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Here at OAE towers we are just having our coffee and getting set up for the week ahead. It’s a busy start to the week though as tomorrow sees the launch of our brand-new concert series, The Works. Here’s a trailer for tomorrow night’s event:

Click here to book

It’s that time of year again, the start of a new London season. And that means that it’s also time for our staff picks of the year. Here’s what we’re all looking forward to – some definite themes emerging. Players pics will follow tomorrow!

“I’m really excited about the opening concert this season on 29 September- featuring the ever-excitable and amazing pianist, Robert Levin.  After seeing him perform at the Night Shift back in February 2008 (the first concert I worked at as an official member of OAE staff (!)), it’s going to be fabulous seeing him direct another of Mozart’s Piano Concertos- he’s got such a passionate and energetic way of presenting pieces- which always comes across really well on stage, especially in the more informal, relaxed atmosphere of the Night Shift. Can’t wait!!”
info/tickets

Natasha Stehr, Press and Marketing Officer

Holyrood

Holyrood

“It’s the opening concert that is going to do it for me!  Weber’s magical Der Freischütz Overture; Mozart’s exhilarating A major Piano Concerto with the incomparable Robert Levin; and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony which I can never tire of listening to, not just for the attractions of the music but because of the story behind it: Mendelssohn’s journey through Scotland in 1829, aged 20, made so vivid through his sketches and the letters that he wrote about his experiences, and the very specific moment when the opening theme came to him during his visit to the ruined chapel of Holyrood Palace (pictured above)”  info/tickets

Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive

“Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet (18 February).  I’ve loved Romeo and Juliet as a subject matter ever since yr 9 (age 13) when I spent nearly an entire year of English classes getting to grips with Shakespeare for the first time.  I’ve since been fascinated about all the various takes on the story covered by so many art forms and composers from Berlioz to Bernstein (something we’ll look into much more detail at this years study day).  I can’t wait to hear Berlioz’s almighty (there are 4 harps!!!) version.” info/tickets 

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

“I’m most looking forward to the next Night Shift (29 Sep). After experiencing the format for the first time at the ‘mini’ event last week, I was most struck by how the audience were so uninhibited in their response to the music, the oppressive and weird ‘rules’ of how to view classical music really were thrown out the window. I can’t wait to see if this is maintained on the bigger stage of QEH and to be a part of one of the most forward-thinking classical nights in London.”  info/tickets

Toby Perkins, Graduate Intern

“As usual, I’ve struggled to narrow it down to only one! I was tossing up between ‘An Olympic Thread’ (10 Feb) and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (18 Feb), I love the orchestra when it has swelled to the forces needed for a piece like Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet, but ‘An Olympic Thread’ has won as I’m also a fan of the OAE in an intimate concert like this. Handel and the OAE were made to go together, so I’m really looking forward to hearing the Handel pieces, but I’m also interested in hearing a new commission, something which fairly rare for us. And I think it will be perfect timing to start getting excited about the Olympics which will be just round there corner.”  info/tickets

Megan Russell, Projects Manager

“It is hard to decide which concert I am looking forward to most as there is such a variety this season. Berlioz’s epic Romeo and Juliet conducted by Sir Mark Elder (18 Feb), a new commission by Sally Beamish (10 Feb) and a visit from Mozart impresario Robert Levin (29 Sept, 4 Oct, 3 May) are just a few magical moments which I am sure not to miss. But which is my favourite? After much deliberation I think it is a tie between Bostridge sings Bach (25 April) and French Impressionists (10 June). Ian Bostridge is a personal favourite of mine and I’ve cleared my diary to make sure I am free to experience two of my favourite Bs in one concert; an event which promises to be a sumptuous Baroque feast. For my second choice, we need to fast forward in time to 19th century France. Sir Simon Rattle and Pierre-Laurent Aimard are set to take us on a journey with three French masters, Debussy, Fauré and Ravel. I can’t wait to hear the orchestra interpret this shimmering, decadent music; a real wake up call to anyone who thinks the OAE only play ‘old’ compositions!” info/tickets (Bostridge) info/tickets (Rattle)

Natasha Riordan-Eva, Communications Intern

“So hard to choose! 1700s London & the Fab Four (21 Nov) because Rachel Podger is such a joy to watch, and the two programmes with Brandenburg concertos – Baroque Giants: Bach with Lisa Beznosiuk’s enchanting flute playing (4 March) and Bostridge Sings Bach (25 April) with the captivating Ian Bostridge and the wonderful Steven Devine.”  info/tickets (21 Nov) info/tickets (4 March)

Lucy Pilcher, Corporate Relations and Events Administrator

“So, I’m most looking forward to the first and the last of the Southbank concerts, although I will enjoy all in between I’m sure! 29 September is a pick for me because I love Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony.  Really excited about 10 June for the French Impressionists concert with Sir Simon Rattle because it is so different, I can’t wait to hear Prelude a l’apres midi d’une faune on period instruments.” tickets/info (29 Sept) tickets/info (10 June)

Ellie Cowan, Education Officer

“As ever, hard to choose. I, like others, will cheat and pick two. First, The Works (4 Oct). This is a totally new venture for us (read about it here), so I’m both excited and nervous about it. Robert Levin is an amazing speaker though, so we will be safe in his hands, and it’s an incredible piece of music too, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23. My second pic is our concert led by violinist Matthew Truscott on 10 February. I’m really excited that we will be playing a brand new piece by Sally Beamish, written for the Olympic year. It’s of course rare for the OAE to play new music, but I think the concept of new music written for old instruments is quite interesting. Definitely worth checking out.” tickets/info (4 Oct) tickets/info (10 Feb).

William Norris, Communications Director

View a virtual brochure for the whole season here

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 »

As you may just have noticed from this blog, one of the highlights of our year so far has been our tour with Sir Simon Rattle and Katia and Marielle Labèque. After concerts in Luxembourg, Paris and Dublin, the tour culminated in a sold-out show at the Royal Festival Hall. Our intrepid camera-man Zen caught up with you after the show to find out what you thought. Sadly our celebrity guest Madonna (did we mention she came?) slipped out a little early so we didn’t get her thoughts on camera…

Last Tuesday’s concert at the Royal Festival Hall with Sir Simon Rattle was always going to be a busy night. Not only was it Sir Simon, which always brings a frisson of excitement, but we had a sold-out Royal Festival Hall, which while fantastic, is always a little stressful. We also had a plethora of different receptions going on around the venue for the various people who had supported our Silver Appeal and for our sponsors, Commerzbank. At the last moment though, an additional complication was thrown into the mix.

As you might have read previously on the blog we knew that Madonna liked the Labèque sisters, so we really did send an invite to her. Of course we didn’t think for a minute she would actually come. The day before the concert our Intern, Georgina, received a mysterious call from someone needing to make special arrangements for a VIP. They had previously been in contact with our Projects Director, Ceri, but she was now in the air en route to Dublin. So Georgina took down all the details and requests of the mysterious VIP without actually knowing who it was. Ceri was uncontactable for the next 2 hours – cue feverish speculation in  the OAE office.

As soon as Ceri landed Georgina called her. It was indeed the Queen of Pop Madonna. To use teen speak, everyone was a bit OMG. Read the rest of this entry »

Simon Rattle at RFHWell, the reviews are in from our Rattle concert on Tuesday at the Royal Festival Hall, plus a couple from the tour too. You can read them via the links below, but here are three of our favourite quotes:

“That continuing rapport was immediately and sustainedly obvious in this delightful Haydn and Mozart concert, and all without any of the publicity overload that surrounded his Berliner Philharmoniker dates earlier in the year.

There was some Haydn in those Berlin programmes, too, but this time, working with a much smaller and more specialist band, the treatment was more authentic and enjoyable.” THE GUARDIAN (4 stars)

“It was in the two Haydn symphonies that Rattle and the OAE best showed what a triumphant partnership the two have honed in some 25 years working together” THE TIMES (5 stars)

“When this music is played by the OAE light doesn’t just dawn, it dazzles; and even more so when Sir Simon Rattle is on the podium” THE TELEGRAPH (5 stars)

Guardian

Telegraph

Times

BBC Music Magazine

Classical Source

Bach Track

Irish Times (Dublin concert)

Petite Classique (Luxembourg concert, in French)

Picture by Joe Plommer

This photo is not an accurate depiction of life in the OAE office...

Well, after five cities, four concerts, three trains, two planes and one coach our tour with Sir Simon Rattle is over. Everything culminated in a sold-out concert at the Royal Festival Hall last night (a concert that marked 25 years of the OAE!) , and not only was it sold out but we had a few added complications, not least of which being a last-minute special guest – none other than Madonna!

Today we have a slightly tired team in the office (and most probably a slightly tired Orchestra too!) but we’ve not long to catch our breath – the Orchestra is rehearsing today and tomorrow for the Glyndebourne production of Rinaldo and Friday sees our Night Shift at Village Underground.

In the coming days look out for special reports, pictures and footage from the tour, plus a full report on last night’s action-packed evening at the Royal Festival Hall.

Oh and if you want to get in early next year’s concert with Sir Simon is already on sale

William Norris, Communications Director

Ahead of our all-Handel programme tomorrow night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, we caught up with OAE leader and director for this concert, Alison (Ally) Bury…

Alison BuryWhat do you fear the most? 

Monsters – inner and outer, real and metaphorical.

 Which mobile number do you call the most?

My husband, Richard Earle, OAE oboist. But I prefer my landline.

What – or where – is perfection?

A summer walk on the South Downs followed by tea and cakes.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?

Difficult to choose just one – but I love Rose Aubrey, the narrator of Rebecca West’s The Fountain Overflows, one of the few novels which gives a convincing account of a musician’s life.

What’s your favourite ritual?

Doing the Guardian cryptic crossword with my husband over a cup of tea. Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve just had the films developed from our disposable cameras that we dotted around the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer at the last Night Shift event on 4 May.  Here’s a few choice ones for you:

For the full set, you can visit our Flickr page where you can also find the official pics, taken by Joe Plommer.

And just a quick reminder that you don’t have long to wait until our next Night Shift- it’s making its debut at the Village Underground, in the heart of Shoreditch on 24 June…more details on our Night Shift website.

Roy GoodmanIn just over a week’s time we have our next concert at Southbank Centre, May the fours be with you. We know the concert title has been a bit of a marmite-like subject, you either love it or hate it – but it just references all the fours – 4th May, Mozart Symphony 40, Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4, Schubert Symphony No. 4…

Anyhow, for this concert (and the Night Shift that follows) we’re joined by conductor Roy Goodman, for whom this is a bit of a special moment – returning to the OAE as conductor, after having been a player member of the OAE in our early days back in the 80′s. Here’s his Speed Interview. You can also catch the concert in Bristol this Thursday, 28 April.

What/when was your big breakthrough?
Boy soloist for Decca Records in Allegri’s Miserere as a chorister in King’s College Choir 1963.

What do you fear the most?
Divorce and overdrafts.

 Which mobile number do you call the most?
Jane, my Kiwi girlfriend in Auckland, New Zealand.

What – or where – is perfection?
A full moon whilst sailing my boat in the Western Isles of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

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