Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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An afternoon with the BBC

Fri 3 Jul 2009

Being a member of the projects team, I have a lot to do with the intricacies of planning all of our concerts and tours, but on Monday afternoon Ceri (our Projects Manager), Philippa (the Orchestra Manager) and I headed off to a meeting with the BBC about our televised Prom on 25th August with Sir Roger Norrington and it all became clear (as mud!) at just how much more complicated things can be when you add a TV broadcast into the mix.

It was my first time to White City (and to within spitting distance of the infamous Westfield shopping centre) and the famous television centre (hence the cheesy photo!). The Proms meeting was actually just down the road, so no celeb spotting for us, but instead we were greeted by a panel of about 15 members of the Proms team including everyone from lighting and sound to make up. The Sixteen were just finishing up their meeting when we arrived as this was part of two days of back to back meetings to discuss all of the logistics for the televised Proms.

Our programme is particularly complicated as we have four different orchestral set ups, a soloist to fit in, a harpsichord to tune and a change of pitch. We discussed the logistics of how to fit the TV cameras in around the orchestra, the lighting for the Orchestra, the amount of time it would take to reset the orchestra between pieces and also for the conductor to take his bow and the for the applause at the end as all of this has to be factored into the BBC’s scheduling times. There are also other Proms and Prom rehearsals for that day with some of their related equipment needing to be left on stage, and not to forget the TV crew’s lunch times!

It looks set to be a fantastic concert and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the planning that goes into the TV side of things. We might have ended up having a quick peek in the shopping centre afterwards too…!

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St Matthew Passion: Valladolid

Wed 8 Apr 2009

Well it’s a couple of days since we got back from Spain now but I thought I would write a few lines about the second concert we did there in Valladolid. We had a very quick turn around after our mammoth coach journey and as soon as we had got off the bus, it felt like we were back on it and on our way to the concert venue. The Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes was very impressive, it is part of a new development on the outskirts of the city and the inside of the hall was almost completely made of wood and the audience seating seemed to go on forever.

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St Matthew Passion: Cuenca

Mon 6 Apr 2009

It was very quiet on the coach yesterday afternoon. After a 5.30am start for most we had arrived in Madrid and were on our way to Cuenca for the next performance on the St Matthew Passion tour. The Orchestra have pretty gruelling schedule for the next fortnight or so, they have already done performances in Bristol and Amsterdam which for the foreign dates involves flying out on the morning of the concert, rehearsing in the afternoon, doing the concert in the evening and flying back the following morning. Very tiring and not as glamorous as it might seem!

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Just another day at the office…

Wed 4 Feb 2009

Working in the Projects team at the OAE means that a day in the ‘office’ can consist of a vast array of possibilities, from the traditional administrative duties and planning meetings to manning rehearsals and concerts backstage or checking-in tour groups at the airport, which is what I found myself doing on Monday this week when the whole of the South of England ground to halt because of the snow…

My day started with an early phone call from the Orchestra Manager as I opened the curtains to find a snow-laden city awaiting me, and I realised that it was not going to be any ordinary day. We had a tour travelling to the Canary Islands to perform two concerts of Bach Cantatas with Gustav Leonhardt and they were supposed to be travelling leaving Heathrow at midday, travelling to Las Palmas via Madrid. My first challenge was getting to the airport as I had all of the orchestra’s tickets and travel documents.

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