You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

As has become customary at this time of year we asked around the office and orchestra for people’s top OAE moments of 2010. There are definitely a few trends in the below… and we’d love to know what your top OAE moments of the year were too.

It’s difficult for me to decide whether Beethoven with Iván Fischer or Bach with John Butt wins my best moment of 2010? I’vedecided it’s John Butt because I have not worked with him as a director before. John is a leading Bach scholar and there were constant pearls of wisdom and humour (always a good thing in rehearsals). He is such an open and physically uninhibited musician. One of my favourite moments was when he asked us to be like evil black poodles—- all I could think of was Cruella de Vil! Not very 18th century but it worked.

Martin Kelly, Viola and Vice-Chairman

It was definitely Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne which I had the pleasure of watching twice; firstly on our annual office trip and the next time with my mum when we were caught in the worst downpour of the summer. The poor dressed up Glyndebourne-dwellers were darting, bubbly in arms, into any available shelter possible during the interval and it was a sorry, soggy lot of us who trudged back into the performance. It was my mum’s first visit to Glyndebourne though and she didn’t care at all. Don Giovanni was amazing all the way through but I especially loved the very end. Those dramatic scales over the descending bass line plus the Commendatore bellowing ‘Don Giovanni!’ certainly made for a spine tingling death scene!

Natalie Chivers, Education Projects Manager

I loved the Creation education project.

The chaos of moving 800 children that preceeded and followed the event was quite something; the silence and concentration of all those pupils watching and engaged during the performance in a packed Queen Elizabeth Hall was striking. I had great fun and learnt a lot about DNA!

The Night shift at the Roundhouse in January was amazing too.

Isabelle Tawil, Development Manager, Individual Giving

Without a doubt, the Iván Fischer Beethoven concerts in March – particularly at the Lincoln Center in New York where we gave two concerts as part of a complete cycle of the Symphonies with Iván’s “other” Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which gave two concerts as well.  The audience reaction and Iván’s inspiring and totally unique conducting style produced electrifying musical moments of the year.

Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive Read the rest of this entry »


Projects Director Ceri Jones took a video camera with her on our most recent tour to France and Spain. Here’s the (condensed) video diary:

Our December podcast is now out. In this bumper edition we:

  • Talk to conductor Jonathan Cohen about his New Year’s concerts with us
  • Find out how someone needing the loo led to the Royal Festival Hall opening its doors all day
  • Talk to Duke Dobing from the office team to find out what a Development Director does
  • Hear from violinist Roy Mowatt about his top CD picks
  • Look ahead to our tour with legendary Beethoven interpreter David Zinman



Christmas and New Year just wouldn’t be the same with our favourite orchestra, would it? Well, we’re pleased  to say that whether you’re in London or not, you’ll be able to enjoy our music making in the coming couple of weeks. First off there’s a chance on Christmas Eve to hear us on BBC2, playing in Glyndebourne’s 2010 production of Don Giovanni. Vladimir Jurowski, one of our Principal Artists, conducts. The performance goes out at 2.45 on 24th December, and you can find out more about the production over on the Glyndebourne website.

Next up there are two opportunities to hear us at Kings Place giving an all Mozart programme on 31 Dec (at 6pm) and 1 Jan (at 1pm). The 1 January concert will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, kicking off their Genius of Mozart Season.

We hope you can join us in person or via TV or radio this festive season!

(with thanks to Michael Windsor-Ungureanu for the image)

Dear All

I wanted to say a huge thank you to you all for the last five fantastic years.  As you may know I have been appointed Development Director of Future Talent and take up post there in the New Year.  I am excited about my new role but I can hardly believe that I am leaving the OAE.

I feel I have “grown up” as a fundraiser at the OAE.  I came here five years ago with a masters degree and a few lucky gifts raised but it is here that I have leant how to look after donors, to grow someone’s support and most importantly how to hold your breath and hope all goes how you planned.

I leave here with some fantastic musical memories.  The Ian Bostridge Southbank Handel aria concert in 2007 has to be one of my favourite concerts seconded only by the amazing St Matthew Passion at Glyndebourne which I loved.  Battling through a snow storm with the band in Washington DC to a dining club after the Library of Congress concert was probably not my best moment of organisation but it was certainly memorable.  Watching Steve Thomas and Will Norris mimicking the dance in Julius Cesare on the lawn of Glyndebourne will always make me laugh.  Read the rest of this entry »

A few weeks ago members of the OAE Office team were lucky enough to have a special backstage tour of the Royal Festival Hall. Now ordinarily this wouldn’t be *that* interesting, because we all get to see backstage whenever we have a concert. But this tour went beyond backstage, past the dressing rooms into the real guts of the Royal Festival Hall!

First off we were led up to a room near the roof, where an array of antique machines were whirring away. Turns out they are original 1950’s air circulating equipment, maintaining fresh air (but not air-con) to all the backstage areas. They are so well made and reliable they didn’t need to be replaced during the hall’s recent refurb. After this we climbed up onto the roof of the hall and then through a small door into the part of the roof that sticks up above the rest. It looked like we were inside a spaceship, as every surface was covered in foil. This was in fact the air-con plant for the hall, maintaining it at a steady temperature – all this is brand new equipment as before the refurbishment the hall didn’t have any air conditioning.

Section of original ceiling, held to the struts by cloth soaked in plaster!

Now onto one of the more fascinating/terrifying parts of the tour as we were led above the very ceiling of the Royal Festival Hall. Here we could see how the acoustic sails above the stage can be moved and sound and light equipment be lowered in. A series of metal gantries runs over the ceiling now, which was completely reonstructed during the refurbishment but looks to the observer (from below) exactly the same as before. This would have all been a good deal more scary before the refurbishment as then there were no gantries and instead technicians had to carefully slide on wooden boards over the metal struts holding the ceiling ups. One slip and their legs would have gone straight through the horsehair and plaster ceiling – which in any case was only tied to the metal struts with bits of cloth dipped in plaster! Luckily in 50 years there were no accidents. The last two sections of ceiling have been left as they were and you can see how fragile they are. As we walked over the roof you could glimpse the hall below, which personally I found pretty terrifying!

After this we went to the ‘follow spot’ area at the back of the hall to see the Read the rest of this entry »

Here are some reviews from our recent tour of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio:

The Guardian on 10 December concert at St. George’s Bristol

Bristol Evening Post on 10 December concert at St. George’s Bristol

Classical Source on 12 December concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Classical Music Blog from Robert Hugill on 12 December concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

If you were at one of our performances in London, Southampton, Bristol or Southwell, let us know what you thought!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Ok, not quite *that* time of year exactly as we’re actually doing this years photoshoot much earlier than usual. The 2011-2012 season gets launched to the press in late January so we’re rushing to get everything ready for then. As with last year’s pictures we’re not going to give too much away, but this year’s shoot is about projection and personalities. We’re working with photographer Eric Richmond again, and designers Harrison. Today was the first day of the shoot, and it’s always a bit nerve wracking, seeing if the concept is going to work in reality. I can report that it definitely does. I’ve just got back to the office from the studio and here are a few pics from day one – taken on my phone so not top quality…

William Norris, Communications Director

John Butt is currently with us conducting our tour of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio which has its last performance tonight, in Southwell. We put our speed interview questions to him:

What/when was your big breakthrough?
Well, I’ve had some fortunate opportunities in several aspects of my career, but I suppose as a conductor, the most significant was the first recording I did with the Dunedin Consort (Messiah in its Dublin version, 2006), which got a couple of major awards.

What do you fear the most?
In terms of performing, about which I tend to be quite intensive, it’s probably about having a complete energy block. This does happen often in everyday life (owing to an underlying condition) but never, so far, in performing or rehearsing. I suppose, in general, I fear most a decline in physical and mental abilities.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
My wife, Sally’s, by a long way – she’s very fond of the phone.

What – or where – is perfection?
Difficult one – I tend to think of it as an infinite process rather than as something that’s ever achieved. Bach’s attitude to composition is an obvious example of this – I’m sure that if he were still alive he’d still be working on the same pieces. And, if perfection ever seems to be achieved, isn’t it often a little dull? Performing with period instruments is an excellent case in point: you give up some of the perfections of what some might see as technical ‘progress’ (in terms of both instruments and the playing techniques), but gain other types of perfection in terms of tone, intonation, articulation (and, not least, the enquiring attitude of the performer). With older types of tuning you get some intervals that are acoustically close to perfect, but others that definitely aren’t, and these often have expressive connotations – thereby heading in the direction of yet another type of perfection… Read the rest of this entry »

A while back we asked you for suggestions for our opening concert of our 2011-2012 concert of season at Southbank Centre. Now, we have to admit we weren’t really overwhelmed with entries, certainly not as many as last year, but despite this we did get a few good suggestions (after all, quality is better than quantity, right?). We’re just finalising everything for the new season now ahead of a press launch in January and thought we’d let you choose which title we go with. To jog your memories the concert is:

Weber Overture Der Freischutz
Mozart Piano Concerto No.23
Mendelssohn Symphony No.3, Scottish

Robert Levin piano

Voting will close at 4pm on Thursday 16 December

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