The past month at the OAE has been filled with various animal-related hilarity, involving two of my favourite education events so far; OAE TOTS Animal Time, and the Carnival of the Animals family concert.Read More
On 20 February, we performed with Katia and Marielle Labèque in a programme featuring Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Debussy and Ibert. We’ve heard your thoughts so now it’s time to look at what the press had to say…Read More
Over the last couple of days, we’ve joined up with the Labèque sisters in Reading and London for French Fancies, two concerts featuring Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. Here’s what you had to say about the performances…
[View the story “French Fancies, 19 & 20 February, Queen Elizabeth Hall” on Storify]Read More
Katia and Marielle Labèque join us tonight for a concert of Saint-Saëns and Ravel at The Hexgaon in Reading, then tomorrow we’re at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall for Fancy That!, our family concert at 11.30am and French Fancies at 7pm. They took time out from rehearsals to give us a taste of what we can expect.
BOOK TICKETS/MORE INFORead More
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…Read More
As we’re about to hit the road with Sir Simon again we thought it was a good time to post this video from last year’s tour with him, when we visited Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and of course, London.Read More
Yes we’re still eking out news from our Simon Rattle tour…
It was the first trip with the Orchestra for our Digital Content Officer, Zen, and here’s his account of the tour:
Often described as the ‘intrepid’ cameraman, I have to say I embarked on this trip, my first OAE tour experience, with a fair dose of trepidation. How would I fair in this close-knit orchestral group for almost 4 days – or more importantly how would they react to having a camera almost constantly in their faces?
The brief was to capture as much footage of the tour as possible and edit it down to a video of duration no greater than 2’59” (a length that was agreeable to the various venues and agents) and to get to know the players better. A familiarity with the players is very useful when harassing them for a voxpop. Many have already been subjected to on the spot interviews and know how I usually pounce in rehearsal breaks, but Kings Place where we often rehearse allows plenty of hiding places, not so a packed Eurostar carriage…
Getting to know the players better was something I got stuck into straight away. The brass/percussion section took me under their wing on the first night in Brussels (a rare night off for the orchestra) confirming the stereotype with a comprehensive tour of the local bars. I survived, but barely. The next morning I emerged from the hotel in a daze only to see both coaches departing on their way to Luxembourg… were they trying to get rid of me already? My surname ‘Grisdale’ had been crossed off accidently along with ‘Griffiths’, Kevin our young conductor. Nevertheless they saw me waving in a panic and let me on board.
So I made it to the Philharmonie Luxembourg, which is a beautiful concert hall in a rather bleak part of town which is largely a building site, a lot of construction going on. The hall inside is impressive with boxes that look like mini blocks of flats. After filming the rehearsal I sought to approach Sir Simon Rattle for a few quick words. In a previous OAE video about CPE Bach I managed to get Sir Roger Norrington in front of the camera as he sipped his tea during rehearsal break and he happily divulged all things CPE. This technique I wished to apply to Sir Simon Rattle. Unfortunately it was not to be, so we agreed to postpone it to the final London date at the Royal Festival Hall.
The Labèque sisters were up for it and Katia insisted that I film them as much as possible in rehearsals etc. However an interview was not on the cards as they were both not feeling well (really they weren’t) but they gave me their word that they would also do it at the Royal Festival Hall…Read More
As you may just have noticed from this blog, one of the highlights of our year so far has been our tour with Sir Simon Rattle and Katia and Marielle Labèque. After concerts in Luxembourg, Paris and Dublin, the tour culminated in a sold-out show at the Royal Festival Hall. Our intrepid camera-man Zen caught up with you after the show to find out what you thought. Sadly our celebrity guest Madonna (did we mention she came?) slipped out a little early so we didn’t get her thoughts on camera…
Last Tuesday’s concert at the Royal Festival Hall with Sir Simon Rattle was always going to be a busy night. Not only was it Sir Simon, which always brings a frisson of excitement, but we had a sold-out Royal Festival Hall, which while fantastic, is always a little stressful. We also had a plethora of different receptions going on around the venue for the various people who had supported our Silver Appeal and for our sponsors, Commerzbank. At the last moment though, an additional complication was thrown into the mix.
As you might have read previously on the blog we knew that Madonna liked the Labèque sisters, so we really did send an invite to her. Of course we didn’t think for a minute she would actually come. The day before the concert our Intern, Georgina, received a mysterious call from someone needing to make special arrangements for a VIP. They had previously been in contact with our Projects Director, Ceri, but she was now in the air en route to Dublin. So Georgina took down all the details and requests of the mysterious VIP without actually knowing who it was. Ceri was uncontactable for the next 2 hours – cue feverish speculation in the OAE office.
As soon as Ceri landed Georgina called her. It was indeed the Queen of Pop Madonna. To use teen speak, everyone was a bit OMG.Read More
Violinist Susie Carpenter-Jacobs sent us this blog from mid-way through our tour with Sir Simon Rattle the other week:
There’s been hectic activity in the orchestra this week: Haydn and Mozart have been jostling for supremacy in the hands of Sir Simon Rattle and the Labèque sisters, from Luxembourg, to Paris, Dublin and the Royal Festival Hall; rehearsals for Handel’s Rinaldo have started in London, and Don Giovanni continues to seduce the ladies at Glyndebourne.
As a Don Giovanni stage-band participant for the first time this year, it has been instructive to discover that, while lust, death and deception is pouring forth from stage and pit (and that’s before curtain up), stage-band life itself involves skulking around the murky underworld of props cupboards and scenery stores down in the depths of the opera house, whilst keeping an eye on the clock and an ear to the back stage relay system. For, every musician’s nightmare is to become aware that the cue to your vital musical moment has arrived whilst you are situated several staircases and corridors away from imminent action.
Last Sunday the classiest musical event at Glyndebourne took place during the first act of Don Giovanni, well away from the drama unfolding on the stage: a landmark, debut performance of “Knickerbocker Glory” given to a small, select audience by the youngest soloist to have played at the opera house this year – six year old Nona – daughter of Jo (violin) and Martin Lawrence (horn); delivered with style, panache and aplomb, in time honoured fashion in the OAE.
So brilliant was Nona’s playing that this correspondent was granted permission to join her for a triumphant encore – before the former collapsed in a heap, and the latter sprinted niftily down the aforementioned staircases and corridors to join stage band colleagues gathering in a storage cupboard.
For, over the Tannoy, Zerlina had launched into “Batti batti” and the cue for our brief appearance was approaching…
Susie Carpenter-Jacobs, violinRead More
Every time a project involving fortepianos appears on our advance schedule, my heart sinks a little – not because I don’t like the sound of them, or enjoy hearing some of the fantastic repertoire that was written for them, but fortepianos usually = logistical nightmare. And this time there were 2 of them…
The quest to source two matching pianos started a couple of years ago. We spoke to our usual suppliers and had sussed that there were a couple of pianos based in the UK – a copy of an Anton Walter piano (a piano maker based in Vienna around Mozart’s time), made by Paul McNulty, and also a copy of a Michael Rosenberger which might be a good match. Katia Labèque was going to be in London at the end of January 2011 and so we arranged a session up at Craxton studios for her to trial them. Perfect, we thought, the pianos could be used in the UK for the rehearsals, then we’d take them on tour to Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and bring them back to London for our final concert at the RFH, then they could return to their owners. Simples. Except the pianos weren’t ideally matched in tone and timbre and so the quest continued.
Some months later we were notified that there was another piano based outside of Paris, which was also a Paul McNulty Walter copy, which could be an excellent match for one the one that Katia had already trialled. Katia and Marielle knew this piano and so helped us get in contact with the owner to organise this (whilst wrestling with the fact that he did not speak English).
Superb, we now had 2 pianos for the tour, just shame that they are not in the same country, and that they both need to come to London or a 3 hour rehearsal with the orchestra before going to Luxembourg for the first concert… Oh well, all part of the joys of striving for top quality period instrument performance!
So… the eventual schedule for the pianos went as follows:
14th June – Driver leaves London with truck to head to Paris to pick up piano
15th June – French piano arrives at the Warehouse rehearsal venue in London so the sisters can have some private practice time, joined by the UK piano – united for the first time at last!
16th June – Pianos taken up to Kings Place for the OAE’s ‘tutti’ rehearsal. After the rehearsal the pianos are loaded into the truck (with numerous double basses, cellos and timpani) and head off to Luxembourg.
17th June – Pianos arrive in Luxembourg in time for the rehearsal at the venue.
18th June – Quick hop across to Paris for a concert at the Champs Elysees.
19th June – Longer and rougher journey to Dublin, crossing the English Channel, most of the UK’s road network, followed by the Irish Sea. Just as well there is no concert today (well the OAE are performing in Glyndebourne today but that’s a story for another blog).
20th June – Truck arrives in Dublin
21st June – Truck departs Dublin on first Ferry of the day back over to Anglesey, then starts the epic journey back to London. Rehearsal is meant to start at 5pm, which incidentally […]Read More
Full service on the blog will resume tomorrow, but in the meantime here are some pictures from our performance at the Philharmonie in Luxembourg the other week, where we performed with Sir Simon Rattle and the Labèque sisters. All pictures © Sébastien Grébille.Read More
Well, the reviews are in from our Rattle concert on Tuesday at the Royal Festival Hall, plus a couple from the tour too. You can read them via the links below, but here are three of our favourite quotes:
“That continuing rapport was immediately and sustainedly obvious in this delightful Haydn and Mozart concert, and all without any of the publicity overload that surrounded his Berliner Philharmoniker dates earlier in the year.
There was some Haydn in those Berlin programmes, too, but this time, working with a much smaller and more specialist band, the treatment was more authentic and enjoyable.” THE GUARDIAN (4 stars)
“It was in the two Haydn symphonies that Rattle and the OAE best showed what a triumphant partnership the two have honed in some 25 years working together” THE TIMES (5 stars)
“When this music is played by the OAE light doesn’t just dawn, it dazzles; and even more so when Sir Simon Rattle is on the podium” THE TELEGRAPH (5 stars)
BBC Music Magazine
Irish Times (Dublin concert)
Petite Classique (Luxembourg concert, in French)
Picture by Joe PlommerRead More
Last night’s concert of Mozart and Haydn with Sir Simon Rattle and the Labèque sisters was broadcast LIVE from the Royal Festival Hall by Radio 3, and it’s available to listen to all over again online here for the next 6 days. Enjoy! Listen to the concert hereRead More
In June 2011, we spoke with Katia Labèque as she prepared to tour with Sir Simon Rattle and the OAE for the first time. As we join them once more for tonight’s concert of French Fancies, we take another look at that Speed Interview…
What/when was your big breakthrough?
I suppose when our first CD of Rhapsodie in Blue went gold in few months. It did focus the attention of the people on us and also on the repertoire we were playing.
What do you fear the most?
Death of the people we love.
Which mobile number do you call the most?
I don’t call often because I prefer the computer.
What – or where – is perfection?
Thank God perfection does not exist…that gives each of us the possibility to try to reach it.
Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Bartleby: “I would prefer not to…” If I really have to explain, I see him as an artist who refuses to compromise his art, who refuses to conform to the model of the society he lives in…
Anyone who knows us well will know that we don’t ‘do’ ordinary pianos. We use period pianos, in-keeping with our philosophy of being authentic. Ceri, our Projects Director, has promised to write a little blog about the pianos used on our upcoming tour with the Labeque sisters, so look out for it appearing here soon. In the meantime, today was our first rehearsal with the sisters and the Fortepianos, basically early versions of today’s piano, were looking rather splendid.Read More
Well we’ve been waiting to post this video for over a year now, since we first came across it. It’s even spawned an office catchphrase (ok, a Communications Department catchphrase) in ‘Where’s my champagne?’.
Anyway in this video, Madonna (the new face of OAE videos), introduces her favourite pianists, the Labèque sisters, to her entourage of dancers and musicians. The Labèques appear with us on tour with Simon Rattle this week and next, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto for two pianos in Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and London.
Enjoy the vid – we did send Madonna an invite to the London concert, but I guess it must have got lost in the post…
William Norris, Communications Director
P.S. Where’s my champagne?Read More
Well today is the first day of our latest project with our Principal Artist Sir Simon Rattle (pictured conducting us a few years ago in Budapest). Of course everyone is *quite* excited about it. We’re touring a concert of Mozart and Haydn, which also features pianists Katia & Marielle Labèque playing the Mozart Concerto for two pianos.
This afternoon and evening sees our first rehearsal with Sir Simon (he’s coming to us straight from a project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), with further rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday (we have a rehearsal of Rinaldo for Glyndebourne on the Tuesday). That evening we’re off to Brussels – staying the night there and onto Luxembourg on Friday. We give a concert in Luxembourg Friday night before travelling onto Paris for a concert there on Saturday. We’ve also just found out that we’re going head to head with the London Symphony Orchestra that night – we’re at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, while they are at the Salle Pleyel – and we’re even staying at the same hotel!
Sunday morning we travel back to London before flying to Dublin for a concert at the National Concert Hall on Monday night. Then it’s an early flight back Tuesday to London and the final concert of the tour at the Royal Festival Hall.
It’s going to be an exciting week and we’re going to try and bring you as much news as possible along the way. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest.Read More