Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Day Three: Anthem in Wiltshire

Thu 22 Mar 2012

It’s been quite hard to decide what to write about tonight. I sit here in my hotel room in Southampton after completing a busy day in Wiltshire, reflecting on my ever-changing geographical position thanks to this tour. It is starting to get a bit surreal, good surreal, but surreal none the less.

I was thinking it would be good to share what a typical day on the Anthem tour is like, but the beauty of this project is that each day is different to suit the setting. Today in Wiltshire we performed two Anthem concerts – one concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre then one at St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham. Prior to the concert, there were school workshops and teacher training and post concert we travelled to Southampton. Well, most of us did, the cyclists set off on some of the route with the intention of completing the next half of the journey tomorrow.

Both the concerts today have been pretty special; in the first concert every single child played with the Orchestra during ‘Twangling Instruments’ which truly musically characterised the words from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that inspired the song: “Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears”  and the second concert where 300 children sang ‘My Cry’ in the most amazing setting, I hope the picture will convey the magnificence of the occasion – I had goosebumps and I spotted a few teary parents in the audience.

Tonight I am happily tired (although l haven’t done any cycling so can’t complain!) and so am gratefully retiring to bed wondering what tomorrow has in store for me on this brilliant adventure.

Ellie Cowan, OAE Education Officer

Don’t forget- we do have a few Anthem concerts that you can be part of:

We have tickets available for just £5 for the family concerts in:

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds: 25 March Booking/details
National Centre for Early Music, York: 27 March Booking/details

For full information on the Anthem tour and to watch a video about the project, visit our website. 

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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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Everything you ever wanted to know about Abel, Arne and JC Bach

Thu 17 Nov 2011

Horn Shadow

This Saturday at the Wiltshire Music Centre, and on Monday at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, we’re teaming up with star violnist Rachel Podger for a cocnert called 1700s London and the Fab Four. The Fab Four in question are composers all active in London in the 1700s – Haydn (who you hopefully know of!), Abel, Arne and JC Bach. Now, the last three may be a little less familiar to you. So we’ve put together a few little facts about them – and if you use Spotify you can also listen to a playlist of some of the music from the concert too.

Thomas Arne, 1710-1778

– British composer
– Composed Rule Britannia
– His version of God Save the King became the National anthem
– 1741: one of the very first composers to take legal action over musical copyright issues
– Thomas & Sally
was the first English comic opera to be sung throughout without dialogue.
– Artaxerxes
was one of the most influential English operas of the 18th century

Carl Friedrich Abel, 1723-1987

– He was principal viola da gamba and cello player in the court orchestra of JS Bach
– 1748: joined Johann Adolph Hasse’s court orchestra at Dresden at the recommendation of Bach.
– Formed famous Bach-Abel concerts.
– One of his works became famous due to a misattribution: in the 19th Century a manuscript of a symphony (no.3 in E flat. K.18) in the hand of Mozart was catalogued incorrectly in a complete edition of Mozart’s works. Only later was it discovered to be by Abel.

J C Bach, 1735-1782

– son of JS Bach
– Known as London Bach/ English Bach due to his time spent in the capital.
– Noted for influencing Mozart’s concerto style.
– Father JS Bach died when JC was 15 – perhaps suggesting why it’s difficult to find similarity between their work.
– JC’s style differs from his father’s and families: Galante style (which opposed Baroque’s intricate lines) with its balanced phrases, emphasis on fluid melody and little contrapuntal complexity. It preceded the classical style and renewed interest in counterpoint.
– The symphonies in the Work list for JC Bach in the New Grove Bach Family, listed 91 works but only half, 48, are considered authentic, the remaining 43-doubtful.
-JC Bach relatively rare in concert halls but now increasingly more recognised for its quality and significance.

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CPE Bach. Very Postmodern?

Fri 25 Feb 2011

Next week is CPE Bach week here at the OAE. Or, as we have called the concert, The other amazing Mr Bach week.  It kicks off Sunday in Bradford-on-Avon with a concert of his music conducted by Sir Roger Norrington, which then comes to London on Thursday 3 March. Then we have a study day on 5 March, again at London’s Southbank Centre, allowing you to delve deeper into the composer and music. After that we’re off to the States – with concerts in Boston and New York, but more of that another time.

In today’s Guardian there’s a feature in which journalist Guy Damman argues that CPE’s Bach is unjustly neglected. He quotes musicologist Annette Richards who says:

“His music – or the music he considered representative of his talents – is miles away from the elegance and balance we associate with this period. Timelines are crisscrossed, he is endlessly stopping and starting, wrong-footing the listener and causing his audience to reconsider its relation to the music. In that sense, it’s very postmodern, a kind of meta-music.”

Read the whole article here, and if you use Spotify you can listen to the first movement of the Cello Concerto we are playing here.

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A truly Magic Flute

Tue 13 Oct 2009

The stage is decorated with butterflies, moths and snakes of every hue, heralding the musical kaleidoscope that is about to fill the hall.  An orchestra excitedly assembles, with flutes, keyboards, bassoon, horn, cellos, double-bass, violins, trumpets and percussion – all shepherded by OAE musicians.  I am in the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, about to witness a truly unique musical occasion – as animateur James Redwood puts it in his introduction, “This is the only time this will ever happen!”

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