Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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MUSICAL LANDSCAPES – view from the keyboard, Pt 1

Thu Mar 16 2017

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Our Co-Principal Keyboardist Steven Devine gives us a peek behind the scenes as we kick off our nationwide education tour in Durham.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

A lot of OAE heading up to Durham today ready for early start TOTS concerts tomorrow.  I’m not needed so I’m squeezing in some teaching and checking my harpsichord over for broken strings, etc – it’s a single-strung instrument so a broken string means that the note doesn’t work.  Also there’s a lot of moving around to be done over the next couple of days and little time for repairs.  I’m using this particular instrument as it’s very easy to move by myself and takes 4 minutes to tune (that single-strung thing again) – very useful when a whole school is arriving in the hall before a concert…

Thursday 2 March 2017

Harpsichord loaded (mustn’t forget its stand – I have done in the past…), tool kit, suitcase etc etc.

Set off 9am from Kent for drive up North.  My parents live in South Yorkshire so the first part of the drive is very familiar.  Good run all the way to Durham and pulling into Durham Johnston Comprehensive School an hour before the rehearsal.  Can’t unload straight away as the school orchestra are finishing their rehearsal – they sound amazing: a high-octane rendition of Star Wars.

OAE colleagues arriving – many have already done two TOTS concerts and been on since early morning.  They look amazingly fresh considering the prospect of a three-hour rehearsal putting together the Musical Landscapes programme that we’re presenting for the next two days.

Harpsichord in, tuned (twice: it’s a hot, dry school hall and the instrument’s been chilling – literally – in the car).  Cherry Forbes – mastermind of the whole thing – outlines the concept and explains how it all fits together. We rehearse Brandenburg 1, the movements of Biber Battalia that feature in the show and then Philip Glass (!). Then James Redwood, composer, animateur, human dynamo, steps forward to take us through his pieces that will feature interaction with the young people.  We also meet the actor, Ben, who has a great script by Hazel Gould linking the whole concert.

Ben (actor), James (composer, conductor, animateur) and the OAE in rehearsal

It’s a complex jigsaw puzzle to put together, not least because James’ pieces are written in two different keys – a=415 for us and a=440 for the young players.

Rehearsal done – back to hotel in centre of Durham and the search for food and drink.

To be contd..

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