Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Our Paston Footprints Project

Thu 29 Mar 2018

The Paston Papers are a collection of hundreds of letters dating back to 15th century Norfolk, which are a fascinating record of the life and times of the Paston family who lived there.

The earliest known Paston letter was written in 1408, and to mark the 600th anniversary our Education team is involved in a series of musical events. This is followed by a concert with the Orchestra at St Nicholas Church in North Walsham on Sunday 1 July, featuring a specially-commissioned piece by composer Sarah Rodgers.

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The Cycle Goes On

Mon 29 Feb 2016

For Watercycle, we travelled to nine towns and cities across across the UK, collaborating with local communities and bringing unique musical experience to people of all ages and backgrounds. With our final residency coming to a close at the beginning of 2016, here’s a look back at our previous years of Watercycle touring.

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Down the sewer, in the pub and into the community – Watercycle in film: Part Three

Fri 30 Oct 2015

The 3rd and final part of our film on OAE Education’s Watercycle residency in Brighton.

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A salute to feathers, furs and fins

Thu 6 Mar 2014

OAE Education

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.

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850 children, 4 days, 3 projects

Fri 6 Dec 2013


Wednesday 3 Dec 2013
This morning I woke up tired. Really tired. End of term tired. It took me a while to figure out why, seeing as we are only at the beginning of December, it was extra hard to drag my body out of bed on a Wednesday morning. Then I conceded that perhaps it was the three huge education events we’d had in as many days.

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Finishing the Donkey

Sat 27 Apr 2013


One of the joys of working in OAE Education is the variety of projects you get to work on. 

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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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Shine a Light

Tue 22 Jan 2013

Hi from OAE Education!  It’s been a busy time for us, so busy that I haven’t had time to write about everything we’ve been doing recently, so here’s a bit about our Shine a Light project.

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Joyous voices and spelling stumbles

Thu 22 Nov 2012

It is a widely known fact amongst those who know me that I can’t spell.  I’m the person to play Scrabble against but always the last to be picked for a game of Cranium. I did warn the OAE in my interview that spelling was not my forte but as a competent computer user I get round it with the wonder of autocorrect and spell check and I hoped it wouldn’t be too much of an issue.  Clearly the warning wasn’t enough to put them off and they took a chance on me, bad spelling and all.

Some words come easier to me than others and while Enlightenment has never proved a challenge, somehow the Christmas Education project names always include a particularly Ellie-mind-block word.

A Seasonal Spelling Stumble, my Christmas Conundrum.

Last year our event was ‘Hallelujah Indeed’ and we filled the Royal Festival Hall stage with young singers and players performing Hallelujah inspired repertoire.  It was glorious. In organising that event I had to write and type Hallelujah more than the average person does in a lifetime (it clearly wasn’t’ enough as I’m still stumbling over that word as I type this – Hall-e-lu-jah). This year, Hallelujah! I cried as I was told of our new project, ‘Joyous voices’.  Sadly, my joy was short lived.  Joyous.  It’s that pesky second o that seems to evade me and as last year, in organising this event, I’ve spent a lot of time exasperated at my absent vowels and erroneous consonants.

However, in amongst my orthographic challenges I am really looking forward to Joyus (sic) Voices.  During the pre-concert event we have members of the Foundling Choir and Foundling Community Choir accompanied by members of the OAE.  All of this takes place in the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer at 5.45pm and we’d love to see you in the audience as there will be encouraged audience participation!

I hope to see you there and in the meantime, if anyone wants to make me up a mnemonic for joyous or hallelujah I’d be ever so grateful.

Ellie, Education Officer (the irony isn’t lost on me)

For your amusement, here are just a few of the words that I stumbled over during writing this:

Particulary – particularly
Avade – evade
Consients- consonants
Newmonic -mnemonic
Accopained – accompanied

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OAE at Whitechapel Gallery: Art, Music and Other Visible Things

Fri 9 Nov 2012

In collaboration with Community Music, Music Technology students have been given the opportunity to work with OAE players to create a soundscape to accompany The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce.

Bringing together modern music production techniques and facilities with baroque instruments, the music created will be performed throughout the day of the festival on the 17th November, with live appearances from OAE instrumentalists. Here some of the students involved tell us about their inspiration.
For full information about the OAE education programme visit oae.co.uk/education

The Festival will also feature live music technology performances by the degree students themselves, alongside a whole host of other activities for young people, including film screenings and interactive workshops.

This is a free event  see Whitechapelgallery.org for the full programme.

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OAE TOTS go brass!

Sat 3 Nov 2012

Our TOTS concerts this Sunday at the Southbank Centre are fast approaching so we thought we’d give you a little idea of what to expect, especially if it’s your first TOTS experience.

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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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Secret Wishes

Tue 9 Oct 2012

After our mammoth Anthem for a Child project last season I spent the summer:

a. Recovering and
b. Looking to the future

The questions I’m always asking of the OAE, our partners and the people we work with are Why? Where? What? and When?

In developing our plans for 2012-2013, I’ve been meeting with our partners and our players over the last six months to look at where we go next and how we can develop our work and build on our successes.

We’ve come up with a year of ‘Secret Wishes’  including:

new projects to try like our forthcoming project with CM and the Whitechapel Art Gallery new ensembles across the capital with our Mayor’s partnership in four boroughs in London new projects building on the success of Anthem like our Genius of Mozart project in Chesterfield this Autumn and the extension of our York work with a creative Fairy Queen opera project in the Beverley Early Music Festival in 2013 and a return to Plymouth Music Zone to work with disabled adults new partnerships like our forthcoming project with REMIX and Club Inegale new participants being able to access the tried and tested programmes of work like our OAE clubs, opera projects and schools concerts

Do look at our brochure on the Education page and our What’s On section to find out more and hope to see you at one of our events soon!

Cherry Forbes, OAE Education Director

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A new Figaro

Wed 3 Oct 2012

© Ellie Cowan

At the end of September, OAE players visited St Laurence School in Bradford on Avon for our annual opera project with eight classes of Year 7’s who had just joined the school.

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OAE TOTS: Going on a Journey (with hats this time)

Tue 18 Sep 2012

As part of the Kings Place Festival at the weekend, we hosted two TOTS workshops, led by violinist Hetty Wayne and bassoonist Rebecca Stockwell. Ticket holders were told to bring a hat as we were all going on a journey and our audience didn’t disappoint us, we saw many splendid hats during the day. My personal favourite was a full lion’s mane donned by an enthusiastic toddler, closely followed by a gloriously oversized homemade newspaper hat that was often put on dad for safe keeping.

During the workshops, Hetty led everyone on a magical adventure to discover more about the violin and the bassoon. The attentive audience were encouraged to sing, dance and join in with the music which included:

William Byrd Gipsies Round
Giles Farnaby Wooddy-Cock
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber Sonata Representativa
Henry Purcell Lillibulero from The Gordian Knot Untied
Arcangelo Corelli La Follia & Gavotte Tendre L’Abbe le Fils

Not only were we impressed by the brilliant listening from our audience of under 5 year olds but we were also very impressed at the excellent participation from Mums, Dads, Grannies and Grandpas (who had also bought their own hats)! My only regret was that I’d forgotten my hat, not that I can ever fit my hair under one…

Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer

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Anthem on film

Tue 4 Sep 2012

Here’s a short video about the huge Anthem project that we undertook this year in OAE Education. 

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Teachers, towers and tidying up

Thu 9 Aug 2012

We piloted a new education project this year, when OAE musicians visited a special needs school, Willow Dene, in South East London during the Spring & Summer terms.  Here’s a little taster of how the workshops went…

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Cherry Forbes

Education Director

Hi I’m Cherry and I’m the OAE’s Education Director.

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TOTS playlist

Tue 3 Jul 2012

It was wonderful to see, and hear, so many of you at our Tots workshops last Sunday at the Royal Festival Hall. If you grown-ups would like to know what you heard and maybe listen again at home, here’s a summary. 

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Going on a journey with OAE Education

Fri 22 Jun 2012

I’ve been lucky enough to see loads of the wonderful Education work we’ve been doing over the last few months: going to Hastings to watch a fabulous Anthem for a Child concert, taking part in workshops at a special needs school in south-east London and going on a journey with OAE TOTS at the Southbank Centre (as well as lugging children’s instruments to/from school and shepherding schools into Kings Place)!
And, I have to say, kudos to our Education team Cherry and Ellie- the logistics of organising so many different projects is exhausting to even think about and they’re still smiling after every event!

Tonight, they’re taking the Anthem tour to Old Spitalfields Market at 6pm with home-grown young musicians from Tower Hamlets and CM Sounds.

Then, they’ll be travelling across to the Southbank Centre on Sunday 24 June for two free OAE TOTS workshops at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Sounds Venezuela festival…

And on Monday 25 June, the Anthem tour will be on the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall for a free concert at 5pm, where children from across London will perform the two specially written Anthems by composer James Redwood.

Finally, the whole project comes to an end on Friday 29 June at Cecil Sharp House where OAE musicians will be joined by local London primary schools and groups from the nationwide Anthem tour for a final sing and send off.

Wow. Those girls deserve a medal, or at least a well-earned rest after all that!

For full information on what happened on the Anthem tour and to watch a video about the project, visit our Education pages. 

Natasha Stehr, Marketing and Press Officer

Find out more about Natasha here.

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