Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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French Impressionists with Sir Simon Rattle. Tour video diary – No.1

Fri 17 Aug 2012

Back in June we were on tour with Principal Artist Sir Simon Rattle, visiting Paris, Rotterdam, Brussels, Cologne and Hamburg with a programme of Fauré, Ravel and Debussy.

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On the road with the OAE, Sir Simon Rattle and the Labèque Sisters

Thu 31 May 2012

As we’re about to hit the road with Sir Simon again we thought it was a good time to post this video from last year’s tour with him, when we visited Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and of course, London.

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What you can get in a Zafira if you really try….

Wed 7 Mar 2012

It was the day after our wonderful series of Berlioz Romeo and Juliet concerts had finished. Our final, and very successful concert, had been in Paris, involving a day trip there and back on the Eurostar. We even had time for lunch, though probably at a faster speed than the French would approve of.

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Berlioz, Basingstoke and baguettes

Wed 29 Feb 2012

I’m sitting writing this blog on a ridiculously warm Sunday February afternoon underneath the Eiffel Tower.   Sounds glamorous?  Well actually, I do feel quite amazed and lucky to be spending my weekend this way, though the 5.50am start this morning has left me a bit out of it, as has the eight day run of concerts we’ve been doing this week…still, it’s a fairly fantastic thing when you’re invited to go to Paris with a supersize OAE and two choruses, totalling about 250 performers altogether, in a massive production of Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées.  We’ve been touring this mammoth piece in four locations this week: first at the Royal Festival Hall on 18 February (read the reviews from the night here), then to the Anvil in Basingstoke on 23 February, a Night Shift at the Roundhouse as part of the Reverb Festival on 24 February and finally Paris today.

I’ve been with the OAE for four years now and this is the first time I’ve been had the chance to go on a tour from start to finish and what a tour to experience! No two performances have been the same- the Southbank Centre night was my first real listen to the piece in full,  Basingstoke = Amazingstoke (fabulously rich sound) and I thoroughly enjoyed when Sir Mark had to wait for members of the audience to stop talking before he started Part 2- his withering look was priceless!  The Roundhouse gig was totally different – live streaming, a glass of wine and chat with conductor Sir Mark Elder created a unique atmosphere – and the final leg in Paris is sounding awesome, even though I’ve mainly been backstage, looking after the Orchestra’s belongings.  Having said that, each time I hear the piece, I still get the same feeling- a huge rush from hearing a beautifully orchestrated piece, played by a fantastic band.

Here’s a few pictures from my travels (note the slight difference in scenery!):

It’s like Daisy (an OAE cellist I chatted to on the Eurostar journey out) said:

“It’s like the difference between a supermarket apple and an organic one from the market: one is perfectly round and shiny but doesn’t taste of anything, whilst the other may have a few bumps and bruises but tastes exquisite- just like the OAE.”  Well said.

Natasha Stehr, Marketing and Press Officer

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Recent reviews: Romeo & Juliet

Mon 27 Feb 2012

Our massive Romeo and Juliet tour with over 250 performers cramming the stages in London, Basingstoke and Paris has finally come to an end, but we’re still getting some great feedback from the concerts.
If you were unlucky and missed the concert, you can still listen to it on Radio 3 here (until Sunday 4 March).

Here are the press reviews:

The Times (subscribers only)

Evening Standard

The Independent

theartsdesk.com

The Guardian

Classical Source

MusicOMH

Musical Criticism

A small selection from our Twitter feedback:

Echori Music Company ‏ @EchoriMusic
Reflecting on how awesome OAE’s performances of Romeo and Juliet are at the moment! Check them out in Paris this Sunday at 1700! @theoae

@theoae @roundhouseldn
“its like having a warm bath” >nice

Ben Gould ‏ @benanial
Heading to @roundhouseLDN for #thenightshift and @theoae! Can’t believe its been 2 yrs since their last show there, should be a cracker!!

Shelley vonStrunckel ‏ @vonStrunckel
Here at Roundhouse listing to @theOAE play Berlioz’ Romeo & Juliet. Amazing with lights, big screen & fab acoustic. Yummy sound.

Zoe Margolis ‏ @girlonetrack
At the Roundhouse waiting for @theOAE to play extracts from Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet for #reverb2012‘s The Night Shift. *excited*

Steven Berryman ‏ @Steven_Berryman
Nice to see a pupil of mine performing in @roundhouseLDN music collective after a brill @theoae concert!

Camilla M Morris ‏ @CamillaMMorris
Berlioz concert: Extracts from Romeo & Juliet played by @theoae – Extraordinary performance by conductor Sir Mark Elder @roundhouse, Camden

We’d love to know what you thought too- post any comments below.

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Messiah in rehearsal

Tue 20 Dec 2011

Here’s a clip we posted online on Facebook a little while back but it’s only just made it onto our website, we’ve had such a backlog of things to blog about! Anyway, it’s some rather rough and ready footage from the rehearsal of Handel’s Messiah, which we performed at the Royal Festival Hall a few weeks ago, which which we recently also took to Utrecht. We hope you’ll excuse the rather basic camerawork – oh and yes, the Trumpet player IS allowed to be reading the paper, he’s probably not got anything to play for a while!

If you live in Paris there’s still a chance to catch our Messiah as we perform it there on Thursday 23 December.

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Zen. The man who cam. (AKA yet more on the Rattle tour)

Wed 10 Aug 2011

Important work, getting to know the orchestras with a few beers!

Yes we’re still eking out news from our Simon Rattle tour…

It was the first trip with the Orchestra for our Digital Content Officer, Zen, and here’s his account of the tour:

Often described as the ‘intrepid’ cameraman, I have to say I embarked on this trip, my first OAE tour experience, with a fair dose of trepidation. How would I fair in this close-knit orchestral group for almost 4 days – or more importantly how would they react to having a camera almost constantly in their faces?

The brief was to capture as much footage of the tour as possible and edit it down to a video of duration no greater than 2’59” (a length that was agreeable to the various venues and agents) and to get to know the players better.  A familiarity with the players is very useful when harassing them for a voxpop.  Many have already been subjected to on the spot interviews and know how I usually pounce in rehearsal breaks, but Kings Place where we often rehearse allows plenty of hiding places, not so a packed Eurostar carriage…

Getting to know the players better was something I got stuck into straight away.  The brass/percussion section took me under their wing on the first night in Brussels (a rare night off for the orchestra) confirming the stereotype with a comprehensive tour of the local bars.  I survived, but barely.  The next morning I emerged from the hotel in a daze only to see both coaches departing on their way to Luxembourg… were they trying to get rid of me already? My surname ‘Grisdale’ had been crossed off accidently along with ‘Griffiths’, Kevin our young conductor.  Nevertheless they saw me waving in a panic and let me on board.

So I made it to the Philharmonie Luxembourg, which is a beautiful concert hall in a rather bleak part of town which is largely a building site, a lot of construction going on.  The hall inside is impressive with boxes that look like mini blocks of flats.  After filming the rehearsal I sought to approach Sir Simon Rattle for a few quick words.  In a previous OAE video about CPE Bach I managed to get Sir Roger Norrington in front of the camera as he sipped his tea during rehearsal break and he happily divulged all things CPE.  This technique I wished to apply to Sir Simon Rattle.  Unfortunately it was not to be, so we agreed to postpone it to the final London date at the Royal Festival Hall.

The Labèque sisters were up for it and Katia insisted that I film them as much as possible in rehearsals etc.  However an interview was not on the cards as they were both not feeling well (really they weren’t) but they gave me their word that they would also do it at the Royal Festival Hall…

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Rattle tour – Megan's pics

Mon 4 Jul 2011

The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

OAE Projects Manager Megan Russell is a keen photographer and took some great pictures from the Luxembourg and Paris legs of the tour – here are a selection:

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On tour with Sir Simon: a preview

Mon 13 Jun 2011

Sir Simon Rattle

Well today is the first day of our latest project with our Principal Artist Sir Simon Rattle (pictured conducting us a few years ago in Budapest). Of course everyone is *quite* excited about it. We’re touring a concert of Mozart and Haydn, which also features pianists Katia & Marielle Labèque playing the Mozart Concerto for two pianos.

This afternoon and evening sees our first rehearsal with Sir Simon (he’s coming to us straight from a project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), with further rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday (we have a rehearsal of Rinaldo for Glyndebourne on the Tuesday). That evening we’re off to Brussels – staying the night there and onto Luxembourg on Friday. We give a concert in Luxembourg Friday night before travelling onto Paris for a concert there on Saturday. We’ve also just found out that we’re going head to head with the London Symphony Orchestra that night – we’re at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, while they are at the Salle Pleyel – and we’re even staying at the same hotel!

Sunday morning we travel back to London before flying to Dublin for a concert at the National Concert Hall on Monday night. Then it’s an early flight back Tuesday to London and the final concert of the tour at the Royal Festival Hall.

It’s going to be an exciting week and we’re going to try and bring you as much news as possible along the way. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest.

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To Paris with the OAE: a video diary

Thu 31 Mar 2011

 

Here’s a little video diary from our trip to Paris back in January, when we took a supersized OAE there for a concert of Wagner, Liszt and Mahler with conductor Vladimir Jurowski and mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly. We armed Communications Director William Norris with a video camera, and here are the results:

 

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Parisien Pictures

Thu 3 Feb 2011

Projects Manager Megan Russell got snapping when we were in Paris with Vladimir Jurowski and our Symphonic Enlightenment programme a couple of weeks ago:

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Sarah Connolly on Mahler, turbo-thrust breaths and Wagnerian hysteria…

Fri 14 Jan 2011

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly who sings with us in London and Paris next week, talks to journalist Andrew Mellor about her work with later romantic repertoire such as Mahler and Wagner:

You seem to be moving in a new direction with all this Wagner and Mahler…
Yes – thank goodness I had a lot of superb training at Glyndebourne, which prepared me very well. I didn’t realise I had that dramatic sound in my voice until Vladimir Jurowski offered me a concert performance of Tristan a while ago. He seemed to think I could do it and I appreciated that leap of faith. I had sung Das Lied von der Erde with the Concertgebouw and many other orchestral lieder by Mahler so despite performing Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the same time, Brangäne’s music felt very natural. I will confess though that her extreme outbursts initially made me want to apologize to the rest of the room! I felt slightly uncomfortable with Wagnerian hysteria.

You seemed very suited to the character at your Prom performance with Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment this summer…
Actually Simon came to that rehearsal of Tristan with the LPO and Vladimir and that’s how the Prom came about. Simon was offering different ways of doing things, giving me more space than I’d been used to. He’s a wonderful accompanist; he invites the orchestra to accompany and never dominates, but at the same time he is also able to take the lead.

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Mahler: Death, warmth, comfort and…vomit?

Fri 7 Jan 2011

In two weeks time we’re getting out of our comfort zone and playing some HUGE (for us) pieces by Mahler, Liszt and Wagner with our Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski. On the programme are two pieces by Mahler, his Totenfeier, and also the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (with soloist Sarah Connolly). Ahead of the concerts we caught up with some OAE players and asked them what Mahler means to them. Opinion was mixed…

You can catch the concert on 21 January at the Royal Festival Hall, 22 January at the Théatre de Champs Elysées in Paris, and two pieces feature in our Night Shift on 19 January at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

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Ask Vlad!

Wed 1 Dec 2010

Next month, our Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski returns to us to conduct a boundary pushing (for a period instrument orchestra) Symphonic Enlightenment programme of Mahler, Wagner and Liszt. There’s a performance in the Royal Festival Hall on 21 Jan, a Night Shift at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 19 Jan, and should you live in Paris, a performance there on 22 Jan.

On Monday, our intrepid Digital Content Officer, Zen, will be catching up with Vladimir to interview him in advance of his concerts with us. We want to know your burning questions to put to him, so add them here as comments or over on our Facebook page. We promise to ask a selection of them, and we’ll get the video up before Christmas. You might want to ask about the programme, his career, why he works with the OAE or even why he likes the Moomins…(that will be explained in a forthcoming Speed Interview actually).

The full line up for concerts on 21 and 22 Jan is below, with the pieces included in The Night Shift indicated by a seasonal snow flake (*). (ok, it’s an asterisk…)

Wagner Prelude to Parsifal
Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a wayfarer), with soloist Sarah Connolly.
Mahler Totenfeier*
Liszt Les Preludes*

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Paris, patching and oversized stilettos

Fri 12 Feb 2010

Last week we travelled to Paris for the final concert of our mini Beethoven tour with Vladimir Jurowski (mini in that it was a short tour, not that we were playing small pieces of music). We were playing in our regular venue in Paris, the Théâtre de Champs Elysées, which we visit at least a couple of times each season. The theatre is interesting for a couple of reasons – firstly, its a beautiful and historic building – and where the Rite of Spring was famously premiered, with ensuing riot. Second, it leads a dual life as both theatre (and opera house) and concert hall. So, while we performed on stage (with a special acoustic shell installed behind the orchestra to help the sound), the set of what appeared to be Cinderella was behind us, complete with giant stilettos.

The concert was being filmed for DVD and web broadcast so the afternoon rehearsal was carried out in concert dress and with the lighting that would be later used for the performance (darker than would be usual), and as you can imagine there were cables almost everywhere. I watched the rehearsal from backstage, where there was a monitor showing what was being filmed.

After the concert there was what is known as a ‘patching session’, where any bits of the performance that perhaps weren’t quite perfect are played again so that the DVD version is as near perfect as possible. Obviously with this being the OAE, the patching session didn’t need to be very long, and everyone was very happy to be on the bus back to the hotel fairly quickly after the concert.

The concert can be viewed online here FREE  for a limited period

William Norris, Marketing Director

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Germany and Paris in pictures

Thu 15 Jan 2009

A rather belated round of pictures from the last couple of dates of our tour with Sir Simon Rattle back in December.
The end of the tour was in Paris and it was obvious to the audience the great bond between Orchestra and conductor that had been strengthened during the tour – I’ve never seen an Orchestra present a conductor with presents on stage! After the concert the Theatre de Champs Elysees very kindly laid on a champagne reception to mark the end of the tour – apologies for the rather dark picture.

Members of the OAE are currently in Minnesota and St Paul, USA. The OAE is one of a number of chamber Orchestras invited there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Initially we have travelled out with our office-mates the London Sinfonietta and we’ll be giving two joint performances of Heiner Goebbel’s Songs of Wars I have Seen. Then, next week, more members of the OAE travel out to give performances of a Baroque programme with Rachel Podger. Look out for updates here very soon!

Will, Marketing Director

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On tour with Sir Simon: Paris and the end of the tour

Wed 24 Dec 2008

SO – two weeks, six countries, nine cities, fifteen train journeys, five flights, nine coach journeys, one car journey, seven hotels, twelve concerts, twenty four symphonies, thirteen overtures, six Christmas markets, far too many chocolates, undisclosed quantities of beer and wine…and we’re on our way home.
Yesterday in Paris, the day was grey and damp. A huge box of heavenly chocolates greeted us as we stumbled into the murky gloom backstage. This semi darkness is typical of many backstage areas in concert halls all over the world, and at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees there was much entertainment to be had falling over lengthy clumps of cables, negotiating one’s way around scaffolding towers dripping with theatre lights, avoiding unstable stacks of chairs plonked at random in the dark and searching for a surface or floor space on which to place an instrument case.

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