Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Chi-chi: The Rankin Shoot

Fri Aug 27 2010

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If you didn't manage to catch us at the @bbcproms with @houghhough on Friday (or you just loved it that much) you c… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…


A few months back we were approached by TV Channel Sky Arts about a project they were working on. They had a big new marketing campaign coming up and were getting famed photographer Rankin to take pictures of artists from various disciplines for it – the idea being that these would then be used on billboards across the UK as ‘street galleries’. We in the office got in contact with several OAE players to see if they would be interested – and here is our Principal Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanouku’s account of her experience:

As with all these things, the build up time spent in preparation always takes so much longer than anyone would imagine. There were several casting days, and I found it strange on my day, because Rankin wasn’t there, and his assistants took the shots, and filmed. I don’t think I’d properly realised it was an audition for one of 16 places! We each had to talk about why we do what we do, and then perform a bit in our various ‘fields’ of the arts… (Had I known I would have properly practised a piece!) Then it was a case of ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’. Literally! I got the taste of what it must be like for all those actors who go for castings throughout their careers… a kind of ‘disposable’ feeling. Well, they let me know very quickly, and I even got to choose the time slot to suit me.  Having been photographed before by Rankin (for the opening of the refurbished RFH a few years ago. ‘Rankin’s Front Row’ I knew he had a lot of assistants. But this time, there seemed to be loads more. Probably because of the film crew for the Sky Arts programme. Anyway, everyone was really friendly and pretty funky. Why oh why I ask myself is deciding what to wear always an issue…? Rankin wanted everyone in black anyway, making it easy… they could have told us beforehand!  At 9am I walked into Rankin’s studio in Kentish Town and was whisked off into a dressing room, where an army of gorgeous young people awaited me to ‘do me up’, nails, hair, dresser, make-up, the biz! The hairstylist who does Naomi Campbell’s hair styled my very own curly locks!  He snipped away at a few stray ones, got me to shake my head, hold it upside down, then drowned it in Shockwaves hairspray! When they finally let me out of hair and make-up (yes, as you know…I don’t normally look this good! :-)), I took up my position on the whited out set. Having never been faced by so many people behind lenses of all shapes and sizes at such close range, to say I felt ever-so-slightly overwhelmed is an understatement. Lovely Rankin was gently pacing around, very calm and chatty, making me feel at ease, so that was great. He always gives you the feeling you have as much time in the world to strut your stuff (as I got tangled up at the end of one of my solos a couple of times…my own fault…you know, when you do a last minute change of fingering, then end up trying to do both at the same time kind of thing!!  :-)) Well he got me looking very foxy in the close up of my full face shot, but then decided to put me on a box and get my eyes in line with the curl of the scroll… and that was it!

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