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Yes. After almost three years, 471 posts, 292 comments and 844 tags, we’re killing off the OAE Blog, and this is the last post.
Why?! We hear you ask…
Well…the answer is that it’s gaining a new lease of life. We’re integrating it into our new website, which is essentially a very large blog. Almost everything is a blog entry. It’s broken down into events, people, instruments, shop items and of course regular blog entries, and each of these appears in a ‘stream’ of items on the site.
So, you’ll no longer have to visit two places. Everything will be in one place. There’ll be no change in content, we’ll still bring you all the behind the scenes news, pictures and so on, but you’ll also, on the same site, be able to browse concerts, buy a CD and even make a donation.
All the old blog articles here have been imported into the new site, but we’ll also leave this here as a resource. but we wont be updating it anymore.
We’re hoping the new site will go live in the next few days…we’ll keep you updated, but you’ll be able to find it here. (update – it’s now live!)
Thanks for reading the OAE Blog – we’re a little sad to see it go, but we’re also confident this will be an exciting new future for it!
A couple of weeks ago our press team were busy getting papers and the Today programme interested in our story around Mozart Piano Concerto No.23. The press always like a picture to go with a story, so we hunted high and low for a picture of Barbara Ployer – Mozart’s pupil, who the concerto was most likely written for. We searched. And searched. And searched. But came up with nothing. It started to look hopeless. However Natasha, our communications intern, came to the rescue with some highly advanced photoshop skills and, using photographs of OAE staff members Katy Bell (Press Manager) and William Norris (Communications Director) as a starting point, and also piecing together documentary and historical evidence pointing to what Barbara Ployer looked like, she presented to us two startlingly lifelike images. These advanced photomontages are probably the closest we can get today to knowing what Mozart’s pupil looked like.
And, slightly more seriously, we did in the end source a sketch of Barbara Ployer, see it with the Guardian press story here.
Ahead of our The Works performance tonight, in which we’ll be giving the audience a guided tour of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23, here a video with pianist Robert Levin talking about how differently things would have been done in Mozart’s day.
Another feature of tomorrow’s The Works event is a special speed-dating session after the show. Well, speed-networking is maybe a better way to express it, but we’re going to use the structure of speed-dating to enable the audience to meet the Orchestra. There will be 10 tables in the foyer post show each with a player on, who’ll be primed and ready to answer all your questions. Unlike a real date however there can be several audience members per player! You’ll have 5 minutes at each table after which time a bell will go and you’ll have to move onto the next table.
BBC Music Magazine picked up on this a couple of issues ago, with a great little article and brilliant cartoon by Jonty Clark of Double Bass Chi-chi Nwanoku enjoying a particularly hot date…
Many thanks to BBC Music Magazine for allowing us to reproduce this article.
Here at OAE towers we are just having our coffee and getting set up for the week ahead. It’s a busy start to the week though as tomorrow sees the launch of our brand-new concert series, The Works. Here’s a trailer for tomorrow night’s event:
Pianist and scholar Robert Levin appeared with us last night in two concerts (a 7pm and a Night Shift) and today has been on a bit of a media blitz, appearing on Radio 4’s Today programme and the World Service too. There’s also something in the Evening Standard.
The reason? Well Robert has been talking about two things. Last night he performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23 with us, and Robert’s research strongly points to it being written for a pupil of his, Barbara Ployer, something previously unknown. One of the reasons he suspects this is that he found a coda written for the piece, which was intended for Barbara, and this coda hasn’t been performed for at least 200 years. But alongside this, Robert has been talking about how we perform Mozart these days. Modern performance very much sticks to what is written on the page, with no deviation. But Robert argues that in Mozart’s day there would have been a lot of free rein given to the soloist, to embellish the basic musical line, improvise around it etc. In fact, Robert, argues that his hero, Duke Ellington, is really like a modern-day Mozart.
Robert is performing the Concerto with us again on 4 October, as part of our very first The Works event. In the event he’ll be joined by presenter Suzy Klein, and the first half of the concert will be given over to a ‘guided tour’ of the concerto. More on the event in this previous blog post.
Here’s Robert talking about the concerto, plus links to today’s coverage.
Charles Hazlewood opens our 2011-2012 Southbank Centre season with us tomorrow, conducting music by Weber and Mendelssohn, in our Fingers, Felix and the Freeshooter concert. Later on, he’ll join us in The Night Shift.
What/when was your big breakthrough?
Winning the European Broadcasting Union Conducting Competition in 1995
What do you fear the most?
Losing my children
What – or where – is perfection?
At the end of the rainbow I guess, or in Mozart’s Magic Flute
Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Withnail (from the film Withnail & I) because he’s a very flawed (sort of) genius whose own worst enemy is most definitely himself.
What’s your favourite ritual?
Story telling or making risotto
Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
The slow movement of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante K364, Sibongile Khumalo live at the Market Theatre and Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, even stevens.
What’s the best thing about working with the OAE?
The sound and the way they listen
“My picks of the season: All of them of course….but if I really have to make a choice I’m really looking forward to the French romantic programmes. I can’t agree with Mendlessohn – I love Berlioz’s orchestration and particularly the subtle and effective ways he uses the double bass, and I can’t wait to hear what Debussy’s La Mer sounds like on period instruments. But just as exciting is the prospect of working with Laurence Cummings and the amazing energy and colour he brings to Handel and Bach, And then there’s the fab soloists like Levin, and Bostridge, and Podger, and Isserlis, and Faust and, and, and…you see I’m back where I started: all of them!
Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass
I’m very much looking forward to the Glory of Venice in January. The Monteverdi Vespers in 2010 was such a wonderful project I’ve been wanting to do more of that repertoire ever since. The Choir of the Enlightenment were fantastic and Rob Howarth has real insight into that style. For the Vespers I bought a new instrument – a beautiful copy of a Spanish bajon tuned in Dorian Mode – and it hasn’t had an outing since then! I’m also really looking forward to Romeo and Juliet with a team of four bassoons all playing early 19th century French originals – that’s a real rarity!
Andrew Watts, Bassoon
The French programme with Sir Simon Rattle in June is particularly exciting and challenging for the OAE’s timpani and percussion players. Spending our lives firmly in the rhythm section in classical repertoire, through the second half of the 19th century composers started to use timpani more as a harmonic instrument and percussion to create tone colours and effects. As the OAE branches out once again into a new area, we’ve got to select our instruments carefully with Debussy’s fascination with oriental music firmly in mind.
It’s reasonable to assume that Debussy’s La Mer , with its exotic influences and soporific moods, to be solely influenced by the Mediterranean, but it’s an interesting fact that Debussy actually finished the composition during an extended stay in Eastbourne! I haven’t yet been able to identify the “kiss-me-quick”, fish ‘n’ chips and donkey rides influences of the British seaside, but I’m sure they’re there somewhere…. Definitely one for a pub quiz….!
Adrian Bending, Timpani
It’s that time of year again, the start of a new London season. And that means that it’s also time for our staff picks of the year. Here’s what we’re all looking forward to – some definite themes emerging. Players pics will follow tomorrow!
“I’m really excited about the opening concert this season on 29 September- featuring the ever-excitable and amazing pianist, Robert Levin. After seeing him perform at the Night Shift back in February 2008 (the first concert I worked at as an official member of OAE staff (!)), it’s going to be fabulous seeing him direct another of Mozart’s Piano Concertos- he’s got such a passionate and energetic way of presenting pieces- which always comes across really well on stage, especially in the more informal, relaxed atmosphere of the Night Shift. Can’t wait!!”
Natasha Stehr, Press and Marketing Officer
“It’s the opening concert that is going to do it for me! Weber’s magical Der Freischütz Overture; Mozart’s exhilarating A major Piano Concerto with the incomparable Robert Levin; and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony which I can never tire of listening to, not just for the attractions of the music but because of the story behind it: Mendelssohn’s journey through Scotland in 1829, aged 20, made so vivid through his sketches and the letters that he wrote about his experiences, and the very specific moment when the opening theme came to him during his visit to the ruined chapel of Holyrood Palace (pictured above)” info/tickets
Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive
“Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet (18 February). I’ve loved Romeo and Juliet as a subject matter ever since yr 9 (age 13) when I spent nearly an entire year of English classes getting to grips with Shakespeare for the first time. I’ve since been fascinated about all the various takes on the story covered by so many art forms and composers from Berlioz to Bernstein (something we’ll look into much more detail at this years study day). I can’t wait to hear Berlioz’s almighty (there are 4 harps!!!) version.” info/tickets
Ceri Jones, Projects Director
“I’m most looking forward to the next Night Shift (29 Sep). After experiencing the format for the first time at the ‘mini’ event last week, I was most struck by how the audience were so uninhibited in their response to the music, the oppressive and weird ‘rules’ of how to view classical music really were thrown out the window. I can’t wait to see if this is maintained on the bigger stage of QEH and to be a part of one of the most forward-thinking classical nights in London.” info/tickets
Toby Perkins, Graduate Intern
“As usual, I’ve struggled to narrow it down to only one! I was tossing up between ‘An Olympic Thread’ (10 Feb) and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (18 Feb), I love the orchestra when it has swelled to the forces needed for a piece like Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet, but ‘An Olympic Thread’ has won as I’m also a fan of the OAE in an intimate concert like this. Handel and the OAE were made to go together, so I’m really looking forward to hearing the Handel pieces, but I’m also interested in hearing a new commission, something which fairly rare for us. And I think it will be perfect timing to start getting excited about the Olympics which will be just round there corner.” info/tickets
Megan Russell, Projects Manager
“It is hard to decide which concert I am looking forward to most as there is such a variety this season. Berlioz’s epic Romeo and Juliet conducted by Sir Mark Elder (18 Feb), a new commission by Sally Beamish (10 Feb) and a visit from Mozart impresario Robert Levin (29 Sept, 4 Oct, 3 May) are just a few magical moments which I am sure not to miss. But which is my favourite? After much deliberation I think it is a tie between Bostridge sings Bach (25 April) and French Impressionists (10 June). Ian Bostridge is a personal favourite of mine and I’ve cleared my diary to make sure I am free to experience two of my favourite Bs in one concert; an event which promises to be a sumptuous Baroque feast. For my second choice, we need to fast forward in time to 19th century France. Sir Simon Rattle and Pierre-Laurent Aimard are set to take us on a journey with three French masters, Debussy, Fauré and Ravel. I can’t wait to hear the orchestra interpret this shimmering, decadent music; a real wake up call to anyone who thinks the OAE only play ‘old’ compositions!” info/tickets (Bostridge) info/tickets (Rattle)
Natasha Riordan-Eva, Communications Intern
“So hard to choose! 1700s London & the Fab Four (21 Nov) because Rachel Podger is such a joy to watch, and the two programmes with Brandenburg concertos – Baroque Giants: Bach with Lisa Beznosiuk’s enchanting flute playing (4 March) and Bostridge Sings Bach (25 April) with the captivating Ian Bostridge and the wonderful Steven Devine.” info/tickets (21 Nov) info/tickets (4 March)
Lucy Pilcher, Corporate Relations and Events Administrator
“So, I’m most looking forward to the first and the last of the Southbank concerts, although I will enjoy all in between I’m sure! 29 September is a pick for me because I love Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony. Really excited about 10 June for the French Impressionists concert with Sir Simon Rattle because it is so different, I can’t wait to hear Prelude a l’apres midi d’une faune on period instruments.” tickets/info (29 Sept) tickets/info (10 June)
Ellie Cowan, Education Officer
“As ever, hard to choose. I, like others, will cheat and pick two. First, The Works (4 Oct). This is a totally new venture for us (read about it here), so I’m both excited and nervous about it. Robert Levin is an amazing speaker though, so we will be safe in his hands, and it’s an incredible piece of music too, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23. My second pic is our concert led by violinist Matthew Truscott on 10 February. I’m really excited that we will be playing a brand new piece by Sally Beamish, written for the Olympic year. It’s of course rare for the OAE to play new music, but I think the concept of new music written for old instruments is quite interesting. Definitely worth checking out.” tickets/info (4 Oct) tickets/info (10 Feb).
William Norris, Communications Director
If you’ve been following our Night Shift page on Facebook or our Twitter feed you might have seen some odd pictures posted in recent days…the office giving each other a hug (repeated here for your viewing pleasure), pork scratchings, a pint, a bunch of postcards…
Well we can finally reveal what it’s all about. As you may have read on here, or perhaps you were there, earlier this month we put on a Night Shift event in a pub in King’s Cross. It was a great evening, and it seems that performers and audience enjoyed it equally.
So we’d like to do more. 5 more in fact. The idea is to do a tour of London pubs in February next year, taking in all corners of London. But, there’s a problem. As with almost every other event we do, ticket sales don’t cover costs, even with a sell-out. So we’re embarking on a fundraising campaign with a difference to make up the shortfall.
We’re doing something called crowdfunding. This is a quite new form of fundraising – all done online and based on the principle that a lot of people donating small amounts can make a big difference. We’ve partnered with Crowdfunding site wedidthis and have 30 days to raise the £1,200 required.
But it’s not all about take take take. A key part of crowdfunding is giving you, our funders (we hope!) the chance to get something back too. So, depending on your donation we have a whole raft of interesting thank yous lined up. For example, give us a fiver and we’ll say thanks on Facebook and Twitter. A tenner gets you a postcard sent to you from an OAE tour. £50 buys you a group hug from the office.
There’s some more background about the campaign on the video below, including footage from our ‘pilot’ pub gig.
So, if you’d like to make our pub tour happen please visit our campaign page. Any donation, large or small, is useful. We have just 30 days to raise the money and if we don’t meet the target we get nothing at all. No pressure.
Thanks for reading, and a final, very unBritish plea: Get your credit card out and get crowdfunding!