Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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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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Day Two: Anthem in Totnes

Wed 21 Mar 2012

Totnes-concert

Yesterday was day two of the Anthem tour and here’s an update from Beni Weedon in Totnes, Devon:

The Orchestra spent last night by the sea in Paignton – several of the more adventurous players even braved the night air for some beautiful walks along the coast.

We had some very encouraging sessions this morning with students from no less than eleven schools (!!!), all of which sang with such enthusiasm and helped to bring today’s concert to a wonderful and successful completion. One morning session featured the William Tell Overture played on the teachers teeth. At another, the whole class was primed by a tactical viola player (overlooked in previous concerts) to answer ‘Viola!’ when asked to spot an instrument in the concert – thus ensuring an awareness raising policy in the Totnes area schools for this dark horse of an instrument.

Today another even longer (64 mile) tandem journey was launched just after the afternoon concert and the intrepid (mad) duo were even reported as ‘smiling and looking quite chirpy!’ as they were passed on the way to the new lodgings in Wiltshire.

We’ve also had some updates from OAE Musicians that have pledged to our Anthem for a Child project:

Roger Montgomery (OAE horn player) who since 1 Jan has completed a total of 1141.71 miles, including:
Running 405.34 miles, cycling 546.38 miles, spinning 162.64 miles, rowing 18.6 miles, walking 6.2 miles, swimming 2.55 miles (he’s burned approximately 91,497 calories so far!)

Debbie Diamond (OAE violin) has completed 8.7 miles of swimming so far (out of 26) and has beaten her personal record by managing 90 lengths in 66 minutes.

Hilary Stock (OAE oboe) is halfway there – running her 500th mile on 29 February. She says that after taking part in some Anthem concerts and seen how enthusiastically the children responded and participated in the music, it feels all the more rewarding!

See a gallery showing all the hard work our musicians have put in

To find out how you can help, click here.

 

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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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