Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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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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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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Sir Simon Rattle – what makes him so special?

Thu 16 Jun 2011

As I write this the OAE is downstairs in Hall 2 of Kings Place where they are in day three of rehearsals with Sir Simon Rattle. Sir Simon is one of the OAE’s closest collaborators and has worked with us almost since the Orchestras inception – his first concert was in 1987, just a year after the Orchestra was founded. Now one of the OAE’s three Principal Artists, (alongside Vladimir Jurowski and Iván Fischer) he works with us on a regular basis, with a tour most seasons. In the rehearsal yesterday we caught up with some OAE players in the break to ask them just what makes him such a special and exciting conductor to work with.

William Norris, Communications Director

 

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