Our Projects Director, Ceri Jones, is leaving the OAE for new adventures today (insert very sad expressions from the office team). Here’s a little last blog from her, with some of her highlights from her time with us. Ceri – you will be much missed!Read More
Hi, I’m Ellie, the Education Officer for the OAE. Thanks to the range of projects we deliver in the Education Department, my day-to-day job can be very different. From booking players and rehearsal spaces, liaising with schools to organising workshops or trips to the concert hall, collating and organising music for projects, compiling and creating resource packs or pastoral care at our weekly string club, no day is the same.Read More
Tuesday 29 January, Budapest 10am. Feeling very lucky that I had not gotten up at 5am to travel back with the Orchestra, though feeling a little bit anxious about carrying a 2mx1mx1m 45kg double bass in its case back to London. All on my own.Read More
As 2013 begins to take hold, most people come up with a New Year’s resolution or two, but in reality only 1 in 10 of us will keep at it for the whole year…depressing isn’t it?!Read More
Here in the OAE office, not only are we a little bit obsessed with cake, but also chocolate, so it’s particularly convenient that Lindt are a sponsor of the Orchestra. Occasionally the office is treated to a sampling of this delicious chocolate which particularly pleases our projects director and keen cook Ceri Jones, who is a bit of a chocoholic. Ceri managed to steal a bit of the Lindt 70% chocolate bar and took it home to create this indulgent but dairy free chocolate pudding. Since it was such a success, Ceri has decided to share the recipe with you all…
She used coconut palm sugar in this recipe since it is has a lower Glycaemic Index than standard sugar, but if you can’t get hold of this from a health food store then replacing it with caster sugar would equally do the job.
Happy eating! (If you attempt to make this recipe and it comes out well- do send us a pic of you with your bakey creation.)
Ingredients (serves 5 in small ramekins)
160ml can of coconut cream 150g Lindt 70% dark chocolate 3 medium free-range/organic eggs tsp vanilla essence 2 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar or caster sugar Cocoa powder to dust (optional)
Heat the coconut cream in a saucepan on a very low heat for a few minutes. Break up the chocolate and add to the coconut cream. Stir a few times and then leave for a few mins whilst the chocolate melts into the cream. Keep the heat on low since you don’t want the cream or the chocolate to burn. Meanwhile, separate the eggs and whisk up the whites with the coconut palm sugar till soft peaks form. When the chocolate has completely melted into the cream, stir a few times to ensure a smooth brown consistency and remove from the heat. When the creamy chocolate has cooled sufficiently, pour a little into a clean bowl containing the yolks and stir. It is important to add a little at a time to bring up the temperature of the yolks or else they will scramble. Gradually pour the rest into the yolks and combine well. Finally fold in the egg whites till there is no trace of white – just a smooth brown chocolatey gorgeousness. Spoon the mixtures into ramekins, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 2 hours to set. You could make these a day in advance – making them a perfect no-last minute hassle dinner party dessert. When ready to serve sprinkle over some cocoa powder.
Ceri’s other recipes can be found here.Read More
When I rang my Mum, Jennifer, (pictured right) at the eleventh hour and asked whether she would like to be in the OAE’s new season brochure – since we were looking for an older woman to complement the bodybuilders and other people with ‘strong looks’ that had already contacted the OAE – she completely astounded me by agreeing.
Mum was available for last minute photo shoots since she had given up work 2 years prior when she was diagnosed with Cancer – a terminal lung cancer called Mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the lung cavity and had developed due to exposure to Asbestos as some undefined point in Mum’s life. Tragically Mum never got to see her picture in print, as she passed away before the last concert of the OAE’s season in June 2012, just a few days after her 62nd birthday.
I’ve worked at the OAE since 2003, and Mum had been a dedicated supporter since then. A month after I started work at the OAE she joined us last minute for the Theodora dress rehearsal at Glyndebourne and was as blown away with OAE and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson as I was. Every Summer since then she accompanied me to Glyndebourne. Choosing the perfect Glyndebourne outfit had become almost an obsession for us both – as well as the celeb spotting. I think we managed a news reader and a few actors. Heaven forbid that I ever ask someone else to accompany me. She regarded it as payback for all those years of clarinet lessons and ferrying me around.
Living in Surrey, Mum was also a regular at our Southbank Centre concerts. Like me, she had a particular love of the later stuff, but came to relish and enjoy the Baroque self-directed earlier stuff too. Though she could never quite get over her opinion that all Haydn Symphonies sound the same – there are just too many of them!
It has been a pleasure to share my OAE journey with her, a rather fitting tribute to see her smiling face immortalised in the brochure this year.
Ceri Jones, Projects DirectorRead More
You may remember that in March, the OAE Green Team got a bit excited with the concept of a green month, which naturally meant there was an excuse to make cake (we find any excuse to make cake at the OAE). We therefore decided to have a low-carbon bake sale which would fund the planting of a tree.Read More
March 2012 marked the second Green celebration period for the OAE. Following the success of Green week in February 2011, this time we expanded to a month. The self-elected office green team decided to focus on 3 strands of activity for the month; firstly we would look at our concert and touring activity in March, secondly we would focus on raising awareness amongst our colleagues, and thirdly all those green ideas we had been wanting to try out but hadn’t gotten round to in our busy schedules, would be prioritised on our to-do lists. Here’s a brief summary of what we got up to in Green Month:
Concert and touring activity
UK tour with Laurence Cummings
Following a couple of concerts in London in early March, our project with Laurence Cummings visited the Wiltshire Music Centre on 9 March and then Birmingham Town Hall on the 10th. In order to reduce our travel carbon footprint, we organised group train travel for the Orchestra. Since Wiltshire-Birmingham is not a journey you can do by train, a minibus was organised for the middle leg. If we hadn’t offered this then our players would have had no other choice than to drive themselves the entire tour. In the past this would have been something we would have just let be, but we are now making sure we look ahead at the schedule and allocate time to coordinate these extra initiatives in our busy admin to-do lists! It is definitely more work to organise green travel. Amazingly on this occasion the finances worked in our favour and were comparable to letting the players make their own arrangements.
Anthem for a Child, UK Schools Concert tour
The entire tour was a model for how sustainable touring schedule within the UK should be planned. The locations of the venues we visited were plotted in a logical order around the country, to ensure the least amount of travelling between venues. All too often our touring schedules are at the mercy of where promoters want us and when – for example we could be one day in Bristol, then Edinburgh, then Plymouth, before hurtling back to London via Paris… On this occasion OAE had the opportunity to work with the venues we visited to plot in a sensible way – travelling SW to N from Plymouth, Totnes, Wiltshire, Southampton, Hastings, London, Bury St Edmunds, Chesterfield and ending in York. It was the most efficient way of plotting nearly 1300 miles of driving. Since each day of the tour started with workshops in up to 5 different locations, organising group transport for the tour wasn’t possible so car-pooling was organised. On a tour with 25 people, a total of 8-10 cars across the tour were used at any one time. That included transporting all luggage, orchestral instruments including 2 harpsichords, all of the music, stands, banners and workshop material. 4 of the players on the tour, undertook an even greener travel option by sharing riding a tandem bike from Plymouth to York! This crazy initiative was part of a wider fundraising initiative ‘Musicians Miles’ as all members of the Orchestra and office have been getting active to raise money for this project. The target – 5000 miles between us. Some staff have been walking & cycling [...]
As part of my musicians miles for the Anthem for a Child tour I decided to do something ever so slightly different, and along with a car full of stands, clothing, pencils, banners, pritt sticks, cellos, violins, and countless suitcases belonging to tandem cycling musicians (and at one point Cajons) I packed a 14kg kettle bell.
For those of you who don’t know what a kettle bell is… It’s a bell shaped weight, used to perform exercises which combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. The simplest move and the first one you learn is the double arm kettle bell swing. The weight is swung between your legs up to waist height, and back right through your legs, whilst keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. Most people have asked whether it’s a great workout for your arms, but actually it’s a great workout for all over – especially your hamstrings, glutes (bottom) and core. I’ve been using kettle bells since I was persuaded into joining a 10 week introductory course with Fitter London (thanks to them for the loan of the bell), about 3 years ago now, and I love using them as part of my fitness routine. I usually do about 3 classes a week that involve kettle bells, in a combination of crazy circuits dreamt up by our instructors. There are countless ways of using them, and in combination with bodyweight exercises you can target everywhere! Believe me I should know and regularly suffer the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Anyway enough about the bells and on with the Anthem tour!
I set myself a sponsored target of 5000 swings (this amazing education project has reached out to 5000 children), broken down into 500 a day which I could do every day in my hotel room during the Anthem tour. Sounds simple enough?? Or so I thought. What I hadn’t thought about was how much of a pain it would be to lug the kettle bell from the car, up to each hotel room and back, along with my bags and whoever’s instrument I was babysitting that night… I think this was worse than the swings. Kettle bells are not designed to be carried like a handbag! Or that I would spend the rest of each of my days lugging around 2 bags of music stands (which were probably the same weight as the kettle bell), and driving in total 1300 miles, which did more damage to my back than a kettle bell ever could.
Here is an account of my week. All swings were completed before breakfast and as most workshops started at 9am this meant getting up extra early on many occasions…
Day 1 – Monday – My 5th floor, city centre hotel room in Plymouth. I set out with no real idea how long the 500 swings would take, so I must admit I took it a bit easy. I broke them down into sets of 100, and was chuffed to finish in 17 mins.
Day 2 – Tuesday – My hotel room over-looking a very grey coastal morning in Paignton Devon (en route to Totnes). My forearms were suffering today, presumably because I was gripping the bell a bit tightly the day before, so tried some single arm swings instead. Mental note: [...]Read More
OK well not quite. I didn’t get to rub shoulders with Tulisa, Kelly Rowland, Gary Barlow (swoon) and Louis Walsh (err…that’s not so impressive), but the other week (when the OAE held its fourth annual auditions for the Melgaard Young Conductor scheme, our equivalent of the ‘X Factor’) I did get to spend a whole day meeting five fascinating and diverse young conductors, introducing them to the Orchestra (the Dermot bit) and working alongside the very dedicated OAE player selection panel.
I’ve been involved with the Young Conductor Scheme since its inception four years ago, and I always immensely enjoy the audition day, after months of administering all the applications, this is the fun part – getting to hear and see them in action! Throughout the day five different conductors had an hour to impress the Orchestra and the panel in typical OAE repertoire including a movement of a Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven Symphony as well as the Count’s Recitative and Aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro – with bass soloist Ashley Riches. It struck me at 5.30pm that the day had literally flown by, and that I’d not only had the opportunity of spending the entire day listening to some wonderful music, but I’d also spent the day playing ‘Dermot O’Leary’ to the next generation of great conductors.
Stay tuned to find out which conductor was selected…Read More
Back in June the OAE spent 2 days filming in Christchurch Spitalfields with Sir Mark Elder, the results of which will be premiered on BBC Four this Autumn.
We were approached late last year by the BBC Classical Music TV team who were amidst plans to produce a programme for BBC four, tracing the evolution of the musical genre of the Symphony. OAE would be used to show examples from earlier repertoire, and other orchestras (the BBC Symphony and the Halle) would take over at the appropriate point in the repertoire. Whilst the OAE does perform late 19th Century and early 20th Century music at times, it was probably fairer to let a full Symphony orchestra do this but… ;). The filming dates were held in OAE’s diary, straight away (probably the only 2 free days we had in June in amongst Glyndebourne and festival dates), but as is often the case with the recording industry (whether audio or visual) the absolute final schedule was not settled upon for quite some time.
This March we had a recce of Spitalfields Church with the whole BBC production team, and were delighted that it would work for the shoot, as it is such a stunning building. Not much parking outside for the BBC guys, and a slightly complicated get-in for any keyboard instruments that we were using, but as Spitalfields Church is just beautiful, it was definitely worth accommodating any issues and I am sure it will make an excellent backdrop for the programme.
Musically OAE’s examples ranged from Stamitz, through Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Berlioz. All of which require different sized orchestras… The production team had a challenging job slotting the schedule together so that we didn’t have players hanging around when they weren’t needed, and I think the schedule must have had about 10 reincarnations, and therefore 10 variations on the budget. Anyway, we got there in the end, and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result on TV.
Ceri Jones, Projects Director
Symphony, with the first two programmes featuring the OAE, starts on Thursday 4 November on BBC 4 at 9pm.Read More
Da-da-duh-duh, da-da-duh-duh, da-da-duh-duh-duuuh
No I’ve not gone mad, I’m just re-enacting all the interruptions from the bustling audience in San Sebastian on Tuesday night. Having experienced this in the UK a number of times (we all remember the infamous incident at the BBC Proms a few years ago, when the bassoon solo at the start of the Rite of Spring was interrupted by the Nokia ringtone – and the conductor very rightly decided to start the piece again!), we experienced Tuesday night that Spanish audiences have the same addiction to being contactable for 24 hours a day. Personally, I just don’t get why people can’t turn their phones off for the 2 hours of a concert – would you leave your phone on in the cinema? Plus once you’d seen how embarrassed the first offender was when their phone went off after the opening of Weber’s Der Freischütz Overture, why wouldn’t you madly check in your bag that your phone was well and truly silenced? This must have happened about 5 times yesterday throughout the entire length of the concert! (To be fair the woman behind me did this, and spent at least 5 minutes loudly fishing around in her bag for it).
Other than the rude interruptions I can confirm that it was a stunning concert, and the orchestra did a herculean job after what must have been one of the most shattering travel days in recent history (Very early flight to Bordeaux, 3 hour coach journey, straight into rehearsal, concert, brief sleep, 6am coach back to Bordeaux…)
Let’s hope the Edinburgh audiences on Friday leave their phones at home!!
Oh and while I’m at it, why is it always the Nokia Tune?!
Ceri Jones, Projects DirectorRead More
When I tell people that I work for an Orchestra and occasionally get to accompany them on tour, they often get very excited and say, ‘ooh isn’t that glamorous’… Erm… well in a word, not always! (editor – that’s two words!) This past weekend I was lucky enough to accompany the OAE on one of their 4 trips out to Salzburg to play in the festival’s production of The Marriage of Figaro. I definitely drew the short straw with this one – one of those blink and you’ll miss it 24 hour trips, but I did get to enjoy some stunning opera in one of the worlds classiest and distinguished music festivals so it can’t have been all bad. Do the negatives cancel out the highlight? What do you think to this chain of events?? The glamour scale… Saturday morning aka usually my weekend. Alarm fails to go off so I have approximately 5 minutes accompanied by sheer panic to get dressed and leave the house (minus). Arrive at Heathrow Terminal 1, along with the rest of the UK as it’s the first day of the school summer holidays. Spend ages queuing to check in, then helping to sneak OAE players to the front of the queue and the bag drop so we don’t miss our plane (minus). Finally, through security and time for a coffee with our orchestra manager, Philippa, Press Manager Katy and the 2 Tony wind players (plus). Onto the plane, jam my bag in the overhead locker and settle in to my seat, with my free copy of the Daily Mail…(editor – double minus) I’m sandwiched in the middle of a 3. Surrounded by screaming children (minus). Offered a skanky egg sandwich (minus).Read More
A day in the life of The Night Shift from Ceri’s perspective:
It’s 9.30am on Friday 24th June, It’s been a looooong week: Monday Dublin, Tuesday Royal Festival Hall, Wednesday and Thursday catching up and meetings – and that’s just for me! I assume it’s been worse for the players who also had Glyndebourne rehearsals on the intervening days… Anyway, I should be absolutely exhausted and dreading the prospect of working until at least 12am this evening, but I’m not – this is what we sometimes call “The Night Shift effect”. (editor – different to the ‘Night Shift hangover…)
I of course love working at all OAE concerts, but for me the Night Shift is something quite special, even if they are at least 10 times harder work – especially in a non-traditional concert venue such as Village Underground (no fixed stage, lights, music stands, seats, air-con, changing rooms – you get the picture). So much of Friday felt like venturing into the unknown, a new venue, new acoustics, not sure we’d all fit on stage, not sure if the musicians would be able to cope with the lack of dressing space, chilling areas (aka green room) etc.
Here is a timetable of my day on Friday and how I made it to 12am still full of beans.
9.30 Arrive at office after early morning gym session – going to need those endorphins to get me thorough today I can tell you.
10.00 Quick staff meeting just to make sure everyone is up to speed with all the arrangements and aware of their responsibilities tonight.
10.30 Pop down to Kings Place Music Foundation to pick up the lit stands (i.e.music stands with lights attached – for the darker ambience we use for The Night Shift) we’re borrowing for this eveningRead More
Every time a project involving fortepianos appears on our advance schedule, my heart sinks a little – not because I don’t like the sound of them, or enjoy hearing some of the fantastic repertoire that was written for them, but fortepianos usually = logistical nightmare. And this time there were 2 of them…
The quest to source two matching pianos started a couple of years ago. We spoke to our usual suppliers and had sussed that there were a couple of pianos based in the UK – a copy of an Anton Walter piano (a piano maker based in Vienna around Mozart’s time), made by Paul McNulty, and also a copy of a Michael Rosenberger which might be a good match. Katia Labèque was going to be in London at the end of January 2011 and so we arranged a session up at Craxton studios for her to trial them. Perfect, we thought, the pianos could be used in the UK for the rehearsals, then we’d take them on tour to Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and bring them back to London for our final concert at the RFH, then they could return to their owners. Simples. Except the pianos weren’t ideally matched in tone and timbre and so the quest continued.
Some months later we were notified that there was another piano based outside of Paris, which was also a Paul McNulty Walter copy, which could be an excellent match for one the one that Katia had already trialled. Katia and Marielle knew this piano and so helped us get in contact with the owner to organise this (whilst wrestling with the fact that he did not speak English).
Superb, we now had 2 pianos for the tour, just shame that they are not in the same country, and that they both need to come to London or a 3 hour rehearsal with the orchestra before going to Luxembourg for the first concert… Oh well, all part of the joys of striving for top quality period instrument performance!
So… the eventual schedule for the pianos went as follows:
14th June – Driver leaves London with truck to head to Paris to pick up piano
15th June – French piano arrives at the Warehouse rehearsal venue in London so the sisters can have some private practice time, joined by the UK piano – united for the first time at last!
16th June – Pianos taken up to Kings Place for the OAE’s ‘tutti’ rehearsal. After the rehearsal the pianos are loaded into the truck (with numerous double basses, cellos and timpani) and head off to Luxembourg.
17th June – Pianos arrive in Luxembourg in time for the rehearsal at the venue.
18th June – Quick hop across to Paris for a concert at the Champs Elysees.
19th June – Longer and rougher journey to Dublin, crossing the English Channel, most of the UK’s road network, followed by the Irish Sea. Just as well there is no concert today (well the OAE are performing in Glyndebourne today but that’s a story for another blog).
20th June – Truck arrives in Dublin
21st June – Truck departs Dublin on first Ferry of the day back over to Anglesey, then starts the epic journey back to London. Rehearsal is meant to start at 5pm, which incidentally [...]Read More
There are just a matter of weeks left to apply to our OAE Melgaard Young Conductor Scheme. The scheme has been running now for 4 years, and gives budding young conductors the opportunity to nestle up close with the OAE, observing rehearsals alongside great OAE conductors, getting to know and share knowledge with players, and also gaining an insight into the behind the scenes operations in the office (the most exciting part in my humble opinion…) Through an application and audition process one conductor will be chosen at the audition day this October (not quite like X-factor but almost as exciting). The conductor will work with the OAE from the autumn for a period of 9-12 months.
For me this part of the scheme’s schedule is both the most exciting and the most overwhelming. Exciting because you never quite know where from and how many applications are going to come flooding in – will the next young Vladimir Jurowski or Sir Simon Rattle be amongst the pile of applications? We usually get in the range of 100 applications so you can imagine the admin that goes with that….That’s 100 DVD packages arriving on my desk, 100 application forms, 100 CV’s, and 100 support letters. Anyway – that’s the fun of the job J and as we sometimes say in the office ‘today I’m putting the admin into arts admin’.
Watch this space for future developments… (and find out more details of how to apply here)
Ceri Jones, Projects DirectorRead More
A short video from our trip up to Sheffield back in February – a concert which was part of our Green Tour initiative which saw the OAE ditch individual cars in favour of coaches and trains. Though we now know that trains are noisy places in which to film interviews… turn the volume up to hear Ceri at the start! Sadly we didn’t get footage of the venue evacuation, we were too busy wondering what on earth was happening…Read More
As mentioned below, our concert in Sheffield last week had a rather odd start.
The Orchestra came on stage on time for a 7pm start, all fine. We settled in our seats. The Management team of 3 (myself, CEO Stephen Carpenter and Projects Director Ceri) were all split up in the hall, rather than sitting together as we supposed to. As usual there was that moment when the Orchestra stops tuning and the crowd goes suddenly quiet, waiting for the conductor to appear. Except that he didn’t.
5 minutes later he still hadn’t. Rather odd. The crowd was getting restless.
After a little longer Orchestra Leader Matthew Truscott got up (to applause) and left the stage, presumably to find out what was happening.
He didn’t return.
At this point I texted Ceri, asking if she knew what was up. She didn’t. I suggested that conductor David Zinman was either unwell or had got the start time wrong. Both seemed a little unlikely. Unfortunately I made a typo and said “Either I’ll or has got the…”. So I re-sent the world ‘ill’ on its own. Ceri took this as confirmation that he was indeed ill and I apparently set her mind immediately racing as to what we would do!Read More
In honour of the Orchestra’s Green Tour around the UK this week, the office-based administrative team also committed to Green Week. For a bit of fun most of us wore something green all week, as a constant reminder about all the things we would 100% commit to do. I spent the week carrying my thermos flask and a ‘Cats of Cyprus’ fabric shopping bag with me in an attempt to avoid package wastage and also spent the entire week nagging my colleagues about turning their computers off properly at the end of the day… Here’s how I got on the rest of the week…
A normal day in the office, today, whilst the orchestra were busy rehearsing down at The Warehouse (one of our regular rehearsal venues). Had a player meeting later on in the day, which required 4 A4 pages of handouts. I copied them all onto 1 A4 sheet (double-sided and at 50% size), praying that no body minds how small the text would be – reading glasses at the ready! (incidentally I didn’t get any comments). Later on that day I had the fun task of carrying home a DVD player with large speaker I’d been given (in huuuge box!). Determined not to cave in and get a taxi I had an interesting journey home, much to the hilarity of my fellow train passengers.
Concert day at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which started with meeting the Web streaming team down at the hall, helping them with their set-up. Am really excited about the web stream as thousands of people will be able to watch our concert without having to travel anywhere! I decided to grab a coffee on the way back to the office, and asked if I could get my coffee in my flask (to avoid wasting more cardboard cups). The barrister had to ask her supervisor if this was OK, which yes it was – result. Sadly the coffee was made in the cardboard cup and then poured into my flask – FAIL! Cardboard cup still wasted…
Later on at the hall, was excited to see the signs in the foyer asking our patrons to reuse their programmes, and our article in the programme
about the green tour. Southbank centre is totally on top of environmental issues and recycling etc, so big tick! It was a shame that on the way home I didn’t screw the lid back on my water bottle properly and by the time I got home my bag and re-useable programme were soaked. I hope it dries out in time for our next concert on 3rd March.Read More
Projects Director Ceri Jones took a video camera with her on our most recent tour to France and Spain. Here’s the (condensed) video diary: