Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Green March with the OAE

Tue 10 Apr 2012

March 2012 marked the second Green celebration period for the OAE. Following the success of Green week in February 2011, this time we expanded to a month. The self-elected office green team decided to focus on 3 strands of activity for the month; firstly we would look at our concert and touring activity in March, secondly we would focus on raising awareness amongst our colleagues, and thirdly all those green ideas we had been wanting to try out but hadn’t gotten round to in our busy schedules, would be prioritised on our to-do lists. Here’s a brief summary of what we got up to in Green Month:

Concert and touring activity
UK tour with Laurence Cummings
Following a couple of concerts in London in early March, our project with Laurence Cummings visited the Wiltshire Music Centre on 9 March and then Birmingham Town Hall on the 10th. In order to reduce our travel carbon footprint, we organised group train travel for the Orchestra. Since Wiltshire-Birmingham is not a journey you can do by train, a minibus was organised for the middle leg. If we hadn’t offered this then our players would have had no other choice than to drive themselves the entire tour. In the past this would have been something we would have just let be, but we are now making sure we look ahead at the schedule and allocate time to coordinate these extra initiatives in our busy admin to-do lists! It is definitely more work to organise green travel. Amazingly on this occasion the finances worked in our favour and were comparable to letting the players make their own arrangements.

Anthem for a Child, UK Schools Concert tour
The entire tour was a model for how sustainable touring schedule within the UK should be planned. The locations of the venues we visited were plotted in a logical order around the country, to ensure the least amount of travelling between venues. All too often our touring schedules are at the mercy of where promoters want us and when – for example we could be one day in Bristol, then Edinburgh, then Plymouth, before hurtling back to London via Paris… On this occasion OAE had the opportunity to work with the venues we visited to plot in a sensible way – travelling SW to N from Plymouth, Totnes, Wiltshire, Southampton, Hastings, London, Bury St Edmunds, Chesterfield and ending in York. It was the most efficient way of plotting nearly 1300 miles of driving. Since each day of the tour started with workshops in up to 5 different locations, organising group transport for the tour wasn’t possible so car-pooling was organised. On a tour with 25 people, a total of 8-10 cars across the tour were used at any one time. That included transporting all luggage, orchestral instruments including 2 harpsichords, all of the music, stands, banners and workshop material. 4 of the players on the tour, undertook an even greener travel option by sharing riding a tandem bike from Plymouth to York! This crazy initiative was part of a wider fundraising initiative ‘Musicians Miles’ as all members of the Orchestra and office have been getting active to raise money for this project. The target – 5000 miles between us. Some staff have been walking & cycling […]

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Anthem comes to Plymouth

Tue 20 Mar 2012

Today began yesterday evening with the packing of the cycle bag. Tyre pumps were weighed, lights were measured for brightness (and number of different flashing settings). The Hotel Foyer was in fact a very convenient place for the cycling team to empty various bags and rucksacks filled with tools and miscellaneous gear onto the floor ready for the tactical decisions of what should be taken or left behind. With maps, lycra and lights-a plenty the cycle team (Matt Truscott, James Redwood, James Toll and Jonathan Rees) were raring to start their adventure – cycling the Anthem tour – but one key thing was missing… the tandem itself.

With one tyre, a saddle and a set of handle bars there was a chat about what would happen if the famed tandem never arrived; a Monty Python-esque scenario would surely ensure… Luckily, Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive of the OAE, arrived at our first education concert with him the much discussed mode of transport – to the delight and relief of the aforementioned cyclists.

After delighting and entertaining over 400 pupils from Plymouth primary schools, the OAE Anthem Orchestra merrily waved off the first two brave cyclists (Matt and James R) on their first leg of the tour, Plymouth to Totnes.

And why are we doing this? Why did we happily wave off the leader of the Orchestra and the composer of the new commissions? Well, James and Matt are clocking up the miles for our Musicians’ Miles part of the tour – a mile of activity for everyone who gets to see this concert – 5000 children/5000 miles. Find out more here.

This evening we have heard that the cyclists have safely arrived in Totnes and are happily relaxing before tomorrow’s adventure.

And I am running out of time and space, there is so much more to tell you about that has happened today – a car of cajons, an early morning radio interview, a HUGE cheque for the orchestra (you know, the kind you only see on the telly), an awe-inspiring teacher who walked 103 miles in 48 hours and a chair being played as a horn.  I’ll save that for another blog, but these pictures might help you imagine what is going on.

Tomorrow, Totnes.

Ellie Cowan and Beni Weedon – South West Music School Student Ambassador
(writing on 19 March after the first day of Anthem)

Alfie Weedon (South West Music School Young Ambassador) also wrote us a blog about his first day:

Cherry (Oboist for the OAE) and I (Double Bassist and Young Ambassador) met at 6.30am this morning for the 7am BBC Radio Devon slot. I, having not really woken up relied entirely on the word “absolutely!” for answering questions (well it’s got to be better then just “yes” right?) while Cherry, with her complete and detailed knowledge of everything about the tour answered all the important questions.

They do say that knowledge is power but it also has its disadvantages, demonstrated by the fact that Cherry, as of 9pm is imposing a 50p fine for any questions!

Today was the launch of the Anthem for a Child project with 1500 children singing at the Albert Hall as well as our double performance in Plymouth today involving 5 local primary schools! Although I knew better what […]

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