Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Performing new music: we explain all

Wed 27 Apr 2016

Matthew Truscott The Night Shift

“The orchestra’s chief artistic mission is to make old music new. For the OAE, the importance of being involved with contemporary music has over the years become obvious and vital.”

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Hot, sweaty and boozy. What happened when the OAE went clubbing?

Fri 19 Dec 2014

Duckie

A month or so ago we took our late night series, The Night Shift, out clubbing, with a visit to the Vauxhall institution that is Duckie

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New Year with the OAE

Wed 16 Oct 2013

This year, our popular New Years concerts return to Kings Place on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, to welcome in twenty fourteen with music that’s even more rousing than Auld Lang Syne, and the good news is a) it doesn’t matter if you’re hung over and b) we won’t make you hold hands and sing along.

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Live Friday Playlist

Wed 27 Feb 2013

Anyone present at ‘Live Friday’ last week will have heard Margaret Faultless, Robin Michael and Matthew Truscott putting Purcell through his paces, on the rooftop of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.

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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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Spinal Chords in rehearsal

Fri 3 Feb 2012

Giving a world premiere of a new work is, understandably, a rareity for the OAE. It’s not totally unknown however, and we have performed new pieces by Mark Anthony Turnage, Jonathan Dove and Heiner Goebbels in the past. Indeed the Goebbels has become something of a signature piece for us and the London Sinfonietta, with us notching up several performances now, across Europe and the USA.

This Sunday sees us give our latest premiere, this time by Sally Beamish. It is part of Music 20×12, 20 new works commissioned by the PRS for Music Foundation for the Olympic Year. Scored for strings only, it is set to text by The Times columnist Melanie Reid, and we are very pleased to have secured actress Juliet Stevenson to narrate it.

Sally Describes the piece in her programme note:

“I have known Melanie Reid, and enjoyed her writing, ever since I moved to the Stirlingshire village where we both live, in 1996. When she had her devastating riding accident in 2010, and began writing ‘Spinal Column’ in The Times, I followed it every week.

The idea of working with her came to me when the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment asked me for suggestions for a PRS for Music Foundation New Music 20×12 Cultural Olympiad commission. To my delight, she agreed, and I received the text for Spinal Chords (her title) in May 2011.

It was hard to know how I could best serve the words, which I found deeply moving; but Melanie’s title gave me a good starting point: the idea of the chord as the backbone of the music. ‘Cords’ (without an ‘h’) also suggest strings, threads, linking and joining. I realised the role of the music should be as a backdrop for a very slow drama – that of Melanie’s ‘spinal journey’.

The decision to use an actor, rather than a singer, was to preserve the directness of the text, and of Melanie’s own voice.

I started with twelve chords, which are stated, very slowly, three times; each time in a different key. The chords themselves are closely linked to each other : each builds on the one before. The string orchestra is treated as a large chamber group, with 13 solo lines, and the chords are stated at first by broken-up groups of players, gradually consolidating into larger groups, and then with the addition of ornamentation, and later, scales. The music reflects the agonising slowness of recovery, and the gradual re-connecting as the body finds ways to heal.

The piece uses the distinctive techniques of Baroque string playing: expressive bowstrokes, with a minimum of vibrato. I also draw on the similarities between Scottish traditional ornamentation, and that of Baroque music.”

Today saw the first rehearsal of the piece, with composer Sally Beamish in attendance, and here are a few pictures of the rehearsal.

Sally will appear alongside violinist Matthew Truscott, who is directing the concert, on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune today from 5.45pm. If you miss it you can listen to it again here.

You can read more about the collaboration between Sally and Melanie in The Times here (subscribers only)

The World Premiere of Spinal Chords is at Southampton’s Turner Sims on Sunday 5 February, with the London Premiere at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 10 […]

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Megan’s Alphabet Challenge (AKA the A-Z of touring)

Thu 18 Aug 2011

While on tour in Holland earlier this year we set OAE Projects Manager Megan Russell a challenge. She’d taken our little camera with her to take footage – but could she somehow find a complete A-Z of things in the tour?

Here’s the result, and we have to admit that its one of our favourite videos. Particular highlights include E for Enclosing Dyke and B for ‘is it Broken?’…

Enjoy!

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Planes, trains and automobiles (well no planes, not til the following day anyway)

Mon 8 Aug 2011

The cause of all our transport problems... The landslide outide at East Croydon station

On Monday, players and management got caught up in the chaos of the landslide at East Croydon station. Here’s how we got (most of!) them to the performance on time, with a few stand-ins in unusual places…

[Curtain up was supposed to be at 5.15…]

How Megan (Projects Manager, standing in for Philippa, the Orchestra Manager) got to Glyndebourne:

Departure: 11.55 from Vauxhall (She was hoping to have a swim before the show!|)

Train Vauxhall – Clapham Junction

Train Clapham Junction – East Croydon

Oh dear, about 1000 people waiting for rail replacement bus services to Gatwick Airport outside the station and no taxis to be found…

Walk to West Croydon

Train West Croydon – Sutton

Train Sutton – Dorking (made the train by about 1 minute)

[Briefly met her Mum to pick up some bits for tour the following day!]

Train Dorking Deepdene – Redhill

Train Redhill – Gatwick Airport

It’s now about 3.30…

Train Gatwick Airport – Brighton (Stopping at EVERY station en route)

Train Brighton – Lewes

Taxi to Glyndebourne

Arrival: 4.45

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300 children, Don Giovanni and a lot of guts

Wed 6 Jul 2011

OAE Children's concert

 

One of the things I most love about playing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is the variety- the spice of a freelance musician’s life.

I’m currently halfway between Kings Lynn and Glyndebourne (somewhere in Essex): halfway between schools and family concerts of Don Giovanni and the second night of Rinaldo: halfway between an audience of hundreds who had never been in the same room as an opera singer before, and an audience famously passionate about opera.

Just to put your minds at rest, I’m not actually driving as I type.

Forget the vuvuzelas – for me there’s nothing like the sound of 300 children buzzing with anticipation and excitement before the start of a schools’ concert. The children in Kings Lynn were there as composers, performers, and audience. You ain’t heard nothing till you hear the Corn Exchange full of children singing Fin ch’han dal vino. They loved it so much they just couldn’t stand still as they sang it.

They were guided through the concert by the fantastic James Redwood and OAE Education Director Cherry Forbes as they heard about the dastardly Don Giovanni, listened to the OAE play Mozart, performed their new songs and of course heard Real Live Opera Singers from Glyndebourne…the ones that don’t need microphones!

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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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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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Happy / Sad (OAE players revealed)

Fri 4 Mar 2011

So the previous post clearly stumped you, though someone over on Facebook did guess one correctly! Both are violinists, with Catherine Mackintosh on the left in the ‘happy’ mask and Matthew Truscortt in the ‘grumpy’ mask. So what’s with the masks you might ask? Well, as part of our The other amazing Mr Bach CPE Bach study day tomorrow, Catherine and Matthew, along with Steven Devine (harpsichord) and Jonathan Manson (cello), are performing CPE Bach’s Trio Sonata Sanguineas and Melancholius. Back in his time it was thought that the human body was filled with four substances (humors), which in balance made for a healthy person. The ancient names for these are Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, with the theory being known as humorism.

Each of the humors has a characteristic, so Sanguineas is a lively, fun, bubbly and vivacious character. On the other hand Melancholius is a rather dour, sad and pessimistic individual. In CPE Bach’s piece (which is being performed in the afternoon session of our study day, together with a discussion after) the two violins play these characters, hence the masks, which yes, will get worn for the performance.

Sanguineas has a chirpy upbeat little melody, while Melancholius’s tune is slow, sad and long. Sanguineas constantly tries to cheer Melancholius up, interrupting his melody and being relentlessly upbeat. Eventually the upbeat nature of Sanguineas wins and the two end up playing the same tune. It’s CPE Bach’s only piece of programmatic music (i.e. music which evokes a non musical source, such as a story or poem) and really is a fasinating and quirky little piece.

Come and hear it and enjoy the battle of happy and sad at the Purcell Room on Saturday at 2pm. There’s also a 10.30am Session which focuses more on musicology and context for CPE bach’s music.

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Eccentric, wild, adventurous & avant garde. Yes, it’s the other amazing Mr Bach

Wed 2 Mar 2011

Who knew such adjectives would be applied to a little known Baroque (or early Classical?) composer? But those are the words of OAE players and conductor Sir Roger Norrington, when asked to describe the music of CPE Bach. Steven Devine, who plays Harpsichord, goes on to say he’s ‘a bit of a maniac’. Who knew? In our latest video OAE players and Sir Roger talk about this fantastically exciting and unusual music, which we play tomorrow at Southbank Centre. You can find out even more about the music in our Study day on Saturday, with some serious study of CPE Bach in the morning and a performance and player discussion in the afternoon.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/27145450 w=412&h=300] Read More

Two words of terror: USA Visas.

Tue 8 Feb 2011

As we’ve blogged before, organising USA Work Visas for the Orchestra is in no way fun. We’re going through the whole process again now in readiness for our tour to Boston and New York next month. Members of the Orchestra came into the office on Sunday to fill in their forms. This is the effect it had on our leader, Matthew Truscott…

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Have a drink on us

Fri 8 Oct 2010

Literally.

Last month Matthew Truscott appeared on these drinks tray mats at Southbank Centre as part of the classical music season launch. Rivalling Rob Howarth (who is appearing on a billboard near Waterloo), for OAE poster-boy status Matt also appear on banners outside the Royal Festival Hall too.

You may also spot our tube adverts at Waterloo station – Robert Howarth, Jonathan Manson, Roger Montgomery and Tony Pay star in these – we’ll post pictures of them up soon.

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Zen, new OAE digital content officer: first Nightshift experiences

Fri 3 Sep 2010

 

My first exposure to the OAE was at the last Nightshift at Wilton’s Music Hall, and it was a totally awesome introduction to the orchestra!  I was set the exciting task of capturing footage from the performance and recording vox pops of members of the audience and orchestra and editing it down to a short video clip.  Extra exciting for me in that I had recently become a big Purcell fan, but I was a little worried that I would become too absorbed by the performance and not be able to concentrate on the filming!

The show was indeed great, (although I kinda wish I could go back in time and enjoy it again without the camera..) with a very relaxed atmosphere but I found it amazing that even though the audience was given free reign to talk, make noise and come in and out at will, everyone seemed to be completely entranced by the performance and stayed very quiet throughout.  In fact at one point a member of the audience angrily and very loudly shouted ‘Shut up!’ to someone who was chatting – unfortunately,  leader of the orchestra Matthew Truscott who was talking on stage at the time thought he was referring to him!  The chats onstage in between pieces were insightful and funny and I think created the perfect mood for the event.

After the encore (Purcell’s ‘Curtain Tune on a Ground’ from Timon of Athens – which has since become a favourite song of mine) I grabbed the tripod and raced down to catch audience feedback and get those vox pops I needed.  My apprehension in obtaining willing participants was unfounded; pretty much every audience member I approached was gushing with praise for the concert/gig and in no time at all I had more than enough vox pop fodder for the video.  You can see the resulting video clip below, hope you enjoy it!  (sorry about audio quality.. we are purchasing new equipment to solve that)

Subscribe to the OAE YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/OrchestraEnlighten to keep updated with the latest videos from OAE.

Next Nightshift is on 20 October at QEH.  More info here: http://www.oae.co.uk/thenightshift/

 

 

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In the Green Room: Karen Robinson pics, part 5

Wed 1 Sep 2010

The final instalment of backstage pictures of the OAE by Karen Robinson. See some featured around the Southbank Centre site soon as part of a campaign highlighting the new concert season.

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The Night Shift at Wiltons: Pictures

Fri 20 Aug 2010

Last Friday saw The Night Shift (our late-night informal concert series) take place for the very first time at Wilton’s Music Hall. The evening started off with music from Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee and guests – as you might glean from his name, he plays the flute and beatboxes at the same time – stunning. At 9 the OAE came onto the stage for a concert of music by Purcell and Handel, led by Matthew Truscott and featuring soprano Anna Dennis, and the evening was capped off with a DJ set from Nick Luscombe. Wilton’s was packed to the rafters with a very appreciative crowd, and the Orchestra sounded fantastic in the acoustic of Wilton’s. We hope to return!

Our resident Night Shift photographer Joe Plommer was there to capture the evening. Here is a selection, and the full set can be viewed on our Flickr page.

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Why Friday the 13th wont be so bad after all: a new Night Shift podcast

Wed 11 Aug 2010

Ahead of our special summer event at Wilton’s this Friday (the 13th) we’ve just released this new podcast which looks forward to the event. In it, we find out about the history of the venue – and why the can-can was banned, chat with OAE leader and violinist Matthew Truscott (who was in a rather windy Glyndebourne) about the music and get your reactions to the last event back in May. Find out more about The Night Shift and how to buy tickets at its special website. This podcast also features our Pod Idol winner Raul – making his debut as the voice of the pod.

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