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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 »

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 »

Viola player Annette Isserliss concludes her US tour diary:

Thurs 17th

Awoke wondering how on earth the OAE homeward travellers (the players who weren’t staying on for the Heiner Goebbel’s concert) had managed to rouse themselves to leave at 6.00 am! Took the subway (with viola in tow) to meet cousin Judy in Chelsea, and after a guided tour of some of the finer architectural sights, we climbed up onto the High Walk: converted from an old railway on an overpass to a garden walk with views of Chelsea Harbour with Hoboken,New Jersey beyond, on one side, and interesting city glimpses on the other. Although botanically at this time of year it was confined to almost-budding saplings and crocuses (crocii??) it was exceedingly pleasant in the mellow sunshine. As we approached a bench with a be-hatted native simultaneously basking and scribbling, it looked up, and turned out to be fello viola Nick Logie! He was staying in NY a bit longer, not only for the sponsors’ reception that evening, but because his eldest son Sascha is currently working in NY for the UN. Read the rest of this entry »

We’ll be posting the second part of Netty’s tour diary tomorrow, but in the meantime here are a selection of reviews from our trip across the pond.

Newspapers

New York Times on the period instrument movement

Boston Globe

New York Times (on CPE Bach)

New York Times (on Goebbels)

 

Blogs

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

SuperConductor

The Arty Semite

 

If you had dropped a bomb on the Royal Festival Hall last Friday, at around 11am, then you would have wiped out a very large section of London’s classical music life. Why? Well last Friday was the press launch of the 2011-2012 classical season at Southbank Centre. I’m sure to the assembled ranks of journalists that this all seemed very normal and routine, but the fact is a huge amount of work goes into not just the organisation of an event like this, but in getting the seasons of four Resident Orchestras ready in time, so they can all be launched at exactly the same time, and go on sale all together three days later. For the OAE launching this early in the year is something of a novelty, as until recently we’d do it in a much more leisurely fashion. Maybe in April…May…just whenever we got it all together really.

But obviously we make a lot more impact if we launch our new season together with the other Residents: LPO, Philharmonia and London Sinfonietta and also together with the various series that the Southbank Centre puts on too.

Pictured below (thanks to Sam Dub for the pics) are the various speakers for the event – including Marshall Marcus, who not very long ago was the OAE’s Chief Executive. We, as you know, don’t have a Principal Conductor, so we asserted our difference and had a player representing us – a huge thank you to OAE Leader Matthew Truscott for volunteering – he did a great job, though he did remark he was far more nervous than he ever gets when playing his violin!

Obviously we were excited about our own season, but its also fun to hear whatevery one else is putting on – and we were especially excited to see that Eduardo Portal, our Melgaard Young Conductor last season, is featuring in the LPO’s season – congratulations to him! There will definitely be an OAE crowd there cheering him on on 25 November.

Some boring small print: Friends of the OAE have priority booking till 21 Feb – we’ll be posting full details of everything then. If you want to sign up to the Friends give us a buzz! 020 7239 9382. There’s also a cheaper Priority Bookers option for £15.

Already there has been some coverage:

Guardian

Gramophone

Evening Standard

William Norris, Communications Director

Tomorrow night’s concert at Kings Place is a pretty unusual affair. Not only is it a joint concert with the London Sinfonietta, but the second half in particular sees four very unusual things occur. First, we merge with the London Sinfonietta, to create a new ensemble made up of players from both orchestras. Second, together, we play a brand new comission by Richard Causton, Dark Processional (in the spirit of the REMIX festival, it is based on music by Pergolesi). Third, in the second half of the concert, OAE players will use (fairly) modern instruments and play at modern picth. Last, but not least, we’re going to be playing Stravinsky (only the second time we have ever done so). The piece is Pulcinella, and it is the climax of the REMIX festival here. As you may know, it’s based on pieces by Pergolesi and other composers of his time – and we play these antecedents in the first half of the concert. So, all in all a pretty special event – and one thats not very likely to be repeated for a while!

Yesterday we caught up with OAE players who were at Kings Place for that evening’s concert and asked them about the experience of working with the London Sinfonietta and playing the music of Stravinsky:

Wolfgang Amadeus Madonna anyone?wolfgang-amadeus-madonna

This week we’re collaborating with the London Sinfonietta on REMIX, a 3-day festival celebrating remixing, reinventing and recyling music. Over three concerts we’re going to be looking at how composers have copied, stolen and taken inspiration from each other.

For example, on Thursday the OAE plays Bach’s version of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, while on Friday the London Sinfonietta play music by Purcell rearranged by John Woolrich, George Benjamin and Oliver Knussen…

So, with this in mind we’re asking you to name what your musical dream team would be. Perhaps you would bring Haydn and Beethoven together, Purcell and Vivaldi, Madonna and Mozart…

Let us know here what two (or more!) composers or musicians you would like to see work together and we’ll be awarding a pair of free tickets to Saturday’s concert, Music as Theft, to whoever comes up with our favourite idea. Oh, and if you’re really bored then you could also submit a pictorial mash-up like ours – there will be extra prizes for that! You can post them on our Facebook Page. Deadline is 5pm this Friday, so get thinking…

William Norris

Yesterday morning was the culmination of what seems like months if not years of work for our concert on Saturday night. A little more Rehearsal for REMIXcomplicated than usual, this concert is a mixture of OAE and London Sinfonietta players (our very distant relations who we share an office with). As part of having our headquarters at Kings Place, we put on several concerts here throughout the year and this week is our REMIX festival, mixing all sorts of old and new including mixing up the two orchestras. This all started many moons ago when we decided to have an orchestra made up of players from both orchestras. After working out how to split the booking between the two orchestras, we then had to find OAE players who were happy to dust off their modern instruments to play some 20th century music – Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and a new commission by Richard Causton. Fixing a project with just one orchestra involved presents enough challenges, but dealing with two orchestras whose playing spheres never overlap presented quite a few more! Eventually we managed a final orchestra list, a final seating plan, the right music (we were helpfully sent the whole of the Pulcinella ballet parts instead of just the suite to start with!) and a rehearsal plan.

Sitting and listening to the rehearsal yesterday, it was really interesting to see a rare sight, OAE and LS players sitting side by side, and even stranger to see OAE players playing modern instruments. The rarest thing, however, was when the conductor, Nick Collon, announced that Richard Causton would be coming to the afternoon rehearsal – it’s not very often that the composer of the music OAE is playing turns up to a rehearsal!

Megan Russell, Projects Manager

Find out more about REMIX by downloding the brochure here.



In exactly 1 months time, we’ll be kicking off our three day festival Remix, a collaboration with London Sinfonietta.

The festival explores the ideas of remixing, reinventing and recycling into a series of concerts, talks, film screenings and aftershows to be held at Kings Place, London from 14th October- 16th October.

As both orchestras wanted an edgy, fresh approach to our joint campaign for these concerts, we decided to work with Islington-based designers, Research Studios.

Here’s what they came up with (bright eh?):

You can find out more about the Remix festival here.

With the end of another year just passed, we took the chance to ask members of the office team about their top OAE moments of 2009:

Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive
“In August and September 2009, as part of the OAE’s year-long homage to Haydn in his bi-centenary year, we visited the composer’s two P(a)laces of Employment: Esterhaza in Hungary and Eisenstadt in Austria.  On a swelteringly hot day in Esterhaza we performed an all-Haydn programme in the same room in which most of Haydn’s symphonies were premiered.  We had a guided tour of the Esterhazy Palace and saw the room where the Empress Maria-Theresa stayed, and performed “her” symphony (No 48 in C) later the same evening.  In the front row of the audience sat Prince Paul Esterhazy, a direct descendant of Haydn’s Patron, Prince Nicholas Esterhazy.  A real connection with a golden period in music history.  It doesn’t get much better than that!”

Clare Norburn, Development Manager
The Haydn programme with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and especially the ambience in The Night Shift that night – it was electric!

On a personal note: the moment when I opened the envelope to find we had raised £100,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for the development of The Night Shift over 3 years

Natasha Stehr, Marketing and Press Officer
My 2009 highlights: becoming part of our office’s Running Club and actually sticking with it- OAE marathon next year?!  We had so many great concerts this year, it’s hard to pick one as my favourite, but if I had to choose it would have to be Marin Alsop and the OAE playing Charles Ives’ Unanswered Question as part of our Deconstructing Mozart event on the 5 Dec…a once in a lifetime moment!

Ceri Jones, Projects Manager
An office one
“the first outing for the Kings Place running club back in April.  Little did I know it would be met with so much enthusiasm, and that 8 months later a small clique would still be up and running (not sure what I can say about those that have given up, but at least they showed some initial enthusiasm and perhaps they will be tempted again in the New Year…)

A tour-related but not musical one
Having fun experiencing American mid-west culture and the most extreme cold in my life with the OAE & London Sinfonietta in Minneapolis back in January.

An actual musical one
The Creation before Christmas.  Managed to blag a seat in the auditorium rather than marching around backstage, and was blown away by the sheer volume of the orchestra and choir in that ‘let there be light’ bit!  It will stay with me for a while…

& Not so top moments
Getting up at 4am to get home from Berlin on Good Friday – way less than 24hrs after leaving London the previous day.  Ouch.

The snow day in Feb last year.  Sitting at my desk helplessly trying to get an orchestra and choir to the canary islands whilst others in the world were skiving off work ‘unable to get to work and playing in the snow 

Megan Russell, Projects Manager
I’m not sure if it my absolute ‘top moment’ artistically speaking, but a very memorable moment was when the Glyndebourne stage was suddenly filled with members of the Fairy Queen cast dressed as bright pink cartoon-esque bunny rabbits energetically acting out what bunny rabbits get up to in the spring time… I couldn’t quite believe my eyes!

Do you have any memorable OAE moments of 2009? Feel free to comment here!

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