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Yes we’re still eking out news from our Simon Rattle tour…

It was the first trip with the Orchestra for our Digital Content Officer, Zen, and here’s his account of the tour:

Often described as the ‘intrepid’ cameraman, I have to say I embarked on this trip, my first OAE tour experience, with a fair dose of trepidation. How would I fair in this close-knit orchestral group for almost 4 days – or more importantly how would they react to having a camera almost constantly in their faces?

The brief was to capture as much footage of the tour as possible and edit it down to a video of duration no greater than 2’59” (a length that was agreeable to the various venues and agents) and to get to know the players better.  A familiarity with the players is very useful when harassing them for a voxpop.  Many have already been subjected to on the spot interviews and know how I usually pounce in rehearsal breaks, but Kings Place where we often rehearse allows plenty of hiding places, not so a packed Eurostar carriage…

Drinks with the Orchestra

Important work. Getting to know the Orchestra.

Getting to know the players better was something I got stuck into straight away.  The brass/percussion section took me under their wing on the first night in Brussels (a rare night off for the orchestra) confirming the stereotype with a comprehensive tour of the local bars.  I survived, but barely.  The next morning I emerged from the hotel in a daze only to see both coaches departing on their way to Luxembourg… were they trying to get rid of me already? My surname ‘Grisdale’ had been crossed off accidently along with ‘Griffiths’, Kevin our young conductor.  Nevertheless they saw me waving in a panic and let me on board.

So I made it to the Philharmonie Luxembourg, which is a beautiful concert hall in a rather bleak part of town which is largely a building site, a lot of construction going on.  The hall inside is impressive with boxes that look like mini blocks of flats.  After filming the rehearsal I sought to approach Sir Simon Rattle for a few quick words.  In a previous OAE video about CPE Bach I managed to get Sir Roger Norrington in front of the camera as he sipped his tea during rehearsal break and he happily divulged all things CPE.  This technique I wished to apply to Sir Simon Rattle.  Unfortunately it was not to be, so we agreed to postpone it to the final London date at the Royal Festival Hall.

The Labèque sisters were up for it and Katia insisted that I film them as much as possible in rehearsals etc.  However an interview was not on the cards as they were both not feeling well (really they weren’t) but they gave me their word that they would also do it at the Royal Festival Hall… Read the rest of this entry »

OAE Projects Manager Megan Russell is a keen photographer and took some great pictures from the Luxembourg and Paris legs of the tour – here are a selection:

Well today is the first day of our latest project with our Principal Artist Sir Simon Rattle (pictured conducting us a few years ago in Budapest). Of course everyone is *quite* excited about it. We’re touring a concert of Mozart and Haydn, which also features pianists Katia & Marielle Labèque playing the Mozart Concerto for two pianos.

This afternoon and evening sees our first rehearsal with Sir Simon (he’s coming to us straight from a project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), with further rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday (we have a rehearsal of Rinaldo for Glyndebourne on the Tuesday). That evening we’re off to Brussels – staying the night there and onto Luxembourg on Friday. We give a concert in Luxembourg Friday night before travelling onto Paris for a concert there on Saturday. We’ve also just found out that we’re going head to head with the London Symphony Orchestra that night – we’re at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, while they are at the Salle Pleyel – and we’re even staying at the same hotel!

Sunday morning we travel back to London before flying to Dublin for a concert at the National Concert Hall on Monday night. Then it’s an early flight back Tuesday to London and the final concert of the tour at the Royal Festival Hall.

It’s going to be an exciting week and we’re going to try and bring you as much news as possible along the way. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest.

Here’s a little video diary from our trip to Paris back in January, when we took a supersized OAE there for a concert of Wagner, Liszt and Mahler with conductor Vladimir Jurowski and mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly. We armed Communications Director William Norris with a video camera, and here are the results:

Projects Manager Megan Russell got snapping when we were in Paris with Vladimir Jurowski and our Symphonic Enlightenment programme a couple of weeks ago:

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly who sings with us in London and Paris next week, talks to journalist Andrew Mellor about her work with later romantic repertoire such as Mahler and Wagner:

You seem to be moving in a new direction with all this Wagner and Mahler…
Yes – thank goodness I had a lot of superb training at Glyndebourne, which prepared me very well. I didn’t realise I had that dramatic sound in my voice until Vladimir Jurowski offered me a concert performance of Tristan a while ago. He seemed to think I could do it and I appreciated that leap of faith. I had sung Das Lied von der Erde with the Concertgebouw and many other orchestral lieder by Mahler so despite performing Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the same time, Brangäne’s music felt very natural. I will confess though that her extreme outbursts initially made me want to apologize to the rest of the room! I felt slightly uncomfortable with Wagnerian hysteria.

You seemed very suited to the character at your Prom performance with Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment this summer…
Actually Simon came to that rehearsal of Tristan with the LPO and Vladimir and that’s how the Prom came about. Simon was offering different ways of doing things, giving me more space than I’d been used to. He’s a wonderful accompanist; he invites the orchestra to accompany and never dominates, but at the same time he is also able to take the lead. Read the rest of this entry »

In two weeks time we’re getting out of our comfort zone and playing some HUGE (for us) pieces by Mahler, Liszt and Wagner with our Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski. On the programme are two pieces by Mahler, his Totenfeier, and also the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (with soloist Sarah Connolly). Ahead of the concerts we caught up with some OAE players and asked them what Mahler means to them. Opinion was mixed…

You can catch the concert on 21 January at the Royal Festival Hall, 22 January at the Théatre de Champs Elysées in Paris, and two pieces feature in our Night Shift on 19 January at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Ok advert over – here’s the video:

 

Next month, our Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski returns to us to conduct a boundary pushing (for a period instrument orchestra) Symphonic Enlightenment programme of Mahler, Wagner and Liszt. There’s a performance in the Royal Festival Hall on 21 Jan, a Night Shift at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 19 Jan, and should you live in Paris, a performance there on 22 Jan.

On Monday, our intrepid Digital Content Officer, Zen, will be catching up with Vladimir to interview him in advance of his concerts with us. We want to know your burning questions to put to him, so add them here as comments or over on our Facebook page. We promise to ask a selection of them, and we’ll get the video up before Christmas. You might want to ask about the programme, his career, why he works with the OAE or even why he likes the Moomins…(that will be explained in a forthcoming Speed Interview actually).

The full line up for concerts on 21 and 22 Jan is below, with the pieces included in The Night Shift indicated by a seasonal snow flake (*). (ok, it’s an asterisk…)

Wagner Prelude to Parsifal
Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a wayfarer), with soloist Sarah Connolly.
Mahler Totenfeier*
Liszt Les Preludes*

Last week we travelled to Paris for the final concert of our mini Beethoven tour with Vladimir Jurowski (mini in that it was a short tour, not that we were playing small pieces of music). We were playing in our regular venue in Paris, the Théâtre de Champs Elysées, which we visit at least a couple of times each season. The theatre is interesting for a couple of reasons – firstly, its a beautiful and historic building – and where the Rite of Spring was famously premiered, with ensuing riot. Second, it leads a dual life as both theatre (and opera house) and concert hall. So, while we performed on stage (with a special acoustic shell installed behind the orchestra to help the sound), the set of what appeared to be Cinderella was behind us, complete with giant stilettos.

The concert was being filmed for DVD and web broadcast so the afternoon rehearsal was carried out in concert dress and with the lighting that would be later used for the performance (darker than would be usual), and as you can imagine there were cables almost everywhere. I watched the rehearsal from backstage, where there was a monitor showing what was being filmed.

After the concert there was what is known as a ‘patching session’, where any bits of the performance that perhaps weren’t quite perfect are played again so that the DVD version is as near perfect as possible. Obviously with this being the OAE, the patching session didn’t need to be very long, and everyone was very happy to be on the bus back to the hotel fairly quickly after the concert.

The concert can be viewed online here FREE  for a limited period

William Norris, Marketing Director

A rather belated round of pictures from the last couple of dates of our tour with Sir Simon Rattle back in December.
The end of the tour was in Paris and it was obvious to the audience the great bond between Orchestra and conductor that had been strengthened during the tour – I’ve never seen an Orchestra present a conductor with presents on stage! After the concert the Theatre de Champs Elysees very kindly laid on a champagne reception to mark the end of the tour – apologies for the rather dark picture.

Members of the OAE are currently in Minnesota and St Paul, USA. The OAE is one of a number of chamber Orchestras invited there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Initially we have travelled out with our office-mates the London Sinfonietta and we’ll be giving two joint performances of Heiner Goebbel’s Songs of Wars I have Seen. Then, next week, more members of the OAE travel out to give performances of a Baroque programme with Rachel Podger. Look out for updates here very soon!

Will, Marketing Director

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