 last  Friday at the Royal Festival Hall. The concert also toured to Valladolid, in Spain and Spanish newspaper El Mundo asked Ilan a few questions ahead of the

performance:

What was it like to take over this project at such short notice?
How do you organise and prepare yourself mentally to conduct – unexpectedly – such a huge work as Beethoven’s 9th?

Luckily I conducted Beethoven 9th at the the Proms last summer so it’s fresh in my mind. Its very exciting to do this with period instruments- there are so many details that sound completely different. Quite amazing. With these instruments one really feels the radical nature of the work and how modern it still is. I’ve admired the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a long time so its a fantastic thing to work with them for the first time.
Tell us about your vision of this work as the conductor

The 9th has so much in it. In many ways its an utopian work of art ,way ahead of its time. Each movement has such a distinctive character so that when the last movement begins the listener has travelled far. And then this monumental movement opens more doors and has such power that it is impossible to stay unmoved. For each musician in the orchestra and choir this work demands total commitment and strength, but it also gives many rewards both to player and listener.

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Beethoven with Guts podcast

Wed 7 Apr 2010

Our latest podcast is now available for your listening pleasure and takes a look at our mini-fest at Kings Place next week, Beethoven with Guts. Complimenting our Symphony Series over at the Southbank Centre the festival includes lots of Beethoven’s chamber music plus some more unusual events including a chance to play along with the OAE and even try some dance moves to his music. Featured on the podcast are OAE Leader Alison Bury, our Education Manager and Oboist Cherry Forbes and, er, me.

Listen to it here. Or search on itunes for Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Should you feel motivated to buy tickets then this is a good place to head.

Does anyone use Soundcloud? Would that be a useful place for our audio content to go as well? Let us know.

William Norris, Marketing Director

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Beethoven with Iván Fischer: reviews

Wed 17 Mar 2010

Here’s a selection of reviews from our concerts at the Southbank with Iván Fischer recently.

4 March (Symphonies 2 & 3)

The Times
Guardian
The Arts Desk

10 March (Symphonies 1,8 & 9)

Independent
Guardian

Both concerts were broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and you can still listen to Symphonies 2&3 here until tomorrow and 1, 8 & 5 here until next Monday.

We’re repeating the concerts in New York next week – with the Budapest Festival Orchestra also playing at Lincoln Center at the same time, so between us we’ll play a whole Beethoven cycle, all conducted by Iván Fischer. The only small fly in the ointment at the moment is the BA strike, so while we can get there we’re not entirely sure how we’re getting home yet…

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Quick update, including blue elephants

Thu 4 Mar 2010

It’s been a little while since we posted here – apologies. It’s not because nothings been happening at OAE towers, far from it, in fact I think quite the opposite! The Orchestra has been busy rehearsing for Tamerlano at the Royal Opera House. We had the final rehearsal on Tuesday (which is like a proper performance really) and all went well, though it’s hard work for the Orchestra – 3.5 hours of music! It’s a spectacular production, particularly if you’re fond of blue elephants (!), so do catch it if you can. First night is this Friday and details are here, togeher with a pic of the blue elephant.

You can also view a trailer for the production here.

Meanwhile we’ve also been rehearsing for the next concerts in our Beethoven Symphony Series – the next two concerts are with Iván Fisher (pictured rehearsing with us yesterday), and we’ll perform No’s 2&3 tonight at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and 1,8 & 5 at the Royal Festival Hall next Wednesday, the 10th. Then, at the end of the month we travel to New York City where we give the same two concerts at the Lincoln Center – Iván will also be conducting his own Budapest Festival Orchestra there in two concerts and between the two orchestras we’ll give a complete Beethoven symphony cycle. Reports from players and staff will of course appear here.

Meanwhile last week five of use from the office travelled up to Glasgow for the annual Association of British Orchestras concference – which this year focused on identity. More on that soon…

William Norris, Marketing Director

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Paris, patching and oversized stilettos

Fri 12 Feb 2010

Last week we travelled to Paris for the final concert of our mini Beethoven tour with Vladimir Jurowski (mini in that it was a short tour, not that we were playing small pieces of music). We were playing in our regular venue in Paris, the Théâtre de Champs Elysées, which we visit at least a couple of times each season. The theatre is interesting for a couple of reasons – firstly, its a beautiful and historic building – and where the Rite of Spring was famously premiered, with ensuing riot. Second, it leads a dual life as both theatre (and opera house) and concert hall. So, while we performed on stage (with a special acoustic shell installed behind the orchestra to help the sound), the set of what appeared to be Cinderella was behind us, complete with giant stilettos.

The concert was being filmed for DVD and web broadcast so the afternoon rehearsal was carried out in concert dress and with the lighting that would be later used for the performance (darker than would be usual), and as you can imagine there were cables almost everywhere. I watched the rehearsal from backstage, where there was a monitor showing what was being filmed.

After the concert there was what is known as a ‘patching session’, where any bits of the performance that perhaps weren’t quite perfect are played again so that the DVD version is as near perfect as possible. Obviously with this being the OAE, the patching session didn’t need to be very long, and everyone was very happy to be on the bus back to the hotel fairly quickly after the concert.

The concert can be viewed online here FREE  for a limited period

William Norris, Marketing Director

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Beethoven Symphony Series reviews – 4&7

Mon 1 Feb 2010

We kicked off our Beethoven Symphony Series on Thursday at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with Vladimir Jurowski conducting Symphonies 4 and 7. Here’s what the press thought

Guardian

Financial Times

Telegraph

Independent

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Beethoven and Vivaldi podcast

Thu 28 Jan 2010

Another new podcast – this time looking at our upcoming concerts at Southbank Centre. Vladimir Jurowski talks about the Beethoven series and Symphonies 4 and 7, while OAE Leader Alison Bury also talks about Beethoven before moving onto our upcoming Vivaldi concert in April. Listen to the podcast here or download it on itunes.

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