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We got the New Year off here at the OAE to a flying start with, the OAE Academy, a three day course for our new Ann and Peter Law OAE Experience participants. We had a snowy few days with some players being delayed on their way in from Spain and others being snowed in in Somerset! Those who did manage to make it through the snow were treated to three days of rehearsals, singing workshops, a yoga session, Education sessions and some very tasty home cooked meals from the Amadeus centre.

The photos are of the orchestra rehearsing with OAE leader Maggie Faultless, an Education composition session and some group shoulder massages before the rehearsal with OAE Principal Oboe Tony Robson!

Megan Russell, Projects Officer

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Ahead of our performance of it next week at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall we asked OAE Principal Oboe and Gerontius enthusiast Tony Robson about the piece:

The Elgar ‘Dream’ is new ground for the OAE and presents lots of challenges to the orchestra but I fully expect it to rise to those challenges with its usual enthusiasm and determination. We are lucky to have  [ choir ] Ex Cathedra on board, as the choral writing in Gerontius is very demanding. It’s well known that the premiere of this work in Birmingham in 1900 (pictured) was little short of a disaster, the Chorus in particular being heavily castigated by the critics of the time. In their defence, there were particular difficulties which led to adequate preparation being well-nigh impossible; their excellent Chorus Master E. Swinnerton Heap suffered a fatal heart attack just months before the premiere and his tired and old replacement William Stockley was quite out of sympathy with both the content and demands of Elgar’s score. The composer and his publisher were both tardy in getting material out to the choir in good time and, unbelievably, the chorus only had their own single parts in their copies so that each section didn’t have the faintest idea what notes or rhythm their colleagues in the rest of the choir were singing! No wonder there were problems! We certainly won’t be having a repeat of that with our exceptional choir. 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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