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One Concert in the Life of a Touring Musician

So – how have we weathered these last eleven days?

To summarise: four concerts in three venues: Kings Place, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and St. George’s Bristol; three days of ‘Giulio Cesare’ at Glyndebourne; two days of rehearsals at Maida Vale studios, rounded off with a one-night dash to Perugia. Perhaps the deafening silence during the four-hour coach journey from Perugia back to Bologna airport on Monday morning speaks for itself.

The Italian bit began on Sunday with an alarm call at 5.30 a.m. in a hotel near Gatwick. Those awake enough to think of it, boarded the airport bus last in order to get to the check-in desk first, ahead of the double basses, timps and cellos. For, without such tactics, the best-laid plans for a leisurely breakfast and a strong cup of coffee, prior to take off, can fade slowly into a distant dream as time drips by in the first of the interminable queuing procedures that are the hallmark and curse of air travel. Even getting through security can induce moments of character-building restraint. For, on various memorable occasions in the past, instrumentalists have been ordered to hand over tuning forks, hundreds of pounds worth of spare strings and vital, expensive reed-making knives and pliers – packed into suitcases nowadays. As musicians, possibly the most profound question to be asked during the whole tedious business is: “Any sharp instruments in your hand luggage?” Read the rest of this entry »

You may have seen the phrase ‘period instrument orchestra’ floating around in relation to the OAE. Well this means that we use instruments like those from the time that the music was written in so our performances are what the composers themselves would have actually heard. But not only are the instruments the great great grandparents of what you will hear a modern symphony orchestra playing on, the pitch has also changed over the years. Modern orchestras using modern instruments play at a pitch where the note ‘A’ is equivalent to 440 hertz. In Baroque music (Bach and Handel’s time) we generally play at A=415 and for classical music (Mozart, Haydn) at A=430. To give you an idea of the difference, A=415 is about a semi-tone lower than A=440. To the untrained ear, what does this all mean? That if you played the same note on a modern instrument and an ‘old fashioned’ one, that the latter would sound a bit lower. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a new video from the last Night Shift on 23 April, featuring conductor Edward Gardner and giving you a glimpse backstage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The next Night Shift is on 20 May – details here.

Last night was the second evening of our week of events Henry George Jospeh Felix at Kings Place, and it also saw the first Aftershow. This is a new idea whereby after the main concert the audience are able to enjoy a short informal performance in the bar afterwards. For this event Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanouku and ‘cellist Richard Tunnicliffe played Rossini’s Duetto for cello and bass and also treated us to a special arrangement of the aria voi che sapete from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. A good crowd stayed for the event, and there will be another Aftershow after this evening’s 9pm concert of Bonduca when Soprano Elizabeth Weisberg and Alto Timothy Travers Brown will be joined by harpsichordist Steven Devine for a short performance of songs by Purcell.

So we decided to dip our toes into the world of podcasts with this trial one, during which you can find out more about the music featured in our concerts with Robin Ticciati next week (20 May at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and 23 May in St George’s Bristol). Let us know what you think!

OAE Podcast No.1

If you are so moved as to book tickets for the concerts you can do so here for London and here for Bristol.

We snatched a few admittedly very poor quality pics from this mornings rehearsal of Bonduca at Kings Place . Check out the tree-like thing centre stage!

Last night my colleague Ceri Jones and I got glammed up and went along to the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, held at The Dorchester on Park Lane. The RPS awards are known as the classical music ‘oscars’ and there was certainly a star-studded audience there for the dinner and ceremony. Spotted in the crowd were Harrison Birtwistle, Edward Gardner, Yannick Néget-Séguin, Mark Padmore and Sir Charles Mackerras. We were there because the OAE had been shortlisted in the Audience Development category for The Night Shift, the second time The Night Shift has been shortlisted in this category. Sadly, we didn’t win, but we did very well to get through to the last three – the RPS had apparently received over 400 nominations across all the categories, so there was stiff competition. Streetwise Opera was a very exciting and worthy winner, and it was good to see Yannick Néget-Séguin win the Young Artist award – he’ll be conducting us in October. We managed to say hello to him afterwards and he mentioned how much he is looking forward to it.

Hopefully we’ll be back next year and maybe even bring home some silverware!

William Norris, Marketing Director

I was hardly involved in the project back in 2005 (being merely the OAE’s office administrator at the time), but remembering how much I had hugely enjoyed watching the performance at the Royal Festival Hall I was excited that we’d be putting it all back together again.MND 014

The project was only confirmed a few months ago so it’s been a busy few months for everyone involved, not least for bottoms horn ears which have been to Sydney and back since February (No, not on little holiday, but to take part in the production with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra which was also care of the Tim Carroll/Jenny Tiramani team).

The performance was to take place in Middle Temple Hall, which it self brings multiple challenges – well out of the comfort zone of a concert hall, with no purpose-built auditorium, stage, ANY equipment or staff.  Cue the OAE team…

So, courtesy of our Production Manager Simon in came the stage, and making use of the chairs already at the hall, the hall was turned into an auditorium for 4 days.  Construction work started on Friday afternoon, and by Saturday afternoon the stage was built and ready for Philippa and myself to lay out the stage for the orchestra.  Read the rest of this entry »

In a quick update to the below – here are a couple of clips from Purcell’s Bonduca.

To Arms

Sing, sing, ye druids

Clips © Decca

Next week we have a week of performances coming up at our Kings Place Headquarters, our first public performances there since our concerts as part of the opening festival last Autumn. A definite highlight will be Henry Purcell’s Bonduca (or Boadicea). One of the last things he wrote, the music was written for the play of the same name, and as you might expect it concerns Queen Boadicea. Indeed, the plays subtitle is The British Heroine. We’ll be performing Henry Purcell’s music alongside excerpts from the play, in a performance which has been put together by OAE violnist Roy Mowatt. Alongside the Orchestra and Choir of the Enlightenment there will be a cast of actors and the whole performance will be directed by Pia Furtardo, who recently worked with director Katie Mitchell on ENO’s After Dido. It should be a pretty special evening!

We asked Roy a few questions about the piece: Read the rest of this entry »

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