Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Speed Interview – Stuart Jackson

Wed 13 Mar 2013

On 22 March, our first concert as part of the Kings Place Bach Unwrapped series will explore Bach’s Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos.  Among the performers will be critically acclaimed tenor; Stuart Jackson.

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Speed Interview- Anna Dennis

Mon 11 Mar 2013

As the first in our series of Bach Unwrapped concerts approaches, we chatted to soprano Anna Dennis about snakes, Schoenberg and silent films…

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Half term musings from the Education team

Mon 18 Feb 2013

So much happens in the OAE Education department and as it is just little old me, the only office-based member of the team, I hardly get any time to sit down and blog about what I’ve been up to.  My track record of broken blog promises for Team Comms is horrendous but today, the first day of half term, I have a bit of extra time so I gleefully agreed to actually sit and complete a blog.

I want to tell you about all the wonderful things I’ve been up to this half term.

I’m going to start with my most frequent commitment – String Club – which dominates every Monday afternoon. Every week Nancy Cole (our Graduate Intern) and I head over to a local primary school to join OAE violinists teaching the violin.  One of my favourite moments at String Club, in fact one of my favourite moments since joining the OAE, happened last week when the tutors decided to run a listening session based on the Four Seasons.  Excerpts from Winter and Spring were played by Cathy Ford, Naomi Burrell and Holly Harman and the pupils were enthralled.  It was magic to watch, seeing them watch their tutors completely in awe, as if they were Rock Stars.  Baroque and Roll.

Another thing that happened this half term was my viol debut.  When I joined the OAE, I never imagined that I would be sat in front of a class of 10 year olds with a bass viol, picking out a ground bass for a professional player.  This is exactly the situation I found myself in at a Guardian Newspaper workshop where we invite classes from partner schools to Kings Place to interview an OAE player and write about them in a journalistic style.   I’m particularly proud of the picture description (at the top of this blog).

To report everything else that has been going on in one article would take me into a small novel word count rather than a punchy blog but, to give a bit more information, this half term has included – Early Years work in Camden, live music in nurseries, the OAE Academy where young professional players receive OAE coaching, an amazing schools concert where about 350 pupils came to Kings Place to play with the Orchestra, coaching for youth orchestras and a newly formed early music group, Musicians on Call visits to nursing homes…

So this week I pause briefly to catch my breath but it isn’t really a break; it’s a chance to gear up for next week when we have a pre-concert event, a study day and performance and another schools concert – to name a few things.  Phew.

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2012: Our top moments

Fri 21 Dec 2012

Well, what a year it’s been…what with the small matter of the Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, the notorious IKEA monkey in a coat, and of course, some fab concerts with the OAE.

So we thought we’d put together our top office highlights from 2012…enjoy!

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Big Draw

Wed 24 Oct 2012

Last Saturday we took part in the Guardian Big Draw, a really lovely day where families come to Kings Place to get involved in lots of different art activities.  The OAE’s part in this day is always slightly abstract and I love the creativity that it generates.  On a Big Draw day, two OAE musicians play duets and then have a range of drawing activities that anyone can join with.

This year we had Tony Robson on recorders and Rebecca Stockwell on bassoon and the activity sheets included: draw what you hear, draw the musicians, turning music notes and staves into something different or draw what the music makes you think of.  Of course we also had the all-important blank pieces of paper for those who wanted no prompts but to simply sit and draw to the music.

The results from Saturday were spectacular.  We covered a column in Kings Place in music inspired artwork – from quaver-cats to portraits of the musicians- the variety of creative output was brilliant.  The day ended on a real high when Chris Riddell, who had given a talk to budding artists, came to draw our musicians, capturing them in his trademark way.

For me, I love asking young people to draw what they hear – you are either met with a very confused look or wide eyed enthusiasm; there are no right or wrong answers for this task. I also like the exploration of art in this multidiscipline way, plus being able to listen to OAE musicians playing duets all day is such a treat!

Finally, a lovely story that came to me as feedback after Saturday was from a mum who, on taking her children home, was asked if they could listen to more music to draw what they could hear. More drawing, more music, more art – that’s what it’s all about really!

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Current Distractions

Thu 18 Oct 2012

As we’re well into our new Current Distractions blog series, we thought we’d mix it up a bit and invite some guest bloggers to give us their lowdown of what they’re relishing in the arts world at the moment.  This time Marketing Manager, Natasha Stehr takes the helm.

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Music for now, for later, for ever…

Tue 21 Feb 2012

It was the morning of Friday 27 January 2012.  There was much clapping, chatter and the hum of excited voices from the group of Year 6 children eagerly joining in with the ‘warm up’.  I was sitting at the back of the concert hall, at Kings Place, waiting for my first experience of Anthem for a Child to begin.

Anthem for a Child is the OAE’s most ambitious education project to date, consisting of a nationwide series of workshops and concerts for as many as 5000 children, and students, of all ages.  Anthem endeavours to engage young people with music and aims to leave behind an excitement for the making of music long after they have completed their projects.  The Anthem tour focuses on two especially commissioned pieces by the composer James Redwood – a fanfare, Twangling Instruments, based on Caliban’s speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (during which the children will have the opportunity to play their instruments alongside members of the OAE) and My Cry, a song which all the children will learn…and I found myself happily joining in too – the atmosphere was so remarkably infectious!

The children began with Twangling Instruments, and were encouraged to get out their violins, cellos and recorders.  Cue further excitement and delighted giggling as the children prepared to join the Orchestra with the piece they had been practising hard for weeks.  Half of the group of youngsters formed the choir and the theme for the rest of the concert was laid out – the importance of working as a team.  The children were asked to identify how many ‘teams’ they could hear within the Orchestra itself and these various ‘teams’ were put ‘under the microscope’, where the specific job of each was pointed out.  The oboes were observed working in parallel, the strings were counted and the members of the bass ‘team’ (bassoon, cello and harpsichord) were examined also.  The emphasis was placed on how each team/instrument had an important job to do on its own and, as a result, they contributed to the sound of the piece as a whole – their individual voices, together, played as one sound.  There were further pieces played to demonstrate how the sections of the Orchestra work independently to create the complete sound of a musical piece.  The children were then taught a rhyme and divided into two sections, to sing the ‘canon’. Again myself, and other members of the OAE team, were happy to join in with the rhyme and actions.

It was the vocal fanfare, My Cry, which concluded the concert.  The children had learned sections of this ‘anthem’ in class in advance of the day and it was as though they couldn’t wait to sing it, they got up from their seats with such excitement.  The words to this piece are inspiring and enriching and celebrate what it means to sing – the power of the voice on its own and the collective strength of a choir as a whole.  It was moving to hear this group of children so proudly and enthusiastically singing the words ‘My voice is mine and it is me’.  I began to feel almost envious that I had not been involved in such a project as this when I had been at school, and it served to […]

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Canary Competition (win tickets!)

Thu 22 Dec 2011

Canaries

This New Year we’re at our Kings Place base, performing two concerts to mark the end of 2011 (on 31 Dec at 6pm and 1 Jan at 1pm). The programme contains Vivaldi’s evergreen Four Seasons, but also one real curiosity, Telemann’s Canary Cantata.  The piece was written as a tribute to Telemann’s pet song-bird, and its full title is ‘Cantata of funeral music for an artistically trained canary-bird whose demise brought the greatest sorrow to his master’. They were obviously very close! To make it even worse the beloved bird was murdered by a cat rather than dying of natural causes 🙁

Here’s a taste of the piece, in this English translation of one of the arias in the cantata:

“O woe! o woe! thrice woe!
My songbird is no more;
To whom can I my loss deplore
to whom can I my painful heartache declare?
Who will now with me my sorrow share”

Plus if you have Spotify you can listen to it here.

We have two tickets to give away to the New Years Eve performance of the concert (details here), which is at 6pm at Kings Place, London.

To be in with a chance to win, simply tell us about your favourite pet, and what you did, or would do, to mark their passing in a fitting style.  Add your entries below by midday on 29 December and we’ll announce a winner shortly after.

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Lunchtime with the OAE

Wed 4 May 2011

St George's concert hall, Bristol - venue for our lunchtime concerts

One of the recurring fixtures in the OAE’s diary is our annual series of lunchtime concerts at St George’s, Bristol, one of our most regular venues out of London.

There are usually four lunchtime concerts in the series, given by the soloists of the Orchestra, which then go on to be broadcast by BBC Radio 3, and are also often performed elsewhere too – for example as part of our recent Baroque. Contrasted. festival at Kings Place. Indeed, if you scroll down to our April postings you’ll find some info on the composers featured – one example here.

The most recent set of these concerts is being broadcast this week by BBC Radio 3, and the music includes pieces by well known Baroque names such as Bach and Handel, alongside some real rarities. Of course, though they’re broadcast at lunchtime, through the BBC’s Listen Again feature you can listen anytime within a week after the broadcast date.

The BBC also produced a short film to accompany the concerts which features rehearsal footage plus interviews with musicians Margaret Faultless (violin) and Steven Devine (keyboard)

The programmes are being broadcast at 1pm Tuesday to Friday this week, and you can listen to them on the links below:

Tuesday – Refelctions on the Grand Tour – music for Cornetts and Sackbuts
Wednesday – Bach, Handel and Purcell – Wind soloists of the OAE
Thursday – Vivaldi and Corelli – String soloists of the OAE
Friday – Handel, Vivaldi and Coreli – Wind and String soloists of the OAE

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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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Baroque. Contrasted: Vox Pops

Mon 18 Apr 2011

Well I think we’re just about recovered from our Baroque. Contrasted. festival which we held at Kings Place the other week. It was certainly a pretty intense week, particularly for those who were here every day and night for five days! We had some great concerts, workshops and events, and trying to force myself to be a tenor in our Sing Baroque! event (I’m really a bass) was a particular highlight interesting moment for me…

It was great though to see so many people turn out for this event and for our Baroque from Scratch session(for amateur instrumentalists) too – we’re pretty sure to plan more events like this, together with our inreasingly popular TOTS concerts.

Anyway, after some of the concerts we caught up with you to find out what you thought – here’s what you said. Thanks to all for coming!

William Norris, Communications Director

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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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Caption Competition: Tell us why Zen isn't looking very, er, Zen and win tickets to Baroque. Contrasted.

Thu 7 Apr 2011

When we did our ‘Green’ picture a while back we saw afterwards that on one of the shots we took our Digital Content Officer, Zen, had a particularly angry/shocked expression on his face…unusual for him given that, as his name suggests, he’s a particularly calm person.

Anyway – what do you think is on the piece of paper he seems to be reading? Or, what’s he thinking of saying? Post your suggestions here and our favourites will receive a pair of tickets to their choice of one of the following events this weekend at Kings Place:

Saturday 9 April at 12.30pm: Sing Baroque! Join OAE Co-Principal Keyboard Steven Devine to sing music by Purcell

Sunday 10 April at 11.30am: Coffee Concert with the OAE Experience Ensemble, directed by Alison Bury – music by Telemann, Boyce, Purcell and Handel.

Deadline for entries is 9pm tomorrow evening.

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Baroque. Contrasted: final Daily Trivia

Wed 6 Apr 2011

It’s the last day of our hugely exciting trivia section… *sob*

Here are the final titbits for your musical pleasure:

Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630) was a German composer of the early Baroque era and was afflicted with poor health- his wife died in childbirth; four of his five children died in infancy; he died at age 44, having suffered from tuberculosis, gout, scurvy and a kidney disorder.

Hugh Aston (1485-1558) was an English composer of the early Tudor period. His initial salary at The Newarke (a musical institution in Leicester) was £10 a year, only £2 a year less than that of the Dean. Listen to his Hornpype (which we’re playing on Friday) here.

William Brade (1560-1630) was an English composer, violinist, and viol player of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras and liked to change jobs frequently- during his career, he moved 13 times!

If you’d like to hear more music from these composers, why not try one of our hour-long concerts at Kings Place?

Concerts start tomorrow night from 6.45pm and more details can be found on our website.

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Matthew Truscott on Purcell's emotional depths and Handel's borderline smugness

Wed 6 Apr 2011

Now you get to hear from a player rather than just office bods! In this latest vid OAE leader Matthew Truscott talks about the concert he has devised and is directing at Kings Place on 9 April, – a programme which features Purcell, Bach and Handel, including how the concert fits into the Baroque. Contrasted. theme of the festival.

Next up, another round of Baroque trivia.

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Baroque. Contrasted: Daily Trivia 3

Tue 5 Apr 2011

As promised, here’s another dose of daily trivia for you, featuring some of the lesser known composers we’ll be showcasing this week at Kings Place:

Biagio Marini (1594-1663) was an Italian virtuoso violinist and composer of the first half of the seventeenth century who married three times and had five children.  He was the first composer to notate tremolo (trembling) effects into his music.

Francisco Correa de Araujo (1584-1654) was a notable Spanish organist, composer, and theorist of the late Renaissance as well as a priest.

Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594), a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance, was rumoured to have been kidnapped three times because of the singular beauty of his singing voice.

More random facts tomorrow!

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OAE staff natter about Baroque. Contrasted.

Tue 5 Apr 2011

We let three OAE office staff loose on camera to talk about our concerts at Kings Place this week – and here are the results. There is some logic to this as the staff have all been closely involved not just with co-ordinating running and marketing the events but also with devising some of the more unusual events, such as Barqoue from Scratch and Sing Baroque! Have a watch and do come along this week – and if you recognise us from the video do come and say hello! Next up is another video with OAE leader Matthew Truscott talking about the programme of Bach, Purcell and Handel he has devised for the festival.

 

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Baroque. Contrasted: Daily Trivia 2

Mon 4 Apr 2011

Some more baroque trivia in the run up to our concerts at Kings Place this week. You can hear music from all the composers featured during our hour-long concerts this Thursday and Friday.

Tarquinio Merula (1594/5-1665) got into trouble with some of his students at a musical institution in Bergamo, and was charged with indecency. Listen to his Chiacona which features in Thursday’s concert

Giovanni Zamboni – whose exact dates are unknown –  was an accomplished composer for the theorbo as well as a jewel-maker and fine swordsman!

Bendinelli (1542-1617) was the author of the first known course of published trumpet lessons, Tutta L’arte Della Trombetta which gathered together the earliest known pieces for the clarino (higher) register, dating from 1584-88.

More trivia tomorrow, and we’ll be testing you all on Saturday!

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Baroque. Contrasted: Daily Trivia

Fri 1 Apr 2011

Next week sees the start of our mini-festival at Kings Place, Baroque. Contrasted.

We kick off on 6 April with 5 days of concerts, talks, demonstrations and two chances to join the OAE.  Most of the composers we’ll be featuring should be pretty familiar- Vivaldi, Purcell, Bach-  but we’re also showcasing some of the lesser-known but equally brilliant artists of the time.

Ahead of the opening night, we thought we’d give you a bit of daily trivia on some of these mysterious musicians…

Gottfried Finger (1660-1730) left London in a hurry in 1701 after allegedly being unjustly passed over for a composition prize. He financed his departure with the sale of a set of trio sonatas, of which Op 5 No.10 (which we play on 7 April) is unusually scored for recorder, cello (or bassoon) and continuo.

Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682) was murdered in Genoa just months after penning the wedding cantata Il Barcheggio, probably after an unwitting controversy over a woman (who preferred him to another man – the likely murderer).

Dario Castello (1590-?) has no biographical information at all; even his birth and death dates are unknown, although it is thought he may have died during the great plague of 1630. He was probably associated with St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, where Claudio Monteverdi was maestro di capella.

For more info on the festival, including a free flippable brochure and details of how to book, visit oae.co.uk/kingsplace

Next time…find out why composer Merula got into trouble…

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Baroque. Contrasted: Playlists

Thu 31 Mar 2011

Next week we go Baroque crazy with our festival at Kings Place,  an action-packed five days of concerts, talks, workshops and more. We’re playing some music from the big names of the Baroque, but the Thursday and Friday concerts also contain a few rarities. Any fans of the composer Finger here? Or William Williams?

Well, over the next few days we’re going to be posting up some potted facts about these lesser-known composers, and we’ve also put some playlists together for you on Spotify, so you can preview some of the music. We’ll also try and find some Youtube links for those of you who aren’t using Spotify yet.

Here are the Spotify links – enjoy!

Listen to highlights from the hour-long concerts on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 April here

Listen to highlights from the 7.30pm concert on Saturday 9 April here

 

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