Last Saturday we took part in the Guardian Big Draw, a really lovely day where families come to Kings Place to get involved in lots of different art activities. The OAE’s part in this day is always slightly abstract and I love the creativity that it generates. On a Big Draw day, two OAE musicians play duets and then have a range of drawing activities that anyone can join with.
This year we had Tony Robson on recorders and Rebecca Stockwell on bassoon and the activity sheets included: draw what you hear, draw the musicians, turning music notes and staves into something different or draw what the music makes you think of. Of course we also had the all-important blank pieces of paper for those who wanted no prompts but to simply sit and draw to the music.
The results from Saturday were spectacular. We covered a column in Kings Place in music inspired artwork – from quaver-cats to portraits of the musicians- the variety of creative output was brilliant. The day ended on a real high when Chris Riddell, who had given a talk to budding artists, came to draw our musicians, capturing them in his trademark way.
For me, I love asking young people to draw what they hear – you are either met with a very confused look or wide eyed enthusiasm; there are no right or wrong answers for this task. I also like the exploration of art in this multidiscipline way, plus being able to listen to OAE musicians playing duets all day is such a treat!
Finally, a lovely story that came to me as feedback after Saturday was from a mum who, on taking her children home, was asked if they could listen to more music to draw what they could hear. More drawing, more music, more art – that’s what it’s all about really!Read More
This Wednesday, 25 April, saw us at the Queen Elizabeth Hall performing an all-Bach concert, with soloist Ian Bostridge and director Steven Devine. What anyone who was at the concert will have realised though was that Ian was not the only soloist, with the Brandenburg Concerto No.4 and also the Cantata Ich habe genug also having substatial solo parts (aside from the voice, in the case of the Cantata).Read More
On 4 November we’re collaborating with the Philharmonia Chorus to perform Beethoven’s epic Missa Solemnis in a concert which is given in memory of Sir Charles Mackerras, who was both President of the Philharmonia Chorus and an Emeritus Conductor of the OAE.
The other week we caught up with players from the Orchestra to find out more about this relatively rarely performed piece. It seems that not everyone loves it…but there’s only one way to find out for yourself – come!
Find out more about the concert here.Read More
We got the New Year off here at the OAE to a flying start with, the OAE Academy, a three day course for our new Ann and Peter Law OAE Experience participants. We had a snowy few days with some players being delayed on their way in from Spain and others being snowed in in Somerset! Those who did manage to make it through the snow were treated to three days of rehearsals, singing workshops, a yoga session, Education sessions and some very tasty home cooked meals from the Amadeus centre.
The photos are of the orchestra rehearsing with OAE leader Maggie Faultless, an Education composition session and some group shoulder massages before the rehearsal with OAE Principal Oboe Tony Robson!
Megan Russell, Projects OfficerRead More
Ahead of our performance of it next week at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall we asked OAE Principal Oboe and Gerontius enthusiast Tony Robson about the piece:
The Elgar ‘Dream’ is new ground for the OAE and presents lots of challenges to the orchestra but I fully expect it to rise to those challenges with its usual enthusiasm and determination. We are lucky to have [ choir ] Ex Cathedra on board, as the choral writing in Gerontius is very demanding. It’s well known that the premiere of this work in Birmingham in 1900 (pictured) was little short of a disaster, the Chorus in particular being heavily castigated by the critics of the time. In their defence, there were particular difficulties which led to adequate preparation being well-nigh impossible; their excellent Chorus Master E. Swinnerton Heap suffered a fatal heart attack just months before the premiere and his tired and old replacement William Stockley was quite out of sympathy with both the content and demands of Elgar’s score. The composer and his publisher were both tardy in getting material out to the choir in good time and, unbelievably, the chorus only had their own single parts in their copies so that each section didn’t have the faintest idea what notes or rhythm their colleagues in the rest of the choir were singing! No wonder there were problems! We certainly won’t be having a repeat of that with our exceptional choir.Read More
Today it’s official – this is the coldest place in the USA at -20C.
On Thursday we shared a concert with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, at Temple Israel in Minneapolis. We played Mozart, CPE Bach and Haydn in the first half and then they played a Shostakovich chamber symphony. Afterwards our hosts held a reception for us at Stella’s Fish Cafe where we were given a wonderful buffet meal and a real welcome. We presented them with a signed poster and a copy of the OAE’s 21st birthday book – it’s the SPCO’s 50th anniversary this year so we are still adolescent by comparison!Read More