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…

Post Luxembourg concert; another evening and another OAE player bonding session: Chi-chi’s Birthday party in her hotel room.  OAE staff were allowed rare entry (along with video camera) and we were subjected to a very odd rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ which sounded like some sort of Pagan ritual. (that footage will not be making it to Youtube).  It was nice to see that OAE players know well how to unwind after a concert.

The train journey to Paris was an opportunity to wander around with camera and interrogate the players.  It slowly became apparent that the most interesting, insightful and controversial dialogue was only uttered when the camera was off.  (Note to self: must get a hidden camera).  This is still the usual reaction I get.

nom nom nom...

At the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées I filmed Lisa Beznosiouk talking on the art deco staircase about the infamous Stravinsky premiere of ‘The Rite of Spring’ when he had to escape through the window of the  toilets, such was the reaction of the audience.  The acoustics are rather dry but one of the big highlights of playing at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées which most of the players agree on is the special box of chocolates that is presented to them before the concert.  It’s a great hall steeped in history, but I guess when you’ve played there as much as the OAE has, the little things start to count.

Last tour date at the RFH, London: The few words I had hoped to get with Sir Simon alas weren’t to be, and with the post-concert commotion surrounding a certain celebrity, the chances of getting an interview with the Labèques were diminishing fast.  I had almost packed away my camera after filming audience reactions, when someone mentioned that Marielle Labèque was looking for me.  Backstage I went, assembling my equipment on route.  Amongst the post concert backstage throng, out popped Marielle who led me by the hand to their dressing room. They are not ones for breaking a promise!  In front of their practise piano with flowers in hand, Marielle and Katia Labèque at last sat for interview.

Afterwards I joked with Katia that I thought Sir Simon might have been a bit pissed off with me for pestering him.  As we opened the door to exit the dressing room, there was Sir Simon standing at the doorway.  “Are you pissed off with Zen?” she asked Sir Simon.  “No, not at all” he replied.  I laughed nervously.  As the conversation turned elsewhere, I quickly asked Sir Simon with camera aimed, “how has your week been with the OAE?”…and hopefully you’ll be able to hear what he said when I finish editing the final video!

Zen Grisdale, Digital Content Officer