Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Introducing the Baroque Double Bass

Fri 10 Aug 2018

‘A whole hillside of sheep goes into making the bottom string’.

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, our long-time double bass player, introduces its baroque ancestor.


Violone: literally ‘big viol’ ; a general term used to refer to baroque bass instruments of various sizes and tunings

1. a general word for a non-specified bass instrument or bass line
2. shorthand for double bass

Double-bass (Eng.), Contrebasse (Fr.): a bass stringed instrument that sounds an octave lower than the written pitch

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Chi-chi’s Tour Diary

Fri 14 Feb 2014

Armed with camera phone, Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE brings you a behind the scenes look at the latest OAE tour…

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Me, Cecelia’s Bass, and I

Thu 21 Feb 2013

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.

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Chi-chi Nwanoku’s Russian Video Tour Diary

Fri 11 Jan 2013

Our Principal Double Bassist, Chi-Chi Nwanoku MBE, took some footage when our Messiah Tour took us all the way to Moscow, Russia, for our first ever performance there. 

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Video Profile: Chi-Chi Nwanoku

Fri 13 Apr 2012

In the first of a series of in-depth video profiles of key OAE players, Jon Jacob talks to Principal Double Bass Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE. In it she talks about how she made the transition from piano to double bass, (via athletics!), fast twitch muscles, how life in the self-governing OAE works and how the high pressure situation of live musical performance is not a world away from sport.

Find out more about Chi-chi on her player profile.



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How to pronounce Chi-chi Nwanoku…

Fri 2 Dec 2011

Chi-chi Nwanoku video still

Here’s a little taster for a series of videos which we’ll be starting to release soon, in which Jon Jacob talks to key OAE musicians about themselves, the OAE and their instruments. Here’s a little out-take though, as a teaser, where Jon grapples with an OAE basic – how to pronounce Principal Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku’s name…

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The Fab, er, eight…

Wed 21 Sep 2011

OAE at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh

If a change is as good as a rest then we OAE musicians should be well refreshed after this summer.

For me one of the highlights was playing the rarely performed Liszt Faust Symphony, a piece that required us to expand our numbers somewhat. One day we were a double bass section of two playing Handel’s Rinaldo at Glyndebourne, the next a section of eight, rehearsing Liszt, and what a fab eight it was!

It was a delight to be joined by bassists from other symphony and chamber orchestras – a chance to exchange musical ideas, and find out how things are done elsewhere. The wealth of information was mind boggling, from knowledge of instruments, players and conductors, to the best restaurants in Warsaw, – and it was very good.

We at the OAE are different to most orchestras, symphonic or chamber, in that the size of orchestra fluctuates all the time depending on the repertoire and the venue (Three players in a pub last week, I hear, taking The Night Shift new places). So when we come together for a big project such as the Faust Symphony we may not have worked with many of our colleagues for a year or more. The first rehearsal has a real sense of ‘getting to know you’ as we all have our antennae out to the max – listening, adjusting, blending.

What I’ll never forget about this Liszt project is the way that this large gathering of wonderful, talented players, came into focus as a cohesive whole. The feeling was almost physical; a seismic, earth-trembling sense of plates coming together to form a new musical land. Fanciful language, maybe, but the fantastic resulting concerts, such as the one at the Edinburgh Festival, will stay in the memory for a long time.

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass

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Gaffer tape pics – No.7

Thu 20 May 2010

Today we present Chi-chi Nwanoku, Double Bass

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A memorable moment, for the wrong reasons…

Tue 13 Jan 2009

As mentioned in our top moments post below, Chi-chi Nwanoku had a memorable, if rather stressfull moment from 2008…

‘As far as OAE stories go I think the best I can offer was the time neither my bass or stool arrived at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, for a concert the same evening at the Concertgebouw as part of our tour with Ian Bostridge. When Philippa (our Orchestra Manager) and I tried to ‘log’ it at the appropriate desk in the customs hall, we literally had the “computer says no” Dutch equivalent!….

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An injured double bass…

Sat 13 Dec 2008

I was looking forward to my first lie-in for weeks after a busy month of rehearsals, concerts, travelling and teaching but it was not to be. Yesterday we arrived in Brussels for the first concert of the European tour and I found on unpacking my double bass that my lovely old English instrument, dating from the mid 18th century, had taken umbrage to the cold and had pinged open. The constant changes between the extreme temperatures of hot concert halls and cold vehicles had finally taken it’s toll. The wood had shrunk and the glue couldn’t take the pressure. Luckily I could still play without it rattling (no pun intended) so it made it through last night’s, very successful, concert. At 9 o’clock this morning I was to be found waiting outside the most unusual repair shop I’ve ever seen. A Luthier, cafe and art gallery all in one. As I write this several hours later, players are warming up for the rehearsal but my bass is still drying in the workshop. He promises it will be ready in time for the concert…

Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Double Bass

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