Many of you will know of, or will have been to, one of our Night Shift events. We introduced these late-night concerts about 5 years ago, for a number of reasons – the prime one being that we wanted to appeal to a different audience to that which comes along at 7pm. But also at the OAE we like experimenting and trying new things – and the idea of a late-night informal concert simply appealed to us. As evidenced by the fact we’re still doing them 5 years later, the series has been a great success, but a year ago we started thinking ‘what next’?
When I say ‘what next’ I mean in terms of types of concert. We really like the idea of varying the concert format, so that we have a range of things that appeal to different people. We already have our ‘standard’ 7pm concerts, the Night Shift and also our amazingly popular Tots events. So we started thinking about other ideas. A shortlist was drawn up, we debated it at a board meeting, and we decided to go for something which at the time was called an ‘explorer’ concert.
The idea from this is evolved from a couple of one-off events we’ve had with conductors Iván Fischer and Marin Alsop in past seasons, where they have deconstructed a piece of music before we give a performance of it. But the concept also evolved from what some Night Shift focus groups had told us. In those groups we actually had some attenders who were somewhat older than the typical Night Shift audience. Like others in the focus groups they weren’t actually that keen on traditional classical concerts, but they came because they liked the event and its informality. However some of them did say that it was a little too late for them and that they felt they didn’t quite fit in with the studenty audience. So this made us think…we could develop something almost midway between a 7pm concert and a Night Shift. Something informal, welcoming and approachable, but perhaps a bit more structured than a Night Shift, but incorporating lots of ideas from it nonetheless.
So, after an office-wide brainstorm to find a name The Works was born. The concept is not rocket science. The heart of it is a concert at 8pm, that lasts around 80 minutes, with no interval. In the first part of the concert the presenter and conductor or soloist will give the audience a ‘guided tour’ of the featured piece of music, movement by movement. Then there’s time for a Q+A and then a full performance of it. Drinks will be allowed in and we hope some of the informal atmosphere of the Night Shift will ensue. Before the concert, from 7pm we have some jazz in the bar as a way to start people’s evening off and then after the concert our Education Director, Cherry, will lead a ‘speed-date-the-OAE’ session, which is basically a flash way of enabling the audience to meet the Orchestra (all will be explained on the night)!
Our first one is coming up soon on 4 October, for which we’re fortunate to be joined by pianist Robert Levin, who is such an amazing speaker. He’ll be playing and introducing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23 – a great piece to start the series with.
It’s an experiment, and like when we first started the Night Shift, we’re bound to fine-tune it performance-by-performance. But if you’re curious, come along – and even better, drag a classical music sceptic along with you too!
William Norris, Communications Director