Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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A new Figaro

Wed 3 Oct 2012

© Ellie Cowan

At the end of September, OAE players visited St Laurence School in Bradford on Avon for our annual opera project with eight classes of Year 7’s who had just joined the school.

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Recipe for Success: My week in Bradford on Avon

Tue 18 Oct 2011


1. Take:

A fairy queen and her feuding king
4 mixed up lovers
A mischievous sprite and a powerful love potion
Oh! and of course – a donkey’s head


2. Mix with:
8 Year 7 classes (age 11-12) – 240 in total and their very trusting, game and able music, dance and drama teachers
8 wonderful dances from Purcell’s Fairy Queen
8 colourful scenes from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream


3. Place in the Wiltshire Music Centre, two classes at a time.  Add a team of 3 OAE musicians including education director Cherry Forbes, a professional singer, and the wonderful animateur James Redwood.


4. Stir  into one class the magical creative energy of James and Hetty Wayne until you have a new song. It might be about Helena’s misery at being unloved, of Bottom’s surprise at his new head.


5. Meanwhile to another class add drops  of Shakespeare, and Purcell, with a flavour of Cherry Forbes and myself, to form narrative scenes told in drama and dance. -Thank goodness for my dance O level, of which I’m very proud, though I haven’t been able to do a full pike since!


6. When ready swap the classes over and repeat.


7. Repeat stages 4 to 6 four times from Monday to Thursday, not forgetting to add a tablespoon of singing tips from singers Carys Lane or Giles Underwood.


8. On the fifth day assemble all your new songs and narratives. Inject into the mix:

An orchestral school ensemble playing Purcell
A mixed GCSE and A level ensemble’s newly created piece using a ground bass by Purcell
5 A level dancers who have choreographed the First Music, and the Chaconne (Purcell).


9. Finally garnish with a tutti performance of ‘Hush, no more’.


10. Present your brand new, funny, magical and moving version of Fairy Queen to assembled parents and future pupils.


The hardest part of  my week: out of Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, remembering who loved who at any one time.

The highlight:  240 young voices singing Hush, No more.  Such an incredible, special sound.


Cecelia Bruggemeyer, OAE Double Bassist, at St Laurence School in September 2011

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