Monday 11 May 2015

The Rough with the Smooth

Chi-Chi Nwanoku, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Chi-Chi Nwanoku,
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment's concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall tomorrow is a fascinating combination of ancient and modern as, nestling amongst the Telemann and Handel concertos and concerti grossi, is a new work by Stevie Wishart, Concerto a Double Entendre. Specially written for the orchestra, new concerto for double bass, takes advantage of the fact that players in a period instrument orchestra are generally able to improvise. 

Stevie Wishart comments that improvisation is 'at the heart of the Baroque tradition which has been rather lost today in classical music', she continued that she wanted players 'to make the music their own in the act of performance, and put this right at the centre of the work, thus shifting the balance the 'composer running the show'. Stevie Wishart's comments, in the orchestra's press release, also reveal an interesting dissatisfaction with the ethos of modern conservatoire training, 'In the UK, musicians are coming out of college without much ability to improvise. The emphasis seems to be more on skilful sight-reading and the ability to rehearse as fast and as cheaply as possible. However those trained on period instruments learn improvisation more as a matter of course, which is exciting to work with'.

The new Concerto a Double Entendre is a concerto for double bass, with soloist Chi-Chi Nwanoku who is Principal Double Bass with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She and the other players of the orchestra are very much involved in the creation of the work, as Steve Wishart provides chord patterns and leaves it to the players to explore possibilities of how to perform it. The use of a solo double bass, an instrument rarely if ever used in that capacity in the baroque era, is intended to encourage the players and the audience to listen to the music with new ears.

Composer and hurdy-gurdy player, Stevie Wishart studied composition at York University with Trevor Wishart, and improvised and aleatoric music with John Cage. Her work covers a wide range of forms, she has edited and recorded the complete works of Hildegard of Bingen, composed for productions by Wayne Macgregor, and written a piece for the Proms performed by the BBC Singers and Sinfonye.

Steve Wishart's new work will be performed alongside Telemann's Overture Burlesque, and Concerto for violin in B flat major, plus Handel's Concert for harp and lute in B flat, Sonata a Cinque in B flat, BWV 288, and Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.1 in G. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will be directed from the violin by Kati Debretzeni,

Further information from the orchestra's website.

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