Congrats to our Leader, Margaret Faultless, who's just been appointed a Professor of Music at @RoyalAcadMusic… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
With the first month of 2014 nearly behind us, we look back at some of our concert highlights from 2013…
There were too many great programmes for me to pick just one, so I shall give you a selection: A Touch of Brass with Margaret Faultless and Roger Montgomery; I was humming Flanders and Swan for weeks on end! Dixit Dominus has become a new favourite after the concert with John Butt and soloists from the Choir of Enlightenment. Fischer’s Creation was an unexpected highpoint, and finally, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with dance by Henri Oguike left me dancing through Vauxhall tube station on my daily commute!
My favourite concert was Rameau Vs Handel back at the start of the season with William Christie.
Rameau clinched it for me. Christie accurately described it as ‘music from Mars’- I loved the frantic rhythms and slightly unusual nature of it. Handel put in a good effort though with some big poppy numbers. I’m really looking forward to some more Rameau with Zais coming up later this year..
My highlight from 2013 was definitely the tour with Sir Roger Norrington, when the Orchestra performed Berlioz Symphonie fantastique. It was the first time I had heard an orchestra playing later repertoire on period instruments and I thought the sound was absolutely incredible. Plus I got to go on tour to Brussels, Warsaw & Helsinki! (They have amazing cinnamon buns & reindeer pizza in Helsinki…)
I think I have to agree with Sophie and have my highlight as the Vivaldi in February. The most amazing moment for me was when dancer Sunbee Han collapsed to the floor and Kati joined her at the front of the stage and went from near silence into a gradual, almost threatening build, which lifted Sunbee from the ground in stages like a snake charmer. It was brilliant.
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At the end of August the Orchestra undertook one of those mad foreign tours visiting three major European Festivals on three consecutive days: Brussels, Warsaw and Helsinki. Sir Roger Norrington conducted and, as well as featuring the wonderful Nikolai Demidenko as soloist in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1, the major work in the programme was Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, which came to glorious life with the extraordinary colours of the OAE’s period instruments. An unforgettable experience which was definitely a highlight of the year.
So I’ve been asked to give my highlight of last year – What? Just one highlight? Singular? Impossible to choose but it did give me the chance to revisit some of my favourite moments. When a year starts as ours did with a tour of Mozart symphonies with Sir Simon Rattle, you suspect your highlight of the year might be already decided – but no, there was more. But how to choose between being grounded in French style by William Christie, being surrounded by wrapt faces at our South Bank TOTS Story Time concert, being expertly guided through the magic of Offenbach by Sir Mark Elder, playing for the most enthusiastic and welcoming audience in a remote part of Norfolk where the advert was a handwritten board at the side of the road (you know, the ones they use to advertise 10kg sacks of potatoes,) seeing a teacher moved to tears at the end of our Beverley Fairy Queen project and Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, sitting between stereo timps during the March to the Scaffold? Well if I’m completely honest, it was this last memory that came to me first so maybe after all that was my highlight of 2013!
My highlight was definitely V4: The Seasons. I was actually on sabbatical over in the USA at the time, but having been involved in this project since its inception I just had to come back over the pond for a crazy long weekend to come and see it. I was lucky enough to see it 3 times, a Night Shift and two regular performances the day after. I was so intrigued to see what choreographer Henri Oguike had done – and I wasn’t disappointed. Incredible dancing (particularly Sun Bee Han), blistering performances from Kati Debretzeni – I could have watched it again and again , indeed everyone’s one regret afterwards was that it was performed just 3 times – but always good to be left wanting more I suppose!
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