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Phone with knife in itDa-da-duh-duh, da-da-duh-duh, da-da-duh-duh-duuuh

Brrrrr-brrrr, brrrr-brrrrr

No I’ve not gone mad, I’m just re-enacting all the interruptions from the bustling audience in San Sebastian on Tuesday night. Having experienced this in the UK a number of times (we all remember the infamous incident at the BBC Proms a few years ago, when the bassoon solo at the start of the Rite of Spring was interrupted by the Nokia ringtone – and the conductor very rightly decided to start the piece again!), we experienced Tuesday night that Spanish audiences have the same addiction to being contactable for 24 hours a day. Personally, I just don’t get why people can’t turn their phones off for the 2 hours of a concert – would you leave your phone on in the cinema?  Plus once you’d seen how embarrassed the first offender was when their phone went off after the opening of Weber’s Der Freischütz Overture, why wouldn’t you madly check in your bag that your phone was well and truly silenced?  This must have happened about 5 times yesterday throughout the entire length of the concert! (To be fair the woman behind me did this, and spent at least 5 minutes loudly fishing around in her bag for it).

Other than the rude interruptions I can confirm that it was a stunning concert, and the orchestra did a herculean job after what must have been one of the most shattering travel days in recent history (Very early flight to Bordeaux, 3 hour coach journey, straight into rehearsal, concert, brief sleep, 6am coach back to Bordeaux…)

Let’s hope the Edinburgh audiences on Friday leave their phones at home!!

Oh and while I’m at it, why is it always the Nokia Tune?!

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

When I tell people that I work for an Orchestra and occasionally get to accompany them on tour, they often get very excited and say, ‘ooh isn’t that glamorous’…

Erm… well in a word, not always!  (editor – that’s two words!) This past weekend I was lucky enough to accompany the OAE on one of their 4 trips out to Salzburg to play in the festival’s production of The Marriage of Figaro. I definitely drew the short straw with this one – one of those blink and you’ll miss it 24 hour trips, but I did get to enjoy some stunning opera in one of the worlds classiest and distinguished music festivals so it can’t have been all bad.

Do the negatives cancel out the highlight?  What do you think to this chain of events??

The glamour scale…

Saturday morning aka usually my weekend.  Alarm fails to go off so I have approximately 5 minutes accompanied by sheer panic to get dressed and leave the house (minus).

Arrive at Heathrow Terminal 1, along with the rest of the UK as it’s the first day of the school summer holidays.  Spend ages queuing to check in, then helping to sneak OAE players to the front of the queue and the bag drop so we don’t miss our plane (minus).

Finally, through security and time for a coffee with our orchestra manager, Philippa, Press Manager Katy and the 2 Tony wind players (plus).

Onto the plane, jam my bag in the overhead locker and settle in to my seat, with my free copy of the Daily Mail…(editor – double minus) I’m sandwiched in the middle of a 3. Surrounded by screaming children (minus).

Offered a skanky egg sandwich (minus). Read the rest of this entry »

The Night Shift

An empty venue ready for the rehearsal

A day in the life of The Night Shift from Ceri’s perspective:

It’s 9.30am on Friday 24th June, It’s been a looooong week:  Monday Dublin, Tuesday Royal Festival Hall, Wednesday and Thursday catching up and meetings – and that’s just for me!  I assume it’s been worse for the players who also had Glyndebourne rehearsals on the intervening days… Anyway, I should be absolutely exhausted and dreading the prospect of working until at least 12am this evening, but I’m not – this is what we sometimes call “The Night Shift effect”.  (editor – different to the ‘Night Shift hangover…)

I of course love working at all OAE concerts, but for me the Night Shift is something quite special, even if they are at least 10 times harder work – especially in a non-traditional concert venue such as Village Underground (no fixed stage, lights, music stands, seats, air-con, changing rooms – you get the picture). So much of Friday felt like venturing into the unknown, a new venue, new acoustics, not sure we’d all fit on stage, not sure if the musicians would be able to cope with the lack of dressing space, chilling areas (aka green room) etc.

Here is a timetable of my day on Friday and how I made it to 12am still full of beans.

9.30 Arrive at office after early morning gym session – going to need those endorphins to get me thorough today I can tell you.

10.00 Quick staff meeting just to make sure everyone is up to speed with all the arrangements and aware of their responsibilities tonight.

10.30 Pop down to Kings Place Music Foundation to pick up the lit stands (i.e.music stands with lights attached – for the darker ambience we use for The Night Shift) we’re borrowing for this evening Read the rest of this entry »

Every time a project involving fortepianos appears on our advance schedule, my heart sinks a little – not because I don’t like the sound of them, or enjoy hearing some of the fantastic repertoire that was written for them, but fortepianos usually = logistical nightmare.   And this time there were 2 of them…

The quest to source two matching pianos started a couple of years ago.  We spoke to our usual suppliers and had sussed that there were a couple of pianos based in the UK – a copy of an Anton Walter piano (a piano maker based in Vienna around Mozart’s time), made by Paul McNulty, and also a copy of a Michael Rosenberger which might be a good match.  Katia Labèque was going to be in London at the end of January 2011 and so we arranged a session up at Craxton studios for her to trial them.  Perfect, we thought, the pianos could be used in the UK for the rehearsals, then we’d take them on tour to Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and bring them back to London for our final concert at the RFH, then they could return to their owners. Simples. Except the pianos weren’t ideally matched in tone and timbre and so the quest continued. Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Griffiths

The current Melgaard OAE Young Conductor, Kevin Griffiths

There are just a matter of weeks left to apply to our OAE Melgaard Young Conductor Scheme.  The scheme has been running now for 4 years, and gives budding young conductors the opportunity to nestle up close with the OAE, observing rehearsals alongside great OAE conductors, getting to know and share knowledge with players, and also gaining an insight into the behind the scenes operations in the office (the most exciting part in my humble opinion…)  Through an application and audition process one conductor will be chosen at the audition day this October (not quite like X-factor but almost as exciting).  The conductor will work with the OAE from the autumn for a period of 9-12 months.

For me this part of the scheme’s schedule is both the most exciting and the most overwhelming.  Exciting because you never quite know where from and how many applications are going to come flooding in –  will the next young Vladimir Jurowski or Sir Simon Rattle be amongst the pile of applications?  We usually get in the range of 100 applications so you can imagine the admin that goes with that….That’s 100 DVD packages arriving on my desk, 100 application forms, 100 CV’s, and 100 support letters.  Anyway – that’s the fun of the job J and as we sometimes say in the office ‘today I’m putting the admin into arts admin’.

Watch this space for future developments… (and find out more details of how to apply here)

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

A short video from our trip up to Sheffield back in February – a concert which was part of our Green Tour initiative which saw the OAE ditch individual cars in favour of coaches and trains. Though we now know that trains are noisy places in which to film interviews… turn the volume up to hear Ceri at the start! Sadly we didn’t get footage of the venue evacuation, we were too busy wondering what on earth was happening…

As mentioned below, our concert in Sheffield last week had a rather odd start.

The Orchestra came on stage on time for a 7pm start, all fine. We settled in our seats. The Management team of 3 (myself, CEO Stephen Carpenter and Projects Director Ceri) were all split up in the hall, rather than sitting together as we supposed to. As usual there was that moment when the Orchestra stops tuning and the crowd goes suddenly quiet, waiting for the conductor to appear. Except that he didn’t.

5 minutes later he still hadn’t. Rather odd. The crowd was getting restless.

After a little longer Orchestra Leader Matthew Truscott got up (to applause) and left the stage, presumably to find out what was happening.

He didn’t return.

At this point I texted Ceri, asking if she knew what was up. She didn’t. I suggested that conductor David Zinman was either unwell or had got the start time wrong. Both seemed a little unlikely. Unfortunately I made a typo and said “Either I’ll or has got the…”. So I re-sent the world ‘ill’ on its own. Ceri took this as confirmation that he was indeed ill and I apparently set her mind immediately racing as to what we would do! Read the rest of this entry »

In honour of the Orchestra’s Green Tour around the UK this week, the office-based administrative team also committed to Green Week.  For a OAE goes greenbit of fun most of us wore something green all week, as a constant reminder about all the things we would 100% commit to do.  I spent the week carrying my thermos flask and a ‘Cats of Cyprus’ fabric shopping bag with me in an attempt to avoid package wastage and also spent the entire week nagging my colleagues about turning their computers off properly at the end of the day… Here’s how I got on the rest of the week…

Monday
A normal day in the office, today, whilst the orchestra were busy rehearsing down at The Warehouse (one of our regular rehearsal venues).  Had a player meeting later on in the day, which required 4 A4 pages of handouts.  I copied them all onto 1 A4 sheet (double-sided and at 50% size), praying that no body minds how small the text would be – reading glasses at the ready! (incidentally I didn’t get any comments).  Later on that day I had the fun task of carrying home a DVD player with large speaker I’d been given (in huuuge box!).  Determined not to cave in and get a taxi I had an interesting journey home, much to the hilarity of my fellow train passengers.

Tuesday
Concert day at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which started with meeting the Web streaming team down at the hall, helping them with their set-up.  Am really excited about the web stream as thousands of people will be able to watch our concert without having to travel anywhere!  I decided to grab a coffee on the way back to the office, and asked if I could get my coffee in my flask (to avoid wasting more cardboard cups).  The barrister had to ask her supervisor if this was OK, which yes it was – result.  Sadly the coffee was made in the cardboard cup and then poured into my flask – FAIL!  Cardboard cup still wasted…

Later on at the hall, was excited to see the signs in the foyer asking our patrons to reuse their programmes, and our article in the programme

Getting the audience to play their part in our green tour

Getting the audience to play their part in our green tour

about the green tour.  Southbank centre is totally on top of environmental issues and recycling etc, so big tick!  It was a shame that on the way home I didn’t screw the lid back on my water bottle properly and by the time I got home my bag and re-useable programme were soaked.  I hope it dries out in time for our next concert on 3rd March. Read the rest of this entry »

Projects Director Ceri Jones took a video camera with her on our most recent tour to France and Spain. Here’s the (condensed) video diary:

1 Conductor, Opera
2 Types of currency
3 Flights, Acts, narrators, countries, languages (4, if you include the Catalan translation in the Valencia programme)
4 Concert halls (5 if you include a rehearsal in the RFH), hotels
5 Singers, Cities visited
6 Pieces of outsized luggage
7 hours from Toulouse to Tarragona (including lunch and loo breaks!)
8 1st violins
9 Players getting up at an ungodly hour to get back to London for an Education session on the last day of tour.
10 Bottles of wine, consumed on the coach after the last concert…ahem

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

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