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Today it’s official – this is the coldest place in the USA at -20C.

On Thursday we shared a concert with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, at Temple Israel in Minneapolis. We played Mozart, CPE Bach and Haydn in the first half and then they played a Shostakovich chamber symphony. Afterwards our hosts held a reception for us at Stella’s Fish Cafe where we were given a wonderful buffet meal and a real welcome. We presented them with a signed poster and a copy of the OAE’s 21st birthday book – it’s the SPCO’s 50th anniversary this year so we are still adolescent by comparison!

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We’ve been here for four days now, and are finding our way around.  It is not as cold as it was the previous week, so the large amount of clothing that we all brought with us has been sitting in our wardrobes.  However, it is forecast to be much colder this weekend, so maybe I will be able to treat you to my impression of the Michelin Man soon.

We’ve been rehearsing with Rachel Podger at the St Pauls’ Chamber Orchestra Center, which is inside a beautiful 1920s building a couple of blocks from the hotel.  It also contains an old fashioned post office, a mens’ outfitters and a pet shop!

Yesterday we spent a day rehearsing at Wooddale Church.  The audiences at American churches seem to be about as big as the ones we get for concerts, judging by the size of the car park!  The church is well outside the city, in the middle of a lovely snowy landscape and a freeway system.  I went out walking and saw a large hawk in a tree, and very little else.  Here are some pictures.

Today we give our first concert, in Minneapolis.  I’ll report on this tomorrow.

Philippa Brownsword, Orchestra Manager

We’ve had the first few reviews from our two joint concerts with the London Sinfonietta over in St Paul:

New York Times (has a nice pic of the Orchestra and conductor Anu Tali)
Pioneer Press

There was a somewhat less charitable one from a St Paul based blogger but maybe we’ll leave you to find that one for yourselves…

Our blogger Ceri Jones is now back from the twin cities, and the players who were there for the Heiner Goebbels piece have been joined by the rest of the OAE, and our Orchestra Manager Philippa Brownsword, who is taking over blogging duties. We’ll be posting about the actual performances of the Heiner Goebbels piece soon, and a post from Philippa is on its way very shortly.

Will, Marketing Director

A few pics from our time in St Paul, Minnesota, courtesy of Ceri Jones. The players who were in the Heiner Goebbels concerts have now been joined by the rest of the Orchestra and Rachel Podger, and they’ll be performing 2 concerts there as well as 3 joint concerts with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. We hope to post more news soon.

While a small party of players has been out in the States this week the rest of the Orchestra has been in France, from where we’ve just had the following special report:

My name is Cagette, and I am the star of the show Mozart Short Cuts. Me.  Little me. Not those people in funny clothes who keep coming on and off the stage and singing.  And especially not those people in the pit who speak a funny language and are always trying to get me to come and be patted by them.  Why would I want to be pawed all over by a load of English musicians?  I can afford to be choosy.cagette

I have my own dressing room with a chaise longue and my favourite petits fours in a pink dish.  I have three scenes in the show.  I walk across the front of the stage, then I run in one door and out of another, and finally I am brought on in a hat box on a trolley by a very sinister figure who I think is trying to look like the masked man from the film Amadeus (one of my favourites, though there isn’t a big enough part for the dog in it).

I very rarely give interviews – you are very honoured.  In fact I have to go now, as it’s time for my make-up call.  Fifteen minutes to curtain up.  I’ll be signing pawtographs later, if you’d care to come back.  A bientot.

With the first concert ahead this evening, last night was the last free evening for the OAE players in the Goebbels concerts.  After an afternoon of rehearsing contemporary music (which I’m sure you are aware is not the OAE’s usual style…) a few of us decided to head to the cinema for a bit of a change of culture.  You may be thinking that going to the cinema was something you could easily do at home in the UK, but actually it gave me a whole new Minnesotan experience!

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We had our first Goebbels rehearsal yesterday evening.  Here is the orchestra rehearsing on the vast stage at the Ordway Center. It seems

Ordway Centre

Ordway Centre

Americans do everything on a much vaster scale than us Brits. Not only breakfast (which today included muffins, bagels, waffles, fruit, omelette, French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, yoghurt, cereal, coffee, fruit juice…..) but weather, and now concert halls too!

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We sometimes sell tickets on – and I was both amused and pleased to see The Night Shift listed alongside Blur and Boyzone on their site!

Will, Marketing Director


Yesterday was a day of firsts for me.  First long haul plane journey, first time experiencing jet lag, first trip out of Europe, first trip to the USA, first Visa, first time visiting a place where it’s normal for the temperature to be less than 0 degrees! So as you can imagine I was quite anxious about the trip…!

We’ll we’ve been here 24 hours now, and as the first rehearsal is this evening my first blog entry will focus on the non-musical elements of being on this tour.

The journey itself went actually very smoothly.  North West Airlines were great.  They were very happy to take the double bass in the hold – with no arguments! There was a great array of films to watch on the 8 hour journey (I managed 3 and a half, 2 of which were well worth watching) and as the plane was not very busy there was plenty of room to stretch out.  I can’t say that the food we were served was anything to write home about so I won’t!

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January 2009

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