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And other stories….  Spring again, so time for another dose of applications to the OAE’s apprentice conductor scheme, The Melgaard OAE Young Conductor Scheme.

The volume of applicants was way up on last year (2010/11 will be the 3rd year of  the application process) so we had a huge task in the Projects team to process everything.  Both our trusty Graduate Intern Jo and myself waded our way through literally hundreds of e-mails and DVD’s arriving in the post.  I think us and the FedEx man could be on first name terms!

Mid March; and with the deadline looming I had an incredible amount of incomplete applications.  The application requires a cover letter, application form, CV, and two letters of support.  All of this was required via e-mail (must be better for the environment).  A DVD with excerpts of their conducting was also a required component.  With all these missing components and failed attempts to send DVDs that actually work (top tip – check the DVD works before you mail it) I couldn’t resist sharing with you some excerpts from e-mails in explanation of not having everything in on time.  Name and locations shall remain nameless… Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a selection of reviews from our recent performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 at the Royal Festival Hall with conductor Ilan Volkov (who stepped in for Sir Charles Mackerras at the last minute). The performance is available to listen to on radio 3 here until Tuesday20 April.

The Times

Guardian

Financial Times

MusicOMH

Classical Source

Excitedly on the eve of our first Scratch Orchestra event, I am feeling the need to blog.  It seems no time at all since last October when what seemed like a mad idea for the event sprang to mind.  I was at Southbank Centre listening to a performance of Mahler 4, which in this version was scored for a group of chamber players.  During the Symphony (I tend to think of things when I’m relaxed – usually in the shower or out on a run!) I had an idea that you needn’t necessarily have a full Symphony Orchestra to convey a piece of classical music, and with a random group of musicians (which we have in the OAE Administration team) it just might be possible for us to perform something like this.  Shelving this for a bit my imagination ran a bit riot then when we were thinking of supplementary events to add interest to our week of Beethoven at Kings Place.  We would have access to a beautiful hall to rehearse in, we could make use of our Young Conductor who was around that week, and invite other office workers in the building and surrounding area to come and play some Beethoven in a long lunch break (it is a Friday after all).  We could use an OAE leader and some other players from the orchestra.  Once word had spread some OAE players even suggested to come and play but not on their OAE instruments. What an opportunity! Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a selection of pictures from our recent trip to New York – all photos by our Projects Officer, Megan Russell.

As you may know conductor Ilan Volkov replaced Sir Charles Mackerras for our concert of Beethoven Symphony 9 last  Friday at the Royal Festival Hall. The concert also toured to Valladolid, in Spain and Spanish newspaper El Mundo asked Ilan a few questions ahead of the

Ilan Volkov

performance:

What was it like to take over this project at such short notice?
How do you organise and prepare yourself mentally to conduct – unexpectedly – such a huge work as Beethoven’s 9th?

Luckily I conducted Beethoven 9th at the the Proms last summer so it’s fresh in my mind. Its very exciting to do this with period instruments- there are so many details that sound completely different. Quite amazing. With these instruments one really feels the radical nature of the work and how modern it still is. I’ve admired the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a long time so its a fantastic thing to work with them for the first time.
Tell us about your vision of this work as the conductor

The 9th has so much in it. In many ways its an utopian work of art ,way ahead of its time. Each movement has such a distinctive character so that when the last movement begins the listener has travelled far. And then this monumental movement opens more doors and has such power that it is impossible to stay unmoved. For each musician in the orchestra and choir this work demands total commitment and strength, but it also gives many rewards both to player and listener. Read the rest of this entry »

I love my job at the OAE – but I have what is probably considered by most of the Orchestra as the most boring job of all.  I spend my time writing funding applications and reports, grappling with budgets and dealing with outcomes, demographics, providing evidence etc.

Fundraising event in NYC

NYC Fundraising event

None of this is considered exciting blog material by other people – so I’ve never been let loose on the OAE blog before.  But for the first time, here I am writing a blog about my time in New York with the OAE.

You might think that New York is about as far away from fundraising applications and report as you can get.  Except that the reason I get to go to America is central to my job.  Not only do we have a big American benefit dinner (at Times Square no less!), but we have US foundation contacts, donors and prospects attending the Orchestra’s two Lincoln Center concerts.

Arriving in the US (for my first time ever!) with the Orchestra, I have a short while to get my bearings before having to rustle up a 10 seater taxi come limo to whisk me and members of the Orchestra off to Thomson Reuters’ building at Times Square.  There we join my colleagues Duke and Claire and members of the Orchestra have been rehearsing and setting up our first American benefit. Read the rest of this entry »

Our latest podcast is now available for your listening pleasure and takes a look at our mini-fest at Kings Place next week, Beethoven with Guts. Complimenting our Symphony Series over at the Southbank Centre the festival includes lots of Beethoven’s chamber music plus some more unusual events including a chance to play along with the OAE and even try some dance moves to his music. Featured on the podcast are OAE Leader Alison Bury, our Education Manager and Oboist Cherry Forbes and, er, me.

Listen to it here. Or search on itunes for Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Should you feel motivated to buy tickets then this is a good place to head.

Does anyone use Soundcloud? Would that be a useful place for our audio content to go as well? Let us know.

William Norris, Marketing Director

How does one reawaken a concert programme last performed, as was the situation with our first New York concert, some three weeks earlier? In the case of a conductor like Iván Fischer, with a mixture of playful concepts which help to unlock profound ideas; and, in the case of a slightly jet-lagged orchestra, by allowing us to be carried by the strength of the music and forget that an 8pm concert in New York is, in fact, a midnight concert in the UK (North America went over to summer-time a week earlier than Europe, so for that particular week there was only a four-hour time difference).

OAE and BFO at Lincoln Center

In London, the two programmes with Iván formed part of our Beethoven Cycle which is taking place this spring (2010). However, in New York, it was a very different kind of Beethoven cycle. The result of a brainchild, nurtured by Jane Moss (vice-president of programming at Lincoln Center) for the past six years, had Iván conducting all nine symphonies in four consecutive days; with OAE on original instruments for the first two concerts (symphonies 2 & 3 and symphonies 1, 8 & 5) followed with his own orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, on conventional instruments, also performing two concerts (symphonies 4 & 7 and symphonies 6 & 9). Unfortunately, OAE had to return home without hearing either the BFO rehearsals or concerts. However, members of the BFO did come to our second rehearsal and this provided an opportunity for a group photo featuring both orchestras. It was great to meet our Hungarian colleagues and a special pleasure for me to meet up again with Gaby, Iván’s wife and superb flute player. Read the rest of this entry »

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