Well our arts blog, Current Distractions, has taken a little break of late but it’s back today in a bumper classical music edition, dealing with awards, boycotts and much more besides – including a little smudge of visual art.
The sun is shining and that means – for us at least – three things are crawling out from their winter hibernation: opera festivals, the Proms and ice-cream van drivers.Read More
As the summer draws to a close and our new season begins, we look back at some of the reviews form our appearance at the BBC Proms with Marin Alsop.Read More
We’ve had an amazing response to our performance at the BBC Proms with Marin Alsop this weekend.Read More
One of the most closely guarded secrets in the classical music world is always what’s going to be on at the BBC Proms, so even though our appearances are planned some way in advance, no one aside from us in the office knows what we are doing until the big Proms announcement and launch. This year that launch took place last week, so we can now safely tell you that this year we’ll make not one but two appearances this year.Read More
It’s time for our yearly feature where we ask OAE staff and musicians what their top moments of the past year were, so here we go – and feel free to add your top moments to the comments!
“As always with OAE events when you think back over the year it’s SO difficult to pick a clear winner – it could be Matthew Truscott’s gruesome description of how gut strings are made, which had hundreds of children squirming on the edge of their seats in our school’s concert in King’s Lynn; – it could be the incredibly warm reception we had in Keswick where the audience are really hungry for live concerts; but I think in the end it’s a tie between playing for the first time under the baton of Adam Fischer in an exciting and spontaneous Fidelio (the Prisoner’s Chorus in particular was incredibly moving), and the Haydn symphonies with Sir Simon Rattle at the Royal Festival Hall. As always with Rattle it involved digging deep into ourselves and the music, and for me it involved a personal triumph: over-coming the vertigo that came with being, unusually for me, right on the edge of our highly raised platform and managing not to throw myself off the stage.”
Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass
“This may not seem that positive, but then perhaps it is… my top moment of 2011 was landing at Heathrow airport at 2.15pm on Sunday 25th September. That seems like a pretty precise moment, but it was the end of the busiest summer we have ever known at OAE. I’m in charge of all the orchestra’s touring and it was so good to know that since June we had managed to successfully get an orchestra of up to 90 people around Europe and put on concerts in Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin, London, Glyndebourne, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Ingolstadt, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Salzburg, the Proms, Edinburgh, Warsaw, Eisenstadt, Warsaw again and Bucharest!”
Megan Russell, Projects Manager
“Well, 2011 has been a pretty eventful year so it’s REALLY hard to pick my top moment- sitting (almost) next to Madonna in our 21 June concert with the Labeque sisters is almost up there, but I think the best moment was sitting in the Village Underground on the 24 June- listening to my favourite singer, Elin Manahan Thomas singing some beautiful arias at The Night Shift, with an gin and tonic. Perfect.”
Natasha Stehr. Marketing and Press Officer
“Difficult to choose from three instances of being with the Orchestra in towns or cities where three leading composers were born: Handel in Halle in Germany; Mozart in Salzburg in Austria; or Chopin at Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw. But I think I’ll go for Chopin as I visited his birthplace on a beautiful summer day in late August and had a good look round the manor house, including the very room where he was born, as well as the church in the next village where he was christened. I then went back to Warsaw to hear the OAE performing both Chopin Piano Concertos with Yulianna Avdeeva as soloist. Altogether a special and privileged experience.”
Stephen Carpenter, Chief Executive
“My top moment of 2011 was watching Maggie, Matt and Robin play our very first Pub Night Shift to a very crowded and sweaty full house at […]Read More
Last week we made our annual appearance at the BBC Proms, as part of the Glyndebourne Prom, a semi-staged performance of Handel’s Rinaldo. Here’s what the reviewers and bloggers made of it:
The Times (subscribers only)
Seen and Heard
There are some pictures from the Prom on the Proms Facebook Page here.Read More
Our run of Rinaldo at Glyndebourne is now drawing to a close, with just three performances left (tonight, Saturday 20th and Monday 22nd). If you’re lucky though you might just get a return, or be able to get a seat for the semi-staged performance of it at the BBC proms at the Royal Albert Hall next Thursday. Glyndebourne have a put together a series of podcasts for their operas this summer, and you can listen to them, including one on Rinaldo here.
The production has split opinion, to say the least… If you’ve seen it you can add your pennies-worth over on the Glyndebourne website here.Read More
‘Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head’. Neither, from time to time, do musicians. During the Proms for example, morning rehearsals are held in the Albert Hall and the players are then released to roam the streets until the evening concert. If you visit Tate Modern, one of the cinemas in Leicester Square or a West End department store at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, as like as not you will be rubbing shoulders with an oboist or a tuba player. Some take the opportunity to fit in a few hours teaching – and there is always The Pub. Why not go home for an hour or two? It is a common misapprehension that London musicians live in London. Either through choice or necessity, many live beyond the M25, and orchestral schedules frequently result in this temporary vagrancy.
On the last day of the OAE’s tour with Simon Rattle a 6am start (the third in as many days) brought the orchestra back to Heathrow at 10 am for a rehearsal in the Festival Hall at 5 pm followed by a concert and live broadcast. Of course a 6am start is the norm for many workers, but consider that musicians are expected to perform at the height of their powers between 7 and 10 pm, more than 12 hours after the alarm has interrupted their innocent dreams. It is not surprising that the search for an afternoon nap often features prominently in a musician’s day. Indeed, if some enterprising person were to invent a violin case that could convert into a comfortable inflatable mattress, they would be sure of a market, and one OAE double bass player has admitted to curling up inside his womb-like, padded case. On the morning in question a member of the Back Row hit upon an ingenious solution. Having gone to Liverpool St station to buy an advance ticket for her homeward journey after the concert, she noticed that the Norwich train was due to leave in ten minutes. Purchasing a day return to Colchester, she boarded the train, and was soon sleeping soundly. At Colchester she caught the next train back to London and was able to sleep for another hour. On reflection it is quite likely that she is not the only musician to have used the railways in this way. Next time you see someone asleep on a train in the middle of the afternoon, tap them on the shoulder and ask what instrument they play. You may be surprised at the answer.
Back Row BloggerRead More
A few months ago I was asked by Jon Jacob at the BBC to contribute to a video for the Proms website, which would explore approaches to getting people to come to and try out classical music. Jon also came along to one of our Night Shift performances to get some footage. A couple of weeks ago the video, which features contributions from other orchestral marketers and critic Tom Service, was released. The video explores what the ‘barriers’ are to people coming to concerts – i.e. what is stopping them from coming, and what we can do to encourage them. I have to say I found it very odd watching myself on the video, I was totally unaware of all sorts of mannerism and habits when I speak!
Anyway, here’s the vid. You might also be interested to know that Job Jacob writes a throughly good blog
William Norris, Marketing Director
I can’t say I expected to have been to 3 such brilliant concerts within my first month as the OAE intern. The highlight of my first week here was trotting off to Glyndebourne to see how everything works backstage from the orchestra’s point of view. I had duly prepared myself by watching the recent BBC series about Gareth Malone putting together a youth choir for the Knight Crew opera, so I at least had an idea what it was all about. I had heard of Glin-de-born back in New Zealand (I purposely waited in my intern interview for Ceri and Megan to say it first) and knew it as one of the top opera places in the world, but didn’t realise it was in the country-side and in such a beautiful setting. Fortunately I was ushered into a free seat behind a tv camera about 10 seconds before it began and was able to watch the show.Read More
Here’s a few pictures from the repeat performance of our Prom concert in Baden Baden – many thanks to the Festspielhaus for sending these to us.Read More
Well, our Prom on Sunday was a bit of an event. It’s not every day you get the OAE playing Berlioz and Wagner, and also not often that you get over 85 OAE players on stage! Plus, the Royal Albert Hall was packed to the rafters. If you couldn’t be there then you can still listen to the performance online, until this coming Sunday. Listen to it here.
The critics were out in force and here’s what they said
Tom Service Guardian Blog
Classical SourceRead More
Here’s a few pics we took while in rehearsal at the Royal Albert Hall for our BBC Proms performance last Sunday. In the last couple you can see our Melgaard OAE Young Conductor Eduardo Portal on the podium – he probably took over for a bit so that Sir Simon could check the balance further back in the hall. On the night Eduardo conducted the off stage horns in Tristan and Isolde.Read More
Four concerts. Four countries. Four different programmes. Over, erm, seven days. Oh well, the fours thing lasted up to a point. We’re in the middle of a slightly complicated patch of work at the moment, working with Sir Roger Norrington. Usually we have a single concert programme which tours but on this tour each concert has seen a different variation. Edinburgh, the first date, saw an all Haydn programme, the Proms concert saw some of the Haydn repeated but with Handel, Purcell and Mendelssohn added, and the remaining concerts in Austria and Hungary see various combinations of the music so far played.
Our Orchestra manager Philippa is going to blog in full about the Edinburgh concert, but to whet your appetite here are a few pics.
William, Marketing DirectorRead More
A week or two ago we asked you for your reviews of our Fairy Queen prom. I’ll be honest – we weren’t exactly indundated! But we did recieve the one below – thank you! If anyone else has comments or reviews you can comment here or email us.
I thought the OAE were impeccable, and the Carolyn Sampson plaint as perfect a collaboration as one gets. This, and some of the other songs saved the evening.
But the production had a spineless and somewhat aimless feel – it seemed over-liberal as a guise for not really having its visionary feet on the ground. Neither was it out and out “Music Hall”: it was too prissy for that.
I think it sadly betrayed a Mark Morris’s influence (consciously or unconsciously I don’t know) (as in King Arthur) which it failed to pull off by being merely a poor and rather messy imitation of his great style.
The bunny costume scene was really appalling. The applause it raised just sycophancy or bemusement at best.*
But we were overall very glad we went, Thank you!
*Editors note : Not from me – I was in tears – of laughter!Read More