You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

SO – two weeks, six countries, nine cities, fifteen train journeys, five flights, nine coach journeys, one car journey, seven hotels, twelve concerts, twenty four symphonies, thirteen overtures, six Christmas markets, far too many chocolates, undisclosed quantities of beer and wine…and we’re on our way home.
Yesterday in Paris, the day was grey and damp. A huge box of heavenly chocolates greeted us as we stumbled into the murky gloom backstage. This semi darkness is typical of many backstage areas in concert halls all over the world, and at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees there was much entertainment to be had falling over lengthy clumps of cables, negotiating one’s way around scaffolding towers dripping with theatre lights, avoiding unstable stacks of chairs plonked at random in the dark and searching for a surface or floor space on which to place an instrument case. Read the rest of this entry »

I hope somebody is reading the blog today as I am currently updating from Cafe Nero on Christmas Eve – its fairly close to being hideous in here…

Anyway, as I mentioned below last week we had our Office Warming and Christmas Party. We actually moved into our new office at Kings Place in July, but it’s taken us a while to get all the last details fixed, not to mention find a spare date in the diary for a party! We wanted to have one to thank all the people who physically made the move possible – architect, office fit out company etc, as well as show off our new office to the arts industry! The new office has been a revelation – our previous offices were cramped, sweltering in summer and mostly smelt of food due to being above several restaurants. They also had virtually no windows. Our new offices are bright, airy, air-conditioned and have a lovely view over the canal – its just a far more pleasant place to work – and of course we are now in the same building as many of our rehearsals, as 2 floors below us is ‘Hall 2’ where we now do much of our rehearsing. Anyway, my time on the internet is limited here so I will leave it there – a few pics are posted below. I’ll take this opportunity to wish our readers a very happy Christmas!

Will, Marketing Director

So, after reading all about the OAE’s last week in Europe it was now my turn to join the tour for the last few days.  Once again the orchestra found themselves on a charter plane, this time to Karlsruhe from Stanstead airport.  Having the charter plane was a sheer delight with a very smooth check-in and no other passengers within a mile of our boarding gate! (The rest of Stanstead was chaos!).  The Christmas turkey meal we were served on the plane was not so much of sheer delight, but filled a growling tummy all the same!

After a short transfer to our hotels, in Baden-Baden an hour to check-in and rest (?!), we were picked up and taken to the Festspielhaus for the rehearsal & concert.
It was dark by now, so didn’t get to see much of Baden-Baden ( so good they named it twice? Sorry had to get that in somewhere….) en route to the concert hall, apart from lots of white Christmas trees!



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On arrival in Birmingham we were greeted by a lively and colourful German Christmas Market, scenting the air with wurst and glühwein as we made our way to Symphony Hall.  Pre-rehearsal saw a flurry of Christmas cards exchanged:  the result of an afternoon and evening at home!  Simon must have felt himself in a time-warp as he rehearsed with us, with exhortations to round out the ends of notes and reach for extremities in our dynamic range, to exploit the idiosyncracies of this exceptional hall, which he’d inhabited from its inception.  Indeed it owed its very existence to Simon.

This concert, which felt extremely special to us, must have stirred up many memories for Simon as well as for the 2000-strong audience, of whom the core must surely have been his loyal admirers.  (Incidentally the acoustic was as faithful to the splutterers as to us!)

Simon’s electric immediacy and spontaneous gestures drew crackling energy from us and the audience reaction was palpable.

We unwound homewards, in cars and a merry band on the train, reverting to Glyndebourne- commute mode.  This morning, Stansted – headed for more German Christmas markets!

Annette Isserlis, viola

Thought we’d share a few reviews from recent weeks. First up is something from a little while back – Tom Service’s fantastic review of our last Night Shift – read it here on his blog. A lot of hard work goes into putting Night Shift’s on, so its nice to get such a positive review. We’ll do a post sometime about the logistics of putting two concerts on in one night!

His blog seemed to get picked up by quite a few people. Here you can even hear a group of students in the States talking about it!

Here’s a more recent piece from Reuters, a more general look at the Orchestra.

Finally here are a selection of reviews from our recent concerts with Sir Simon Rattle here in London.


Sunday Times


Here’s a photogallery from our 2 days in Spain, thanks to Megan for being our resident paparazzi! Yesterday the OAE flew back to the UK for a days break and today they are off to Birmingham for a concert in the fabulous acoustic of Symphony Hall. Then tomorrow they fly to Germany for the final leg of the tour.

Some slightly fuzzzy heads in the OAE office today – we had our office warming and Christmas party last night. Pics to follow soon!

Will, Marketing Director

So after three chilly days in Vienna, we set sail for sunnier climes, aboard our own chartered Airbus.  As there were far more seats than people we were able to spread out and relax on the flight;  however, our arrival at Madrid airport was somewhat chaotic as we were

The OAE's charter plane

The OAE's charter plane

delivered to the wrong terminal by the shuttle bus that picked us up when we disembarked.  After making sure that no-one had gone to the loo and been left behind (this involves banging loudly on the door and shouting), we got on another bus and made it safely to the baggage reclaim.  There were were met by our excellent agents, Carmen Prieto and Ines de Labra.

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A picture gallery from our recent couple of days in Vienna. The Orchestra is currently in Spain, look out for news very soon.

William, Marketing Director

The OAE concert with Simon Rattle last Tuesday was, for me, the highlight of the orchestra’s concerts in 2008. Following on from their performance of Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri last December, the orchestra has gone on to explore the symphonies of the composer.


As a music student we are often told that these symphonies, are clumsy, problematic and badly orchestrated. However, Rattle and the orchestra made these symphonies make perfect sense. The performances of the first and third symphonies were the most poetic I have ever heard in a concert hall. There was some very unique phrasing from the strings, which, though it may not have been entirely “authentic”, really made the music seem personal. The first symphony was full of exciting energy from the very beginning and was brought to a thrilling close, at no point did this seem too heavy and awkward. The third, the most famous in the cycle was full of contrasting characters and colours, and the sombre fourth movement was very chilling, and played with great poise and control from the orchestra.

I look forward to the orchestra’s next project with Simon Rattle!

Chris Rawley, OAE Student Representative

The violas have just had a very jolly lunch. All of us trooped off to “arco-wein”, a delightful restaurant run by two viola players! Needless to say the food was great and very cheap. Nick and Marina in our viola section speak fluent German so conversation flowed very naturally with the owners who were astounded to find the whole section present for lunch. Nick also found out that the owner was the son of someone he played in quartets with many years ago. Small world.

Tonight (Monday 15th) is our second concert. The acoustic of the Konzerthaus

Vienna Konzerthaus

Vienna Konzerthaus

is very different from Brussels and London. It was fascinating to see how Simon turned corners in a different way to take advantage of the more resonant space. I can’t wait to hear how the ‘Cologne Cathedral’ music in the ‘Rhenish’ symphony sounds in this wonderful hall tonight.

Another highlight of the trip for me was going to the Vienna State Opera with Cat and Koggie on our first night here. I had seen the French version of “Don Carlo” in London earlier this year so to see the Italian version which is quite different was a real treat. Again the wonderful Ferruccio Furlenetto was Phillip II and a very strong tenor, Johann Botha, sang the part of Don Carlo. In that fabulous acoustic with an open pit the orchestra were fab, especially the double basses. After playing Schumann so much the Verdi came as a real shock. What powerfully dramatic music. Wonderful stuff. A great evening.

Off to Madrid tomorrow…

Martin Kelly, viola

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December 2008

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