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Following on from our staff picks below here are some from the Orchesta….

“My picks of the season: All of them of course….but if I really have to make a choice I’m really looking forward to the French romantic programmes. I can’t agree with Mendlessohn – I love Berlioz’s orchestration and particularly the subtle and effective ways he uses the double bass, and I can’t wait to hear what Debussy’s La Mer sounds like on period instruments. But just as exciting is the prospect of working with Laurence Cummings and the amazing energy and colour he brings to Handel and Bach, And then there’s the fab soloists like Levin, and Bostridge, and Podger, and Isserlis, and Faust and, and, and…you see I’m back where I started: all of them!

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass

I’m very much looking forward to the Glory of Venice in January. The Monteverdi Vespers in 2010 was such a wonderful project I’ve been wanting to do more of that repertoire ever since. The Choir of the Enlightenment were fantastic and Rob Howarth has real insight into that style. For the Vespers I bought a new instrument – a beautiful copy of a Spanish bajon tuned in Dorian Mode – and it hasn’t had an outing since then! I’m also really looking forward to Romeo and Juliet with a team of four bassoons all playing early 19th century French originals – that’s a real rarity!

Andrew Watts, Bassoon

The French programme with Sir Simon Rattle in June is particularly exciting and challenging for the OAE’s timpani and percussion players.  Spending our lives firmly in the rhythm section in classical repertoire, through the second half of the 19th century composers started to use timpani more as a harmonic instrument and percussion to create tone colours and effects.  As the OAE branches out once again into a new area, we’ve got to select our instruments carefully with Debussy’s fascination with oriental music firmly in mind.

It’s reasonable to assume that Debussy’s La Mer , with its exotic influences and soporific moods, to be solely influenced by the Mediterranean, but it’s an interesting fact that Debussy actually finished the composition during an extended stay in Eastbourne!  I haven’t yet been able to identify the “kiss-me-quick”, fish ‘n’ chips and donkey rides influences of the British seaside, but I’m sure they’re there somewhere….  Definitely one for a pub quiz….!

Adrian Bending, Timpani

View and book our entire London season over on Southbank Centre’s website.

OAE at the Usher Hall

OAE at Edinburgh's Usher Hall

If a change is as good as a rest then we OAE musicians should be well refreshed after this summer.

For me one of the highlights was playing the rarely performed Liszt Faust Symphony, a piece that required us to expand our numbers somewhat. One day we were a double bass section of two playing Handel’s Rinaldo at Glyndebourne, the next a section of eight, rehearsing Liszt, and what a fab eight it was!

It was a delight to be joined by bassists from other symphony and chamber orchestras – a chance to exchange musical ideas, and find out how things are done elsewhere. The wealth of information was mind boggling, from knowledge of instruments, players and conductors, to the best restaurants in Warsaw, – and it was very good.

We at the OAE are different to most orchestras, symphonic or chamber, in that the size of orchestra fluctuates all the time depending on the repertoire and the venue (Three players in a pub last week, I hear, taking The Night Shift new places). So when we come together for a big project such as the Faust Symphony we may not have worked with many of our colleagues for a year or more. The first rehearsal has a real sense of ‘getting to know you’ as we all have our antennae out to the max – listening, adjusting, blending.

What I’ll never forget about this Liszt project is the way that this large gathering of wonderful, talented players, came into focus as a cohesive whole. The feeling was almost physical; a seismic, earth-trembling sense of plates coming together to form a new musical land. Fanciful language, maybe, but the fantastic resulting concerts, such as the one at the Edinburgh Festival, will stay in the memory for a long time.

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass

Soho Factory, Warsaw

Our venue in Warsaw...

We’re all up early and ready for the fun and games that is check in at Heathrow. 3 staff narrow their eyes at the theorbo at once: “Have you ever travelled with it before?”  ummm…   I refrain from saying “only the last 20 years” and smile as they figure out the procedure about extra seats.  These days (and I hope no one from BAA is reading this) you can’t buy seats for “lute” or “theorbo” so I have to go under cover as “cello”.  And hope it fits. Which on the way back, it doesn’t.  Fortunately the stewardesses on the plane itself are very chilled, and we rig up an arrangement involving more than my fair share of seat in a prime place next to the loo…

This is the first outing of Heiner Goebbels Songs of Wars I have seen since we were in Modena in May.  One of the pleasures of this piece, aside from getting to catch up with the London Sinfonietta in glorious form, is checking out the audience reaction to the mixture of Gertrude Stein and old and new instruments.  When we did it in New York in March several friends and friends of friends said the weirdest thing was hearing us read the Stein with our apparently “cut glass” British accents (not sure my Mum would recognise the cut glass bit…). Reminded me that the texts already have a music of their own, before Heiner adds his definitive  mix of swing, last-post trumpet and ammunition effects and the odd bit of Matthew Locke, to Stein’s words. Read the rest of this entry »

OAE Tots concertSo how old were you when you first heard professional musicians live?

You’re never too young to experience the OAE, as I and Rachel Beckett (recorder player and flautist) showed last Sunday, when more than forty 2 and 3 year olds had their first taste of baroque favourites.

The ethos of the OAE education programme is that every project is inspired by the orchestra’s core repertoire. These workshops at King’s Place were no exception, including music by Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann and of course J. S. Bach.

I absolutely love working with this age-group. Their responses are so immediate and truthful. They don’t yet know how to hide boredom or fain enthusiasm. When you could hear a pin drop as woolly dog introduced the recorder, I knew our young audience was hooked.

The story of The 3 Billy Goats Gruff was perfect to demonstrate Rachel’s different sized instruments; descant and treble recorders, and mellow flute. What about the bass you ask? The ugly troll of course.

The tots were skipping goats to the Country Dance from Handel’s Water Music, sleepy goats to the slow movement of Vivaldi’s  Il Gardellino Concerto, and dancing goats to the Badinerie from Bach’s Flute Suite.

As a final climax all were given instruments with which to make quiet ‘mouse’ music, or noisy ‘lion’ music. It may not be what Telemann had in mind when composing Wassermusik, but the Tritons movement works brilliantly to tell Aesop’s Fable ‘The Lion and the Mouse’.

It was Rachel’s chance to weald her sopranino recorder – about as far away in pitch as it’s possible to get from a double bass . It was also a chance for education director, Cherry Forbes and our new education officer, Ellie Cowan to let their hair down as they took charge of the puppets and led a lively chase across the room.

The only problem…finding the best angle to get a photo of your tiny tot next to a huge double bass.

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass

A few weeks ago we  took a vast (by OAE standards) orchestra  up to Edinburgh for a programme of Weber, Mendelssohn and Liszt with conductor Vladimir Jurowski and violinist Alina Ibragimova. We appeared as part of the International Festival and were in a city for a total of 19 hours, including sleeping time – very much a whistle-stop trip! However for our latest video we have condensed the trip a little for you – the whole tour, there and back, in just 60 seconds…

OAE photographer Joe Plommer appears to be able to capture a moment with his camera and present it in entirely different way from the way my memory recalls it now (above). He’s made me appear relaxed. I was far from it. And there were moments when I looked at Maggie (right) and was certain she probably wondered what the hell I was saying.

That’ll be the internal dialogue. I bet you.

Maybe it was the drink. Between you and me, I’d had a glass of red wine before arriving at the Star of Kings pub to ‘compere’ the OAE’s inaugural Mini Night Shift concert. I had a strong black coffee while I waited for the rehearsal to finish, and then a beer before my first moment on stage delivering the very important message: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the gig will start in ten minutes time.”

The truth is that I’ve always rather fancied doing this line of work. As I’ve said before, Alistair Appleton makes it look really easy. Surely, if I try and cultivate a similar image that should do the trick, shouldn’t it?

That was my thinking selecting the checked shirt I received the day before on my birthday. But by the time approximately 200 people had packed into the pub and the band had marked out their territory on stage, I quickly began to realise this was going to be a good deal more difficult than standing in front of a camera and waxing lyrical about the best way to listen to Beethoven 9.

What represented the massive learning curve for me in what amounted to my first stint behind the microphone was to what extent the presenter is incidental to events on stage. And in an intimate space like the Star of Kings that was a point which became even more important, not least because Matthew Truscott, Maggie Faultless and Robin Michael are all such dab hands at introducing the music anyway. Matthew especially seems more than happy to whip up the crowd into a mild frenzy (the line about ‘wives always end up killing their husbands’ certainly resulted in a discernible collective intake of breath). Read the rest of this entry »

Pride meeting

They weren't at all embarassed about having their picture taken...

I might have just been paranoid, but I’m pretty sure that when I stood up and took this picture in a meeting, announcing that I was going to write a blog article, that everyone thought I was a bit mad. And probably wondered how I was going to make this meeting sound in any way interesting to people.

But I thought that you, our readers, fans and concert-goers might be interested in some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on at the OAE, and indeed, other Orchestras.

This relates a little to a favourite anecdote of our CEO, Stephen. He was asked at some function-or-other if being Chief Executive of the OAE was a full-time job. The person asking was pretty surprised when he said yes, and even more surprised when he said it was also a full time job for the 17 others in the office too.

So when you look at the Orchestra’s staff list in the concert programme you may well be thinking ‘what do all these people actually do?!’

Well, in the Communications team, one of the things we do is (and this may come as a surprise to you) talk and plan with other Orchestras and our main London venue, Southbank Centre. This is where Pride comes in. Pride is not anything to do with a march or a type of bread but is instead, rather more mundanely, the name of the regular marketing meeting the four Resident Orchestras; the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta and ourselves, have with Southbank Centre. The name ‘Pride’ comes from around 10 years ago, when these meetings first started off life as a group working on exhibiting ‘pride’ in the Resident Orchestras. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve set a timer for 60 seconds to write down everything i can think of about the orchestra’s trip to Warsaw now that we are almost half way through (this may be a test of how fast I can type!). Ready, steady, go:

Nice to have some good weather – makes a bit of a change from Edinburgh
Hotel is AMAZING – 5 stars
Enjoyed my swim in the pool this morning (had it all to myself)
Don’t jay-wallk in Poland!
Polish people are so weloming
… but boy do they seem to like those little rat dogs.
Concert venue is amazing – audience and orchestra are all on stage in the Opera House.

Ok, so that was 1 minute 13 seconds and a whole load of typos that I had to go back and change (although not as many as I originally thought as the spell checker seems to be in Polish!).

More when we are back, first concert with Vladimir Jurowski is tomorrow night!

Photos are: of the venue – acutally on the stage of the Opera House, with the safety curtain down sectioning off the auditorium; The Old Town Square; some loos that said ‘Toi toi’ on them!!! (Ed – traditionally you say ‘toi toi’ to someone to wish them good luck as they go on stage) ; the front of Polish National Opera

Megan Russell, Projects Manager

We’re really excited to be part of the Edinburgh International Festival and are taking our tour with the brilliant Vladimir Jurowski to the Usher Hall tonight where he’ll be conducting a programme of Weber, Liszt’s dramatic Faust Symphony and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E with Alina Ibragimova.

Here’s a taster of what’s to come tonight, plus why the OAE can be compared to a very famous cat and mouse duo…

 

Tickets for the concert can be bought online or by phoning the EIF Box Office on 0131 473 2000.

While on tour in Holland earlier this year we set OAE Projects Manager Megan Russell a challenge. She’d taken our little camera with her to take footage – but could she somehow find a complete A-Z of things in the tour?

Here’s the result, and we have to admit that its one of our favourite videos. Particular highlights include E for Enclosing Dyke and B for ‘is it Broken?’…

Enjoy!

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