Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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A memorable moment, for the wrong reasons…

Tue Jan 13 2009

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Now time for some music by Felix Mendelssohn's good friend, Prince Albert (i.e. Queen Victoria's husband).… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…


As mentioned in our top moments post below, Chi-chi Nwanoku had a memorable, if rather stressfull moment from 2008…

‘As far as OAE stories go I think the best I can offer was the time neither my bass or stool arrived at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, for a concert the same evening at the Concertgebouw as part of our tour with Ian Bostridge. When Philippa (our Orchestra Manager) and I tried to ‘log’ it at the appropriate desk in the customs hall, we literally had the “computer says no” Dutch equivalent!….

Chi-Chi with her bass in happier times!

Chi-Chi with her bass in happier times!

And anyway, to cut a long story short, I’d managed to line up a double bass to borrow (having no idea of the quality of it!), and Philippa had deduced that my bass had arrived on a later flight to the airport. Having been promised they’d courier it straight to the venue we were again faced with  a “computer says no” situation. I sat at the side of the stage for the rehearsal. So no 16ft sound at all (as there was only one bass on the gig). Emma from our Agents Askonas Holt was on the tour with us and had the nous and kindness to suggest she went to the airport in person to try to retrieve it. The clock was ticking away to the start of the concert time, and we decided if my bass didn’t arrive 45 minutes before the concert, we’d ask the lender to bring me his bass. So, we asked him to bring the bass, which also involved him having to change all the strings to gut!!! (ed: Modern instruments have metal strings).

It was literally set up and in my hands a few minutes before the concert started, and I swanned on to the stage and simply pretended it was my Amati Double Bass. I found the only way to get through a potentially traumatic performance is to visualise and pretend ‘BIGTIME’. The ‘show must go on’ mentality came into full force, and, sure enough the show did go on. As expected no one noticed my predicament, which proves either my ‘acting’ was convincing, or the bass wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, or that …. No, I think I’ll leave it at that. Emma located mine at the airport, and having no luck or understanding from airport officials was able to just walk into the customs area, where she found my equipment lying on its own on the conveyor belt! Anyone could have walked in and walked out with it! The stool didn’t make it though, and each time we traced it on the system, it was always one stage behind us for the whole tour! I think we were reunited back at LHR!

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