Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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The twin cities, day 2

Fri 16 Jan 2009

We had our first Goebbels rehearsal yesterday evening.  Here is the orchestra rehearsing on the vast stage at the Ordway Center. It seems

Americans do everything on a much vaster scale than us Brits. Not only breakfast (which today included muffins, bagels, waffles, fruit, omelette, French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, yoghurt, cereal, coffee, fruit juice…..) but weather, and now concert halls too!

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Journey to the twin cities

Thu 15 Jan 2009

Yesterday was a day of firsts for me.  First long haul plane journey, first time experiencing jet lag, first trip out of Europe, first trip to the USA, first Visa, first time visiting a place where it’s normal for the temperature to be less than 0 degrees! So as you can imagine I was quite anxious about the trip…!

We’ll we’ve been here 24 hours now, and as the first rehearsal is this evening my first blog entry will focus on the non-musical elements of being on this tour.

The journey itself went actually very smoothly.  North West Airlines were great.  They were very happy to take the double bass in the hold – with no arguments! There was a great array of films to watch on the 8 hour journey (I managed 3 and a half, 2 of which were well worth watching) and as the plane was not very busy there was plenty of room to stretch out.  I can’t say that the food we were served was anything to write home about so I won’t!

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A memorable moment, for the wrong reasons…

Tue 13 Jan 2009

As mentioned in our top moments post below, Chi-chi Nwanoku had a memorable, if rather stressfull moment from 2008…

‘As far as OAE stories go I think the best I can offer was the time neither my bass or stool arrived at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, for a concert the same evening at the Concertgebouw as part of our tour with Ian Bostridge. When Philippa (our Orchestra Manager) and I tried to ‘log’ it at the appropriate desk in the customs hall, we literally had the “computer says no” Dutch equivalent!….

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On tour with Sir Simon: Birmingham

Sun 21 Dec 2008

On arrival in Birmingham we were greeted by a lively and colourful German Christmas Market, scenting the air with wurst and glühwein as we made our way to Symphony Hall.  Pre-rehearsal saw a flurry of Christmas cards exchanged:  the result of an afternoon and evening at home!  Simon must have felt himself in a time-warp as he rehearsed with us, with exhortations to round out the ends of notes and reach for extremities in our dynamic range, to exploit the idiosyncracies of this exceptional hall, which he’d inhabited from its inception.  Indeed it owed its very existence to Simon.

This concert, which felt extremely special to us, must have stirred up many memories for Simon as well as for the 2000-strong audience, of whom the core must surely have been his loyal admirers.  (Incidentally the acoustic was as faithful to the splutterers as to us!)

Simon’s electric immediacy and spontaneous gestures drew crackling energy from us and the audience reaction was palpable.

We unwound homewards, in cars and a merry band on the train, reverting to Glyndebourne- commute mode.  This morning, Stansted – headed for more German Christmas markets!

Annette Isserlis, viola

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Spain in Pictures

Fri 19 Dec 2008

Here’s a photogallery from our 2 days in Spain, thanks to Megan for being our resident paparazzi! Yesterday the OAE flew back to the UK for a days break and today they are off to Birmingham for a concert in the fabulous acoustic of Symphony Hall. Then tomorrow they fly to Germany for the final leg of the tour.

Some slightly fuzzzy heads in the OAE office today – we had our office warming and Christmas party last night. Pics to follow soon!

Will, Marketing Director

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On tour with Sir Simon: Spain

Thu 18 Dec 2008

So after three chilly days in Vienna, we set sail for sunnier climes, aboard our own chartered Airbus.  As there were far more seats than people we were able to spread out and relax on the flight;  however, our arrival at Madrid airport was somewhat chaotic as we were

delivered to the wrong terminal by the shuttle bus that picked us up when we disembarked.  After making sure that no-one had gone to the loo and been left behind (this involves banging loudly on the door and shouting), we got on another bus and made it safely to the baggage reclaim.  There were were met by our excellent agents, Carmen Prieto and Ines de Labra.

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Vienna in pictures

Wed 17 Dec 2008

A picture gallery from our recent couple of days in Vienna. The Orchestra is currently in Spain, look out for news very soon.

William, Marketing Director

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On tour with Sir Simon: Vienna, part 2

Tue 16 Dec 2008

The violas have just had a very jolly lunch. All of us trooped off to “arco-wein”, a delightful restaurant run by two viola players! Needless to say the food was great and very cheap. Nick and Marina in our viola section speak fluent German so conversation flowed very naturally with the owners who were astounded to find the whole section present for lunch. Nick also found out that the owner was the son of someone he played in quartets with many years ago. Small world.

Tonight (Monday 15th) is our second concert. The acoustic of the Konzerthaus

is very different from Brussels and London. It was fascinating to see how Simon turned corners in a different way to take advantage of the more resonant space. I can’t wait to hear how the ‘Cologne Cathedral’ music in the ‘Rhenish’ symphony sounds in this wonderful hall tonight.

Another highlight of the trip for me was going to the Vienna State Opera with Cat and Koggie on our first night here. I had seen the French version of “Don Carlo” in London earlier this year so to see the Italian version which is quite different was a real treat. Again the wonderful Ferruccio Furlenetto was Phillip II and a very strong tenor, Johann Botha, sang the part of Don Carlo. In that fabulous acoustic with an open pit the orchestra were fab, especially the double basses. After playing Schumann so much the Verdi came as a real shock. What powerfully dramatic music. Wonderful stuff. A great evening.

Off to Madrid tomorrow…

Martin Kelly, viola

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On tour with Sir Simon: Vienna

Tue 16 Dec 2008

After a successful pair of concerts in Brussels and some mandatory sampling of Belgian beer, we pack up the orchestra truck on Friday night and set our sights on the next stop on our tour: Vienna. It is an early start for the Orchestra with many tired looking players surfacing for a 6am breakfast. We pack off one coach of players to the airport and wait for the second coach to turn up.

Eventually the coach turns up and the remaining players load their suitcases on but in the meantime we realise that the case containing the management laptop (and the General Manager’s passport!) is missing. After some time searching to no avail I hop on the coach and head off to the airport leaving Michael (the General Manager) to work out what has happened. We manage a smooth check in and receive a call from Michael who tells us that the hotel has checked the CCTV footage and they have seen someone stealing the case. After numerous phone calls, police statements, and discussing options with the airline, we find out that there is no border control between Belgium and Austria so Michael is able to travel to Vienna with his photocard driving licence where he can get a new passport. All this excitement before 10 o’clock in the morning!

On the flight from Vienna to Brussels a few of the players catch 40 winks but I am not very good at sleeping on planes so this is a nice opportunity to chat to some of the other players that I don’t know so well. We catch a coach to the hotel which we are very pleased to see is a stone’s throw from the concert hall and after checking everyone in the group scatters in various directions to enjoy a rare afternoon and evening off. I grab some food with the other members of management (as breakfast was a very long time ago!)

and then return to the hotel for a ‘power nap’ before meeting up with the others again to hit the Christmas markets. We spend a little time enjoying the markets and then decide it is time for ‘tea and cake’. I am very proud of myself for being able to find a rather touristy tearoom that I had been to about 3 years ago and we escape from the cold for a bit.

Feeling recharged by my power nap, hot chocolate and cake I decide to wander for a bit longer and bid farewell to the others who head back to the hotel for some rest. I spend the rest of the evening taking in the sights of Vienna on a cold December evening. I eventually make my way back to the hotel for a quick sociable drink and a well earned bath.

Megan, Projects Officer

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An injured double bass…

Sat 13 Dec 2008

I was looking forward to my first lie-in for weeks after a busy month of rehearsals, concerts, travelling and teaching but it was not to be. Yesterday we arrived in Brussels for the first concert of the European tour and I found on unpacking my double bass that my lovely old English instrument, dating from the mid 18th century, had taken umbrage to the cold and had pinged open. The constant changes between the extreme temperatures of hot concert halls and cold vehicles had finally taken it’s toll. The wood had shrunk and the glue couldn’t take the pressure. Luckily I could still play without it rattling (no pun intended) so it made it through last night’s, very successful, concert. At 9 o’clock this morning I was to be found waiting outside the most unusual repair shop I’ve ever seen. A Luthier, cafe and art gallery all in one. As I write this several hours later, players are warming up for the rehearsal but my bass is still drying in the workshop. He promises it will be ready in time for the concert…

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass

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On tour with Sir Simon: Brussels

Thu 11 Dec 2008

The first day of the tour sees us departing from St Pancras Station. The tour party includes the Orchestra (60+ players), 4 members of OAE Management and 2 members of staff from Askonas Holt, our Agents, as well as Sir Simon himself of course.

Sometimes the OAE will manage a tour itself but for some, especially long complex ones like this, we have an agent to manage the tour for us – and that includes the initial planning of the tour – getting dates with concert halls and working out the itinerary as well as on the day arrangements.

The party sets off from St Pancras at 10am minus one violinist who is unwell – he’ll rejoin us later in the tour in Birmingham. Some thought is giving to finding a replacement but its decided that the section will be ok with being one player down.

We arrive in Brussels at 1.25pm, and after a short coach transfer arrive at our hotel. Emma, from our Agents, has travelled ahead of the main party so everything is very smooth – not only is vital information available for everyone (see picture) but all 60+ people get checked in in a matter of minutes.

After a quick bite with my colleagues Michael and Megan we meet up with Orchestra Manager Philippa and head over to the concert Hall, BOZAR (a clever way of abbreviating the ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’. There we give Philippa a hand setting up the stage for the 5pm rehearsal. We’re pictured on stage here having a quick break after finishing the set up. In a rather nice touch, staff from the hall come round and put small boxes of Belgian chocolates on every music stand. Luckily there are also enough for the Management! I have a feeling these wont be the last chocolates I’ll eat during our Brussels stay…

The Orchestra assemble and when Sir Simon Rattle arrives at 5pm there are yet more chocolates – he hands around the big box he was given backstage at the Royal Festival Hall. I also learn that one of the Double Basses (the instrument, not the player) has sustained an injury during transit (the larger instruments were transported by van overnight). It’s apparently not too serious and will hopefully be fixed during the tour.

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