Continuing a partnership developed during our Anthem project last year, this April, OAE musicians Katherine Spencer, Katie Heller and Iurii Gavryliuk went to Plymouth Music Zone (PMZ), for a three day creative music course with disabled young adults and local secondary school students.Read More
The inspiration for the OAE’s Anthem project came from watching David Walliams complete a sponsored cycle ride, from one end of the country to the other, about five years ago. It made me think how could we pass the baton in sound? How could we unite our partner cities in a large scale project and invite new cities to join the OAE community, through baroque music?Read More
We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve added a concert entitled Mildly Rude? to our 2013/2014 Southbank Centre season. Rounding off our Gamechangers series, it’s a opportunity to hear music from one of Britain’s unsung classical heroes, William Boyce.Read More
Here’s a short video about the huge Anthem project that we undertook this year in OAE Education.Read More
So, a week after the end of the triumphant Anthem tour, it’s high time for the four tandemeers’ blog entry we promised Ellie and Ceri in the office.
Firstly a few bald numerical facts, totted up on the train home from York as the tandem rested in the guard’s van, sleeping off its glut of miles:
703 tandem miles
45 hours, 17 mins cycling
1146 man miles and 5417 man minutes – a minute and a bit for every child we saw during the tour!)
36 cooked breakfasts
4 kilos of flapjack
4 trips to bike shops
4 new brake blocks
3 new gear sets
2 new chains
600 jelly beans
And second, a fleeting elaboration of those facts, starting with the magnificent send-off JRed and MT (see below for abbreviations) received at the beginning of the first leg. After an interminable half hour of finding, losing and finding things again in front of a crowd of eager onlookers they finally managed to wheel away with mock-confidence from the sparkly heights of Devonport Town Hall. As they negotiated Plymouth’s roundabouts, the surprising timidity of non-London cyclists and various minor mechanical setbacks they mused on the indignity of faff. That ride to Totnes was a gorgeous and exhilarating taster of the tour to come – riding out into a sunny Devon evening with the first of many stirring renditions of “My Cry” (composed for the Anthem tour) ringing in their ears, the loveliness of the English Spring rolling past. After a while their hectic huffing and puffing eased to a smoother pace and the happy discovery of how convivial tandem journeying can be.
JT and MT needed all the conviviality they could muster in the next leg the following afternoon, a brutal 67 mile parade of very nasty ups followed by thrilling but too-brief plummets down while the horizon rapidly rose again to ominous heights. It was at the top of Blackmoor Hill ( ‘Black ‘ being their mood and more hills sadly inevitable) while lorries whooshed angrily by that MT had to ask JT whether they were going slightly uphill or slightly down. That was also the day MT discovered what glutes were and how much they could hurt.
JRed and JRees had a contrastingly delightful stretch from Crewkerne to Bradford on Avon the next morning, stopping for the tandem’s third trip to a bike shop (gears) and a most civilised morning tea in Frome. Meanwhile JT (doing workshops) and MT (a session with local music teachers) had the growing and unnerving sensation that the only place they could ease their spinning heads and aching limbs would be On The Bike.
The opportunity to indulge the onset of addiction came in the afternoon on the short ride between concerts in Bradford on Avon and Chippenham. Here was the first case of set-in-their-ways oldie control freakery in that MT found he could manage only a few minutes stoking on the back with JT as pilot, blaming his neurosis on some elaborate wobbles early on as JT set about taming the beast. For the Chippenham concert MT kept his padded lycra leggings on under his concert trousers, something he will never […]Read More
Unbelievably, the last day of the Anthem tour has arrived and we find ourselves in the beautiful city of York. As it was the final day we had to go out with a bang and so had organised a complicated day starting in the University and ending in the National Centre for Early Music. Today we performed two concerts, the first one was our ‘normal’ afternoon schools concert, where four local primary schools joined us and the second concert was a public concert where York University students joined us and played and sang alongside the OAE.
It was a big day with the Jack Lyons Concert Hall providing the perfect setting for our last schools concert of the tour. The battle scene was the most elaborate performance yet – I was wondering how they were going to top the theatre performance, but they did – the woodwind and brass got involved with the (string only) performance by using their instruments as pretend weapons. The improvisation battle was also very intense with Martin Lawrence (horn) competing against Ken Aiso (violin) in a copying contest – I don’t know if you could say who won, but a stunning performance was given by both! The pupils from Bootham, Dringhouses, Heworth and Dunnington schools were simply fantastic in their rendition of Twangling Instruments and My Cry. We were all quite emotional at the end of their performance where 300 voices rang out “I am here!”
The evening concert was a slight change of pace from the schools concerts we have been delivering and was a lovely way to complete the tour. We were joined by university students and gave a performance of Bach’s Wachet Auf and Vivaldi’s Gloria. The whole night was finished by a final performance of My Cry, where we invited the youngest member of the audience – Kate, a 4 year old pupil who had learnt the piece for the Schools Concert, to join the choir and sing with us. Ceri and I even went up on stage for a final sing and it felt brilliant!
So that was the end of the tour, I have had a simply fantastic time and felt incredibly privileged to witness all the wonderful work of everyone involved.
Also, today marked the end of the tandem ride – over 700 miles completed alongside 11 concerts – a truly incredible achievement. I think all tandemers were quite sad it was over! It’s not over though, well the bike ride is, but we still have a London concert to go, plus the summer term Anthem projects, so watch this space!
A tired but happy, Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer
You can also watch a video of the York concert here.Read More
On Sunday evening we drove from Bury St Edmunds to Chesterfield after the terrific family fun day at the Apex Centre. You know you are approaching Chesterfield when you see the crooked church spire that punctuates the skyline. This magnificent landmark can be seen from the motorway and I was instantly reminded of a picture that hangs on the wall at my parents house of a painting of a town with a church that has a crooked spire. All these years I had assumed the church with a crooked spire was artistic licence, only to discover that it is real and we were performing right next to it in an equally picturesque theatre!
Now, it is no secret that I have a bit of a thing for the theatre and the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield was such a sweet charismatic setting for our 9th Anthem concert. Whilst setting the stage for the Orchestra, Ceri and I managed to take a couple of jazz hands photos (I mean, it would be rude not to, we were in a theatre) in amongst the stands and harpsichord (see below). The stage was set ready for the OAE but this concert was slightly different in that we were joined by the ukulele orchestra from Newbold Secondary School. The pupils sat on stage behind the Orchestra and performed a piece they had created – Pachelbel’s canon mixed with Britney Spears! The theatrical surroundings were perfect for this new remix and the performance of this piece was a fantastic precursor to what we can expect to develop in the summer term as part of the Anthem project.
As well as Newbold Ukulele Orchestra, we were blessed with a fantastic audience of children from four local Chesterfield schools who performed Twangling Instruments and My Cry with great aplomb. Naturally, with the Orchestra being on stage in a theatre, the players acted even more outrageously during the Biber Battallia performance and I dread to think what will happen tomorrow to outdo this performance!
The cyclists also had a very dramatic day with the second tandem of the tour breaking mid journey – this time the gears went. Trepid tandemers Jonathan Rees and James Toll valiantly rode on with only 3 gears working and made it to the theatre with about 45 minutes to spare. The bike then had to be taken to be fixed so Jonathan heroically cycled the tandem (solo) to a bike shop (about 2 miles from the theatre) and explained the challenge and the time frame (they had about an hour to fix it while he played a concert). Jonathan made it back to the theatre with only a few minutes to spare before the start of the concert. Luckily for us, J E James Cycles rose to the challenge and had fixed the bike by the end of the concert ready for the next big ride- Chesterfield to York-with an overnight stop in Thorne.
After such a theatrical day, it was with a little sadness I waved goodbye to the crooked spire of Chesterfield but I look forward to the beautiful city of York and all it has to offer tomorrow.
Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer (written on Monday 26 March)
The Anthem bloggers have returned to normality, after an amazing tour ended with a sell out concert in York on Tuesday evening. We’ll be looking back at the tour and the last concerts very soon but for now, Beni Weedon tells us about his day in Bury on Sunday 25 March:Read More
The Anthem tour is nearing its end and Ellie and her blogging team are hard at work, but haven’ t been able to send us their updates these past few days due to the lack of internet access (I know…in this day and age!?)
We’ll have their blogs up as soon as we get them, but in the meantime, here’s some pictures from the Family Orchestra Fun Day at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.
There are still a few £5 tickets left for tonight’s concert at the National Centre for Early Music in York where the OAE and students from the University of York join forces for the celebratory final concert of the tour. The programme will include Bach’s Wachet Auf, Vivaldi‘s Gloria and James Redwood’s two specially commissioned pieces, Twangling Instruments and My Cry. For more details and to book, click here.Read More
Natasha Stehr, OAE’s Marketing and Press Officer, ventured out of the office on a gloriously sunny Friday for the next Anthem for a Child concert in Hastings. Here’s what she made of it:Read More
For those of us travelling in cars this morning started in the “normal” way: hotel in Southampton, morning workshops in schools or training at Southampton University with students.
For two of the cyclists, Matthew Truscott and James Toll, the morning started in Devizes with a 50 mile bike ride to Southampton ahead of them. A daunting task to most of us, but not our tandem riders… Not only did they arrive in plenty of time for the 1.30 concert but they squeezed in a quick swim in the River Test along the way!
The afternoon concert at Turner Sims was terrific; we were joined by OAE theorbo player, Liz Kenny who added a fantastic new timbre to the concert – my favourite was her additions to Biber’s Battalia which gets more elaborate at every concert – the orchestra have taken to acting out the battle while playing – with extra vigour and drama every day
The children from Portswood Primary and St Mary’s in Southampton were brilliant, they listened very attentively and they had learnt their songs to perfection. They all performed beautifully with amazing enthusiasm to parents and the Orchestra. On the door on the way out, as with all the concerts so far, I am overwhelmed with the infectious smiles of pupils as they file out into the sunshine.
Tomorrow (now today by the time you are reading this) we are performing in Hastings, and the cyclists have a journey from Worthing to Hastings to complete before going on stage! Maybe they’ll have time for a quick dip in the sea…
If you would like to sponsor the cyclists and the project please check out our just giving page:Read More
It’s been quite hard to decide what to write about tonight. I sit here in my hotel room in Southampton after completing a busy day in Wiltshire, reflecting on my ever-changing geographical position thanks to this tour. It is starting to get a bit surreal, good surreal, but surreal none the less.
I was thinking it would be good to share what a typical day on the Anthem tour is like, but the beauty of this project is that each day is different to suit the setting. Today in Wiltshire we performed two Anthem concerts – one concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre then one at St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham. Prior to the concert, there were school workshops and teacher training and post concert we travelled to Southampton. Well, most of us did, the cyclists set off on some of the route with the intention of completing the next half of the journey tomorrow.
Both the concerts today have been pretty special; in the first concert every single child played with the Orchestra during ‘Twangling Instruments’ which truly musically characterised the words from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that inspired the song: “Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears” and the second concert where 300 children sang ‘My Cry’ in the most amazing setting, I hope the picture will convey the magnificence of the occasion – I had goosebumps and I spotted a few teary parents in the audience.
Tonight I am happily tired (although l haven’t done any cycling so can’t complain!) and so am gratefully retiring to bed wondering what tomorrow has in store for me on this brilliant adventure.
Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer
Don’t forget- we do have a few Anthem concerts that you can be part of:
We have tickets available for just £5 for the family concerts in:
The Apex, Bury St Edmunds: 25 March Booking/details
National Centre for Early Music, York: 27 March Booking/details
For full information on the Anthem tour and to watch a video about the project, visit our website.Read More
Yesterday was day two of the Anthem tour and here’s an update from Beni Weedon in Totnes, Devon:
The Orchestra spent last night by the sea in Paignton – several of the more adventurous players even braved the night air for some beautiful walks along the coast.
We had some very encouraging sessions this morning with students from no less than eleven schools (!!!), all of which sang with such enthusiasm and helped to bring today’s concert to a wonderful and successful completion. One morning session featured the William Tell Overture played on the teachers teeth. At another, the whole class was primed by a tactical viola player (overlooked in previous concerts) to answer ‘Viola!’ when asked to spot an instrument in the concert – thus ensuring an awareness raising policy in the Totnes area schools for this dark horse of an instrument.
Today another even longer (64 mile) tandem journey was launched just after the afternoon concert and the intrepid (mad) duo were even reported as ‘smiling and looking quite chirpy!’ as they were passed on the way to the new lodgings in Wiltshire.
We’ve also had some updates from OAE Musicians that have pledged to our Anthem for a Child project:
Roger Montgomery (OAE horn player) who since 1 Jan has completed a total of 1141.71 miles, including:
Running 405.34 miles, cycling 546.38 miles, spinning 162.64 miles, rowing 18.6 miles, walking 6.2 miles, swimming 2.55 miles (he’s burned approximately 91,497 calories so far!)
Debbie Diamond (OAE violin) has completed 8.7 miles of swimming so far (out of 26) and has beaten her personal record by managing 90 lengths in 66 minutes.
Hilary Stock (OAE oboe) is halfway there – running her 500th mile on 29 February. She says that after taking part in some Anthem concerts and seen how enthusiastically the children responded and participated in the music, it feels all the more rewarding!
See a gallery showing all the hard work our musicians have put in
To find out how you can help, click here.
Today began yesterday evening with the packing of the cycle bag. Tyre pumps were weighed, lights were measured for brightness (and number of different flashing settings). The Hotel Foyer was in fact a very convenient place for the cycling team to empty various bags and rucksacks filled with tools and miscellaneous gear onto the floor ready for the tactical decisions of what should be taken or left behind. With maps, lycra and lights-a plenty the cycle team (Matt Truscott, James Redwood, James Toll and Jonathan Rees) were raring to start their adventure – cycling the Anthem tour – but one key thing was missing… the tandem itself.
With one tyre, a saddle and a set of handle bars there was a chat about what would happen if the famed tandem never arrived; a Monty Python-esque scenario would surely ensure… Luckily, Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive of the OAE, arrived at our first education concert with him the much discussed mode of transport – to the delight and relief of the aforementioned cyclists.
After delighting and entertaining over 400 pupils from Plymouth primary schools, the OAE Anthem Orchestra merrily waved off the first two brave cyclists (Matt and James R) on their first leg of the tour, Plymouth to Totnes.
And why are we doing this? Why did we happily wave off the leader of the Orchestra and the composer of the new commissions? Well, James and Matt are clocking up the miles for our Musicians’ Miles part of the tour – a mile of activity for everyone who gets to see this concert – 5000 children/5000 miles. Find out more here.
This evening we have heard that the cyclists have safely arrived in Totnes and are happily relaxing before tomorrow’s adventure.
And I am running out of time and space, there is so much more to tell you about that has happened today – a car of cajons, an early morning radio interview, a HUGE cheque for the orchestra (you know, the kind you only see on the telly), an awe-inspiring teacher who walked 103 miles in 48 hours and a chair being played as a horn. I’ll save that for another blog, but these pictures might help you imagine what is going on.
Ellie Cowan and Beni Weedon – South West Music School Student Ambassador
(writing on 19 March after the first day of Anthem)
Alfie Weedon (South West Music School Young Ambassador) also wrote us a blog about his first day:
Cherry (Oboist for the OAE) and I (Double Bassist and Young Ambassador) met at 6.30am this morning for the 7am BBC Radio Devon slot. I, having not really woken up relied entirely on the word “absolutely!” for answering questions (well it’s got to be better then just “yes” right?) while Cherry, with her complete and detailed knowledge of everything about the tour answered all the important questions.
They do say that knowledge is power but it also has its disadvantages, demonstrated by the fact that Cherry, as of 9pm is imposing a 50p fine for any questions!
Today was the launch of the Anthem for a Child project with 1500 children singing at the Albert Hall as well as our double performance in Plymouth today involving 5 local primary schools! Although I knew better what […]Read More
Our huge Anthem for a Child tour kicks off today in Plymouth, where we’ll be visiting schools for workshops in the morning and then off to the Devonport Guildhall for a concert in the afternoon.
OAE Education Officer, Ellie Cowan will be blogging for the whole tour and here’s her first post:
“Today started in more style than I am accustomed to; I was picked up from my house by OAE Projects Director, Ceri Jones in our swanky hire car. Luckily we’d been upgraded and had an estate car because we soon filled it with all one needs for a week and a half long education tour – music, stands, paperwork, luggage, laptops, paper, scissors, glue, hoodies, stickers, a filmmaker, his equipment, and most importantly, cake.
This tour has taken a lot of preparation and I have been using the Anthem logo since starting with the OAE in September, therefore, it seemed only right to have an on-brand cake for the start of tour… a challenge that I gladly set myself. So, after many hours of cutting icing and sprinkling edible glitter (I work in education you see), I came up with quite an amazing cake which then had to sit on my knees on the 4 hour trip to Plymouth…”
Also make sure you watch out for the four OAE musicians who’ll be touring by tandem between each venue- starting today from Plymouth to Totnes and overall, covering 571 miles!
Next week we’re embarking on a 10-day tour with a difference. We’re visiting towns and cities the length and breadth (well, almost) of the country as part of our biggest ever education project, Anthem for a Child. It’s a 6 month programme, and this tour is the centrepiece, kicking off in Plymouth on 19 March.
As it’s Olympic year we decided to support this initiative to ‘pass on a baton of sound’ in a sporty fashion, so our musicians and staff have pledged to run, walk, cycle, swim or do something suitably tiring for 1 mile for each of the 5000 project participants. In return for that pledge we’re looking for your support for the project – yes, we want sponsors.
You can find out more about the project with the video above or visit the Anthem section of our website for a whole lot more information. We’ll be updating the blog as much as we can too with pictures and info as the tour progresses.
Or donate right here…Read More