Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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A fond (and temporary) farewell to the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Wed 6 May 2015

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Next Tuesday, 12 May, it’s not only the last concert of our London season, it’s also our last concert in our main venue, Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, for two whole years.

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Stevie Wishart’s Double Entendre in rehearsal

Wed 6 May 2015

wishart-pic4 Crop for web

Next week we give the world premiere of a new piece by composer Stevie Wishart as part of our Rough with the Smooth concert at Southbank Centre.

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Mildly Rude?

Thu 29 May 2014


On 12 June we close our Southbank 2013-2014 Season with Gamechangers: Mildly Rude?, so called for its inclusion of Boyce’s Solomon – A Serenata, which caused outrage when performed in front of Victorian audiences. 

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Rameau’s Zaïs – Audience reactions

Mon 28 Apr 2014


Last night saw the UK premiere of Rameau’s Zaïs at Queen Elizabeth Hall, conducted by Jonathan Williams.  Here’s what you had to say about it…

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7 Things You (probably) Didn’t Know About Rameau

Tue 22 Apr 2014


In preparation for the UK debut of Rameau’s Zaïs, here are 7 things you (probably) didn’t know about composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.

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Gamechangers: A Forgotten Cello – Press Reactions

Thu 3 Apr 2014


Many of you joined us in Basingstoke on 19 March and at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on the 25th, to hear Sigiswald Kuijken and the Orchestra perform music from Bach, Corelli and Vivaldi on the long forgotten violoncello da spalla.  It’s an instrument that tends to divide people and the press were no exception…

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A salute to feathers, furs and fins

Thu 6 Mar 2014

OAE Education

The past month at the OAE has been filled with various animal-related hilarity, involving two of my favourite education events so far; OAE TOTS Animal Time, and the Carnival of the Animals family concert.

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French Fancies – Press Reactions

Mon 3 Mar 2014


On 20 February, we performed with Katia and Marielle Labèque in a programme featuring Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Debussy and Ibert.  We’ve heard your thoughts so now it’s time to look at what the press had to say…

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French Fancies – audience reactions

Thu 27 Feb 2014


There were steady tortoises, speeding fingers and even cops and robbers. But what did you have to say about our recent concert with Katia and Marielle Labèque…

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A chat with the Labèque sisters

Wed 19 Feb 2014


Katia and Marielle Labèque join us tonight for a concert of Saint-Saëns and Ravel at The Hexgaon in Reading, then tomorrow we’re at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall for Fancy That!, our family concert at 11.30am and French Fancies at 7pm. They took time out from rehearsals to give us a taste of what we can expect.


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Samuel West & the Labèque sisters

Mon 10 Feb 2014


It is our great pleasure to announce that actor Samuel West will be narrating our French Fancies concerts, in Reading and London, on 19 & 20 February.  Samuel will be accompanying the Labèque sisters on stage and reading Ogden Nash’s libretto to Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.  Here’s a bit about his previous work…

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The Works – Beethoven

Wed 6 Nov 2013

The Works

Tomorrow night we head over to Queen Elizabeth Hall for a step-by-step guide to one of Beethoven’s favourite works; Symphony No. 8. Here’s a look at what you can expect.

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5 Things you (probably) didn’t know about Corelli

Fri 25 Oct 2013

Corelli OAE

On 31 October, we’ll be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for a concert celebrating Arcangelo Corelli and the composers he inspired.  Here’s a few things you might not know about him.

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Mildly Rude?

Wed 1 May 2013


We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve added a concert entitled Mildly Rude? to our 2013/2014 Southbank Centre season.  Rounding off our Gamechangers series, it’s a opportunity to hear music from one of Britain’s unsung classical heroes, William Boyce.

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Speed Interview – Rhiannon Morgan

Tue 29 Jan 2013


V4: The Seasons will see the OAE in a unique event that mixes period performance with the contemporary choreography of Henri Oguike.  We met up with dancer Rhiannon Morgan at rehearsals to find out more about how she got in to dance.

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)



Vivaldi/The Man
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in Venice.  He was baptized immediately after his birth by the midwife, which led many people to believe his life was somehow in danger.  The real reason is still not known for sure, some argue it was due to ill health while others state that an earthquake the same day led his mother to be in constant fear for her son’s life.  As a result, Vivaldi’s mother dedicated him to the Priesthood.

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Look! No Conductor!: Listen again

Fri 4 May 2012


Our conductor-less performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall last night was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and is now available to listen to on BBC iPlayer until next Thursday 10 May. Enjoy!

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Baroque Giants: Bach – Audience Reaction

Thu 8 Mar 2012


On Sunday we performed an all-Bach concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and caught up with the audience afterwards to find out what they thought of it.

There are further chances to hear the concert in Bradford-on-Avon tomorrow, 9 March, and in Birmingham’s Town Hall on 10 March.

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Spinal Chords in rehearsal

Fri 3 Feb 2012

Sally Beamish crop

Giving a world premiere of a new work is, understandably, a rareity for the OAE. It’s not totally unknown however, and we have performed new pieces by Mark Anthony Turnage, Jonathan Dove and Heiner Goebbels in the past. Indeed the Goebbels has become something of a signature piece for us and the London Sinfonietta, with us notching up several performances now, across Europe and the USA.

This Sunday sees us give our latest premiere, this time by Sally Beamish. It is part of Music 20×12, 20 new works commissioned by the PRS for Music Foundation for the Olympic Year. Scored for strings only, it is set to text by The Times columnist Melanie Reid, and we are very pleased to have secured actress Juliet Stevenson to narrate it.

Sally Describes the piece in her programme note:

“I have known Melanie Reid, and enjoyed her writing, ever since I moved to the Stirlingshire village where we both live, in 1996. When she had her devastating riding accident in 2010, and began writing ‘Spinal Column’ in The Times, I followed it every week.

The idea of working with her came to me when the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment asked me for suggestions for a PRS for Music Foundation New Music 20×12 Cultural Olympiad commission. To my delight, she agreed, and I received the text for Spinal Chords (her title) in May 2011.

It was hard to know how I could best serve the words, which I found deeply moving; but Melanie’s title gave me a good starting point: the idea of the chord as the backbone of the music. ‘Cords’ (without an ‘h’) also suggest strings, threads, linking and joining. I realised the role of the music should be as a backdrop for a very slow drama – that of Melanie’s ‘spinal journey’.

The decision to use an actor, rather than a singer, was to preserve the directness of the text, and of Melanie’s own voice.

I started with twelve chords, which are stated, very slowly, three times; each time in a different key. The chords themselves are closely linked to each other : each builds on the one before. The string orchestra is treated as a large chamber group, with 13 solo lines, and the chords are stated at first by broken-up groups of players, gradually consolidating into larger groups, and then with the addition of ornamentation, and later, scales. The music reflects the agonising slowness of recovery, and the gradual re-connecting as the body finds ways to heal.

The piece uses the distinctive techniques of Baroque string playing: expressive bowstrokes, with a minimum of vibrato. I also draw on the similarities between Scottish traditional ornamentation, and that of Baroque music.”

Today saw the first rehearsal of the piece, with composer Sally Beamish in attendance, and here are a few pictures of the rehearsal.

Sally will appear alongside violinist Matthew Truscott, who is directing the concert, on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune today from 5.45pm. If you miss it you can listen to it again here.

You can read more about the collaboration between Sally and Melanie in The Times here (subscribers only)

The World Premiere of Spinal Chords is at Southampton’s Turner Sims on Sunday 5 February, with the London Premiere at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 10 […]

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The Glory of Venice: Audience Reaction

Mon 30 Jan 2012


A few weeks ago we kicked off 2012 at the Southbank Centre with The Glory of Venice – a celebration of the music of Gabrieli. If you’re near Bristol there’s another chance to hear this concert at St George’s, on 19 February.


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