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“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
If a change is as good as a rest then we OAE musicians should be well refreshed after this summer.
For me one of the highlights was playing the rarely performed Liszt Faust Symphony, a piece that required us to expand our numbers somewhat. One day we were a double bass section of two playing Handel’s Rinaldo at Glyndebourne, the next a section of eight, rehearsing Liszt, and what a fab eight it was!
It was a delight to be joined by bassists from other symphony and chamber orchestras – a chance to exchange musical ideas, and find out how things are done elsewhere. The wealth of information was mind boggling, from knowledge of instruments, players and conductors, to the best restaurants in Warsaw, – and it was very good.
We at the OAE are different to most orchestras, symphonic or chamber, in that the size of orchestra fluctuates all the time depending on the repertoire and the venue (Three players in a pub last week, I hear, taking The Night Shift new places). So when we come together for a big project such as the Faust Symphony we may not have worked with many of our colleagues for a year or more. The first rehearsal has a real sense of ‘getting to know you’ as we all have our antennae out to the max – listening, adjusting, blending.
What I’ll never forget about this Liszt project is the way that this large gathering of wonderful, talented players, came into focus as a cohesive whole. The feeling was almost physical; a seismic, earth-trembling sense of plates coming together to form a new musical land. Fanciful language, maybe, but the fantastic resulting concerts, such as the one at the Edinburgh Festival, will stay in the memory for a long time.
Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass
You’re never too young to experience the OAE, as I and Rachel Beckett (recorder player and flautist) showed last Sunday, when more than forty 2 and 3 year olds had their first taste of baroque favourites.
The ethos of the OAE education programme is that every project is inspired by the orchestra’s core repertoire. These workshops at King’s Place were no exception, including music by Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann and of course J. S. Bach.
I absolutely love working with this age-group. Their responses are so immediate and truthful. They don’t yet know how to hide boredom or fain enthusiasm. When you could hear a pin drop as woolly dog introduced the recorder, I knew our young audience was hooked.
The story of The 3 Billy Goats Gruff was perfect to demonstrate Rachel’s different sized instruments; descant and treble recorders, and mellow flute. What about the bass you ask? The ugly troll of course.
The tots were skipping goats to the Country Dance from Handel’s Water Music, sleepy goats to the slow movement of Vivaldi’s Il Gardellino Concerto, and dancing goats to the Badinerie from Bach’s Flute Suite.
As a final climax all were given instruments with which to make quiet ‘mouse’ music, or noisy ‘lion’ music. It may not be what Telemann had in mind when composing Wassermusik, but the Tritons movement works brilliantly to tell Aesop’s Fable ‘The Lion and the Mouse’.
It was Rachel’s chance to weald her sopranino recorder – about as far away in pitch as it’s possible to get from a double bass . It was also a chance for education director, Cherry Forbes and our new education officer, Ellie Cowan to let their hair down as they took charge of the puppets and led a lively chase across the room.
The only problem…finding the best angle to get a photo of your tiny tot next to a huge double bass.
Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass
One of the things I most love about playing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is the variety- the spice of a freelance musician’s life.
I’m currently halfway between Kings Lynn and Glyndebourne (somewhere in Essex): halfway between schools and family concerts of Don Giovanni and the second night of Rinaldo: halfway between an audience of hundreds who had never been in the same room as an opera singer before, and an audience famously passionate about opera.
Just to put your minds at rest, I’m not actually driving as I type.
Forget the vuvuzelas – for me there’s nothing like the sound of 300 children buzzing with anticipation and excitement before the start of a schools’ concert. The children in Kings Lynn were there as composers, performers, and audience. You ain’t heard nothing till you hear the Corn Exchange full of children singing Fin ch’han dal vino. They loved it so much they just couldn’t stand still as they sang it.
They were guided through the concert by the fantastic James Redwood and OAE Education Director Cherry Forbes as they heard about the dastardly Don Giovanni, listened to the OAE play Mozart, performed their new songs and of course heard Real Live Opera Singers from Glyndebourne…the ones that don’t need microphones! Read the rest of this entry »
As I write this the OAE is downstairs in Hall 2 of Kings Place where they are in day three of rehearsals with Sir Simon Rattle. Sir Simon is one of the OAE’s closest collaborators and has worked with us almost since the Orchestras inception – his first concert was in 1987, just a year after the Orchestra was founded. Now one of the OAE’s three Principal Artists, (alongside Vladimir Jurowski and Iván Fischer) he works with us on a regular basis, with a tour most seasons. In the rehearsal yesterday we caught up with some OAE players in the break to ask them just what makes him such a special and exciting conductor to work with.
William Norris, Communications Director
A short video from our trip up to Sheffield back in February – a concert which was part of our Green Tour initiative which saw the OAE ditch individual cars in favour of coaches and trains. Though we now know that trains are noisy places in which to film interviews… turn the volume up to hear Ceri at the start! Sadly we didn’t get footage of the venue evacuation, we were too busy wondering what on earth was happening…