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Sorry to have cut short the end of my St Paul story. I’ve now been back a week and a half and it’s taken me this long to get over the jet lag. (Sorry I promised my colleagues at the end of last week that I would moan about jet lag no longer, but here I go again…)

The last few days of our visit in St Paul were the most exciting as after all the preparation the performances of Goebbels’ Songs of Wars I have seen were finally to take place.

For both the Friday and Saturday night concerts in the Ordway Center, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra led from the piano by Pierre-Laurent Aimard performed Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto. With insider knowledge on what was to come in the 2nd half of the concert I was intrigued to how the audience would react as the 2 pieces couldn’t have been more different. Read the rest of this entry »

Today it’s official – this is the coldest place in the USA at -20C.

On Thursday we shared a concert with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, at Temple Israel in Minneapolis. We played Mozart, CPE Bach and Haydn in the first half and then they played a Shostakovich chamber symphony. Afterwards our hosts held a reception for us at Stella’s Fish Cafe where we were given a wonderful buffet meal and a real welcome. We presented them with a signed poster and a copy of the OAE’s 21st birthday book – it’s the SPCO’s 50th anniversary this year so we are still adolescent by comparison!

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We’ve been here for four days now, and are finding our way around.  It is not as cold as it was the previous week, so the large amount of clothing that we all brought with us has been sitting in our wardrobes.  However, it is forecast to be much colder this weekend, so maybe I will be able to treat you to my impression of the Michelin Man soon.

We’ve been rehearsing with Rachel Podger at the St Pauls’ Chamber Orchestra Center, which is inside a beautiful 1920s building a couple of blocks from the hotel.  It also contains an old fashioned post office, a mens’ outfitters and a pet shop!

Yesterday we spent a day rehearsing at Wooddale Church.  The audiences at American churches seem to be about as big as the ones we get for concerts, judging by the size of the car park!  The church is well outside the city, in the middle of a lovely snowy landscape and a freeway system.  I went out walking and saw a large hawk in a tree, and very little else.  Here are some pictures.

Today we give our first concert, in Minneapolis.  I’ll report on this tomorrow.

Philippa Brownsword, Orchestra Manager

We’ve had the first few reviews from our two joint concerts with the London Sinfonietta over in St Paul:

New York Times (has a nice pic of the Orchestra and conductor Anu Tali)
Pioneer Press

There was a somewhat less charitable one from a St Paul based blogger but maybe we’ll leave you to find that one for yourselves…

Our blogger Ceri Jones is now back from the twin cities, and the players who were there for the Heiner Goebbels piece have been joined by the rest of the OAE, and our Orchestra Manager Philippa Brownsword, who is taking over blogging duties. We’ll be posting about the actual performances of the Heiner Goebbels piece soon, and a post from Philippa is on its way very shortly.

Will, Marketing Director

With the first concert ahead this evening, last night was the last free evening for the OAE players in the Goebbels concerts.  After an afternoon of rehearsing contemporary music (which I’m sure you are aware is not the OAE’s usual style…) a few of us decided to head to the cinema for a bit of a change of culture.  You may be thinking that going to the cinema was something you could easily do at home in the UK, but actually it gave me a whole new Minnesotan experience!

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A rather belated round of pictures from the last couple of dates of our tour with Sir Simon Rattle back in December.
The end of the tour was in Paris and it was obvious to the audience the great bond between Orchestra and conductor that had been strengthened during the tour – I’ve never seen an Orchestra present a conductor with presents on stage! After the concert the Theatre de Champs Elysees very kindly laid on a champagne reception to mark the end of the tour – apologies for the rather dark picture.

Members of the OAE are currently in Minnesota and St Paul, USA. The OAE is one of a number of chamber Orchestras invited there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Initially we have travelled out with our office-mates the London Sinfonietta and we’ll be giving two joint performances of Heiner Goebbel’s Songs of Wars I have Seen. Then, next week, more members of the OAE travel out to give performances of a Baroque programme with Rachel Podger. Look out for updates here very soon!

Will, Marketing Director

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