Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Berlioz, Basingstoke and baguettes

Wed Feb 29 2012

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I’m sitting writing this blog on a ridiculously warm Sunday February afternoon underneath the Eiffel Tower.   Sounds glamorous?  Well actually, I do feel quite amazed and lucky to be spending my weekend this way, though the 5.50am start this morning has left me a bit out of it, as has the eight day run of concerts we’ve been doing this week…still, it’s a fairly fantastic thing when you’re invited to go to Paris with a supersize OAE and two choruses, totalling about 250 performers altogether, in a massive production of Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées.  We’ve been touring this mammoth piece in four locations this week: first at the Royal Festival Hall on 18 February (read the reviews from the night here), then to the Anvil in Basingstoke on 23 February, a Night Shift at the Roundhouse as part of the Reverb Festival on 24 February and finally Paris today.

I’ve been with the OAE for four years now and this is the first time I’ve been had the chance to go on a tour from start to finish and what a tour to experience! No two performances have been the same- the Southbank Centre night was my first real listen to the piece in full,  Basingstoke = Amazingstoke (fabulously rich sound) and I thoroughly enjoyed when Sir Mark had to wait for members of the audience to stop talking before he started Part 2- his withering look was priceless!  The Roundhouse gig was totally different – live streaming, a glass of wine and chat with conductor Sir Mark Elder created a unique atmosphere – and the final leg in Paris is sounding awesome, even though I’ve mainly been backstage, looking after the Orchestra’s belongings.  Having said that, each time I hear the piece, I still get the same feeling- a huge rush from hearing a beautifully orchestrated piece, played by a fantastic band.

Here’s a few pictures from my travels (note the slight difference in scenery!):

It’s like Daisy (an OAE cellist I chatted to on the Eurostar journey out) said:

“It’s like the difference between a supermarket apple and an organic one from the market: one is perfectly round and shiny but doesn’t taste of anything, whilst the other may have a few bumps and bruises but tastes exquisite- just like the OAE.”  Well said.

Natasha Stehr, Marketing and Press Officer

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